Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Parental chit-chat, and the PG kid

Kim Moldofsky, mom of two gifted children, sent me a link to an essay she has in Chicago Parent this week on Giving Up on Public Education.

Moldofsky highlights a side benefit she's found by sending her children to a school for the gifted: she now has fellow "refugee" parents to chit-chat with. Why is this important? Turns out, just as some gifted kids feel isolated in their regular schools, their parents can, too.

Talking about your kid, and how proud you are of her, comes with the territory of being a parent. But there's a quid pro quo. One dad waiting to pick his kid up from Girl Scouts can talk about his daughter's great grade in English, then the mom next to him can say what a great goal her daughter scored in soccer over the weekend. No one wants to hear that the next mom's daughter is taking college literature classes and has just translated a series of Italian sonnets into English.

It puts parents of gifted kids in a bind. You want to praise your kid, but our culture doesn't like praising people's intellectual gifts, particularly when they achieve things without difficulty at times.

At a school for the gifted, on the other hand, parents may nod and laugh when you say, throwing up your hands, that you had to enforce lights out last night when your daughter insisted on reading one more chapter in her math book. They won't think you're bragging -- they'll think you're parenting.

No wonder Moldofsky quotes another mom saying "This conversation feels like a hug!"


chessdad64 said...

The Open Board Blog makes an interesting proposal for local school districts to join forces to provide advanced learning activities. See http://openboardblog.blogspot.com/2005/11/rainbow-of-coalitions.html

Does anyone know if there have been efforts along these lines?

jim mcnelis said...

Thanks for the link Brad (chessdad64)!

I really do think it's imperative that public schools get on the ball with gifted ed. As I know Brad has asked, does No Child Left Behind also mean No Child Gets Ahead? We need some creative solutions and there's way more creative thinkers than me out there. Let's put our gifted heads together!

MrsPeel said...

I worked as a teacher in a private school and found the system to be far worse for gifted kids then the public school my PG daughter now attends. We are lucky enough to have some incredibly well educated, motivated and thoughtful public school teachers who are willing to accomodate massive acceleration and still deal with emotional youth. Our experience shows that gifted education is far more dependent on the school and teachers, not on whether it is a private or public one.

I do understand about the parental lonliness, however. I wish so much there were an outlet for us.

Laura Vanderkam said...

MRSPEEL: That likely is true that it depends on the school and the teachers. When writing Genius Denied, I heard from parents who said they had trouble with elite private schools because "all our children are gifted" there. While it may be close to true (I wouldn't be surprised if some private school student populations mostly met the definition), gifted children have a wide variety of needs, and a child working 2 grades above level and a child working 5 grades above level will need different accommodations.

Anonymous said...

Laura- I am very familiar with the situation you describe. Our public district is generally ranked as one of the best in the country and the community is quite affluent.
We have not gifted program, because in the words of one administrator we approached about the notion "you try telling these overachievers that any of their offspring AREN'T gifted" - e.g. it had been suggested before but shot down for the aforementioned reason. And you are 100% correct that the needs of a child 2 grades ahead are very different than those 5 grades ahead.

Anonymous said...

While I have developed some very meaningful friendships with parents at my daughter's gifted private school, I also encounter a lot more overt hostility than I did at her public school, because she and I are both PG, and the very ambitious, affluent parents at the G private school find our very existence threatening. I don't go around annoucing either of our IQs, but what my daughter reads makes how extreme she is quite obvious, as is my conversational style. I "stepped out of the IQ closet" when she started at the school, thinking it would be a safe place, and found to my sorrow that this was not true at all. I'm only able to be completely open with parents of other PG children. With everyone else, who I am and who my daughter is must remain edited and cloaked in order for them to be comfortable.

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