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Does your child know they are smart?


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I once heard the mother of a very gifted girl say that she didn’t „believe“ in giftedness, but in hard work. I live in a neighborhood with predominantly East Asian immigrants and I’ve found this to be a common sentiment here. But online I find parents to be very protective of the gifted label. This gap made me really interested in studying intelligence, and I’ve read and learned a lot about it in the past 7 years. Now I’m curious: do your children know they are gifted? 

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No, and we've done that on purpose.

Dh and I were both labeled as gifted in early elementary.  He had enrichment classes that were fun and games, I was in a special class for most of pre-high school years where every student in it had some sort of extreme gift. 
BUT, none of us ever learned how to study or how to approach hard things.  We were coddled.  High school, I could sleep through my classes and still graduate near the top of my class.  I didn't see the point in pushing myself.  I was a tiny kid and really smart, which made me the object of attention for a lot of childhood and I knew I was different than my peers.  I also didn't know how to deal the first time something was hard.

Fast forward.  Youngest ds exhibits many of the same gifts dh and I have.  It was immediately clear that academics with age groups was out of the question if we wanted him to learn how to learn.  So, we don't use age labeled material.  I keep every subject near that sweet spot of needing to work to learn.  He has no idea he is different because the only academics he has done with other children have been with really, really gifted kids and he was the youngest/least able.  So, in his mind, he's average.  He has no idea he gets things quicker and makes more connections than his age mates.  He does other activities (sports, clubs) where academics aren't a factor.

But, he also knows how to outline, how to study material efficiently, how to pull sources together..because he has to work at learning, he doesn't get the opportunity to check out.

Edited by HomeAgain
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Yes, my kid knows. But it becomes really hard for them not to know at some point. 

We never talked being "gifted" with him when he was young because we also liked to promote hard work and effort. But he did realize he was smart while he was elementary age. He knew he was better at many things than his older sister and friends. It is really hard to hide his math ability because even just playing games or something he could do the math so quickly and effortlessly compared to others.

But none of us really knew how advanced he was until 7th grade. That year he did Mathcounts (as a single homeschool kid) and joined the Math Circle at the college. He was able to unofficially practice Mathcounts with the local school and go to some of their unofficial comps with other schools. When he got 1st at all these comps, won chapter in 7th and 8th and placed the highest anyone from our area has ever placed at State (5th), it was hard for him NOT to know he was gifted. Also, everyone was telling him how smart he was and how no one has ever done that well from our area, etc.

We still never talk about being "gifted" but talk about how his natural abilities can give him the opportunity to do much in his life, if he works hard. And honestly, he has always been a very dedicated and hard worker (1st day of Kindergarten he got up and did his math page before the rest of us had even eaten breakfast). I am sure he has some natural abilities, but I really believe that his hard work has been a bigger factor in what he has accomplished. If he is gifted in something, it might be dedication.

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My kids are very young (almost 5 and 3). I'm sure my 5 year old knows he has above average intelligence through tee-ball. Basically he asked why none of the other kids knew whose stuff belonged to who even though all the stuff was labeled and he was the youngest kid on the team (his teammates told him). So, we talk about everyone working up to their potential. 

We also make a point to show our kids that mommy and daddy also work hard to get good at stuff or to learn something new. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, GracieJane said:

I once heard the mother of a very gifted girl say that she didn’t „believe“ in giftedness, but in hard work. I live in a neighborhood with predominantly East Asian immigrants and I’ve found this to be a common sentiment here.

You can’t control your “birth lottery” but you are in control of the amount of effort you are willing to put forth. I don’t even think my kids are gifted and my family falls under the east asian grouping. My neighborhood has an asian majority.

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Ish. He knows most children are not learning 4 languages and that children his age do not write as much as he does. There are lots of homeschoolers at our church and sometimes they'll ask him about school or what he's reading and he sees the shock on their faces. The same thing happens when he's talking politics or doctrine with the men. We don't use the word gifted. The word itself is fine, but if he called himself that in public I would die.

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My youngest was so far ahead of her older sister and classmates even in pre-K, there was no covering it up.  I don't think we used the word "gifted" when she was little - or ever, except in connection with the topic of "gifted testing."  But we use the word "accelerated."  She's the youngest in her class by far.

Although young in her grade, youngest pretty much never has to work hard to learn.  She isn't a fan of hard work, and she's pretty hard-headed, so I've never been able to motivate her to work to her potential.  So it's a good thing she's accelerated in school, or she'd do even less.  (Her saving grace in elementary school was that she was a voracious independent reader.)

Eldest is also accelerated (both started KG a year early).  Eldest is probably about average overall, and does have to work hard to do well in school.  Thankfully, she has a pretty good attitude about it.  If anything, it gives her reassurance to know that a disinterested third party decided she was capable of accelerated work.

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As a product of the PS system, I was inspired to set my own standards for my kids.

The Boys are accelerated, not gifted. The Boys do not attribute their abilities to anything besides the work that we do in the home. This has been reinforced time and time again for them. I have told them openly that they are gifted--their "gift" is a father who is able to and willing to invest his time and efforts directly into them.

We talk about the importance of not blindly working hard. You can work yourself to death that way and still not receive maximum gain.
We talk about how Diligently Working Smart allows you to seem "Smart"--but it's actually the decision to exercise diligence and work smart that is "smart"--not the ability to read/write in three languages or do calculus.

When they began at the PS as fluent readers, able to write by hand neatly and already skilled at arithmetic of whole and rational numbers, they were on a different track than the majority of students in the state. The school promptly started telling them how special and advanced they were but I assured them that they weren't. They'd had a few years of private tutoring from an expert.

It was driven home for them how normal they are some years ago when I tutored a mixed-age group of boys from the neighborhood in my home. Daily sessions of intensive work for a group of boys who were all remedial cases--some of them more extreme than others. Some days the group had class twice.

One of them was a 10.5yo going back into 3rd grade. He could barely read at the beginning of summer and had been retained twice already. He attended "Gil School" 5-7 days a week, most times 2 times a day. We did intensive phonics and vocabulary work 75% of the time. He had to read aloud and he had to read 5 times every day. To hold him accountable, he had to call me and read on VoiceMail for me. When he went back to school in the fall, he tested as reading at a mid-6th grade level and was put up 1 grade.

