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Is He Challenged at School?
Q: My eight-year-old son has been very successful in school. All of his teachers have suggested that he be tested for the gifted program. Under the guidelines for our district, he did not score high enough to be placed in the program, but he has never had a cumulative score below 98 in any subject. I am not certain that he has ever been challenged in school. He just brought home the math text for third grade, and virtually all of the material in the book is old hat for him. How do I ensure that my bright child is challenged and gets the opportunity to progress as he should?
A: It is difficult for parents when schools do not recognize their children's special talents. Nevertheless, you can take the lead this year in making sure that your son gets the challenging educational curriculum that he deserves. Make an appointment with his teacher. Explain your frustrations about your son already knowing all the material in the math book that will be used in class this year. Then ask the teacher to test your son on the third-grade material he will be learning this year to see if he truly understands the concepts that are going to be presented.
Being in a gifted program is not the only way to challenge a child. Check to see if the school has any special programs that would benefit your son, such as these:
- Pullout programs - Children spend most of the day with their class and go to a higher grade for math or any other subject area in which they are advanced.
- Ability grouping - Teachers group children within the classroom. Students who already know the material in the on-grade level textbook are given more challenging textbooks.
- Tracking - Larger schools can have different classes within one grade that are organized according to children's abilities.
- Content acceleration - Teachers allow individual students to work independently or with a teacher's aide on more challenging material.
- Skipping a grade - Children who are academically advanced in several areas are moved to the next grade.
Keep in mind that children can have special talents in math but still struggle with English. Most parents have insight into their children's special areas of giftedness, and these are the areas where you want to provide your son with motivational challenges. You will want to enroll him in a stimulating after-school or weekend program in his gifted areas. Remember, there are many opportunities to challenge your son outside of the classroom.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.