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Bright Student Bored in School
Q: My fourth-grader finds school boring and dislikes it. He's an A student and has to put little or no effort towards getting these grades. The only bright spot to his day is an advanced reading class where there are more activities and hands-on assignments. I'm familiar with the teachers in fifth grade -- my daughters have had some of them -- and the majority of them are strictly by-the-book. I feel my son needs more hands-on learning with a variety of techniques, but I don't know how to go about trying to get this. In our school district, you're not allowed to request any teacher. What should I do?
A: It's quite significant that your son is not bored when he is in a more challenging classroom setting. Is he so bright that he is a good candidate for advancing to sixth grade next year? At the very least, he should definitely be in an advanced reading class again in fifth grade as well as an advanced math class, if appropriate.
When school starts again, wait a few weeks to find out if your son will be placed in some classes that challenge him. Also, is there a gifted program at the school in which he could take part? You may discover that the curriculum in fifth grade turns out to be sufficiently challenging to keep him from being bored. If not, you need to request a conference with his teacher and a counselor to discuss what can be done to challenge your son.
The responsibility for challenging bright students does not just belong to schools. Parents must also provide stimulating experiences. This summer, why don't you try to help your son find a hobby or interest that really intrigues him. Then, he could devote considerable time to learning more about this topic, whether it is collecting stamps or studying rocks. When he returns to school, he could use and build upon this recently gained knowledge in his classes.
Don't jump to the conclusion that the teacher your son will have next year is not going to be a good match for his learning style. Just because a teacher is not a good choice for one child in a family does not necessarily mean that the teacher will be a poor choice for another.
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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.