I'm not a wizard. I don't do anything magical that can't be replicated in a local classroom.
We just don't have any local classrooms where it's expected in this county because of how poor the majority of the families are.

 

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I come from a similar background to @Arcadia and share similar sentiments. We emphasize hard work, constant effort, and diligence. We talk about that resulting in him being abe to work above grade level. So accelerated...not gifted.

ETA: We talk often about deliberately choosing to do the hard things with schooling and across other areas of life in general.

Edited by calbear
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After years of homeschooling L and also spending a lot of time with my Bonus kids, I can say this- Trying to hide labels leads to the kids picking up their own labels. And every single one is negative. The non-gifted kid feels inferior because the gifted kid learns faster/better. The gifted kid feels like an imposter because they aren't having to put in the effort or because they make connections others do not, and don't know why. Neurodiversity exists. It does not do kids any favors to pretend it doesn't. That goes whether the label is gifted, learning disabilities, ADHD, ASD, etc. 

 

 

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We've never used the term 'gifted', but my kids are very aware that different people learn different things more easily or with more challenge than others.  My older picks up most academics very easily.  Our karate teacher said that he'd never seen anybody learn kata as quickly as my younger.  One kid had years of speech therapy.  The other kid has some struggles with ADD/behavior issues.  Most people have gifts and challenges.  But, we also emphasize that natural ability only takes you so far.  Older may learn academic content more easily than most, but you don't win Science Olympiad medals without hours of practice and study.  My less athletic kid has comparable levels of success as the more athletic due to effort and practice. - we use the words of one of our former coaches and talk about having 'want to'.  

We had concern that the kids would get too full of themselves, but our concerns were alleviated a bit when older said, in regards to a situation in a book, 'Being the best at something is only useful if you are actually doing that thing...the rest of the time, their opinions and ideas aren't any more important than anybody else's'.  

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9 hours ago, Dmmetler said:

After years of homeschooling L and also spending a lot of time with my Bonus kids, I can say this- Trying to hide labels leads to the kids picking up their own labels. And every single one is negative. The non-gifted kid feels inferior because the gifted kid learns faster/better. The gifted kid feels like an imposter because they aren't having to put in the effort or because they make connections others do not, and don't know why. Neurodiversity exists. It does not do kids any favors to pretend it doesn't. That goes whether the label is gifted, learning disabilities, ADHD, ASD, etc. 

This. I totally agree. 

I say this often, but I think it's a parent's job to reflect reality for their kids. That means that I'm frank with my kids about both their strengths AND their weaknesses. We emphasize hard work but we also make it clear that work isn't the only ingredient. 

Frankly, I'm not even sure how I could hide this. DD9 is in a math class I teach with kids similar to her in age, and even though I individualize the work to decrease comparisons, it's abundantly clear to her that while she's working on algebra, her friend who's about 6 months younger than her is still having trouble with addition using place value. I don't think me pretending that there's no difference (or even worse, that her friend must simply not be working hard enough!) is doing anyone any favors. Instead, we talk about how different people have different strengths. How DD9 finds it easier to do math and her friend finds it easier to write poetry. We talk about the fact that our talents don't define us (people should work on the stuff they are bad at!) and yet that they do exist. 

But then I generally agree in radical honesty with the kids. We'll see how it goes. 

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13 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

This. I totally agree. 

I say this often, but I think it's a parent's job to reflect reality for their kids. That means that I'm frank with my kids about both their strengths AND their weaknesses. We emphasize hard work but we also make it clear that work isn't the only ingredient. 

Frankly, I'm not even sure how I could hide this. DD9 is in a math class I teach with kids similar to her in age, and even though I individualize the work to decrease comparisons, it's abundantly clear to her that while she's working on algebra, her friend who's about 6 months younger than her is still having trouble with addition using place value. I don't think me pretending that there's no difference (or even worse, that her friend must simply not be working hard enough!) is doing anyone any favors. Instead, we talk about how different people have different strengths. How DD9 finds it easier to do math and her friend finds it easier to write poetry. We talk about the fact that our talents don't define us (people should work on the stuff they are bad at!) and yet that they do exist. 

But then I generally agree in radical honesty with the kids. We'll see how it goes. 

This is interesting! Others in this thread attribute their child’s abilities to acceleration itself, not inherent giftedness, a sort of “end product” vs. “raw material” distinction.

Once I heard a woman talking about her gifted child, that she knew he was different when he picked up the violin as a toddler and plucked some pleasant notes or something. And of course it started a big conflict over “can you recognize giftedness at such a young age” and “so-and-so started piano then”, etc. But nobody was in the least struck by this story of a child who lives in a family setting wherein one might find a child-sized violin laying about waiting to be played. 

I digress because I think I’m starting to think a lot of giftedness is learned.

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15 minutes ago, GracieJane said:

This is interesting! Others in this thread attribute their child’s abilities to acceleration itself, not inherent giftedness, a sort of “end product” vs. “raw material” distinction.

Once I heard a woman talking about her gifted child, that she knew he was different when he picked up the violin as a toddler and plucked some pleasant notes or something. And of course it started a big conflict over “can you recognize giftedness at such a young age” and “so-and-so started piano then”, etc. But nobody was in the least struck by this story of a child who lives in a family setting wherein one might find a child-sized violin laying about waiting to be played. 

I digress because I think I’m starting to think a lot of giftedness is learned.

This is a good point.

DS12 is accelerated in several subjects, but I am not sure I would say that he he is 'gifted". He is able to move at his own pace because of being homeschooled. He would likely do very well in public school, I have no doubt about that, but he wouldn't likely be so far ahead.

DS9, on the other hand, is more than likely gifted. (He is probably more than likely on the spectrum as well.) This kid just sees things differently - his brain is just wired that way. However, he has spent the last nine years surrounded by books and learning toys and materials. He has been privileged to be born into a family with two parents with advanced degrees who have the ability to support and nourish his interests and abilities. Where would he be if he had born into a different situation? 

