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Gifted and Bored

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I am writing to inquire about my son. He's in second grade and recently took the Terra Nova aptitude test. He scored in the 95th percentile in both math and reading.

My question is this:

For the most part, my son can do his math homework simply by looking at the problem and writing the answers down. This of course is an issue because since he doesn't check his work he gets his fair share of wrong answers (which leads me to believe he may have scored higher on the math portion of the test). He's bored with the schoolwork.

He's a bit of a reluctant reader. At the age of 4 he could count past 1000. I taught him fractions when he was three and understand basic geometry - including the rules of a polygon at the same age.

He has excellent eye/hand skills. at four he assembled a Lego transmission by himself simply by looking at the instructions. When he was six we got into electronics and began to understand the rudiments of electrical circuits. He LOVES MACHINERY.

He's gentle, thoughtful, very polite and eager to please. He's a perfectionist and loves to socialize - but many times he can be very shy. Sometimes he can be impatient. His sense of humor and overall patience level is excellent.

In addition, he plays the piano (he'll watch the instructors fingers and remember the same simple song a week later). He's also a competitive swimmer.

We never got our son tested. Our issue now is that he's frustrated with school. Since we live in NJ there are no "gifted" or advanced programs until he gets older.

Please advice. Thank you for your time and consideration.

A: From your description, it is quite obvious that your son has above average abilities and may be gifted. He is probably bored in the classroom as the learning he is experiencing is not catered towards his needs. He has probably mastered the content of the lessons in the classroom much earlier, hence the boredom.

This is quite typical for gifted children who are not given differentiation education. I am no sure about the gifted programs in your area but there has to be something available, perhaps termed differently and not as gifted programs. Better reputed schools should have advanced learning for children with higher cognitive ability. Do check with the school to see if they are willing to make reservations for your son if there is no program for children with advanced abilities. Personally speak to his class teachers to help him better fit in the classroom. Sometimes, collaboration with the staff in his school may work out very favorably.

You can also get his IQ tested as the Terra Nova is an achievement test and may not indicate his general intelligence. Get a detailed interpretation from the tester to gauge his strengths and weaknesses for an individualized program. The results can be used as evidence for an advanced program for him. Try looking around your area for better schools.

If there is no other option for better schools, you may need to work extra hard to help him after school hours. Provide him with the learning he needs; but first you may need to equip yourself with sound knowledge and awareness on children with high ability. You may want to join the gifted association is your area. There is a lot of support and help within members of the association.

Last but not least, help him learn in a variety of ways, especially for subject of passion. Help him make sense of his learning so he feels less bored. Wishing you all the best!.


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