Hi all, I've been looking through your forum and on one hand its such a relief to see other parents dealing with the same thing as we are... but on the other hand it's brought me to tears.
My gorgeous boy hasn't been assessed. But from what I've read and from discussions with his daycare I don't think there's any doubt he's gifted.
I'm really starting to wish he wasn't. It was all good and well when he was just super clever and learning so fast, but now he's four and a half and his behaviour is really starting to worry me. He's just so emotional and has meltdowns all the time. He's starting to misbehave for fun. He gets frustrated with his peers and he's definitely bored with daycare.
His educators have been great, and go to great lengths to try to challenge him, but obviously they have a lot of other kids to work with and most activities set for kids of his age don't interest him.
In the new year he'll start school, and I think the 'newness' of it will keep him interested for a little while, but given he already reads fluently, has good maths skills and remembers everything he sees or hears, that novelty won't last long. I've read up on the one day school, but that's not an option until he's six.
Help, what do I do for the next 18 months? We're in Palmerston North, and the nearest small poppies is in Wellington. I would really appreciate any advice you can give.
Take a deep breath and get some assessment from a qualified ed psych. Our daughter was at her most challenging (so far) from age 4 - 5 1/2. We had assessment done too late in my opinion - at just before age 5. She craves novelty and stimulation - and she will get it by inappropriate means if that is all that is on offer! Sound familiar?
We wish we had pulled my daughter out of daycare as it caused long term problems - which she has now managed to leave behind. I would rather not have had to help her through! We have just removed my younger daughter from her daycare as things were heading in the same direction. She is desperate to do 'real' things as she calls them. She doesn't want to play with playdough - she wants to read a recipe and bake, etc.
So - I have no new ideas for you. I plan on doing lots of things at home with miss 3. I plan on doing the usual - library and art gallery and museum trips that we do anyway. Then a bit more follow up at home - with her interests - just as I would do anyway on her days at home. The only difference is I don't get any time off and she is as exhausting as her sister. I just know that preschool didn't work for my first child and got her into some bad habits and I am keen to try something different second time around. Good luck!
My boy was a shocker at around 3yo and again from 4 yo, same sort of things, looking for something to exercise his brain on.
I suggest talking to your local primary school Principal (so they know what's coming). They may be able to help and even start school visits. My son (nearly 6 now) had one morning a week at school in the term before he started into a Y1&2 class. This enabled to school to see that he could cope well in the higher class and that it was not a pushy mum trying to advance son. I had to be on site for the visits but found lots of helpful things to do as far from his class as possible. He is now happily challenged in a Y2&3 class with a teacher with Post-grad training in giftedness.
I concur with Nikki, get on wait-list for assessment (you can always pull out if things spontaneously improve and you don't feel in need any more).
Del, I know what you mean about wishing he wasn't. It is frustrating for the child, their teachers and for us as parents. The daycare boredom puts a dampner on their self esteem where they seem to wander aimlessly while teachers become perplexed about their lack of interest. It also becomes more exciting to my son to get things wrong just to see the exasperation and entertaining outcome it produces in the adults around him.
It is generally considered that 4.5yrs is a good time to get an assessment which may also help when asking your school to advance him a class or two in some subjects so he isn't bored. The problem is, underachieving through boredom or fitting in becomes a habit, then when one gets to high school or university, it becomes difficult to tap into a previously dormant genius which is suddenly needed. Keeping their brain active and thirsty now is crucial for the later school years. Watching discovery channel once or twice a week after the normal bed time can be a positive way to inspire questions and discussions where the child feels special and secure with your absolute attention.
Also to consider is the 4yo testosterone boost (said to last six months) as self depreciating and/or aggressive behaviour vies for attention and understanding. Tough times but thankfully not permanent.
For the next 18 months... well, it is difficult to keep a gifted child engrossed in something for long. A technique which worked well for me was asking lots of questions to get him thinking but worded in a way that applies no pressure ("I wonder why half of the moon is in shadow tonight? I wonder where the shadow comes from? How does the moon pull the tides in and out? Do you think if the moon pulls water and we are 95% water, it affects us too? Hmm, I'm not sure, what do you think? etc). There are lots of "why's" in nature, social situations, books, house rules, the universe etc. Allowing him to plan an outing including items to take, money required, route to drive (he can tell you where to turn using the road map) would be another idea to keep his mind engaged. No quick fix I'm afraid, just coping strategies that hopefully work more often than not.
Perhaps you could find other mums in your area with gifted kids and have play dates or form a coffee group (mini small poppies with theme each time - eg. volcanoes, the body, dinosaurs etc, so every time you meet you bring whatever books/ toys/ games you have on that theme, everyone pools them together and set up workstations, then aid your own child in exploring the topic, have a morning tea then outside to create/find the topic in nature if poss.)
I hope you find the help you are needing and good luck in the coming months.
Our son was his most challenging around 4. He wasn't happy at kindy and I'm sure a lot of his emotions were from feeling so insecure and bored there and just general feeling like he didn't fit in. I now wish I had pulled him out as it wasn't worth the stress for any of us.
He is now 5 and school has it's own set of challenges but his general emotional state seems to have improved.
We did find it helpful having an assessment to show the school. We had tried talking to them (as he can be very anxious) without showing the assessment and they weren't that interested, different story once assessment was shown.
There are some great books in the library and online for science experiments. My son loved experimenting and got so much out of it both learning and having fun.
I also think finding some others to meet with would be a great idea for you and your son. Having a gifted child can be very isolating at times and often hard to talk about.
We are 45mins from Palmy if you ever feel like getting together in holiday times (could meet half way) feel free to email me.
Thank you all for your support and suggestions. I'm very relieved to hear that this age is often one of the most trying times.
I do take your point around the daycare situation, however taking him out isn't an option for us. Fortunately though, we can look at taking him out for a day a week, I just want to be sure that what we do with him in that time will be beneficial for him.
I'll get the assessment done and I quite like the idea of approaching his school to see if they'd consider him attending for a day each week.
And I'm loving the planned outing with the roadmap suggestion.
And Sam, thank you, yes, I would like the opportunity to meet you and your son :)