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Gifted kids not interested in academics


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#1 Nart

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 02:15 AM

Anyone else have a gifted kid who is just not interested in academics?

 

I have a third grader who I always knew was clever but who has never been into academics. He is the perpetual "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" kind of kid. He just spent the last week youtubing how to build a bow and arrow and then figured out how to cut down bamboo in our yard, get twine, cajoled me into buying him arrowheads on Amazon, and made a pretty cool, working bow and arrow. He then converted it into a crossbow using part of a clothes pin and some other parts.  A couple of months ago he wanted to learn to skateboard and watched some skating videos. He had a skateboard and I bought him the protective gear. For a month he went to a skateboard park and got pretty decent at dropping in and skating around. Then he suddenly decided he was done and moved on to learning to rollerblade. He plays sports for a season like baseball, soccer, basketball, does a great job (he is quick, competitive, and aggressive when playing) but by the end of the season whines about going to practice although once I drag him there he seems to have a good time. By the end of the season he gets asked to play continue playing on all stars or on a club/travel team but doesn't want to keep playing. In the summer he was interested in how it works to own your own business and spent a month asking questions like how do employees get paid, how do you go about hiring people to work for you, etc. That lasted a month and he moved onto something else.  It is fine that he wants to try several things and has a lot of interests, however, I worry that he just doesn't have that "stick to it" quality that is so important in life. 

 

In school, he figures out the bare minimum he has to do in order not to be kept in for recess or for the teacher to notice and then doesn't do anymore. He likes to be read to at night but doesn't often like to read.  His spelling was atrocious but is now majorly improving after doing Apples and Pears spelling A and we are midway through B. When he has listened to his brother do Beast Academy he will listen in and shout out a correct answer but then go do something else as he has no interest in continuing.  I kept thinking he will eventually be interested in academics but he really isn't. I have though about homeschooling him, but getting him to do any academics is difficult so I am not sure how well it would work out. 

 

So I had him assessed and found out ....he is gifted but is academically underperforming.  :huh: We should have saved our money. Anyone have a gifted kid who wasn't interested in academics in elementary school but eventually took off academically? 

 

 


Edited by Nart, 08 January 2018 - 02:19 AM.

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#2 okbud

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:08 AM

This might not helpful at all, but I know some adults who have ADD and are gifted and were just like what you describe all through school (indeed, still, today) and they eventually found their way, even with the deck stacked against them and without someone (like you) up to date on what those words mean guiding them.

 

They did *not* get amazing grades in school. They actually got through by the skin of their teeth and drove their parents all half crazy. And they never had, and never will have sticktoitiveness* because of the ADD. But as adults with families and careers*... they're awesome. They do have a little baggage about people thinking they are dumber than they actually are...

 

 

*Like most people with ADD they can figure out how to function. Even if it is, as you say, minimally.


Edited by okbud, 08 January 2018 - 10:10 AM.

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#3 regentrude

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:14 AM

My DS is gifted and was a minimalist in school, doing the bare minimum to get by.

We pulled him out of 5th grade to homeschool, because he would have been content to coast and perform far below his abilities.

Some years homeschooling were tough going; while tons better than ps for him, homeschooling did not magically bring about a love for academics. Early teens were tough.

He did not develop a taste for academics until he took his first DE college classes in 11th grade. He is now a freshman, excited about academics, planning a double major and thinking about graduate school.

 

ETA: My DS did not find a passion he was going to "stick" to until he was 14. Before, he dabbled in a few things. I think it is entirely normal for a 3rd grader to be "jack of all trades" - that is what childhood is for!


Edited by regentrude, 08 January 2018 - 10:16 AM.

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#4 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:26 AM

Nart, you are describing my husband.  He had zero interest in academics, bounced from outside interest to outside interest, rarely stayed focused on one thing for an extended period but while he was focused on something he was REALLY focused on that one thing and severely underperformed in school.  In fact, he nearly flunked out of High School.