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1 hour ago, GracieJane said:

I digress because I think I’m starting to think a lot of giftedness is learned.

I've taught too many kids math to have that opinion. I think both nature and nurture are powerful contributors.

I teach kids at a pretty big range of abilities. I think lots of kids are able to achieve much more than they actually do, due to their abilities NOT being put to good use. I find it just as satisfying to teach a kid who is NOT going to be a star in math as one who is obviously going to shine, because I think they all have the right to learn and to understand, and I love seeing ideas click for all sorts of kids. 

But is the experience teaching different kids very different? Absolutely. I'm currently finding it much easier teaching DD5 to divide than I found teaching some of the 8-year-olds in my class last year. DD5 takes bigger leaps. She internalizes concepts easier. Her visual memory is amazing. Her ability to manipulate numbers in her head is fantastic. Yes, other kids can learn some of her tricks, but they simply don't have the same raw horsepower as she does. I'm not bragging here... it's just true. Both my kids are REALLY mathy, which is really unsurprising, given that both their mom and dad are mathematicians 😛 . 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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Yes, she absolutely knows she is gifted. She never believes she is smart.

When she was 3, she was astonished that other 3yo kids didn’t know how to read. By 4, when she found out friends who attended kindergarten didn’t know how to multiply, she was totally confused what they learned at school.

When we had her formally tested at age 6, the psychologist stressed how important it was to share the results with her. Her anxiety was such that she saw every difference between herself and other kids as a negative attribute of her own. Ever since, we have been as transparent as possible regarding her level of giftedness and her mental health issues. She still never thinks she is smart, because like a lot of gifted and anxious kids, she only ever compares herself to the people who are more advanced/skilled in an area.

When she was 8, she saw the entry requirements for Epsilon Camp, so she would have known she met those minimums when she got in.

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2 hours ago, Jackie said:

When we had her formally tested at age 6, the psychologist stressed how important it was to share the results with her.

Curious as to why you got her tested? 

Genuine curiosity because I'm curious about my son. Except the thing he is really exceptional at is playing baseball... At school stuff he's a quick learner and self learns some stuff, but not super accelerated like he's doing multiplication problems in his head at 4. 

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I tend to avoid the term "gifted" because none of my kids have specifically been evaluated for that label, and in public school settings the label implies meeting specific criteria. However, my older two kids definitely know that what they are doing for school is a higher level than what their age peers are doing. 

I agree with @Not_a_Number that both nature and nurture play a role. 

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It's complex anyway.  My kid whom I consider gifted is not gifted in every area.  Most people think in terms of math when they think about giftedness, but math is my youngest's weakest subject.  She is still above average for her age, but not remarkably so.  But she tested way higher in verbal and reasoning stuff.  Why that hasn't translated to math, nobody knows.  😛  Because she is not remarkable across the board, she didn't test into the school's gifted program, which is fine.  I did share with her both the high and not-so-high test results.

There's no question in my mind that "giftedness" depends on wiring, and you can't create gifted wiring.  You can accelerate an average child up to a point, provided the teacher and child are willing to do the work, but I don't consider that giftedness.

That's why I find it odd that there are prep materials / strategies for giftedness tests.  I mean, if you have to work to pass the test, then you're going to have to work like that in order to keep up with the kids in the program.  I guess that's not a bad thing - working hard - but it excludes kids who may be actually gifted but not pushed / driven.  Maybe that's the intent, I don't know.

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I think there is difference between kids who are accredited and kids who are gifted. A child can be accelerated by being diligent and working hard. Giftedness is wired in and not taught. 

My girls worked hard and were accelerated, we didn’t consider them gifted. They were several grades ahead in math and reading, but this was due to hard work. They know that they are are smart because of their hard work. 
My ds13 on the other hand, I would consider gifted. He puts in no effort and is a sponge. He just absorbs information and masters it with no practice. He started taking college classes at 11. He is volunteering in a computer engineering lab at the local university and the professor he works with will tells me that ds is working at a higher level than his other undergraduate research assistants. Ds knows that he is gifted. 
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3 hours ago, SKL said:

That's why I find it odd that there are prep materials / strategies for giftedness tests. 

That's nuts to me too. No one even says that being gifted or being in the gifted program means you are more likely to make lots of money or be successful in anyway. 

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26 minutes ago, Clarita said:

That's nuts to me too. No one even says that being gifted or being in the gifted program means you are more likely to make lots of money or be successful in anyway. 

Majority of families prep their kids for gifted entrance exams in our area because kids in gifted programs get access to the best teachers in the school. They also get access to in school enrichment opportunities, like musical theatre, math contest, and stem programs in elementary and middle school. Then in high school kids get opportunities to enroll in advance, honors, AP and dual enrollment.

Edited by SDMomof3
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1 minute ago, SDMomof3 said:

Majority of families prep their kids for gifted programs in our area because kids in gifted programs get access to the best teachers in the school. They also get access to in school enrichment opportunities, like musical theatre, math contest, and stem programs in elementary and middle school. Then in high school kids get opportunities to enroll in AP and dual enrollment, before regular students. 

Hmm... when I was going to school by middle and high school any kid who did well academically got into APs, STEM fun stuff, gifted was not a qualification. In fact in high school most of my fun stuff came about because I was a girl interested in STEM. In elementary though I knew the "gifted program" kids got to do stuff that I didn't get to do.  

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1 hour ago, Clarita said:

Hmm... when I was going to school by middle and high school any kid who did well academically got into APs, STEM fun stuff, gifted was not a qualification. In fact in high school most of my fun stuff came about because I was a girl interested in STEM. In elementary though I knew the "gifted program" kids got to do stuff that I didn't get to do.  

Yeah, my kids were allowed to choose honors if they wanted it for 9th grade (other than math, which is decided for the kids in 8th grade).  Then their teachers recommended kids to continue in honors or not.  The only benefit for gifted in elementary was an additional program that required extra work; my kids always participated in every art, robotics, power of the pen, etc. if they wanted to.  In high school I'm sure things like theater don't require gifted status either.  I really don't know what gifted status does provide other than the opportunity to do higher math sooner.

