It’s official, I’m now the mom of a gifted child.

Well, technically, I’ve ALWAYS been the mom of a gifted child (well, at least one and probably more), only now the school recognizes it too.

So much has happened since I last posted.  So much.  So entirely much.

I have a series of posts I intend to write, but I need to prioritize them. But first…back to the topic of this post.

We got a letter in the mail from the school district about a week ago.  I opened it up (with a tiny bit of apprehension) and read

Your child has been selected for the 2011-2012 Merit fourth grade class.  Merit is a part of the XXX School High Ability Program.  Because the class is made up of homogeneously grouped, academically-able students, we believe that your child will have a unique opportunity for intellectual growth and challenge.

I’m officially the mother of a ‘recognized by the school system’ bona-fide GIFTED child.  I mean, I already knew that, you know?  Especially since mothers of other children would tell me how they worried about their own child’s progress in comparison to M’s (who was reading at a 6th-7th grade level in second grade) and talked to their teacher about their worries.  But the teacher told them, “no, no, your child is NOT behind the class.  You mustn’t at ALL compare your child to M.  She’s an exception to the rule here”.  It was nice to get feedback about M, but still, I had no real ‘proof”.  Until now.

And I heard, all along, the “children who start out ahead often level out by third grade” (most of all from my own mother).  Except those who don’t.  Except those who keep an upward trajectory with the right encouragement and access to learning experiences.

But now I have actual bragging rights – NOT that I’m going to brag.  Except this once.   YAY!  Go M!  That’s right! You did it!

I’m relieved to know I’m not one of ‘those moms’ who thinks her child is gifted when she’s not.

Actually, I never was.  On the contrary, I was one of those moms who thought her child was just smart, but perhaps/probably NOT gifted.  I truly thought that maybe she wouldn’t get into the program, even though I knew about it since kindergarten and was assured by her teachers she stood a good chance (I mean, really, it partly depended on tests and if she had a bad test day, it wouldn’t matter much how she did otherwise). I know M wanted to be in the program from having talked with friends and seeing what the fourth graders do, but I played it down, worried she might be disappointed if she didn’t make it. Well, I really worried she might be devastated she didn’t get it. Perhaps I was worried just as much for my reactions as for her reactions too.

So now what does this mean for her?  I don’t know. I have no illusions or expectations. I know gifted programs vary in scope, vary in depth and breadth across the country. Some so-called gifted programs aren’t really more than just dumping more homework on the kids, with the belief that more is better. But, I hope it’s a qualitatively different experience, not merely quantitatively more.

I do know a few things that they will do differently than the regular 4th grade classes. They will go to an opera and they will also perform in an opera for their school. They will also be working on changing the diet of a mouse. Other than that, I don’t know. I go to the merit/gifted program informational meeting on July 7th. I’ll find out more.

I have also heard a rumor that they will start a similar merit program in second grade in the fall.  I have heard from two different sources – one from a person who works in the school, another from a woman who is close friends with a second grade teacher in the school, but I have no confirmation.  As far as I know middle daughter K, who will be in second grade in the fall, had not brought home any information about it, may qualify for that program.   I’m going to, in my usual rather low-key stance and make the assumption that the school won’t get their act together in time to get it in place this year.  In which case we will do what we have always done…enrich the children’s experiences outside the classroom with field trips and reading and science experiments (which we have not done  in some time but they have been going to science camp).

And well…I suppose now I am feeling a little bit justified in calling this blog “Raising Smart Girls” and having gifted resources at hand…even long before I had the official word. But, my philosophy about raising smart girls is going to pretty much stay the same.  Low key, respectful support of my daughters’ interests, with a focus not on academic excellence (actually grades are quite low on my priorities), but on the focus on critical thinking and emotional support and raising well-rounded, compassionate children, and doing what I can to support a life-long love of learning and encourage them to develop and use their abilities in ways that suit their temperaments and desires.

In any case, my child is still the same child she was two weeks ago.  It’s not my job to see that she (or my other daughters) gets into the best college in the future, but simply that she uses whatever abilities she has in ways she enjoys most and to pretty much stay the hell out of her way while she makes some decisions of her own.

More to come on my philosophy about that….

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8 Responses to It’s official, I’m now the mom of a gifted child.

