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How much would you pressure/encourage your child?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
DD is a brand new HS freshman and is having a hard time with the courses she is signed up for.
As a bit of background, ( not bragging, I swear! ) she has been enrolled in the district's Gifted program since 1st grade when they tested. She has had reading and math scores in the 97th percentile and never had anything lower than a 4.0 GPA since she started elementary school. ----but I would never consider her "Doogie Howser" gifted. She never read War and Peace or built robots in her spare time you know. There are kids who are like that, but not her.

Anyway, she was placed in the high school's gifted program which is also all honors courses. She comes home every night with at least 4 hours of homework. I have to admit, the English class is hard- the literature book seems college freshman level to me, not high school.

The main problem of course is that she has any homework- she never has had to do homework, study or put forth effort in her life. She's one of those kids that show up, listen and get an "A" - so of course now, that she has to put any sort of effort into school, she is freaking out. She keeps saying she wants to drop these courses and they are too hard.

But, she also says her classes are filled with "geeks" and "nerds" and all of her friends are in regular freshman level classes, so she never sees them. Between the massive amounts of homework, and no friends in any class, she seems to be suffering socially.

So of course, I'm on the fence, do I let her drop into regular English where she would be guaranteed an "A" and easy breezy 4.0's all through high school? should I force her to stay in the courses, try, and be challenged for once? Do honors credits "really" matter? Do colleges care if you were in Honors classes? ( these aren't even AP! ) . Do colleges care about having over a 4.0 GPA? I'm just worried that all of this honors/gifted sort of labeling will be very important later on. Thanks!

There is a date where it's too late to drop classes and it's approaching quickly.
post #2 of 33
I also have a dd who is a freshman in GT/Honors classes. We told her before she made the decision to take that track that if she chose it, she was committed to it for the year. She does have one elective class that she could drop for an additional study hall if she needs it - does your daughter have that option? Would an additional study hall help her to get more of her homework done in school so she can have some down time after school?

I do think that colleges look for what track you opt for in high school. It is notated on your transcripts that it was an honor course.
post #3 of 33
If the English class is too hard for her, then why wouldn't you let her switch to the "regular' English class?

It sounds to me like she's overwhelmed with the courseload, suffering socially, and, overall, setting herself up for burnout. She might do better starting slowly with the harder classes- taking one or two honors classes rather than all of them. That will give her the chance to be challenged and "learn how to work the way everybody else has been working since 6th grade" without jumping into all this work at once.

As for the question "will it look better for colleges to get Bs and Cs in honors classes or straight As in regular classes"- I really don't know. I'd imagine it would depend on the college. IMO, it's more worthwhile to challenge yourself than to breeze through with 'unworked for' As, but I don't know if colleges see it that way. She might "have a nicer transcript" if she has easier classes and some time and energy left over for extra-curricular activities.

She's only 14. She's not an adult yet. Yes, it's important to prepare for college, and her work this year WILL be seen by colleges, but at the same time she needs to live her life for now, not only for the future. Let her enjoy high school, and not feel like these 4 years are just preparation for the 4 that follow.
post #4 of 33
Yes, colleges do look to see whether you've gotten an A in an easy class rather than the honors course. However, it depends on what colleges she's interested in if it will make a difference. However, if this had been me in HS I would have taken the reg. english course as long as I was still taking the other classes as honors, which it sounds like she'll be doing. I think that'll ease the transition some and won't make a big deal in regards to university. That depends on where she wants to go of course. Why doesn't she talk to the guidance counselor?
post #5 of 33
I think I remember reading someplace that where one's friends are placed is sometimes a good indicator of where you should be placed.

Maybe I'm making that up... but it fits with my personal experience.
post #6 of 33
I'd let her be in the classes she wants. Social development is so important at 14. Also finding school too stressful could turn her off on learning. Are there specific gifted/honors courses she wants to keep taking? It could be less overwhelming to take just one or two advanced classes. Maybe the one she finds easiest or most fun.
post #7 of 33
How many honors classes is she in? Perhaps just dropping one and leaving the others would be a good idea. A lot of kids in my school stagger their entrance into honors over the first two or three years.