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17 hours ago, Clarita said:

Curious as to why you got her tested? 

Genuine curiosity because I'm curious about my son. Except the thing he is really exceptional at is playing baseball... At school stuff he's a quick learner and self learns some stuff, but not super accelerated like he's doing multiplication problems in his head at 4. 

I knew she met the criteria for ADHD and an anxiety disorder, and wanted them formally diagnosed to access better treatment, as well as finding out if there was any diagnosis I was missing. I also suspected she would meet the criteria for Davidson Youth Scholars.

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I've struggled a lot over the years with the term 'gifted'. It's such a loaded and polarising term.

But to understand and support my daughter, I really needed to push the stigma aside and learn about it. I read a stack of books, followed a stack of blogs, and took her to a specialised GT counselor.

A big thing I learnt is that this isn't just about education and academics. It's about a brain that works in different ways, makes connections in unusual ways, and lays down neural networks quickly and permanently.

This results in fast learning and creative thinking, but also results in experiencing the world in an unusual way. One way to describe it is that the dial is turned up on everything. This can be overwhelming, exhausting and lonely.

For my daughter's mental health, she needed to understand her brain. Exploring overexcitabilities was also helpful.

Edited by chocolate-chip chooky
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5 hours ago, Clarita said:

Hmm... when I was going to school by middle and high school any kid who did well academically got into APs, STEM fun stuff, gifted was not a qualification. In fact in high school most of my fun stuff came about because I was a girl interested in STEM. In elementary though I knew the "gifted program" kids got to do stuff that I didn't get to do.  

In my dds high school kids in the gifted program got the opportunity to take AP in 9th, others had to wait until 10th. The English classes also had a different curriculum. The students in the “regular” classes were tracked into so the didn’t have prerequisites for AP or advanced, unless the took a summer school to bridge into advance classes.  

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17 minutes ago, SDMomof3 said:

In my dds high school kids in the gifted program got the opportunity to take AP in 9th, others had to wait until 10th. The English classes also had a different curriculum. The students in the “regular” classes were tracked into so the didn’t have prerequisites for AP or advanced, unless the took a summer school to bridge into advance classes.  

I didn't know this was so different in different schools. 

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When I was a kid, I was in a self-contained gifted program from 1st-8th, which fed into honors/AP in a high school. We got accelerated work in general. My parents always said it was key to keeping me in public school -- I was the type of kid to refuse work/skip school if I didn't find it interesting. My husband got a few special activities in a gifted pull-out program. He was much more a teacher-pleaser type who was happy to get 110% on an easy assignment.

As for my kids, homeschooling means I've been able to deemphasize ability variations (not much of a pool to compare to), but of course they notice. My probably dyslexic mathy kid didn't read well until 9.5 yrs old, but could always easily understand math and science well beyond other kids his age. Pretending that was caused by his work ethic would not have helped him with either subject. There are obvious differences in strengths and weaknesses between my kids, and it wouldn't be fair to either of them to pretend those aren't real. I usually just talk about how some people learn certain things more easily/quickly than others, and people can additionally choose to focus more or work harder on certain things. We've been fairly unschool-ish, especially when the kids were little, so I have not really tried to accelerate anyone in anything -- where it happens it's just nature and/or interest. My younger is now in public school (her choice), and is my easy going even-ability kid that's usually pretty quiet about what she knows. I don't know if she's gifted, and it doesn't really matter since there is no sort of program in our tiny school anyway.

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The title asks: Does your child know they are smart?
 

I am pretty sure that my children feel smart. They're confident in their literacy and numeracy skills, and very proud of their drawing skills.

I think that their handwriting is the only academic skill that has been noted and pointed out by young and old.

They're very advanced in the things that they've been taught, and learn well when they're learning something new.

But I don't see any signs from them that makes me think that they should be evaluated for giftedness.

Edited by mathmarm
Edited for brevity.
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I really wish there was a different word for the flavor of neurodiversity commonly known as "gifted." It's a terrible term, but I have yet to come across anything legitimately better that doesn't have similarly unhelpful misconceptions wrapped up in word choice.

Yes, my kids know they've been diagnosed with giftedness, though they certainly don't always feel smart -- that gifted perfectionism can wreak havoc on confidence, and one of my gifted kids has enough extra Es to perform at or below grade level in many things, regardless of effort. However, they've all had some involvement in public gifted education, and it's not like you can hide it from a kid when they attend a gifted magnet school. Like Jackie's kid, one of mine needed explanations when he started preschool and noticed some pretty extreme differences between himself and other classmates. Also, as Dmmetler pointed out, kids tend to negatively label the differences they notice on their own if not given guidance. Why not give them the words and positive attitudes we want them to internalize from the start?

And there are absolutely differences in individual ability that cannot be accounted for by effort. It's simply not true that hard work will have the same results for everyone or in every endeavor. Believing so fails to honor individual strengths and challenges and minimizes the end results for those with disabilities. Hours of individual tutoring every day by a caring, invested, well educated adult using systematic and well planned instruction will help any child reach their potential, but that potential varies significantly between individuals.

I find it outrageous to assert that acceleration can be achieved by anyone given enough resources and effort. It's really quite harmful to claim that good teaching and hard work are the sole ingredients of academic acceleration. We give ourselves as teachers/parents/tutors entirely too much credit while discounting our students' unique abilities when we presume that it is our work together that causes a child to excel or do poorly when compared to typical age-based standards. 

I can nurture what is already within a child, but if my 9yo can handle college-level math topics, it's not because he or I worked that much harder than other hard-working homeschoolers, and if my 8yo still isn't potty trained and doesn't know the whole alphabet it's not due to a lack of effort on my or his part either. 

Neurodiversity exists. Hard work will take you as far as you can go. But let's honor and celebrate the differences between people instead of insisting that everyone is basically the same and could do what our accelerated kids do if only they or their parents tried harder.

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1 hour ago, mathmarm said:

We applied the techniques from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons to a different phonics scope and the results have been spectacular with all of the kids.

Can you tell more about this?

