We’ve met with our fair share of students that are very smart. Many are receiving extra instruction and rigor through gifted and talented programs on their campus. There is a drive within them to do the very best and they often set high standards for themselves. They may tackle problems through the toughest route because, that in itself, is a challenge. In school, these students have numerous options of coursework available to them: Pre-AP, AP, zero-hour, and entire schools centered around TAG qualities like STEAM.
We are about to say something that may make your jaw drop. Just because a child who’s gifted can take the highest level classes, doesn’t necessarily mean they should. WHAT?!?!?!?
Hear us out. Just like everyone else in this world (you, included), they have things outside of the core curriculum that interest them. I loved reading and attempting to solve true crime/cold cases. I would dive into books or make up my own stories that were geared toward criminal justice and dissecting crime scenes. Nowadays, some schools have a criminal justice route, but in my day, that didn’t exist. On the other hand, my best friend in high school was a theater extraordinaire. She was in every show and musical. It was her life, even beyond college.
We, as parents and educators, need to think about how a passion for something is a gift. Ask yourself, does your child’s giftedness apply to things other than academics, like criminal justice or theater? If we think of these intense areas of interests as gifts, then it makes sense to allow your child to follow that pursuit rather than take a pre-AP ELA course when they don’t enjoy the lengthy essays and decomposing literature. If they are more interested in coding than a foreign language, most tech majors won’t have heavy foreign language requirements, so why take pre-AP Japanese?
By knocking out the course that is causing a lot of family tension and replacing it with other areas of focus, they are creating a balance between mind/body/soul. Allowing your child to develop this balance is powerful because isn’t that what we all strive for as adults? We look for work that is challenging, entertaining, and allows for free time. Why should we expect different for our children?