Do you ever wonder if your child will lose out if you don't get on the prep/drill bandwagon?

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Registered: 05-18-2005
Do you ever wonder if your child will lose out if you don't get on the prep/drill bandwagon?
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Mon, 08-13-2012 - 9:28am

My son's G&T class has a mixture of Tiger Parents and kids whose parents just roll with their kids' intellectual proclivities.  We're starting to see classmates' families around again after a summer apart.  I'm floored at the level of academic drilling some of the parents have put their kids through over the summer.  Some have been tutored through most of the upcoming year's curriculum already.  One kid's mother made her do dozens of book reports on top of math cram school.  (These are kids aged 6 or 7).  I've been bucking this trend.  My kid went to an ordinary Y day camp with lots of active time.  He reads his head off on his own initiative (including history and science topics), but I certainly haven't made him memorize the times tables yet.  I am occasionally beset by niggling doubts, that my laid-back style can cause him to fall behind his classmates.  Opinions?

Gwen

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
I don't think it's really possible for parents to permanently push heir kids ahead beyond their abilities. That's something that really only works in the the beginning years of school and ends up levelling out.

Are you afraid that your son will not manage the curriculum this school if other parents work ahead? Do you think your son's teacher is aware that some kids are being pushed? Teachers aren't blind, and I'm guessing she must have some idea.
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Registered: 05-18-2005

I guess I'm concerned that if it becomes the norm for much of the class to walk in the first day already familiar with the entire year's material they will either consider the others "behind" or dash on ahead without really teaching the material that half the class knows already.

Gwen

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Well..,.IMHO the kids who are getting the high stress year round school experience are most likely missing out big time...in learning to pursue their own interests, learning how to structure their own time, and so forth. I don't necessarily agree with the "leveling out" theory: I think that some of my kids' abilities are related to the fact that they had an enriched environment as a child...but I think that is the key. "Enriched" is not the same as "coerced".

I would not be concerned at all if much of the class walks in already familiar with the year's work...the teacher knows what the objectives for the year are, and what the objectives were for those kids in the previous year. It doesn't matter if my gifted kid (or non gifted kid) is "behind" his peers. The destructive educational methods and objectives should have no effect on my efforts to enable my child to learn in a joyful, unforced, environment. I will not allow my kid's educational experience to be poisoned by those who are driven to get their kids "ahead" at any cost.

Deborah
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Registered: 12-06-2010
I said "pushed", Deborah. Pushing is not enrichment in the same way that reading to your kids is not forcing to do twelve book reports.

Both of my children have benefited from enrichment in their lives. As soon as it looks like cramming or parent-driven academics, I would no longer define that experience as such.

And Gwen, a good teacher ( which I'm assuming your son's teacher is?) will not fly through material that parents have crammed into a six-week summer break. This is a gifted program, isn't it? I doubt those kids are really able to internalize a demanding curriculum during summer vacation. Don't let yourself feel pressured.
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Registered: 04-09-2006

That was my point, I think...

Deborah

Avatar for turtletime
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Registered: 05-13-1998

All parents experience doubt in one way or another at some point in their child's development. How can we not when tasked with such a huge job? As to worrying specifically about others getting ahead, with DD, it didn't matter if others flogged their children with extra curriculum, there was no catching up. With DS, well, I had frustrations in the early years when he was so laid-back and lax about school. His teacher's always knew he was brilliant but I had to endure the pity of other parents and their giving me advice on how bring up his achievement. I did have those moments of longing that he would push himself a little more and wondered if I'd dropped the ball somehow. I can say that the tables started turning in middle school. You'll find those other parents can't often maintain the pace they set for their kids in the early grades.... the kids start rejecting and resenting the extra work, other things like sports and plain old LIFE get in the way. By 3rd grade, few are still doing what you described and their kids, no longer going into school with 3 times the experience in a subject, start to even out. DS caught his stride in 6th grade, found an interest in school and is now 1st in his grade academically and registered himself for every advanced class option he could get for this coming fall. 

It can be difficult to be still when surrounded by frenzy but just push those doubts aside.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005

I have mixed feelings on this. Frankly, I do think that parents can push/enrich/help -however you want to say it, a child quite a bit ahead. Now granted, that child first has to have some ability, but if you're attending a gifted school, you are surrounded by children who do have that. Our oldest is profoundly gifted, and I'll be honest, I'm a little disappointed I didn't push her more. She was a fine student (she's 21 and out of college now) and she is doing well, but I think she missed some opportunities earlier on that would have opened more doors. For example, she placed in accelerated math but not gifted math (although her calculus teacher later said that she was amazing and dh, who used to teach calculus, said she was better in high school than any student he had in college). But, she wasn't interested in doing any math (her chosen vocation in elementary school was pop star) and she didn't do anything extra ever, which you really did need to do to get placed in gifted math in our district. But in the big scheme of things, it worked out-  she's got a degree in science and a good job and she's happy. At times, though, she didn't think she was as smart as she is because she didn't know what some other kids knew (she didn't grasp the idea of opening a textbook and actually studying until college :smileyhappy:). She was still in AP and honors classes and the gifted program, so it wasn't like she slacked off, but I don't think I even realized when she was younger that anyone would tutor someone who wasn't struggling.