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16 minutes ago, Cake and Pi said:

It's really quite harmful to claim that good teaching and hard work are the sole ingredients of academic acceleration. We give ourselves as teachers/parents/tutors entirely too much credit while discounting our students' unique abilities when we presume that it is our work together that causes a child to excel or do poorly when compared to typical age-based standards. 

I whole-heartedly agree with this. I used to believe hard work are the sole ingredients to academic greatness until my twenties. I was truly too harsh and judgmental of some of my peers. I want my kids to have more compassion than I did regarding this.

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8 hours ago, Cake and Pi said:

I find it outrageous to assert that acceleration can be achieved by anyone given enough resources and effort.

I have reservations about this way of putting it.

If one morning you are not at your best and most articulate, and are explaining a topic a little bit vaguely and poorly, your smart pupil might be able to catch on anyway. They might be slower to forget what they learned the last few days. And, more often than a slower kid, they might be able to make connections and synthesize some of the lessons on their own.

I think it's worth considering, at least as a hypothesis, the possibility that a slow kid could actually learn very fast compared to what we are used to, if they were given flawless instruction. To avoid forgetting, they could need more repetition than a smart kid, but such repetitions might not be very time-consuming if the presentation were perfect each time. And they could need the connections spelled out for them explicitly, but those connections might be just as clear to them after being pointed out, as to the smart kid who saw them on her own.

A related hypothesis is that fast kids could learn even very much faster than we are used to, if they were given perfect instruction.

The point of the hypothesis is not (definitely not) to make the slower kid feel bad for not learning well, and it's not (mostly not) to make the teacher feel bad for not teaching perfectly. In homeschooling, the hypothesis keeps me alert to opportunities to "accelerate" my kid's learning, whether or not she is accelerated or gifted in a technical sense.

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1 hour ago, UHP said:

I think it's worth considering, at least as a hypothesis, the possibility that a slow kid could actually learn very fast compared to what we are used to, if they were given flawless instruction.

Yes. I believe that slower kids can learn much faster than what we're used to. There are all sorts of optimizations one can do to make sure that more kids catch on quickly (although it certainly won't work for ALL kids, either.) 

I agree with you that the teaching matters. But it's not the only thing that matters. It's about half of what matters, and the genetic half is also extremely powerful. 

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20 hours ago, Cake and Pi said:

I find it outrageous to assert that acceleration can be achieved by anyone given enough resources and effort.

Well, this being the Accelerated Learner board, I think that you are going to get a lot of families who have accelerated their children in academics. There will be some families who have a child that's clinically gifted, but given what it takes to be "Gifted" I think even they will be in the minority.

The OP is confusing because the title of this thread is "Does Your Child Know They Are Smart?" --and that's what I responded too. However, the actual post asks "Does Your Child Know They Are Gifted?" which is of course a different thing than simply being smart.

There is something to be said about nurturing the potential in Neuro-Typical children as fully as your resources and abilities allow. Communities are often teaching children to the standard or expectations--very few communities truly try and nurture the children up to their potential

NT children don't have any of the "side effects" that often accompany giftedness--they're not hyper-aware, anxious or confused about what other children can/can't do, or wondering why they're different. They're  not tied in knots battling perfectionism over various tasks. They're not struggling with disproportionate abilities or awareness for their age/stage. Perhaps this lack of "giftedness" allows the highly nurtured NT child to learn with less emotional clutter and baggage?

NT Humans have brain plasticity--as they learn, they learn faster and they learn better and remember longer. Their brain changes and alters in response to growth and (re)organization. History is littered with man-made "geniuses".

When I look at high performing Public schools around the world, at the academic performance of various Immigrant communities, or think of the large proportion of children who perform at very high levels in a variety of fields due to the parents investment in the child--and for no other reason. I know that what is typically expected of children is not strictly about the child, but also about the resources and the teachers, because let's face it: in 99% of gen-education classrooms, the teacher is the limiting factor and the controlling factor. The best programs in the world will not help a teacher who will not use them. (Let's ignore classroom management issues for a moment). The performance of Finnish children demonstrate what can be achieved with intelligently designed programs conducted by highly-competent, dedicated teachers--without the maniacal effort found in many Asian and Western countries.

I disapprove of the negative intensity of sterotypical Tiger Mothering, (think yelling, forcing crying children to work without bathroom breaks) but I love what we've been able to accomplish by being "intensely focused" on the kids development and education, for lack of a better term.

Since we don't live in Finland, we hoped that by giving our children two highly devoted, "Tiger Parents" who are as gentle as they are persistent and intentional in the childrens education could get us good results, and it has. It's not perfect, but it's something.

For example, we are very intentional, deliberate and focused on teaching them to read phonetically and building their oral reading fluency. We go much further than 99% of the commercial "learn to read" type programs out there. Most US 1st grade reading programs are designed to be used by mediocre teachers with who knows what kind of support and administered 1 time a day to a group of 10-25 children who may or may not have challenging behavior or supportive home environments. sight words, CVC, CCVC and CVCC phonics,  and silent-E is the best that they hope for and so most 1st grade reading programs stop there.

But when you're able to administer a reading program, 2-5 times a day, to a single student who doesn't have challenging behavior and does have a supportive home environment, you may be able to accomplish that standard in a couple of months.

The problem is that in the US doing reading 2-5 times a day with a child is almost unheard of--2 times maybe, but 3+ times and your neighbors will shun you and might even try and sic CPS on you.

Another example is that the typical Scope and Sequence of mathematics is meant to spread arithmetic out over 6+ years before getting to algebra, and so it takes 6+ years of arithmetic before children get to algebra. But when you think about how a well run Montessori PreK might teach mathematics to it's 3-6 year old kids. Or watch Mathematics at Your Fingertips  and see 6-7 yo children working fluently with fractions and reasoning through "highschool level" math, or think about what children can accomplish with an oral/reasoning based program like Direct Instruction Arithmetic--that does not make use of special manipulatives, then you realize that what we're asking of our NT 3-7 year olds isn't any where close to what they're generally capable of.