 

Now?  Brilliant engineer highly respected in his field.  What helped?  His parents supported his outside interests.  Starting in about Middle school he found areas of interest he actually stayed with longer, too, and even though his parents had a VERY limited income they either found a way to help or they encouraged him to find a way to make his interests happen even if they couldn't immediately fork over the money.  Also, his High School had a very hands on engineering program and a drama program where he could apply his architectural skills to set design.  Also, he got an unpaid internship with a local TV station plus a part time job.  Having those things kept him engaged and learning skills that eventually led to a great career that really taps into his strengths even though his grades were not very good.  I think another thing that helped was that his parents never equated his worth with his academic performance, unlike some of his teachers.  


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#5 jewellsmommy

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:33 AM

Dd is 2e (mild ADHD and dysgraphic with high IQ). She does care to get As and Bs in her work, but does not desire to do accelerated work. She does not want to go above and beyond. No AP or advanced anything at this point. She loves art. That is the only area she pushes herself in. She will pursue new and advanced heights in that genre. 

 

It was hard for me to accept this at first, and I fought it a bit. I loved to learn and wanted to learn everything available to me when I was a student. I was academically competitive etc. That was me, this is her and I'm ok with that now. She can draw (and paint and animate...) WAY better than I can  :lol:. The only things I am not capable of teaching her anymore are studio based arts. I can teach all the book stuff, but that's it. 

 

Your little guy is still young. Dd always loved art but didn't find the driving passion for it until about 13yrs old.

 

It can be like pulling teeth to get her to do regular school work (except vocabulary  :001_huh:) . I have no idea why, but she enjoys doing vocabulary based assignments. Just don't ask her to write anything...or spell correctly (don't get me started on that  <_< ). Math gets big sighs etc. 

 

We have already singled out a university that has an animation degree. I was surprised to learn the breadth of employment available to one who holds this type of degree, so I worry much less these days. Your ds is likely to find something in the next 10 years that draws him. 

 

 


Edited by jewellsmommy, 08 January 2018 - 10:34 AM.

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#6 Heigh Ho

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 11:05 AM

Yes, I had one like this.  Low expectations classrooms, extrovert, teacher ignores all who are not remedial, lies if asked a question that would allow a kid to gain above grade level knowledge,  sib is also gifted but enjoys academics independently on his level  Figured out quickly that a low e classroom will provide all the knowledge in a review format, so no need to waste nine months.  Wasn't about to move his grade from a no effor low 90s to anything more in high school. I didn't yank him, because I was dealing with health issues and back then, not much was available in the community - instead I made a list of that had to be done at home in order for him to remain in school. So we afterschooled what the school didn't do...math, science, lit, spelling, and penmanship. He didn't enjoy academics until AP lit, which was immediately applicable to his life.  Most of college was not enjoyable but he graduated. Now at a techy company, he has met people who use academic knowledge in their life and he decided that's his tribe.  So, he needed to get away from adults who view academics as something for elites, and be exposed to sociable people who use academics. He starts his next college phase next week. Kinda funny because its exactly like his mates in the military..clever kids, but couldn't access academics at their level at school. Always too easy, and never enough to actually get in to the majors they would enjoy.


Edited by Heigh Ho, 08 January 2018 - 11:09 AM.

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#7 Steppenwolf

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 11:16 AM

... get away from adults who view academics as something for elites, and be exposed to sociable people who use academics ...

 

- beautifully stated!
 


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#8 Crimson Wife

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 11:31 AM

 I have thought about homeschooling him, but getting him to do any academics is difficult so I am not sure how well it would work out. 

 

Gifted kids who are bored underachievers at school often (maybe even usually) blossom in a homeschool setting. No more wasted time sitting through material that is too easy and too repetitious.
 


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#9 Arcadia

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 11:56 AM

I have though about homeschooling him, but getting him to do any academics is difficult so I am not sure how well it would work out.

