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Accelerating - 'pull' only or is some 'pushing' appropriate


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Hi, I'm not in here very often as only one of my three children is a bit 'accelerated'. But there is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. 

I often hear/see parents of accelerated children pointing out that the child is accelerated because the child insists on it; there is no way to hold her back. These parents seem to emphasize that they are not ever 'pushing' their child; they wouldn't do that. So I would like to know, is this a fair assessment of how most scenarios with accelerated kids work? Or is the assertion that parents aren't pushing just a response to criticism (explicit or implicit) by other parents? And would it ever be beneficial to engage in some pushy parenting?

The reason I'm curious about your opinions is because of my youngest child. The two elders have always been 'behind' rather than 'ahead', so I don't have prior experience with the latter. Right now she is in third grade (but would be in second grade if she were at school) and is working at fourth to sixth grade materials. However this has happened mostly by accident, without a real plan in mind for what she is going to 'get to' when. She's a pretty keen learner, and tends to want to do whatever her seventh grade brother is doing! She isn't going to specialize for a long time yet (because she's 7 and has no idea what she wants to do). But it has occurred to me recently that if I were to push her a bit, it's possible that she could be seriously accelerated, as opposed to just regularly accelerated. She could probably finish all her basic school stuff years 'early', and then explore a load of other subjects. Or start a specialisation, if she wants to. Or take a year off to get serious about her music, if she's keen to do that. Or whatever. 

 

So now I am vacillating between the idea that perhaps I am letting her down by not encouraging her to work to her full abilities, and the competing idea that kids shouldn't be pushed (and who wants to be one of those parents)...

Do you think there is a moral imperative to accelerate a student who is keen / capable? And if so, to what extent? Or is it valid to decide that radically accelerated just isn't a path we want to take, for whatever reason?

Edited by IsabelC
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There is direct push in that my minimums have to be met regardless how much my boys may loathe memorising some German and Chinese vocabulary, real some history, practice their instruments and do some sports. Else they would really do nothing :P

 

There is also an indirect push of spending time at Barnes & Noble on the way home so that my kids would read more fiction versus going straight home and them plopping themselves in front of their laptops because its too hot out to run.

 

I also ask my kids if I see something they might like to know more about. Like there was a marine science research lab open house recently so we brought them there. Or asking if they want to participate in the Math Kangaroo, RSM Olympiad or AMC8. They can say no and they did reject some.

 

Kids are kids and they need to be nag sometimes because they have their bad days too. However I hate being pushed as a kid by people just for being academically gifted, being labeled an underachiever like I was wasting tax payers money. So even though I know my kids can achieve more if I push, I rather prod/nudge than push. My hubby understand my viewpoint of once our kids childhood is past, we can't give back that time. So there are achievement tradeoffs that we are willing to accept.

 

My oldest is 11 and often he wants mommy time. He is not ready to give up childhood and he is a very independent kid by nature. So everything depends on the child you have and how they change as they grow.

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There is also an indirect push of spending time at Barnes & Noble on the way home so that my kids would read more fiction versus going straight home and them plopping themselves in front of their laptops because its too hot out to run.

 

 

I think the "indirect push" might be what I'm really thinking of. (We're not what you'd call rigorous educators, so I don't think I'm ever going to go all Amy Chua and do things like "100 spelling tests per night every night until you are top of the class".) I am feeling like I need to pull up my socks when it comes to providing opportunities to learn for this kid, and resist the urge to think "she's good, she already knows everything she's supposed to know by this age". So maybe it's me who needs pushing, not her... 

 

However it's not all just me being lazy. It's also competing interests, and an attempt to balance things. The other siblings need various remedial work, which I'm not about to skimp on. Also the accelerated kid is 2E and I suspect that being way 'ahead' of her age peers might unfortunately increase her social challenges. Social stuff is really important for this kid, because if I didn't push that, she'd spend all her time with her nose in a book. (Hence we strongly encourage her friendship with another little girl her age who can barely read but who is very bright and social in disposition.)

Edited by IsabelC
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I think kids should be pushed enough that they have some struggle. If they are working at a level where everything is easy and they get it all right on the first or second try, I think a little push is warranted. I believe even accelerated kids need to know how to work through a struggle. Some gifted kids enjoy the struggle and do that naturally, but others will resist and prefer to stay where everything is comfortable easy unless pushed. 

