Sometimes, perfectionism looks like someone spending hours and hours laboring over draft after draft, making sure everything is just exactly so, but for some, especially those who deal with executive function difficulties, it may look exactly the opposite.
Every once in a while, though, a student came along who was so disenchanted by the educational system, so convinced that it was irrelevant, that he did everything possible to declare his independence.
By the time they got to me, at age 15, it was almost too late.
What can we do in the early years to help kids stay engaged and motivated so they don’t reject the system and end up failing out of school?
Unfortunately, for many of our gifted kids, much of their lives are spent feeling different, other. They tend to be hyper-aware of how they don’t fit in but, unless we help them find it, don’t realize there are others out there, like them, struggling with similar things but also with similar interests and strengths.
The early years of parenting gifted kids can be tough. You’re probably sleep-deprived, frazzled, questioning your parenting skills, asynchrony is in full force, and all around you, people are telling you to “enjoy every moment” and to “let them be little”. Meanwhile, you’re wondering what in the world you’re going to do with a 4 year old who reads a math dictionary for fun while his friends are playing pirates and house.
The funny thing is – for parents who grew up without a “gifted” label, this behavior is normal. It’s normal because it was their experience. It’s normal to be ultra-sensitive to sound or smells, normal to feel bored and disconnected in school, normal to be clumsy or sensory seeking, normal for academics to come easy but the social stuff to be hard. And that causes us to doubt our own kids, to minimize their struggles, because we were the same and made it through.
For a year now, my seven-year-old has been in love with chemistry. He has other interests and will participate in other activities, but on an average day, he probably spends 2-3 hours in chemistry-related activities, just because he loves it. He tells people he’s going to grow up to be a chemist. I don’t know…