For my oldest, we had to find outsourced classes with “subject experts” for every subject he is interested in. Those subjects that are “need to get done” but not something he wants to spend extra time on are his “social” scheduled classes. He is not keen to go faster on those and he enjoys the social aspect. Roy Speed’s Shakespeare classes is an example of an online class where he does learn something but the main purpose is to keep him happy with the social aspect. AoPS python classes are another that he took purely for the social aspect. Deschooling and unschooling was a big flop for this kid and just drive him nuts. He went from public school to deschooling/unschooling (unhappy and extremely bored kid) to lots of outsourced classes (contented and less bored kid).

For my younger boy, he is fast if working on grade level but slow when he is working at ability level. So we go for the bare minimum at ability level. We don’t want him to be bored and complacent but we want him to have some down time daily. He is just not interested in anything so we are preparing for him to ether take a gap year or go to community college first. He intends to commute to college because he doesn’t like dorms either. Both my kids don’t want dorms.

ETA:
I was a constant academic underachiever and I found my happy place in management jobs. I was a student councilor in school. I was happy in schools though because they were my social place since I was in school activities almost daily.

Edited by Arcadia, 08 January 2018 - 12:00 PM.

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#10 Ravin

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 12:15 PM

It sounds to me like he is constantly learning on his own--and hasn't yet found something that sparks enough passion for sustained effort, so he continues to learn broadly rather than delving deep. There is nothing wrong with that. If I had a kid like that I'd be inclined to homeschool/unschool him.


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#11 mathnerd

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 01:24 PM

I think that he is a curious kid who is eagerly pursuing all that he is interested in! Childhood is ideally the time where you explore. This kid is doing it right :) When he grows up, he can say that he tried it all. Many kids do not know what their interests are until they reach high school and sometimes into college. I changed careers in my 20's when I found my true interest. So, there is a lot of time for him to choose what he does. You are encouraging his interests. So, keep doing that!


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#12 Donna

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 06:23 PM

My middle ds was/is my least academic though he never took off academically. When he finds something he is interested in, he learns everything there is to know about it and he is fearless when it comes to trying things. He is definitely a hands on learner and likes anything he can do with his hands. He has taught himself how to fix anything around the house and can easily take cars apart and put them back together. He does remodeling work and work in an auto shop on the side of his music career.  He is one of the best guitarists in his genre, is learning to build guitars, and has taught himself sound engineering.

 

When he was little he took things apart just to figure out how to put them together. He invented little things to solve problems around the house. 

He never met a book he liked to read though.

 

I am still not sure what he will end up doing for a living other than all the little odd jobs he does now. Any talk from us, his parents, about looking into college for anything other than the guitar building courses he has taken, is quickly shot down. He supports himself fully (except for being on our health insurance) and lives on his own making enough to put money into savings...though when he is no longer young enough to be on our health insurance things might need to change. He is a hard worker and knows how to make money so we are not worried about him.


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#13 dmmetler

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 07:01 PM

Well, there is always work for a good luthier. Maybe he’d be willing to expand to other strings?

#14 Nart

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 12:58 AM

Thanks for all the responses. I was cleaning our garage yesterday and saw some of the things we bought him to support his interests in the past year, including lacrosse sticks, metal detector, nets to catch invasive crayfish, model kit for motorcycle, and I thought about where he would end up. If I wasn't clear in my previous I love his personality - he is helpful, optimistic and finds amazement in so many things. We go on a hike and he is excited to find a cool rock or stick or bug. 

 

I am not sure what to do with him academically and how much it would help to homeschool him. I can imagine it going both ways. Either he would really take off academically with all the time we would have or he would refuse to do work and our relationship would suffer. Right now I work 4 days a week at a school so I am on vacation when he is off so I do have time to work with him. In September, I realized what he needed was help with spelling / handwriting and in order for that to get done I had to start paying him a dollar a page to complete his work. That is a crazy amount of money but a tutor around here starts at $50 dollars an hour.  We now make him pay for many of his interests so I don't spend that much in the end. It has really been the only thing to get him to work consistently because he can be so stubborn in refusing to do work. It is easier to make him do a lesson every day for consistency. Having to print and spell correctly page after page has really increased his ability to produce quality work at school. Since the end of September he has finished 90 lessons of a spelling program that has a tremendous amount of writing and it has really been worth it (that is 233 pages of written work so $223).  It is the first time I have made him follow through with academic lessons. It is probably more writing than he has done in K-2 all together.  He whines and complains but he now knows I am going to make him do it because he really need it. In the past he has worn me down and I would give up having him do work at home and even homework after a few weeks of trying a new academic activity.