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I think kids should be pushed enough that they have some struggle. If they are working at a level where everything is easy and they get it all right on the first or second try, I think a little push is warranted. I believe even accelerated kids need to know how to work through a struggle. Some gifted kids enjoy the struggle and do that naturally, but others will resist and prefer to stay where everything is comfortable easy unless pushed. 

 

I think that's a good point. My experience was that the schools I attended failed me in that regard. I was a 2E kid (although that term wasn't around in those days lol) with very similar characteristics to this daughter, and I wasn't given any challenges at school. I was into my late teens before I got to anything that wasn't instantly easy/obvious, and at that point I concluded that I must be stupid, because I had never learned to work hard or persevere. It took until my fourth year of university before I acquired the motivation and skills to buckle down and work at something that I didn't comprehend immediately.

Edited by IsabelC
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I try to push the amount that is appropriate to DD's chronological age. So, yes, I expect X amount of core academics, require a physical activity each semester, and require some form of music lessons-but I am OK with DD not wanting to do competitions for piano or sit exams, as long as she's making steady progress, and she chooses which academic competitions she does, with "none" as an acceptable answer.

 

She generally pushes herself in one area. It was math for awhile, but when she started to get the opportunities in herpetology, she started pushing herself there, and math slowed down to a "one book a year" level. Now she's dividing her time between snakes and computers, and talking about double majoring in bio and CS (especially operating systems and AI). In her case, she seemed self motivated and pushing in everything until she got to a level she could truly work at what she wanted to do.

Edited by dmmetler
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... She could probably finish all her basic school stuff years 'early', and then explore a load of other subjects. Or start a specialisation, if she wants to. Or take a year off to get serious about her music, if she's keen to do that. Or whatever. 

 

 

We tried to use the "extra time" to fit in the other stuff (exploration, specialization, getting serious about a passion) instead of focusing on speeding up the basics.  So instead of, say, leaping years ahead in math, we used our math time to tackle challenging problems (instead of basic repetitive ones), got it done fairly quickly, and spent significant time doing other subjects, athletics, casual park days, "let's put on a show" activities, library outings, visits to museums and nature centers, etc. etc. etc., ideally many of these with friends so as to work on social skills (if/when needed) and provide opportunities for leadership and collaboration with peers.  In other words, we 1) went broader rather than faster, and 2) customized or created curricular materials that taught the basics in the minimum time necessary and quickly moved to challenging work.

 

... Also the accelerated kid is 2E and I suspect that being way 'ahead' of her age peers might unfortunately increase her social challenges. Social stuff is really important for this kid, because if I didn't push that, she'd spend all her time with her nose in a book. (Hence we strongly encourage her friendship with another little girl her age who can barely read but who is very bright and social in disposition.)

 

In my experience, this is time well-spent.  

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I nudged.

 

Both of my kids did not naturally go as far as they could go with academics. I didn't nudge them to the very edge, but I did nudge them to the point that the had to work a bit.

This is pretty much what I am trying to do. I expect time and effort as I see appropriate for their ages, then use materials/methods that will require that, adjusting as necessary.

 

I also try to have house habits and rules that are conducive to learning. I am sure to pick up books on something a child expresses a passing interest in. Bedtime has a 30 minute optional reading block built in-sleep or read for that 30minutes, whatever they prefer. I try to have educational games and outings. I have a tight limit on screen time. Things of that nature.

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It's definitely a balance here. I am homeschooling mainly because public school does not provide enough challenge (and I am still wary of a challenge to this day due to never experiencing challenge in school), so pushing them a bit is important to me. But I also try to follow their lead, and tend to lean more to the nudge/provide opportunities end of pushing (although I sometimes do do more). One thing I've done a number of times when there's been an opportunity that they were wary of is ask them to do it once, or do the first step/level/part, and then they can decide whether to continue. Usually even though they were wary about taking on the challenge initially, they found they enjoyed it and chose to continue (but if they didn't, I let them not continue it). And there are plenty of times when they need normal pushing because they're kids and would rather not do their work or whatever, but I think that's different than being a pushy parent.