What is she reading that you think is college-level work? Just curious, because I teach college prep-level 9th grade English, and honors 10th grade.
post #8 of 33
I would actually work quite hard with her developing some study habits to keep up with the new courses. This is actually a very safe time for her to struggle a bit. As far as colleges are concerned, this is the least important period of her schooling. I wouldn't even think about it.

I would think about what she is learning. If she works hard and still has trouble keeping up, then she can scale back later, but she'll just be further behind if she tries to scale up later. And, if you find ways to reward her effort, she can learn a lot about the value of perseverance. If she moves to the regular classes, she is likely to learn that ease in life is more important than work and friends are more important than school. Those may be values that you are happy with her developing, but if they aren't, I would think very hard about letting her step down too without giving it a solid go first.

My perspective is as someone who was never challenged enough to develop work habits until after graduate school. I wish somebody had set expectations for me at some point that I really had to stretch to reach. I would have been incredibly frustrated at the time, but in retrospect, I believe that I failed to learn the most important practical lesson that school has to offer because I was never pushed.
post #9 of 33
My sis is in the honors program at her college. Last year (her freshman year) she freaked a little in the beginning, saying that she wouldn't be able to keep up and that it was too much, but my mom just stayed positive and basically told her to stick it out and see how it went. She did and it didn't take long before she got into the routine of things and made a good enough GPA to get a free ride for her next three years (provided she keeps her GPA up). Now I know that there is a big age difference between a 14 year old and an 18 year old but I think it would be good if she kept at it for a bit before saying it's too hard/too much...maybe things will smooth out for her and she'll find that the geeks and nerds aren't so bad!
post #10 of 33
I went to private schools overseas until 11th grade when I went to a public school in the U.S. for the first time, and they put me in all honder classes, and it was SOOO much work. I could handle it but I didnt really WANT to, and yeah the other kids in that class were kinda dorks.

I ended up switching to the regular classes, but taking some college courses at the same time. I graduated after 11th and then went to college from there with 2 scholarships - and it was much better than high school!
post #11 of 33
What areas is she most interested in -- math and science? social science? liberal arts? If she has a sense, then I'd keep the honors courses in those areas, and switch to non-honors courses for a couple of the others. 4 hours of homework a night is crazy.

The other thing I'd do is work with her on study skills. She might not have great planning/work habits. As my sister once told my niece, "Just because your butt was in the chair for 4 hours doesn't mean you deserve an A." My niece had terrible work habits and would 'work' for 4 hours, but really be only working for about 1/3 of the time.

The other thing I'd do is encourage one extracurricular activity - a sport, drama, music, SOMETHING to get her connected to other kids in a non-class kind of way in the high school. That's the saving grace for a lot of kids, socially. She doesn't have to be in all the same classes as her friends, but she should have a place to be where she has some like minded friends.
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by leighi123 View Post
I went to private schools overseas until 11th grade when I went to a public school in the U.S. for the first time, and they put me in all honder classes, and it was SOOO much work. I could handle it but I didnt really WANT to, and yeah the other kids in that class were kinda dorks.

I ended up switching to the regular classes, but taking some college courses at the same time. I graduated after 11th and then went to college from there with 2 scholarships - and it was much better than high school!
I went to both private prep and public schools in the States. I remember all the hype about how we had to do all this work because "that's what college is like. " That was SO untrue. You don't spend 7 hours a day 5 days a week in classes in college and then come home and do 4 hours of homework a night. That's an 11 hour work day, or would be if a student was actually being taught the entire time she was in school...

College was much easier than high school for me. Much less BS and busy work.
post #13 of 33
A couple questions, Is the highschool in the same district as the elementary schools... is the high school a combo of a number of lower schools, meaning you have 3-4 elementary schools in this high school? She may have been in the gifted program at school A which could have been totally different from the gifted program at school B YK? What happened to all the other kids from her gifted program in 8th grade at her elem. jr high school??

Going from 8th to 9th grade is a huge adjustment, this is probaby week 2 or 3?? DD is adjusting to an earlier start time, more classes, changing classes, maybe longer class times, semester classes vs year classes possibly?? Any of those can account for the homework issue, especially if they have semester vs year classes.