Being a mathematician, I happen to know that there is no real mathematical reason that Algebra be introduced only after Arithemetic has been mastered. I know that the algebra needed to understand and perform geometry and trigonometry is minimal--there is no reason to do a year or two of algebra before getting to these subjects--the modern scope and sequence of Mathematics is based on Standardized Tests and Box Checking, it's not rooted in pedagogy or mathematical need.

100+ years ago very few teachers in one room school houses knew algebra and so Algebra was not included in the elementary school education. Not because of the children, but because of the teacher. When you look at texts from 100+ years ago, you see that the problems can be very algebraic--but the abstract notation isn't there.

The fact that these books were in use and widely successful shows that even elementary students can do algebraic calculations and use algebraic reasoning, they just didn't learn the formalized algebra for solving those problems because the teachers couldn't teach what they themselves didn't know--many of them having been educated in one room school houses themselves.

When you look at the handwriting of the average US-educated 8yo (where handwriting is not being taught to mastery, currently) and the handwriting of a child educated in a system that values handwriting--you see what 8yo handwriting can look like--if the teachers (are able to) prioritize it.

The majority of the humans on earth are bi- and tri-lingual. Thus speaking multiple languages is not an advanced skill or special ability. It's something that humans naturally do. There are street vendors and street urchins around the world who speak 6+ languages with ease, because that's what their day to day survival demands of them.

By living in society that does NOT make use of that natural human ability, who is to be sure that the average American monolingual is not being harmed the way that our lack of physicality harms us?

Modern Americans raised in the late 90s or 00s might feel tired just walking up and down the block, but human beings can walk miles each day. We did it up through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, but the rise of cars, and the rise of "taking kids everywhere" and commuting to work has everyone in the states walking far less, the poor quality of mainstream food and so our typical phyiscal capacities are diminished. These other humans are not "super human"--they're simply exercising their human-abilities far more regularly and thoroughyl than most Americans.

 

Neuro-diversity does exist, but I don't think that's the sole explanation or even the primary explanation for what so many children can do.

 

 

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1 hour ago, mathmarm said:

The majority of the humans on earth are bi- and tri-lingual. Thus speaking multiple languages is not an advanced skill or special ability. It's something that humans naturally do. There are street vendors and street urchins around the world who speak 6+ languages with ease, because that's what their day to day survival demands of them.

I tried to find some information about this and I kind of can't. What does that mean? They are actually fluent in two separate languages? Or they are fluent in one language and can kind of communicate in another one? I'm far more used to that version. 

 

1 hour ago, mathmarm said:

NT children don't have any of the "side effects" that often accompany giftedness--they're not hyper-aware, anxious or confused about what other children can/can't do, or wondering why they're different. They're  not tied in knots battling perfectionism over various tasks. They're not struggling with disproportionate abilities or awareness for their age/stage. Perhaps this lack of "giftedness" allows the highly nurtured NT child to learn with less emotional clutter and baggage?

I don't know whether to classify my kids as NT or not, but I know that teaching them math is much easier than teaching lots of other kids math. And it's not all my great teaching. It's partially genetics. 

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On 9/3/2021 at 11:42 AM, Clarita said:

That's nuts to me too. No one even says that being gifted or being in the gifted program means you are more likely to make lots of money or be successful in anyway. 

Agree. In my family, degree of "giftedness" seems to be inversely proportional to life success thus far, honestly.

On 9/6/2021 at 9:03 PM, mathmarm said:

But we remind her that he's already completed levels or books that she hasn't--like Reasoning and Writing D or  The Drawing Textbook already--because these are discrete materials, she understands that when she finishes TDT she'll be able to draw as well as he does or once she's completed RAWD she'll write stronger stories and articles.

Am I to understand the expectation using these materials is that any child going through them will come out the other side at the same level as any other child going through them? If so, that doesn't ring true to me as a possibilty at all, especially with subjects like drawing and writing. My kids who aren't gifted artists are never going to draw like my kids who are, and my kids who are gifted writers are always going to have a different quality to their writing than my kids who aren't. The others can learn to draw and write adquately, but it certainly won't be like it is for those who have natural talents in those areas.

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17 minutes ago, KSera said:

Am I to understand the expectation using these materials is that any child going through them will come out the other side at the same level as any other child going through them?

For six weeks or so I've been using Reasoning and Writing C on @mathmarm's recommendation. I would say that you're overstating it, but by less than you think. The program is a straight line. Kids who use it will all learn the same things in the same way. If at the end of it, one kid is a better reasoner or a better writer than another, it's not because the other kid didn't pick up on something subtle that happened "in class." The program is not subtle. (But I am finding it really rich.)

32 minutes ago, KSera said:

The others can learn to draw and write adquately, but it certainly won't be like it is for those who have natural talents in those areas.

I think I disagree. I have the impression for both of those subjects, writing especially, that people can grow to be very good very late in life. Or in middle life.

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5 hours ago, UHP said:

I think I disagree. I have the impression for both of those subjects, writing especially, that people can grow to be very good very late in life. Or in middle life.

I think that, as usual, there's a vast range to what a "normal" person can do. I'm actually a pretty good writer -- i write a mean essay and I've also had literary translations published. But i'm really not a poetic writer by nature, and I do not write like the really gifted writers I know. I could obviously improve at this, but i also think I simply don't think in the kinds of visuals that make for a really brilliant writer. And that's definitely at least partially lack of natural talent, although it's also partially lack of practice (like everything.) 

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Sometimes I think that some brilliant people need to raise or intensely mentor an "average" child in order to understand giftedness better.

I myself found everything academic ridiculously easy, in addition to being able to teach myself to play multiple instruments, draw, and speak multiple languages.  I'm not a genius or anywhere near, but these are the things that happened to come easily to me.  I inherited some of it from each of my parents, who may not have realized how unusual it is since all their kids and extended family were smart.  (We had challenges, but I don't think anyone in our extended family had an average IQ.)

I did test gifted in 8th or 9th grade, so I began to realize I was different, but I still didn't understand that school learning is actually hard for some people.  That a lot of people have to study the night before a test or they will bomb it.  That there are people who are not "dumb" but who really need to look into careers that don't require college.