 

I am never sure how much is right, either. I think them not having any particular focus/passion makes it somewhat harder, because they are good at and enjoy so many things. It is easy to think "what could be" with more work in any one area, which can be exciting, but obviously they can't do that in every area (to their great frustration). So then the question is do we pick an area or 2 to really step up even without passion or just let them be less advanced than they could be? To date I've let them be less advanced (though still quite advanced) by spending normal amounts of time/effort on each subject, and let them do more subjects and activities instead. But as my oldest is going into sixth grade we're thinking about stepping up a couple areas. We're trying to pick based on what she seems more interested in generally and might want to pursue a career in (and she's definitely participating in the discussion), but it's hard when everything appeals to her. We're thinking about stepping up in science, and I even started a thread trying to get an idea of how to do that, but it's hard to articulate, or even figure out exactly, what we're going for. I want to push her, but not too much, and not at the expense of other interests.  :willy_nilly:

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My DS10 had needed a lot more time and help from hubby and me compared to DS11 since he was born. So I would just keep bringing both kids in their double stroller to Borders, Barnes & Noble, the library, the Children Museum, the Tech Museum and the Science Center. We would go to the zoo or aquarium every year as well as go to the tide pools. That way my DS11 who was an early reader, and loves books and people watching wouldn't feel as neglected.

 

I would read the local parents magazine (Bay Area Parents) and jot down events that my kids might be interested in. Then hubby would clear his annual leave if need be so that we could go.

 

I am a planner by nature and hubby loathe planning. So I do the planning and he makes time to do whatever I plan.

 

I find if I don't take note of events and resources, my DS11 would miss enrichment opportunities because it is easy to relax since he is ahead and just concentrate on building up DS10's executive function skills. We took a light academic year when we switch from public charter to homeschooling because both kids are ahead so the risk wasn't there to take a relaxed path for a year. It was great for me to recharge and for my kids to explore stuff. However my kids found they prefer structure with semi-tangible goals so we went back to a more structured style.

 

At 7, my oldest has no idea what is out there. I am of the camp that education is a buffet spread. So I believe strongly in exposing my kids to lots of varied experiences within our time and money limits. My hubby specialised at postgrad level when he was doing his phd. I am a generalist and worked mainly engineering management jobs before being a SAHM. From a totally personal point of view with no scientific backing, I believe in pushing exposure to music, art, gym, multiple languages at preschool age or earlier so that kids feel that it is natural. I feel that if my kids start later, perfectionism and self awareness may hold them back. Sometimes when kids are young they think they can conquer the world and I feel that is my opportunity to push my kids to slightly outside their comfort zone with less risk of performance anxiety/self consciousness.

 

For example sports, my kids are comfortable with walking the balance beams because we did gym on and off from baby to eight years old but they are embarrassed to try bowling because they are worried about their bowling balls all going to the gutter.

 

It is a balancing act still for me because both of mine are asynchronous and my youngest still need tomato staking. I am thankful I have only two because my energy level is zapped. Some of my aunts have six kids very similar to mine :)

 

ETA:

This was in response to time management with respect to different kids needs.

Edited by Arcadia
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Imho, "pushy" means requiring more time spent than is developmentally appropriate. It means making kids miserable because it delivers some sense of status. If that is what you mean by push, then no, we don't.

 

If, otoh, you mean "setting the bar at a challenging level," then absolutely, yes, we do. Our kids want and need that from us, so we do our best. But, we adjust quickly. If they request a challenge they aren't ready for, we have no problems pulling on the reins.

 

If our kids would have been happy with the content provided by a public school, we would have happily left them there. We feel no need to force them to grow up early. We'd rather they be kids while they can. But, they were miserable learning content at the schools' pace. Truly, deeply unhappy. The paths they are on are the ones they have chosen for themselves.

 

We certainly influence them, though. Eg, we describe good study habits openly, in ways not open to dispute.

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But as my oldest is going into sixth grade we're thinking about stepping up a couple areas. We're trying to pick based on what she seems more interested in generally and might want to pursue a career in (and she's definitely participating in the discussion), but it's hard when everything appeals to her. We're thinking about stepping up in science, and I even started a thread trying to get an idea of how to do that, but it's hard to articulate, or even figure out exactly, what we're going for.