 

It is amazing to see how much better his spelling and handwriting has become in such a short amount of time so I wonder if I am shortchanging him by not pushing him more academically. 



#15 Heigh Ho

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 06:14 PM

He's in control, curious and learning from his environment, and that is a wonderful thing. 

 

As far as pushing him more academically....it sounds like the school is not delivering grade level instruction in spelling or penmanship, so I don't consider it a push to do that material at home.  It is shortchanging him not to offer it at all.  Same if all that is being offered is common core math..even the authors of that program admit it won't be enough for a person to begin Calculus the first semester of college. Your dc sounds like he would benefit from being in a school setting that offers more than basic..his time is not being used wisely.


Edited by Heigh Ho, 09 January 2018 - 06:14 PM.


#16 regentrude

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 06:26 PM

I had doubts whether homeschooling, which was fantastic for my ambitious driven DD could possibly work for minimalist, just-getting-by DS.

But the child you school at home is not the same child you had sent to school.  It was an amazing different.

Being allowed to work at his level and his speed, without wasting time being bored waiting for the class was a game changer. Spending a few hours learning without busywork as opposed to many hours busywork without learning made all the difference.


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#17 daijobu

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 09:41 PM

 

Now at a techy company, he has met people who use academic knowledge in their life and he decided that's his tribe.  So, he needed to get away from adults who view academics as something for elites, and be exposed to sociable people who use academics. .

 

I'm curious what does this mean?  He prior exposure to academics was among unsocial people?  



#18 kiwik

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 03:40 PM

I know adults like that. They are great during the start up phase but not good with the day to day after that. If they specialise in start up though then move to another start up then everyone is happy.

#19 Heigh Ho

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:12 PM

I'm curious what does this mean?  He prior exposure to academics was among unsocial people?  

 

It means he knew no one who was both sociable and used an academic subject as part of earning their livelihood. 

 

The first person he really met was a new dentist, and that fella was quite inspirational.  Too bad he wasn't available a decade earlier. 


Edited by Heigh Ho, 10 January 2018 - 04:17 PM.

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#20 pinewarbler

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 01:41 PM

Gifted kids who are bored underachievers at school often (maybe even usually) blossom in a homeschool setting. No more wasted time sitting through material that is too easy and too repetitious.
 

 

 

THIS!!!!!

 

My kids describe actual pain when they discuss having to do easy and repetitious work at school. And that was every year before grade 5, even with me working with the teacher to get them appropriate level work.

 

Don't want to sound drastic, but you have to be worried about the damage being done... that they'll view academic learning as not for them. Have you considered that they are a hands-on learner, so doing worksheets might not be the best way to engage? You can do all the grade 3 math with lego.

 

Some things that worked for us.. 

-getting them to appropriately self-advocate for better work to do in class (worked on over years, and with daily coaching.. which by the way, really really paid off)

-getting the boy a male teacher

-getting them into the lower level of a split class (ie. grade 4 in a 4/5 split)

-getting them to join clubs (not sports) that they could enjoy at school (eg. chess, a/v helper, d&d club, robotic, etc)

-getting them into a gifted program (only did that for one of my kids... the other could cope better)

 

And slightly off-topic... IMHO, good spelling comes from a lot of reading. I'd save time and money and just cut to the reading issue. I get asked this a lot, as both my kids learned to read as toddlers and read constantly.... I suggest to parents that they require a minimum amount of reading a day, and that they spend time every day reading aloud to their kids, no matter the child's age.