  1. Phil says:

    Congratulations to your daughter M! And kudos to mom too. Take a bow because you are in part responsible for helping her get to this point.

    “In any case, my child is still the same child she was two weeks ago. It’s not my job to see that she (or my other daughters) gets into the best college in the future, but simply that she uses whatever abilities she has in ways she enjoys most and to pretty much stay the hell out of her way while she makes some decisions of her own.”

    That’s an excellent observation and some great parenting advice.

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks Phil,

    I really don’t feel comfortable taking a bow. She did the hard work. She has the motivation and a slightly competitive edge she did NOT get from me.

    What I felt I did was provide things I WISH I HAD around the house while I was a child. I spent some amount of time reading to her even after she could read as an excuse to be close to her. I did a few science experiments in order to get them off the computer and away from the T.V. and to re-learn a few things I forgot about. We went to re-enactments and historical field trips because I find them more interesting than going to the movies.

    And, I think I did a lot of what I did for ME, as much as I did them for them. I actually think I was quite selfish in that regard.

    I think I’ll take a bow for simply learning how to step back and not interfere too much in her day to day education. She let me know when she needed more. And when she felt she wanted to learn more about something or take an extra curricular activity, she came to me. I learned quite early she was resistant to being pushed but excelled when she chose and directed herself in certain tasks.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Yikes. This is the first post I read in this blog, and it made me uncomfortable. I was accepted into the gifted program in elementary school as well, but my mother did not react like this.

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Elizabeth –

    I don’t write to make people comfortable. I write to share the goings on of our lives and make sense of my feelings about things. This is one time I’m going to celebrate something that’s important to my daughter.

    I think it’s awfully judgmental to comment how something makes you uncomfortable on the FIRST post you read on someone’s blog. I’m sure there’s a bunch of blog posts that people write that would make me uncomfortable, but I would not ever say so on their blog.

    I almost thought about trashing your post, but I decided not to. I’m not really hiding anything. I am happy for her. And it was cause for a little hurrah. And now life will resume as normal.

  5. Heather says:

    I think it is perfectly appropriate to celebrate something that both you and your daughter were hoping would happen. I know that “gifted” floats around out there as charged word, but so far a better word hasn’t presented itself to describe these children. I was excited too when my son qualified for the gifted program at his school. (unfortunately we never got to experience it, because his other exceptionality caused us to chose homeschooling the next year.)

  6. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Heather –

    Thank you.

    I think homeschooling rocks! Seriously. If my girls would allow me to homeschool, I would. But they just love their friends and teachers too much. And they tend to get in each other’s space a whole lot, so having the school setting gives each of them their own space to develop their unique personalities and abilities apart from each other.

    I commend you for homeschooling. In case you need resource ideas/input, if you don’t already go there, Mothering.com has a message board with forums on gifted/2E kids and homeschooling support.

    Good luck with it next year. 🙂

    Casey

    • Heather says:

      Casey,

      Thanks for the resource–it was not one I was aware of.

      I think homeschooling will go much better this year. We have one year under our belt–which was a lot about learning how NOT to do things, and which charter school DIDN’T work. But we are with a good charter now. I have an Educational Specialist who is helpful but stays out of my way since with the gifted and mood disorder I have to do a combo of child led but structured learning. And I homeschool my younger daughter as well, because she (while not officially identified) is gifted too, and couldn’t stand being in 1st grade while capable of 2nd and 3rd grade work, when her brother was at home.

      But having both of them home, together, all the time, can be very challenging. If someone had told me 3 years ago that I would be homeschooling now I would tell them they were crazy. But now that I’m doing it, I enjoy the opportunity to be so involved in their education–and to just watch them discover the world.

      Heather

  7. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Heather –

    That’s awesome that you are enjoying it. I’m glad they are having the experience to discover the world with you.

    Yes, I’d check out those forums. There’s a lot of helpful women that have some great ideas. You can simply lurk and peruse the forums or join (it’s free) and ask questions. If you get stuck or discouraged and want a little feedback, you’ll find it there.

    I’m glad you’re doing your own thing and have the freedom to do so and feeling more confident about it. I had heard that the first year is always pretty challenging.

    You are doing your kids a great service by getting them out of the school system and getting them they individualized education that they need.

    All the best.

    Casey

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