It is hard to answer your thread because people change their minds on area of specialization even at postgrad level. For example, my hubby wanted to go into school of medicine but didn't make the cut and end up specializing in semiconductors research which he enjoys more than he would have as a family practitioner. A girlfriend specialized in biology in college but end up preferring admin work to research so she switch careers. A guy friend had his first degree in chemical engineering and his first and current job is in library sciences. He went for a postgrad certificate in library science/management after he started working for the library in the cataloging department. Another guy friend had a MBBS (doctor) and works as a life insurance underwriter, he never worked as a doctor.

 

However, it would be fun and useful to go to research labs open houses and let her chat with the research postgrads there. The marine science open house we went to, many took several years to finish postgrad and they don't have a secure job offer when they finish. Something that my DS10 is thinking over whether he wants marine science research as a career choice or as a hobby.

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I have one who is capable of more, and sometimes she is self-motivated to study at a higher level, but many other times she isn't.  I feel she ought to be pushed a bit when she isn't motivated to study.  It seems to me that everyone deserves a worthy challenge.  However, my kid is difficult to motivate externally.  She's really stubborn and basically runs the other way when I ask her to do something.  (Hence a reason I don't homeschool.)  I sometimes feel like I'm failing this kid because her "potential" doesn't even seem to be in the equation most of the time.

 

Plus, people think I'm nuts to ask her to do book work on top of her b&m school work, when she's already ahead of her peers.  They can understand my working with the slower kid - she needs help to keep up - but the advanced kid deserves more freedom I guess?  Even though she breezes through her regular school work much faster than she should.  The logic fails, but yeah, I'm "that mom" when I assign her some challenging work.

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I thrived when I finally found unschooling in high school. This made me feel like unschooling was totally the way to go for education. I was so unstructured that my child was basically floundering and anxious (hindsight is 20/20). Unschooling might have been great for me, but was terrible for him. He is all about schedules. He is all about checkboxes, clear expectations, scaffolded assignments, and the big picture goals. I had to change.

 

If your 7 year old is happily doing the work of your 7th grader, then you need to catch on to the fact third grade is just not cutting it. That does not mean you need to push. It just means give her the chapter tests, set a timer for thirty minutes, and see where she falls. You are shooting for 85% smooth, 15% struggle. If she can plow through the material, stop giving her busywork. You just need to level her. Once you find her level, let her go again. That isn't pushing, that is just teaching.

 

My son is a complete social freak. That is sometimes hard, but more just a product of not thinking like traditional 11 year olds. He is currently fascinated with public policy and educating people on using their rights to create meaningful social change. That is just not table conversation to most kids. He can talk Clash of Clans and about his favorite streamers, but generally gets bored quickly. You ask him to talk about Robert Kennedy and his ideas about empowering youth, well that is a totally different kid. He will blabber your ears off about it. Don't even get him started on power dynamics. In the end, his friends (like really close friends) are in their early to mid twenties working for dramatic social reforms. If I merely wanted him to appear normal, fine. However, in doing that I am dooming my child to remarkably superficial relationships that do not excite him. I am asking him to put a mask over who he is so that he will hide himself. Good Gracious what a message: "Don't really be you. You won't have normal friends. People won't like that kid. Hide so they like you."

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There are definitely areas I "nudge" but then, my dd only needs a nudge. She tends to be very easy.

 

For example, she would not study math or science at all if given the choice. Her entire day would be devoted to literature and history, preferably Irish history of some time period currently of interest, and possibly a little foreign language thrown in. (Kills me because math and science were my favorite areas to study.) She must complete certain core high school math and science subjects so she does. I won't "push" her to take AP tests or classes in either math or science in high school even though she could easily do well in either if pushed.

 

Another example of a "nudge"…about 18 months ago, dd wanted to quit studying classical violin. Rather than say, "There's no way you are stopping classical violin" and pushing her to the next level teacher which is the position she was in. We sat together and talked about her reasons for wanted to quit…mostly it was a poor teacher fit at the time, she wasn't having fun anymore with it and her teacher was pushing her towards a pre-conservatory program and she wasn't interested in that route (her goals and interests lie completely in folk music). We talked about her goals or possible future goals in regards to music, why completely quitting classical violin might be burning certain bridges in that area, and things to try to make lessons better for her. (I conceded that if we tried a few things and she still wanted to quit then she could.) We decided to make a teacher change to someone she loved learning from but who was a less experienced teacher. Even though this current teacher would never have been anyone's choice as a "next step" for her classical music development, she is now flourishing. She loves her lessons which often go over 2 hours, is practicing more, learning even more quickly, and would not think of quitting at this point in time. 