High school typically has alot more reading involved. If her comprehension and reading speed isnt up to par she is going to have problems. Is she possibly gifted with an underlying 2E dx that is hidden?? There could also be holes in her education, even staying in the same district as mentioned above, 8th grade English class at school A could be totally different from 8th grade English class at school B.

Look at her schedule, does she have any study halls, look at how she is managing her time, I mean REALLY look at it, take an assisgment of hers and actually do it. yes mom DO the assignment. See how long it takes you to read the pages, answer the questions, write the review etc. If it takes you an hr and it takes DD 4 hrs there is a problem. But if it takes you an hr and it takes dd 90 mins-2 hrs then all is about right.

Moving to academic english may not solve the social issue, there is no guarentee she is going to be in the same room as her friends. HS has multipule sections of the same class. There could be 8-10 classes of freshman english. IKYKWIM. Im sure not everyone in her class is a geek and so what if they are. I was a 'geek', I turned out just fine . HS is a great opportunity to explore, grow and develop. Keep your old friends, make new friends, find interests you didnt know you had etc...

Good luck to DD but honestly I would stay in the upper level classes...It does make a difference when it comes time for scholarships and financial assistance. Not to mention being able to CLEPP out of many classes etc.
post #14 of 33
What are the near-future academic consequences to dropping down? If she drops to the regular level, is there an opportunity to move up again in a year or 2? Or will she have to stay at that level for the rest of her hs career? Does the school offer AP courses and will she need to be in the Honours level to move into AP?

I see some merit in being academically challenged and learning some good work habits early on. I was never challenged in hs, and university was a bit of a shock. I struggled at first with the workload, not with the content. In uni, the profs weren't too sympathetic if work wasn't handed in on time.

Personally, I don't think a student has to be in the same class as all her friends - that's what after school activities are for.

I would take a good look at the course content and demands with your dd, and decide whether it's really overwhelming and beyond her ability. Figure out if the classes really require 4 hours of homework every night. The advice to sit down with her and go through some assignments is good. If she is capable, then I'd be inclined to encourage her to persist with her classes. I'd also offer a lot of support for social time with her friends - including new ones she may make in these classes.
post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
If the English class is too hard for her, then why wouldn't you let her switch to the "regular' English class?

It sounds to me like she's overwhelmed with the courseload, suffering socially, and, overall, setting herself up for burnout. She might do better starting slowly with the harder classes- taking one or two honors classes rather than all of them. That will give her the chance to be challenged and "learn how to work the way everybody else has been working since 6th grade" without jumping into all this work at once.

As for the question "will it look better for colleges to get Bs and Cs in honors classes or straight As in regular classes"- I really don't know. I'd imagine it would depend on the college. IMO, it's more worthwhile to challenge yourself than to breeze through with 'unworked for' As, but I don't know if colleges see it that way. She might "have a nicer transcript" if she has easier classes and some time and energy left over for extra-curricular activities.

She's only 14. She's not an adult yet. Yes, it's important to prepare for college, and her work this year WILL be seen by colleges, but at the same time she needs to live her life for now, not only for the future. Let her enjoy high school, and not feel like these 4 years are just preparation for the 4 that follow.
I agree with all of this.

And just because your DD was accelerated throughout elementary/middle school doesn't mean she will still be ahead in high school. Just a thought. I've known adults who said they were ahead academically all throughout school but once they hit high school it got much harder in regular classes and things started to even out for them. Is it possible for you both to go in and talk to a counselor and see where to go at this point?
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcella_Moxley View Post
The main problem of course is that she has any homework- she never has had to do homework, study or put forth effort in her life. She's one of those kids that show up, listen and get an "A" - so of course now, that she has to put any sort of effort into school, she is freaking out. She keeps saying she wants to drop these courses and they are too hard.

But, she also says her classes are filled with "geeks" and "nerds" and all of her friends are in regular freshman level classes, so she never sees them. Between the massive amounts of homework, and no friends in any class, she seems to be suffering socially.

