When my youngest child was in second grade, we were driving in the car past a golf course near our home. He commented what the trees looked pretty bare and that he liked them better in the summer with their leaves than late fall.
I remember replying something to him along the lines of, “the trees lose their leaves to save energy in the winter when it is cold.”
He responds with something along the lines of, “well that is sort of right…” and went on telling me a long explanation involving photosynthesis, chlorophyll, and other details that I vaguely remember.
This is life with an incredibly bright child.
I recently was able to participate in a parent’s group for parents of “high ability” kids. While much of the topics discussed were behind us as my kids are a bit older, it was nice to be around other parents who may be receiving biology lessons from the back seat.
At the beginning of this school year, the fresh-faced long-term substitute asked me “tell me about D.”
I did not know how to respond. I started to tell her he was really smart, and this look crossed her face like she did not believe me. This is what it is like. When I say that this kid is smart, it is not mom-bragging.
He is not the kid sitting in the corner eating paste while mom talks about what a great artist he is.
I feel many parents of high-ability kids struggle with how to properly advocate for their kids.
If your child is falling behind or has barriers to learning, you are able to obtain an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to help ensure your child’s needs are being met. As far as I am aware, this is not available on the other end of the scale.
If your family is in a certain financial situation, there are camps, classes, seminars, and a variety of programs available to help challenge your bright child outside of the classroom.
But what if you are not in that situation? My child was nominated and “accepted” into a STEM camp this summer. The week-long camp would allow him an amazing experience with kids who think, act and process similar to him.
He will not be attending. No matter how we look at it, and how many pop cans we return, $2,500-3,000 for one kid’s summer experience is simply not attainable or realistic.
As parents, we all want what is best for our kids. We want them to learn, be challenged appropriately, and excel in what they do.
The other side of the that is the feeling of not being able to discuss your child’s “struggles” out loud.
Whether real or perceived, the feeling exists that no one wants to hear about the “struggles” of the smart kid. In the same manner that I do not feel bad for the “poor athlete” who is only making XX million this year instead of what they made last year. I don’t feel bad for them.
The feeling is the same. When friends of mine discuss their very legitimate problems with their kids in school, it feels wrong to throw in that my child is having a hard time because the online math program that is 3 grade levels above his current actual grade is maxed out for the year. Who has empathy for that?
However, sitting in this group, it was nice to hear that other people’s kids may feel lonely as well. Their kids may not feel included in the recess games. It is common amongst these kids to struggle in certain areas.
No matter where your kids lie in the range, whether they are struggling with the academic side of life, or if the academics come so easily that it is the social aspects that are challenging, or anywhere in between, take heart.
There are others, we are not alone, and if we are willing to be just a little open about it, we may find others are having the same (or similar) issues.