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A couple of ideas:  First I would ask your daughter if she feels like she needs or wants more than you are able to give her.  Ask her if she would like to devote more time to a particular subject area, and work with her to see how you can make that happen, given your limited time because of her 2E siblings.  

 

I was recently reminded on these boards about how much my kids enjoyed the logic puzzles in the Critical Thinking series.  Perhaps some puzzles that she can do independently will satisfy her need for intellectual growth.   Maybe there is a MOOC that would be appropriate for her age.  This one about animal behavior sounds interesting and may be appropriate for a younger child.

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It is hard to answer your thread because people change their minds on area of specialization even at postgrad level. For example, my hubby wanted to go into school of medicine but didn't make the cut and end up specializing in semiconductors research which he enjoys more than he would have as a family practitioner. A girlfriend specialized in biology in college but end up preferring admin work to research so she switch careers. A guy friend had his first degree in chemical engineering and his first and current job is in library sciences. He went for a postgrad certificate in library science/management after he started working for the library in the cataloging department. Another guy friend had a MBBS (doctor) and works as a life insurance underwriter, he never worked as a doctor.

 

However, it would be fun and useful to go to research labs open houses and let her chat with the research postgrads there. The marine science open house we went to, many took several years to finish postgrad and they don't have a secure job offer when they finish. Something that my DS10 is thinking over whether he wants marine science research as a career choice or as a hobby.

 

I definitely understand why it was hard to get any answers; that's even kind of what I was trying to say. Long-term planning and guiding is hard, and ALs, particularly ones who don't have an area of passion, just add another dimension to that.

 

That's a great idea about open houses; I'll have to look for some in our area. Thanks.

Edited by MASHomeschooler
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Someone recommended a book called Positive Pushing. It looks interesting, but I haven't read it yet.

 

I have a housefull of bright kids with executive function struggles. With kids like this, they can be motivated but unable to achieve much without lots of scaffolding. This is the classic underachiever type. I only wish I didn't struggle so much with executive function myself since my own ability to scaffold for them is seriously impaired!!

Edited by maize
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But it has occurred to me recently that if I were to push her a bit, it's possible that she could be seriously accelerated, as opposed to just regularly accelerated. She could probably finish all her basic school stuff years 'early', and then explore a load of other subjects. Or start a specialisation, if she wants to. Or take a year off to get serious about her music, if she's keen to do that. Or whatever. 

 

 

So now I am vacillating between the idea that perhaps I am letting her down by not encouraging her to work to her full abilities, and the competing idea that kids shouldn't be pushed (and who wants to be one of those parents)...

 

Do you think there is a moral imperative to accelerate a student who is keen / capable? And if so, to what extent? Or is it valid to decide that radically accelerated just isn't a path we want to take, for whatever reason?

 

I like Mike's definition upthread.

 

To give you some concrete examples...where I think as parents we've pushed from 7yo - 9yo:

 

  1. Riding a bicycle. DS would have learned extremely late (like me) if DH hadn't insisted he try. It took 2 years of nudging and DS finally learned at 9yo only because DH started making it a must to try every weekend afternoon.
  2. Practicing the piano. Each time there was a new piece to practice, DS would melt into tears after one or two tries. This was after we had found him a really good piano teacher (2 previous teachers were extremely strict about technique). DS loved his new piano teacher. So I would let him cry, hug him etc. But after that he had to go back and try again, slowly this time, one or two measures then moving on to four and gradually coaxing until he could play a piece once in full without melting down (it usually took less than 30 minutes to achieve this with these foundational pieces...it's just the perfectionism that would get in the way). And then 3-4 days later he would be playing the whole piece happily, all smiles (sometimes I felt like having a melt down myself when that happened lol).