So of course, I'm on the fence, do I let her drop into regular English where she would be guaranteed an "A" and easy breezy 4.0's all through high school? should I force her to stay in the courses, try, and be challenged for once? Do honors credits "really" matter? Do colleges care if you were in Honors classes? ( these aren't even AP! ) . Do colleges care about having over a 4.0 GPA? I'm just worried that all of this honors/gifted sort of labeling will be very important later on. Thanks!

There is a date where it's too late to drop classes and it's approaching quickly.
LOL.. this is my kid exactly! And, she took the regular math class her freshman year because she wanted to be in the competition dance at her school. The two conflicted, so she chose to drop AP math, and take the regular math. She HATED it. The kids in that class were "blithering idiots". The teacher got frustrated with the class because they wouldn't do anything. So, the next year, I MADE her take all AP classes. She thinks the geeky kids are "super weird", but it's still better than the chaos in the other classes.

She's working her tail off with her schedule this year. She's complaining a lot. But, she's getting it done. I have no idea how her grades will be this year, because she is driving now, and suddenly has a social life to plan her schedule around. (heaven forbid school interfere with her social life) But, she'll survive.

I kinda think I'd let her drop at least one class this year. In the long run, I don't think it will hurt her. She may end up feeling like my daughter did, and not really like the class as well as she thought she would. Or it may turn out to be just the thing she needs. At this age, their friends are very important.
post #17 of 33
This is from the perspective of an adult who was the 4.0, never did much work child and teen. I WISH somebody had pushed me harder when I was in high school (but I also went to a small school, 23 kids in my graduating class - there was no accelerated track) because I also coasted through college, doing the minimum amount I needed to do to get an A, dropping out of the 'hard' courses and majoring in something I liked (and that has been pretty much useless to me and society since I graduated). I didn't figure out until halfway through my junior year that I could have been doing more interesting stuff, working more closely with professors on their research, even taking graduate level courses.

I know it's hard to fathom when you are 14 and just want to hang out with your friends, but she should be training her mind to excel, to work hard, taking in all the information and learning she can while her brain is so young and plastic. If she wants to have an interesting life as an adult, she needs to start building the foundation for it now, and that means challenging herself. Watch a baby learn to walk or a toddler learn to use a spoon - NO learning happens without a lot of failure, trial and error, and practice, and embracing this challenge will make her a stronger, smarter person.
post #18 of 33
I think it will be good for her to have to work harder while she is in high school, but it does sound like it could be too much all at once. I think I would want to encourage her to stick with at least some of the advanced classes, but also to drop a couple that she doesn't enjoy as much. Sounds like that might be a better balance for her. Then at the end of the year, you can reevaluate if she really still thinks it is too much.
post #19 of 33
I would let her drop at least the English class. She is telling you it's too much for her loud and clear. I would rather have my child be happy than academically successful.
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hergrace View Post
I would actually work quite hard with her developing some study habits to keep up with the new courses. This is actually a very safe time for her to struggle a bit. As far as colleges are concerned, this is the least important period of her schooling. I wouldn't even think about it.
I totally agree. I sailed through my classes in the earlier years of school, and when I switched schools and had the opportunity to take honours classes I had no study habits and was not used to putting in effort, and did badly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by staceychev View Post
How many honors classes is she in? Perhaps just dropping one and leaving the others would be a good idea. A lot of kids in my school stagger their entrance into honors over the first two or three years.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Are there specific gifted/honors courses she wants to keep taking? It could be less overwhelming to take just one or two advanced classes. Maybe the one she finds easiest or most fun.
That sounds like a good idea, no need to go all or nothing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
I see some merit in being academically challenged and learning some good work habits early on. I was never challenged in hs, and university was a bit of a shock. I struggled at first with the workload, not with the content. In uni, the profs weren't too sympathetic if work wasn't handed in on time.

Personally, I don't think a student has to be in the same class as all her friends - that's what after school activities are for.

I would take a good look at the course content and demands with your dd, and decide whether it's really overwhelming and beyond her ability. Figure out if the classes really require 4 hours of homework every night. The advice to sit down with her and go through some assignments is good. If she is capable, then I'd be inclined to encourage her to persist with her classes. I'd also offer a lot of support for social time with her friends - including new ones she may make in these classes.
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