Advice & Tips for Advocacy and Support
At one point in history, the brightest minds and the newest inventions always came from the United States. However, it seems with every year our nation's schools continue to fall incredibly behind those of comparable countries. While there are various reasons that contribute to this dilemma, I know that one thing is certain. The highly intellectual students are not being adequately challenged in most public schools in America.
Some kids don't want to be singled out for being the nerd in class, the teacher's pet, the know-it-all, or just plain weird. Other kids will purposefully perform below their capability in order to fit in with their peers. Why?
Why are children with IQ scores of 145 or greater not afforded appropriate educational opportunities in school? Is there a more suitable educational environment that isn't a school? Some parents take their kids out of regular public schools and either spend thousands of dollars a year on tuition for a private school, or put their kids in charter schools. While both are good alternatives, level-appropriate education should also be offered at public schools (hence, for free) and because charter schools are often new, they lack may experience.
Taking the best and brightest minds out of regular public schools brings test scores down even further. Think about it, if the private schools and charter schools were not available, where would the highly intelligent students go? Bring the top 10% back into regular public schools and test scores will make a dramatic increase, much to the amazement of media critics.
There is one very simple solution to all of this. Teach the teachers how to teach gifted students and hold them accountable to do so. In many states, the exceptionally low performing students and the exceptionally high performing students fall under the same category, Special Education. The reason? Any time one strays far from the norm, there are challenges. In the case of the students who deviate high, their challenges come from the fact that they are not being challenged in a way that is best for them.
Students who deviate low have special plans put in place, meetings 2 to 3 times a year, audits, and even government laws that hold schools accountable for giving these children an appropriate educational environment (IDEA for example). What would happen if the exceptionally gifted students received the same kind of urgent attention?
Advice and Tips
- Be an advocate for your child
- Collaborate with your child's teachers to provide the best learning materials and assignments. Find out the areas in which your child excels and provide opportunities for growth and development of those skills.
- Listen and ask questions I don't like math might actually mean this is too easy. I hate school could mean I am bored at school or I am being bullied at school. Engage your child in conversation. Find out which kids are friends and which are potential foes. Stay positive, remain optimistic, foster communication and reciprocate it.
- Create Community Several of my colleagues coordinate activities and events for highly intellectual children, usually from ages 3 to 17. They attest to the importance of kids having positive social interactions with likeminded peers. Regardless of IQ, many kids enjoy a game of baseball. How about after the game? Some kids continue to toss the ball back and forth, others run races. Some kids sit and talk with friends and family, and other kids are calculating batting averages in their heads. Where are the kids you don't see? They might be standing beside their parents, fearful to talk with anyone, or their social awkwardness might be the reason they stayed at home instead of going to the ball game.
- Regardless of where your child is (running, sitting, calculating, or preferring to stay home), find a group of likeminded peers and give them time to hang out and let them be kids. Even geniuses need time to not act like geniuses. Example: Albert Einstein enjoyed sailing, but he never learned to swim. Kids need to time to be with other kids that share their interests. Sometimes a true friendship might start at Chuck E. Cheese's instead of watching the symphony.