 

Examples of DS pulling us on at 7yo - 9yo:

 

  1. Whenever DS had bigger meltdowns over the piano, I would suggest stopping for a while. He would insist we continue, wouldn't hear of stopping. Honestly, stopping would have been so much more convenient for me and saved us $100+ a month too but he wouldn't hear of it.
  2. Whenever I planned a math or reading course of study, DS would follow my plans faithfully for about a day or two. And then his eyes would stop shining with enthusiasm. That was something I always looked out for and true to his personality, he never talked back about not wanting to do it. He would just lose that spark. Quietly without rebelling. Upon asking him why he would ask if he could read something else or do some different math instead. When I acquiesced, he would pick up something much deeper and more challenging than the age appropriate materials I had planned (because I was always worried about gaps at the time). When he was able to trip away happily to work on something more interesting, his eyes would just light up again. This was how we ended up with him starting and finishing algebra I at 8yo.

 

More recently, at 13yo:

 

  1. I had planned for him to take a math class at the CC. DS quietly researched the uni schedule and wrote to the uni professor to ask if he could take a higher level class at the university instead. He told me only after he had written to the prof. The prof said yes. CC would have been so much cheaper and closer for us. And DS isn't the kid to make us spend more money if he can help it. But this was what he wanted so very much and he made it happen (he even volunteered to pay for it with his savings).
  2. I nudged him into checking out one of the top math summer programs because I honestly felt he would be a good fit for them and they him. He was extremely enthused to work on the qualifier exam. It was so challenging for him but he started slowly solving the questions. He researched the program whenever he could, looked for info on various forums and so on. He was so excited to give it a try. And then all his course deadlines started piling up and he was so rushed. The qualifier exam's deadline was approaching and DS started saying he didn't want to do it after all. I told him that he could do this. That he had been so excited by it. That he would regret it if he didn't at least try. Because once those course deadlines finished he would have more time to think about missing this opportunity and I could bet him he would be sad that he didn't push himself. So he tried after I "pushed". And he ended up answering many more questions that he originally did when he was more free! He got in! :laugh:

 

In my DS's case he doesn't display oppositional behavior. He doesn't talk back. So it's very easy for us to fall into a trap of pushing him because he is generally compliant, obedient and very good natured. His form of push back/ pulling has rarely been confrontational. It's something that I think only a mom or dad or very caring relative would pick up on. We wouldn't have pushed to radically accelerated him though. DH's pushing was more to do with executive function. My pushing was usually about filling gaps. :tongue_smilie:

 

And I think although parents can push, it is VERY difficult to sustain that to the point DS has reached without hitting burnout. The difference is that the acceleration delights the kid, makes him so bunny hoppy happy. That's rare to see if a kid has been pushed into it.

 

 

Edited by quark
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Someone recommended a book called Positive Pushing. It looks interesting, but I haven't read it yet.

 

I have a housefull of bright kids with executive function struggles. With kids like this, they can be motivated but unable to achieve much without lots of scaffolding. This is the classic underachiever type. I only wish I didn't struggle so much with executive function myself since my own ability to scaffold for them is seriously impaired!!

PREACH! Luckily my child helps me.

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My oldest is only four so I don't feel the need for pushing in general, however, I do push him to finish what he started if he asked me to set up something for him or teach him something. Even if I have to condense the lesson/activity into a quarter of its usual time to allow him to "finish" it.

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I nudged.

 

Both of my kids did not naturally go as far as they could go with academics.  I didn't nudge them to the very edge, but I did nudge them to the point that the had to work a bit.

 

This is how I'm working.  I can tell when DS is skating, when he's a little bit challenged, and when he is working.  It's a fine line between working hard and over his head, so I try to err on the easier side.  I don't want him to burn out on my account.

 

I definitely "nudge, if not outright push, at times. He's not one of these highly motivated GT kids.  He's borderline PG with other stuff going on, so it's definitely a balancing act.  I feel like if I didn't nudge, we'd be in bigger trouble because I know from experience his dad and his uncles have BTDT.

 

TLDR; trust your instincts. ;)

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Academics - I get pulled along behind, scrambling to provide suitable resources for current interests and scrambling to keep my own knowledge up to speed. We do a lot of learning alongside each other.

 

Social/emotional - I have to nudge, urge, encourage, prod. Just today it was a big achievement for my daughter to go to the movies with her older sister. She wanted to see the movie, but movie cinemas and crowds overwhelm her. I drove them to a really, really quiet session and I waited outside for the first half-hour in case she needed to abort. She pushed through her worries and ended up enjoying herself.

