Your child zips through his tests, spending hours every week fidgeting at his desk while waiting for his classmates to catch up. He’s read chapters ahead in his textbooks and by the time the rest of the class reaches him, he could practically teach the lessons.
And, he’s bringing home all A’s. It’s every parent’s dream, right?
Parents of gifted middle school students understand that grades aren’t everything. No matter what their report card says, when school is too easy and gifted students get bored, their academic future is at risk.
“During your child’s middle school years, he’s building the habits of mind that are going to last his lifetime. He’s gaining a proclivity towards learning,” says Lulu Kellogg, Middle School Head at The Fessenden School.
If your child is getting good grades but is still bored in middle school, here are few ways to help him get excited about learning again.
1. Find help online.
If your child’s middle school doesn’t offer programs to engage and challenge gifted students, you can find camps, virtual classes, and other opportunities online. Lulu suggests two websites in particular:
- The National Association for Gifted Children provides an exhaustive database of camps, weekend programs, and other opportunities for gifted children in its Gifted and Talented Resources Directory. The NAGC site also includes numerous helpful publications for parents and teachers of gifted children.
- The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth offers summer programs, online classes, and family programs. Admissions begins with a “talent search,” which CTY describes as, “an affordable advanced assessment to help identify your child’s academic strengths and direct you to the right resources to nurture them.”
2. Make screen time educational.
One sign your child might be bored at school is if he spends an inordinate amount of time staring at his smartphone or other electronic device. (For other signs, read our article, “4 Signs Your Son is Too Smart for His Middle School.”)
“If your gifted child is constantly seeking out that device instead of pursuing other passions, that should be a red flag that he may be bored with other things in his life, including school,” Lulu explains.
Consider limiting your child’s screen time to certain pre-determined periods.
That’s not to say all use of electronic devices is a distraction. They can also be powerful learning tools for gifted students.
“With these devices, there are ways to have students learn to be the creators of their entertainment,” Lulu says. “They can learn to code, learn HTML and other languages to make their own websites. They can make their own YouTube videos. It can get very intellectually challenging. We do a lot of that here at Fessenden.”
3. Consider a single-gender school.
Research has shown time and time again that boys and girls learn differently. Girls are better at sitting passively and consuming information. Boys prefer a more active, hands-on approach.
Yet, the curriculum of many middle schools skews toward the girls’ style. This can leave boys—gifted and otherwise—unengaged and uninspired.
“We sometimes say that, in these situations, girls soar and boys bore,” Lulu says. “Even though some schools are trying to teach more directly in the way that boys learn best, it’s not happening everywhere yet.”
How do you challenge your gifted child?
How do you make sure boredom doesn’t suck the joy of learning out of your gifted child? Share your tips with other parents in the comments section below. (And here a few more suggestions from Lulu Kellogg.)
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