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Raising a Gifted Child
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - May 25th, 2016
A Mom Asks Her Son’s Teacher about Online Math Practice…
I was speaking to a mom one Friday, and she was struggling (in the best way possible) to keep up with her gifted son–to feed his huge intellectual appetite. She was telling me that he had recently spent the evening doing hundreds of math problems on an on-line website, enjoying himself tremendously. When the mom asked his teacher if she felt this was a good thing for him, the teacher suggested it was not. She felt the child shouldn’t be doing math problems at home, but should be playing and developing the non-academic side of his personality.
Now Wait Just a Minute!
I am all for more play with kids. I’ve written about it in my book, Testing For Kindergarten, and I’m constantly talking to parents about the myriad of benefits of play. When children play, they use their imagination, learn to negotiate with other kids, try on different roles, work out psychological struggles, the list goes on and on. The question here is, should a child who loves math be discouraged from doing math problems at home if that is what he enjoys doing. I say, “no.”
So Then I asked My Friend with a Gifted Child…
My conversation with this mother led me to reach out to another mom, my friend Debra, who has done a wonderful job raising her gifted and amazing daughter, Ariel. I asked her what she thought about the issue and here is what she wrote to me. I wanted to share it with you:
“A child who enjoys doing math problems at home, in my opinion, should be encouraged to do math problems at home! If the parent is comfortable with math, she could also turn every day experiences into fun math problems as well. A great friend of mine has a teenage son, who has a great love of math. They casually took him to a baseball game when he was about 6 years old. Her husband told me he loved the game, but not for the reason you would expect. The husband said Mario (the son) spent the entire game watching the score board…he was fascinated by the statistics flashing on the screen. Mario was spending his time in the seats, trying to figure out how they determined the stats for each player. They went to more games, and the same reaction came out of her son. My friend thought she should encourage her son, Mario, to play baseball and see if they could get him to participate and be physically active in the game he loved to watch. Mario was placed on a little league team and the rest is a part of Mario’s history…he is an avid player up to this day. He hopes he gets a place on his high school varsity team this year. Not only is Mario a talented baseball player, he is a great student in school too. Baseball helps him diffuse the stress of his rigorous academics. This experience had triggered a big awareness to the parents – his passion for math could be integrated into life experiences bigger those in school. Those are the kinds of serendipitous experiences that help you round out your child’s life. I had many of those types of experiences with Ariel.”
Now That’s What I’m Talking About!
I love Debra’s message of noticing your child’s interests and then helping him to build meaningful life experiences around them. As parents, I believe that is our job.