 

Knowing how much to prod and urge is really very tricky. Stepping outside our comfort zones is important, but getting completely overwhelmed can cause backward steps. Parenting isn't easy, is it??

 

Our kids are all so different and their individual needs are changing all the time. The stuff that needs prodding now will hopefully pass and who knows what will come next?

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Everyone has offered great insights.  One lesson I learned is from husband, who was a career Marine infantry officer.  When he was a company commander he decided to put his men through an incredibly tough physical fitness program - carrying logs, climbing hills with packs, etc.  All culminating in a hike up Mauna Kea during a training exercise on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was all carefully crafted and gradual, designed to build strength and not create injuries or discouragement, but it was tough and at the limit of their abilities.  His men always complained something fierce, grumbling constantly, as the other companies in the battalion were doing a more standard "run a few miles" type of program.  I'm sure most of them hated waking up in the morning and thinking about the tough PT ahead.
 

However, here's the thing... my husband and the rest of the leadership team often caught the guys bragging to people outside of their company about how tough they were, and the sense of accomplishment they felt when they completed the culminating hike was palpable.  Many had said it was the hardest thing they had ever done. On a daily basis they complained, but deep down they wanted to be challenged (it's why many joined the Marines the first place), and they were incredibly proud of what they had accomplished.  

So, I keep that lesson in mind when it comes to "pushing" in homeschool. It's not always relevant, there are plenty of things NOT to push on, but I think many gifted kids want to be challenged even if there's a little day-to-day grumbling.  

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I think a lot of the answer to your original questions depends on the age of the child.  I have a 7-year-old who I do not ever push (yet).  But when he was a 2-year-old who was reading, then I was a bit defensive in my answers to questions that often assumed I was a tiger mom.  I feel like we've settled in a bit now to a stage where I am less defensive and he is very comfortable just being himself.  And if that "himself" wants to learn computer programming, then so be it.  
My philosophy has become one of providing opportunities, and he is a kid who snaps up every one of them.  As he gets older, I think it becomes imperative that there be challenges, but I don't think acceleration itself is ever going to be challenging for him.  He is going to need an education that goes wider and deeper, not just faster.

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So now I am vacillating between the idea that perhaps I am letting her down by not encouraging her to work to her full abilities, and the competing idea that kids shouldn't be pushed (and who wants to be one of those parents)...

 

So, what is your underlying philosophy? Should kids be pushed to fulfill their potential or should kids be provided opportunities and be allowed to make of it what they want? That would provide the answer to your dilemma.

 

Personally, I don't understand why kids should not be pushed. My son and I did mom-baby swim lessons together since he was an infant and at age 3, he refused to be parted from me and go into the pool with the coach and I pushed very hard and there were tears and drama by the poolside from a kid who is always happy and a people pleaser. I had to summon his dad to drop everything and drive to the pool to lend support in my pushing. Today, he loves the pool, is a talented competitive swimmer and finds it hilarious when I recount the time when I had to push him to swim with the coach.

 

My child practices his musical instrument 5-6 days a week. There has never been a time since he started lessons when he has not practiced. He is with a teacher who sets the bar very high and will drop her students if they do not put in the requisite amount of work expected by her because she works very hard with the student as well. I push DS on the rare days when he does not want to practice by reminding him that he signed a contract with his teacher and he needs to fulfill his obligation to her.

 

... same with academics. My son can easily skate by on grade level curriculum and will finish his work in a short time and will play with legos or play basketball all day long for the rest of his life if I did not require him to work on more challenging material. I believe that a lot of learning and growth happens on the boundary line between "easy-to-handle" and "hard-to-handle-because-I-need-to-use-my-brain-to-think-which-I-am-not-used-to-doing!". When I push him to work on challenging stuff, be it in math or in computers or in languages, I can see the cogs in his head turning and there is excitement that he is "Getting it" when he figures things out. In contrast, when I give him less challenging work, he shuts down his brain and works like an automaton and ends up with a lot of carless errors because he is focusing on speed and not the quality of the work.

 

Though my son is a motivated learner, he lacks the executive functioning skills to know how to educate himself and also how to reach his goals. It is up to me to scaffold his learning. It might also look like pushing, but, the inherent motivation is his, I help with the execution part.

Edited by mathnerd
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Personally, I don't understand why kids should not be pushed.