It honestly took having a child with learning difficulties and a (probably) average IQ to really develop understanding.  I see other parents who constantly post on fb about how amazing their kids are doing in school etc.  Well, all of their kids have gifted IQs, so yeah.  I'm happy for them, but I stopped doing that a long time ago, because it's a bit hurtful when posts imply that a child's worth is linked to his IQ.  One of my friends recently adopted a special needs child.  The frequent gushing about her gifted children has decreased a lot since then.  Another person who bugs me is on constant rants about how her kids' school isn't good enough because her high-IQ kids aren't super challenged.  It can't be that the school is good enough for many children who aren't born geniuses.  The school is making the other children stupid apparently.  (This is a private school with above-average rankings.)

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I never used to describe my kids as gifted.  I just considered them advanced.  When I used to read these forums YRs ago (like when my kids in their upper 20s were little), based on the way people on these forums described their kids, I figured that was an accurate assessment.  But, as the yrs went by and I witnessed academic level outcomes when their kids were older (as in high school vs. elementary age) vs my kids (who often were far more accelerated by that pt), I realized that the main differences being described when the kids were little vs when the kids were older were daily "what's being done" vs. anything else.  Since we don't take an "academic" approach when our kids are little and things are far more play/exploration with a little bit of academics thrown in, my kids "appeared" to not be on par with the posters' kids.

When we had our Aspie tested to qualify for DRS, his IQ was very high.  I wouldn't consider him my brightest kid.  Definitely super bright but with so many issues that he can't function.  But, I have kids more accelerated than he ever was with no issues at all.  (and then kids across the spectrum with anxiety, dyslexia, etc.)  

In terms of the original question, no, we don't discuss giftedness with our kids.  We focus on simply functioning at their individual level of abilities and doing the best "them" they can be.  (While taking a wildly different educational approach that is not "quantifiable" the way posters on these forums describe their kids. Math is really the only quantifiable subject the way we homeschool.)

 

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19 hours ago, KSera said:

Am I to understand the expectation using these materials is that any child going through them will come out the other side at the same level as any other child going through them? If so, that doesn't ring true to me as a possibilty at all, especially with subjects like drawing and writing.

We use very systematic programs. By completing the programs with fidelity, you master a very precise skill set and achieve a very defined level. So, I do expect my children to come out of these programs at a roughly comparable levels.

We use programs that are designed to deliver all "typical" students to the same destination on the same time table.

I've kept samples of my eldests drawing progress and so far my younger tracks closely to what he did, when I compare their 0 months, 1 month, 2 months and 3 months of instructions samples, you see the largest variation during their earliest samples and when a new skill is introduced. But right around 3/4 months of instruction I can see how the "foundation" gelled and the variations get smaller and smaller.

They must practice and repeat exercises until they're consistently producing a product that's "right". We move on at the point of mastery.

Quote

My kids who aren't gifted artists are never going to draw like my kids who are, and my kids who are gifted writers are always going to have a different quality to their writing than my kids who aren't. The others can learn to draw and write adquately, but it certainly won't be like it is for those who have natural talents in those areas.

Perhaps. But neither of my children are gifted artists or gifted writers.

Bruce McIntyes essay about art being a skill, not a "talent" possessed by the few, really gelled with my family. We wanted to teach our children to draw--not "Art" but drawing--and found the resources that we needed to make it happen. We combined The Drawing Textbook and New Augsburg and it's a very repeatable method.

Neither Hubby nor I felt we would be a good writing teacher and so we picked Reasoning and Writing composition program for our home school. It's a Direct Instruction program, I love it. I've written about it before.

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There is a strong component of natural ability. 
 

Frankly, my daughter does not work hard at academics. She has anxiety and ADHD and we aim for “good enough” most times. Her main interests are not academic, and managing her mental health needs takes priority over more academics. She tested at adult level reading at age 4. She completed AOPS Algebra A at age 8. Academic testing puts her at over the 90th percentile as compared to 12th graders, and she is starting 6th grade. 
 

On the other hand, she has taken a pile of art classes. She spends hours upon hours creating art or making crafts. She has all the knowledge and much good instruction. This is something that she does work hard at. She is not a great artist. She is not even an average artist. She is probably average in the crafting/maker stuff.

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On 9/7/2021 at 5:57 PM, Clarita said:

I whole-heartedly agree with this. I used to believe hard work are the sole ingredients to academic greatness until my twenties. I was truly too harsh and judgmental of some of my peers. I want my kids to have more compassion than I did regarding this.

I agree too.  By saying it is only hard work you are saying to the struggling child who spends hours doing what a gifted child does in 10 minutes that it is their fault for not working harder.  Honestly is it realistic to think any child can win a gold medal at something if the work hard enough?  Sure all Olympic athletes work really hard but they also have the right physique and good co-ordination and the right ratio of fast and slow twitch muscle fibres etc.  It is a bit like the argument that anyone can make it big in the US and get rich therefore those that don't see lazy and shouldn't be helped.

My kids know they are smart.  It is better they know that than think the other kids are stupid.  They also know that no one is good at everything.

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Re hard work, a current example is my "average" 14yo, who took honors chemistry because her biology teacher recommended it.  (She did well in honors biology for several reasons, including high interest and an in-home study buddy which she doesn't have for chemistry.)  She puts in 2-4 hours daily just on chemistry homework, and this is only the 3rd week of school.  She requested a transfer to general chemistry.  Her teacher said no, there is no evidence she is struggling (her grade was B+ at that moment).  Teacher went on to say that if she'd just spend 20 minutes each evening on chemistry, she'd do fine.

Can she pass honors chemistry with just hard work?  Probably.  Will her learning and retention be comparable to those of gifted kids?  No way.  Is it worth the time taken away from sleep, exercise, etc.?  I could justify it for one high-interest course, but not across the board.

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When we spend most of our time around very bright children, friends, and family, I think we tend to mistake average kids for being slow and high-average to above average kids as average. What you are surrounded by becomes the normal you measure others by. I was pretty sure none of my kids were gifted until I had scores in my hands. 

