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Gifted but Distracted

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My first-grader is in the school's gifted program. The problem is that he's showing signs of disinterest. He's still doing well in school, but all of his teachers have noticed that he just doesn't seem to be giving his school work 100 percent. I've had a conference with his teacher and we both agree that he's not bored. How can I motivate him to apply himself?

A: You're right that you don't want a child as young as your son to become turned off to school. He has many years ahead of him, and you want him to stay interested and motivated.

Are there certain subjects that interest your son? If he loves dinosaurs or airplanes, an art project or math/science project related to a special interest may motivate him. You can always ask your son what he would like to focus on in his studies.

Talk with the school counselor. She may be able to give your son some individual time. Most first-graders don't have the verbal ability to tell us exactly what is going on with them, but your son may tell the counselor through his play or his art what is bothering him.

The problem could be as simple as your son wanting to be in a regular first- grade class instead of the gifted program. If you find that he wants to be with kids who are not in the gifted class, look for a Cub Scout troop or a sports team for him to join. Make sure that he has opportunities to play with children in the neighborhood as well.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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