 

There is a wide range of pushing.  I have seen too many change course after college because it is not their choice and they don't want to be a college drop out. So they get the degree the parents wanted and then work at a job that requires a generic degree to pursue the career they want. I know too many unhappy friends in medicine, dentistry, engineering and law because their parents think it is the choice for them.

 

I see many local parents pushing kids into STEM because that is the buzzword now. Then they wonder why their kids are passive about their education. I have also seen too many local kids treat music lessons as a job to be done which is why we change our kids' music teachers.

 

There is a range between helping our kids with executive function skills and micromanaging. Parenting is always hindsight and even identical twins are different.  There are identical and fraternal twins in my family and hubby's family.  

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I also think it depends on the age.  Free play is really important cognitively (and for other reasons) up to a point.  The benefit relative to structured learning changes over time.  When my gifted kid was 6/7 and wanted to play dolls vs. do a worksheet, I generally let it go.  Now at age 9+ it is a little different.  Playing dolls is still a fine activity, but not to the extent that she doesn't have any intellectual challenge.  If she wants to write a story about her dolls' adventures, then fine.  :)  Of course it isn't always as easy as it sounds, but ideally ....

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FWIW, I just told my DD today that we were going to try out a different gym for the summer months.  I feel like DD has kind of gone as far as she can go in the rec classes in the one she's at-and needs more "pushing" to move on-and the new one looks like it has a wider range of classes without having to join a team. It's not academic, but it's kind of the same thing. The fact is, it doesn't MATTER if she ever masters a Round-off Backhandspring, but not having anywhere to go from where you are isn't a good place to be at age 11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If your 7 year old is happily doing the work of your 7th grader, then you need to catch on to the fact third grade is just not cutting it. That does not mean you need to push. It just means give her the chapter tests, set a timer for thirty minutes, and see where she falls. You are shooting for 85% smooth, 15% struggle. If she can plow through the material, stop giving her busywork. You just need to level her. Once you find her level, let her go again. That isn't pushing, that is just teaching.

 

Would the kid's age matter? Or the kid's personality?

 

Also, as my kids get older, I'd like them to encounter a wider range of "level of struggle" or w/e. So maybe overall 85/15 might be good, but life doesn't always serve you up things in nice 85/15 proportions, so I'd like them to know what to do if it's a lot of struggle for something. Not too worried about that at their current ages though.

 

Not sure what to do when a kid of mine complains something is "too hard" (even while doing it, not just in anticipation) and then proceeds to get 95-100% correct. It's clearly something within his ability in that case, and I get that you can figure something out and get it (almost) perfect even when it really is on the very hard side, but from my perspective it's hard to figure out whether I'm being unreasonable when my kid is melting down, crying, getting angry, or w/e while getting everything right. This is not all the time btw - there are times he'll happily get a bunch of things wrong. It seems like he's randomly perfectionistic.

 

And maybe a stupid question, but how do you measure 85/15?

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I think that learning to keep working at challenging things is very important. It builds confidence and takes away some of the fear to try something new or difficult. As long as the process of "keeping working" is age and level appropriate, and done in a positive and supportive manner, then it's a good thing. I don't think this is different for an accelerated learner or any other person. 

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Hi, I'm not in here very often as only one of my three children is a bit 'accelerated'. But there is something that has been on my mind a lot lately.

/snip

And would it ever be beneficial to engage in some pushy parenting?

 

 

Do you think there is a moral imperative to accelerate a student who is keen / capable? And if so, to what extent? Or is it valid to decide that radically accelerated just isn't a path we want to take, for whatever reason? /snip

Rseponding to the OP, not having read pps'

Acceleration when the student hasn't explicitly asked for it is a personal choice, not a moral imperative. So, it's valid to choose to or not to accelerate the said child.

Where the child has the aptitude and attitude, but hasn't demanded advancement, 'Who benefits from the acceleration?' is my go-to question. If I push to encourage my child to step out of her comfort zone, it is beneficial to her well being. But, if I push her to feed my ego (bragging rights or whatever) or when I see the negative impact of pushing (anger, disinterest, defiance) and yet continue, then I cross a line into a different territory.

OTOH, I'm of the opinion that it's a moral imperative to accelerate a student when s/he initiates/asks to work at a faster pace.

 

ETA: added sentences for clarity

Edited by ebunny
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