Is My Gifted Child Challenged Enough?

Having a gifted child can be an extraordinary experience. Watching a three-year-old read full sentences out loud will leave a lot of people speechless.

Hearing from your child’s kindergarten teacher that they are retaining the material much more quickly than their classmates can be exciting. Observing how your child progresses quickly in school and understands difficult concepts with ease can be awe-inspiring.

Sometimes, however, there comes a point in a gifted child’s life where they start to not do very well in school. Sometimes gifted children go from getting straight A’s to B’s and C’s with seemingly no explanation. As a parent, this can be frustrating because you want what’s best for them and you want nothing more than for them to fulfill their potential. The question is, what’s the problem and how can you help solve it? Why is your gifted child suddenly struggling in school?

The answer to that question can be difficult to answer, as many factors may play a role in their sudden decline in performance. However, there is one explanation that usually plays a key role in that decline: they aren’t being challenged enough. When a gifted child isn’t being challenged enough in school, they often disengage—they stop paying attention and doing their schoolwork or homework and they start doing other things like doodling or daydreaming.

When gifted children suddenly begin to struggle in school, it’s most likely because they’re bored. If this is the case, it can be good news because the problem is simple and has a simple solution. If they’re not being challenged enough, they simply need to be challenged more. As a parent, you may wonder, “Is my gifted child challenged enough at school? How can I make sure they are?” These questions can be difficult to answer, but the good news is that many parents have had the same questions and have worked together with academic professionals to answer them.

Is My Gifted Child Challenged Enough at School?

Ideally, to answer this question all you’d need to do is ask your child if they’re being challenged enough. Unfortunately, many children don’t yet understand their true potential and will likely tell you that they are being challenged enough simply because they don’t know what it’s like to truly be adequately challenged. If that’s the case, it will be up to you to look for the signs of a gifted child who isn’t being challenged:

  • The teacher asks them to help other students once they have finished their work
  • They frequently claim that their classes are boring
  • They test well in early grades
  • They disobey their teachers and get in trouble for not following the rules
  • They don’t finish their homework or schoolwork
  • They find ways to entertain themselves while in class (doodling, reading, etc.)
  • They exceed in the areas that interest them and don’t do well in the areas that don’t

How Can I Make Sure They Are?

Making sure your gifted child is adequately challenged can be difficult. The reality of it is that public school systems are built to satisfy a group of children, not individual children. This means that even if your child is academically gifted, the curriculums at most schools do not allow for them to move ahead at their own pace and instead force them to learn things much more slowly. When this happens, they quickly learn to underachieve in school and that’s when the problems begin occurring. However, there are a few options available for parents with gifted children that can be challenged much more than they currently are:

Ask their teacher to…
- allow your child to work with students with similar potential. When gifted students work together, it boosts their academic performance and benefits other students in the classroom as well.
- speak to your child’s interests. Work with your child’s teacher to find out what interests your child and what doesn’t.
- prepare other assignments for your child to work on once they have finished their regular coursework.
- let your child work on assignments that are more difficult than the standard assignments. For example, while the class is working on single-digit multiplication, your child can work on double-digit multiplication.

Another great and popular option is to find a school that is better suited to your child’s needs. Private schools, charter schools, and online schools often have programs that are more challenging in general or that allow students to learn at their own pace. Programs like that are usually the best option for gifted children, as they ensure that the child is being challenged enough and is in control of their own education.

Let Your Child Be the Guide

In your quest to do what you think is best for your child, it might be tempting to push them as hard as you feel they could be without taking their thoughts into consideration. As you strive to make sure your gifted child is being challenged enough, be sure to take some time to ask them what they would like to do. Ask them if they enjoy their school, their teacher, their classmates. Tell them about the benefits of possibly switching schools and ask them if that’s something they would consider. Keeping their thoughts in mind will make sure that everybody wins in the long run and will have a positive effect on their attitude towards their education.

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