Enrichment programs for bright grade schooler

My 10-year-old daughter is extremely bright. Her elementary school's gifted program is for anyone who wishes to join and my daughter dropped out because she was bored. I was asked if I'd like to enroll her in Kumon. Do you know anything about this program? What other programs can enhance my daughter's learning?

Question:

I think you are wise to check out specific programs before enrolling your child. It's important to know the specifics before making a commitment.

Your daughter has been identified as a bright child. Has she been formally assessed by the school that she attends? If not, request that testing be done. She may qualify for alternative programs within the school district that would challenge her and meet her educational needs. Talk with your daughter's teacher, as well as district personnel regarding their G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) programs. While you indicate that the G.A.T.E. program she was in before was not providing her with enough stimulation to maintain her interest, there may be other schools or programs offered by the district that your daughter could enroll in.

Many children have found happiness and success in private programs such as Kumon. Their approach is very systematic. Once a student has met the expectations for a given level of instruction, she may move on to the next level. Kumon has the reputation of being a truly individualized program, so all children can feel comfortable and successful within the program. Your daughter would feel challenged continuously because she could continue to advance at her own pace through the curriculum. As with any educational program, you should make an appointment to visit the center and observe the students and teachers. Observation will allow you to see for yourself just what does go on at the center. That will then enable you to make an informed decision about your daughter's participation in that particular program.

You are interested in enhancing your daughter's educational experience. Consider her interests and strengths. Does she have a passion for the arts? Perhaps enrolling her in a children's drama troupe or choir would offer her the opportunity to display her talents. Other extra-curricular activities such as sports, dance, and service organizations (Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, etc...) might give her another outlet for her energies. Ask her about her interests and do some investigating to discover potential activities for her.

Another alternative for you may be to supplement your daughter's school curriculum with a homeschooling curriculum. Contact your local or state homeschooling organizations for more information about this possibility. Many parents have chosen this alternative for their children and are happy to share their experiences with potential homeschoolers. We have homeschooling chats here at ParentsPlace, too, which will put you in touch with experienced homeschoolers. There are many resources on the Internet for homeschoolers, too.

Home computers are one of the greatest teaching tools available today. There is a vast amount of software on the market, much of it high-quality software for children. Programs that require logical thinking can challenge all children. Ask your child's teacher and/or school computer technician for titles that they think would enhance your daughter's learning.

There are support groups out there for parents of gifted children, including chats at ParentsPlace. You may find some valuable advice and contacts in this chat. If your area has a monthly parenting resource guide, look for groups that might meet your needs. Making local contacts will enable you to learn more about how parents in your area are meeting the needs of their gifted children. If the public school system is not serving the gifted children in your area, perhaps the group can work together to make changes in the schools' programs.

Finally, continue to encourage your child. Provide her with reading materials on topics that she is interested in and involve her in discussions about anything and everything. Knowing that you are interested in her progress will encourage her to continue to learn.

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