On 9/8/2021 at 7:58 AM, SKL said:

Sometimes I think that some brilliant people need to raise or intensely mentor an "average" child in order to understand giftedness better.

<snip>

It honestly took having a child with learning difficulties and a (probably) average IQ to really develop understanding.

Yes, this. So much this.

It is hard to fathom the number of repetitions needed by children who are actually "slow" with a low-average or borderline IQ when you're used to kids learning something in just a handful of repetitions. There are things my youngest has failed to learn after thousands of repetitions. Like, if people understood the sheer volume of repetitions needed for some kids to learn, they'd see that there aren't enough hours in the day for these kids to achieve beyond grade level, and that doesn't even take into account the delayed reasoning skills and the way new information is never generalized without explicit instruction.

On 9/7/2021 at 9:29 AM, UHP said:

I think it's worth considering, at least as a hypothesis, the possibility that a slow kid could actually learn very fast compared to what we are used to, if they were given flawless instruction. To avoid forgetting, they could need more repetition than a smart kid, but such repetitions might not be very time-consuming if the presentation were perfect each time. And they could need the connections spelled out for them explicitly, but those connections might be just as clear to them after being pointed out, as to the smart kid who saw them on her own.

A related hypothesis is that fast kids could learn even very much faster than we are used to, if they were given perfect instruction.

I agree that incredible teaching will accelerate a child's learning relative to how quickly they would have learned with less adept instruction. That does not necessarily result in acceleration relative to the norm, and it certainly does not translate into the kind of radical acceleration exhibited many of the kids whose parents frequent this board or responded to this thread. 
 

On 9/7/2021 at 9:58 PM, mathmarm said:

Well, this being the Accelerated Learner board, I think that you are going to get a lot of families who have accelerated their children in academics. There will be some families who have a child that's clinically gifted, but given what it takes to be "Gifted" I think even they will be in the minority.

I'd estimate that clinical giftedness is in the majority among the active posters on this board, and there's a disproportionately high frequency of parents of kids who are identified as profoundly gifted.  I mean at least 10+% of the folks on this particular thread have kids tested at or over the 99.9%.

On 9/7/2021 at 9:58 PM, mathmarm said:

in 99% of gen-education classrooms, the teacher is the limiting factor and the controlling factor.

I would argue that the limiting factor in the vast majority of low-performing US schools is low socio-economic conditions, inequity, and poor or no access to all kinds of resources middle and upper class folks take for granted. It's hard to learn when you're hungry, aren't getting adequate healthcare, and are in a constant high-stress state from living in poverty and/or witnessing violence in your home or neighborhood, regardless of the teacher's skill.

On 9/8/2021 at 8:18 PM, mathmarm said:

We use very systematic programs. By completing the programs with fidelity, you master a very precise skill set and achieve a very defined level. So, I do expect my children to come out of these programs at a roughly comparable levels.

I'm also pretty fond of Direct Instruction. It really works. However, while your kids, who very probably have ballpark-similar overall, above-average cognitive abilities, may be likely to spend a similar amount of time on the same instruction and come out with comparable skills, this will not be the case for all kids.

Example for perspective:

My two oldest kids learned to read with TYCTR in 100 EZ Lessons. They had no reading or alphabet instruction prior to beginning 100 EZ. They spent 15-20 ish minutes per lesson (less for the earlier lessons), and by lesson 25 or so they were able to pick up easy books from the library and figure many of them out on their own. They had the reasoning skills to generalize what they learned and move beyond it without extra instruction and knew more than the program actually taught. They did this within a couple of months at 3-4 years of age.

Contrast this with my youngest. At 3yo he, too, began instruction in the foundations of reading. He went through four years of public school with an IEP that gave him daily O-G tutoring from a highly qualified specialist. He also did three years of summer school and had about 6 months of literacy instruction through the language and learning department of our children's hospital. This is now my second year homeschooling him, and I'm using Direct Instruction with him too. He's 8yo, age-grade 3rd, and I've got him in SRA Reading Mastery Signature Edition grade k, which is the curriculum 100EZ was chiseled from (100EZ is basically the rapid cycle track through RM modified for home use). Over the last five months of 5x/week instruction, sometimes more, he's managed to get through 40 RM-k lessons, the equivalent of roughly the first nine (nine!!) lessons in 100EZ. However, instead of a reading lesson taking 15 minutes like it did for my ALs, it takes an hour or longer. Instead of finishing that lesson and moving on to the next, he often has to repeat lessons or specific exercises from lessons because there's just not enough repetition built in. We can't do more than one cycle through a lesson in one day, either, because he spends just as long on math, oral language, fine and visual-motor skill practice, and medical care each day, and he's really got to have time to play and enjoy being alive squished in there as well.

Now, DI is *working* for him and by the time he finishes, assuming he doesn't eventually come to the dreaded developmental plateau, he's going to have those skills mastered. But, it's going to take him a very. long. time. to finish. He is also not going to be generalizing anything. Absolutely every little thing will have to be taught, unlike my ALs. DI is great, but it isn't going to turn him into an "accelerated learner" or get him working above grade level.

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So, it seem's that we're now having a few over-lapping conversation, without distinguishing which posts belong to which conversation and so my posts lose meaning without the proper context.

In response to the OPs queries:

Do my children know they are smart? I have not asked, but I think that my kids tend to feel smart. They each seem to have a good sense of self-esteem. They are particularly proud of their creative skills and abilities.

Do my children know they are gifted? As someone who observes and monitors her children very closely, I have not seen the common traits of giftedness in them and believe you me I've looked. So far, there are no flags that make me think that getting them evaluated for giftedness is worth it.

It's interesting to note that in a discussion of super-powers, they have both said that they wish that they could be "super smart" or "a genius".

******

Now, there was also the tangent that I spoke to re: The potential of Neuro-Typical children (my understanding of NT is that the childs IQ or cognitive abilities fall within the normal distribution of a bell-curve.) and my (disorganized thoughts) as to whether or not it's developed as fully or wholistically as possible by "typical" public schools.

 

I am not qualified to speak to the experience of raising Neuro-Divergent children--on either side of the bell curve. It's not a part of my lived-experiences or my research.

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