Dear Dr. Linda,
I have a question for you, that is very much like some of the Q&A you publish. So, here are the facts: Ava (who is 11) is gifted in the math department. She gets math concepts quite easily and quite early. Unfortunately, math at school bores her as they keep repeating stuff and stuff that she understood two to three years ago. We’ve tried since third grade to get the school to give her more advanced work, but they have essentially been unwilling or unable to do it.
Last year, we tried something different. We enrolled her in a Saturday math program taught by people who are really gifted in math. The program is for fifth graders through high school. She did it from fall of 2016 until now. The class met for two hours every Saturday and there were two hours of homework each week that the kids were to do mostly themselves. I worked with her on the homework on Sundays for an hour, and then she did about a half hour more herself during the week.
We met with her teacher from this class for a parent-teacher conference. He told us that she has potential but that if she really wants to go further, she needs to really focus. He told us that she has done well, but a lot of it is based on what she knows how to do and not much based on learning new ideas. Being in the program was interesting to her, but she’s into soccer and hanging with friends and, as the teacher put it, she is not as “nerdy” as the rest of the kids.
Last month, she had to take a test to determine what, if anything, she would do next year, and she didn’t pass the test. She has the option of taking the test again in September, but for her to take the September test and have a good chance at qualifying, we would need to spend a lot of the summer preparing her. Between camp and vacation, we’re not sure when there will be time to study for the test.
Next year in her school, there will be one section for advanced kids and three regular sections. She’s been placed into the advanced section. We don’t expect big changes, but math class will certainly be better than this year.
We are leaning toward her not trying to do the outside program next year. While we want her to excel, we also want her to be a happy, well-rounded kid. But we are a little torn—we start thinking about high school and college and wonder if we need to push her on academics, even if it means she has more homework and less time to chill. What do you think we should do?
I can give you a quick answer. I’d do exactly what you’re leaning toward—drop the course and go with soccer. We’re not creating robots. Children have emotional, social and physical needs as well as academic. She’s entitled to enjoy her childhood. And her gift in math isn’t going to go away. No matter what age we are, the window to learning is always open.
Go with who your child is, not what you think she is or who you want her to be. And who knows? Maybe there’s a soccer scholarship in her future!
Happy Father’s Day,