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Gifted and Bored

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My 8 year old son scored 99th percentile in math and was identified as appropriate for the Gifted Program at the school. However, he constantly says he is bored. Does sloppy work and behaves poorly in school. The teacher said today that he was given "enrichment" activities and still not seem engaged. She caught him looking in her book for the answers. He has been about one grade ahead in math, so that seems unusual. What do you think is going on here? How do you think I can best help my son? A psychologist suggested we request the school to do the Wechsler which is currently in the works. Help! 

A: It is quite strange that he is in the Gifted Program and yet finds his learning unchallenging. Have you tried asking him the reason for his boredom? Is he bored only at school or at other times as well? Have you checked his school work? Is the enrichment activity appropriate for his level, given that he scored very high in Mathematics?

There are two things I may be able to conclude from your description: Firstly, he may be really bored and finds lessons unchallenging. He does not find meaning in what he learns. Secondly, if he has moved classes or is in another program, he may be missing his friends and hence the behavior. He has no control of where he would like to be, so he may be using the only control he has, which is to behave poorly. Copying answers may just be a way to manifest his frustrations and has probably very little to do with his competency in Mathematics.

A good way to help him is to simply talk to him and find out why he is behaving in such a manner. Depending on the parenting style you adopt, if you feel that he may be uncomfortable talking to you, get another significant adult whom he respects to figure out what is going on. He is the best person to clarify his behavior. Ask him if he is unhappy with the class or did anything take place in his class to make him feel that way he feels. Also ask him what would be the best way for him to learn and you can both make some compromises with the situation.


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