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Talented but Hates School
Q: I am a 14-year-old tenth-grader -- I skipped the second grade. I am bored with school -- I have already learned what we are doing. I hate going to my high school, but I love learning. Sometimes I'm sick and my parents let me stay at home, so I learn with my books. My teachers often get angry because I cannot keep my attention in class and need to move.
I do not know if I am gifted or if I have ADHD. I have never been tested and my parents don't want me to be tested. I don't know what to do! My grades are getting lower and lower -- I had A's but now it's a miracle if I get a B. Also, English is not my native language.
A: It worries me that you dislike school so much. While I understand you may be bored, I hope you are planning to go on to college -- and that means six more years of school. From your description, it could be possible that you have an attention deficit problem and that can certainly interfere with school. You don't explain why your parents are against testing for you, but please tell them that there are easy low-cost or free checklists that they and your teachers could complete that would help all of you understand the problem better. The Achenbach Teacher Report Form (TRF), the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBC), and the Brown ADD scale are available from school counselors or psychologists.
Even if you do not have gifted testing, the upcoming PSAT, ACT, and SAT tests offered by your high school will give you an idea of your abilities. Do you have an English as a Second Language teacher in your school? If so, talk to this person or your guidance counselor about how to best prepare for these tests.
The problem with staying home from school is that it will not help your situation now or in the future, when colleges look at your record. I suggest that you meet with your guidance counselor and tell that person how you are bored. There may be some way you can get involved in some advanced coursework or extracurricular activities. Please don't ignore the homework or studying because it is boring. Lower grades do not show the school that you are capable of doing more interesting coursework.
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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.