My kids went back to school today, after a almost 12 week long summer vacation. Many people probably expect gifted kids to love going (back) to school, well, the opposite is the truth.
Every child is a bit nervous for their first day, especially after such a long break. I think a bit nervous doesn't cover my boys feelings. Especially my oldest son dreads sitting in all these (honor) classrooms (even after skipping a grade!) while being done with the assignment after half of the lesson is done.
He told me yesterday that the teachers usually tell him to check everything again (I am guilty of that as well, being a teacher. However, I do hope they discuss his work with him). After he's done that, he used to ask for extra work, but he gave up on that, because most teachers don't seem to have anything (and of course he doesn't want to be seen as a nerd by his classmates, who all are at least one year older). He also doesn't always like to get more work, because even if he would get more, it usually doesn't 'fit' what he likes to learn anyways. (Not that he should only learn what he likes!) His favorite 'subject' is P.E. , kind of sad for a very bright boy.
My youngest is feeling a bit better about going back to school, because he loves P.E. and the fact that there are soccer goals outside now (very important!). He also loves his G.E. Math teacher (although he still thinks Math is too easy), and I know his new teacher is a great teacher too. I think it's a pity he doesn't seem to like art anymore, while he used to be so crafty. He says it's boring, because they are all making the same thing, the same end product. He kind of gave up, his self esteem when he thinks about art is very low now, while he is really good at it, if you just let him use his own imagination. Then again, I have a feeling he'll be alright this year. It's easy to tell how he's feeling at school, because it will effect his behavior at home tremendously if he doesn't get challenged enough. That's when I know I have to go meet his teachers.
We've discussed how our oldest feels about school with him very often. It made me sad yesterday evening, when he told me he'd rather flip burgers somewhere and grow into better jobs there, instead of going back to school. We sure have some work to do here, as parents. We told him that he should tell us exactly in which classroom he needs 'more' from the teacher (hopefully the teachers will help him out with these extra's, because otherwise it is doomed already). And we also told him that he should (together with us) ask the teacher and counselor for more and/or different work if necessary. he doesn't necessarily want more homework, but rather better in classwork. It's hard to get him to talk about it in the right way though, because he's usually just telling us that he 'is bored'. We will have to ask him the right questions (teachers will have to do this too).
He has a hard time staying focused, because he isn't always challenged. Unfortunately this usually results in him talking too much in the classroom, leaving the teacher with the feeling that he isn't smart but more annoying in their opinion (yes, there are still teachers that don't 'see through' this kind of behavior, unfortunately). It also results in him not learning HOW to learn, because his photographical memory will take over. He doesn't need to learn anything yet, and doesn't learn how to learn from it either.
The only place he seems to learn about learning HOW to learn is in band, because you have to practice to be able to perform well at concerts (having a goal helps him too, but he usually procrastinates to right before the task has to be done). Unfortunately, he doesn't practice a lot or just very late, and is still able to play his parts. We didn't want him to give up on this subject though, because music is very important for his development as a person, in our opinion. And his 'struggle' with his teacher learns him a lot too.
It's a hard knock life for these boys, but we did make the choice to put them in public schools on purpose. We hope that in the end, it will make them better prepared for life, since they have to be able to handle everyone in real life (after school) too.
I am dreading them coming home today. I am so hoping that they will tell me that they had a great day. I'll stay positive about school to them (like I always do) and will make sure that they both get what they deserve: an education that fits their needs within the public system.
So...sorry teachers, but I'm going back into momma bear mode, protecting my children from the 'evil' of a lacking education! I'll do it in a polite and respectful way, but I am doing it, for the sake of my boys sanity (and mine!) and for their future. I don't want them to end up somewhere they don't belong, because they just gave up (this happens more often than you might think). It might not be the easiest way for everyone (the boys, the teachers and us as parents), but hopefully it will end up being the best way for them as adults.
And of course we'll do our part at home as well. They'll go to travel soccer, so they have an 'outlet' there. The oldest starts a program at the University of Notre Dame in September, I'll start teaching them Dutch at home (they used to go to a Dutch school, but no challenge there) and of course we'll keep taking them to interesting places just like we've always done. They will also get enough time to just be, relax. After all, they're also just kids.
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