I do things a little differently with my boys. I don't push, but I do expect them to use their gifts more than I did for the girls. I think the difference is that I don't really tie anything to curriculum. I would NEVER have my kids go through the upcoming year's curriculum - YIKES! They are already not particularly challenged in school; how bad would it be if they had already reviewed everything? But, ds12 is currently taking Udacity's "Intro to Physics" and he attended chess camp this summer. Once I realized ds10 was even further ahead in math than I thought, I got him an account at "Art of Problem Solving" and he does a little bit each week (maybe half an hour or an hour total each week in the summer).  We watch educational videos and listen to Grammar Girl podcasts in the car sometimes. I read them the Geoquiz in the Sunday Tribune.  So, no, I'm not really giving them a leg up on anything in particular, but they are learning and using their brain more than I made the girls do (the artsy one used to draw and play with her friends all summer, and the younger one read incessantly and played; but neither one ever did the least "academic" summer thing until summer honors and AP worked started).

Luckily, your son has already been identified as gifted, which takes off a lot of the pressure. For the next few years he may or may not be the standout kid, but if you help him continue to do what he's doing (reading a book on history, or trying a science experiment) he WILL eventually shine. My ds12 had some OT issues and was never the quickest on timed math tests. It wasn't until 5th grade that the teacher realized how good he was (he would read math books, just not the curriculum, which he found boring). Last year in 6th grade he had the highest AMC score of all 6th, 7th and 8th graders at the middle school. This year, who knows - when his math team went to regionals, some of the parents mentioned they were cramming every day (math team and AMC were new this year). So yeah, next year he may not be the highest scoring kid because kids are cramming. He gets that though, and has no interest in going to one of the math centers to cram (even if we were willing to pay for it). He's still smart enough, though,  and we do "enough" that I think he'll continue to be one of the top students.

Will any of my kids ever be Valedictorian? Probably not (okay, defintiely not the boys because they've done away with that). Really, though, the girls had well over a 4.0 but they didn't drop all art and music (non-weighted) or take private tennis lessons for two years to get on varsity tennis and get a PE waiver (PE is required in IL all 12 years unless you get a waiver, and the easiest Varsity team to make is tennis).  These are REAL examples from friends and I think they're crazy!

I hope this isn't so crazy long to be annoying but what I'm really trying to say is that you've got a great, smart kid and it sounds like you're doing more than enough that he will do just fine. I wouldn't let him just play video games all day (which I know you're not) but you certainly don't need to be sending him to a math facts center after school either! Don't doubt yourself!

Theresa

 

Avatar for turtletime
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Registered: 05-13-1998
Haha, I just smiled and said a lot of "oh really." Let's just say, it's a good thing he was my SECOND child and I was more secure in my parenting.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005

I also have mixed feelings but not for 6-7 year olds.

I agree.

I do worry about the "arms race" mentality that seems to take hold in middle school onward.

UGH - completely agree here as well. I think part of my "mixed" feelings was for situations like placement exams. With my older kids, I honestly never thought for a minute that placement exams would cover stuff not  taught in class - and I'm not talking about stuff that a child who is bright should be able to pick up, I'm talking about stuff that you simply wouldn't know if you hadn't been exposed to it. I HATE the way it's changing. For example, my ds10 wanted to join a beginning chimes/bells group at school last year. My girls had done this and it was a great experience. They both ended up being very musical and going on to play guitar, join orchestra, and sing in choirs. By the end of elementary school, dd19 was given the award for outstanding music student. Fast forward a few years.....  ds10 was rejected from this group because his music-reading and other skills weren't developed enough. Had I known, I would have helped him learn. He's very bright and he's pretty musical and this was supposed to be a complete beginner's group (my girls had never done anything before it). BUT - now, apparently so many kids were starting off with years of piano and Suzuki that the beginning is more like an intermediate. Kids are auditioned (but no information was given) and have to have a certain level to start. Sheesh - for choir chimes - they had a written audition test that was extremely difficult and in no way intuitive. I had to laugh at the first concert though - some kids had no rhythym or ability and ds has a great ear. I know he could have done really well. It's frustrating feeling like you have to learn everything before you start. Sigh.....And on a separate note, these types of "placement" exams clearly favor those wealthy enough for private tutors, private piano lessons, Kumon classes, etc. :smileysad:

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Registered: 01-05-2005

My kids' choir does it this way. There are two "feeder choirs" which are non-auditioned, and they focus on the skills necessary for the audition required to admit students to the advanced choir. My kids have lots of previous musical experience and didn't need to do the feeder choirs, but they're a wonderful path for kids who don't have a mom who is a violin teacher or whatever.

I love this method! Of course, I wouldn't want the experienced kids bored (although again, if I had known that certain skills were expected or required I could easily have prepped him). However, this is a public school group, open to everyone, supposedly for all beginners in 4th grade. And you can't join the "advanced" group in 5th unless you are in beginners (even if he were to learn on his own, for example, by joining a group at our church). It's great that many kids around here can afford piano lessons and music classes and the like, or have parents skilled enough to teach them and able to afford the instruments, but when the very first, beginning class requires outside skills, the only thing it usually does is exclude a certain socio-economic tier. I'm not saying they are trying to do that, but that is in effect what they do. :smileysad:  But enough about me hijacking this thread, lol... it's just a really interesting topic because we've seen it in so many ways in our own life, and we've also seen it get much worse since the girls were in elementary school.

 

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