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Old 10-08-2010, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DD brought home a week's worth of worksheets yesterday. All of them were graded 100/A+ except for one, which was scored a 60.

I asked DD if she could tell me a little bit about it and she said that she didn't understand the instructions. When I asked her if she had asked her teacher for help, she said, "No, I was too shy and I didn't want her to think I wasn't smart anymore."

DD has always been put in the position of being the teacher's helper-type since she generally understands the assignments right off the bat. I'm getting the impression that since she knows that her teacher often counts on her to explain things to other students, she's ashamed to speak up when she doesn't understand something.

Is this part of the perfectionism issues that some gifted kids have?

FWIW, this happened in her regular class, not her GT class. In the GT setting, she is much more apt to ask for assistance.
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Old 10-08-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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Did the teacher follow up on the sheet with the 60 result? It's such a clear outlier that it should have rung a few bells.

How did your DD react to the 60 result? That should give some indication of whether she's a perfectionist.

Do you see perfectionistic tendencies in her other work? Does she place impossible standards on herself? Show hesitation to try new things because she's worried she won't do well? Does it take her a long time to finish work because it has to be perfect? Is her self-esteem wrapped up in getting the correct result?

There are a few issues to address. I'd speak to the teacher about whether she's inadvertently discouraging your DD from asking questions. She may be making comments like the one raised in the "Grr...teacher's comments" thread. I'd also address the whole "teacher's helper" thing, since I don't think a student should be expected to take on the role of unpaid tutorial assistant in a classroom. If your dd enjoys the role and the other kids don't resent her for it, fine. It's a real problem for a lot of gifted students though. I don't think it should be a routine way to deal with gifted students in the regular classroom, but it often is.

Perhaps your DD is also embarrassed to ask for help in front of her classmates. If they've been primed to view her as a human encyclopedia and unofficial teacher, those are hard expectations for her to live up to. In a gifted class, those expectations aren't there because she's among peers who understand that they all have questions despite (indeed because of) how smart they are.
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for replying.

The only thing the teacher wrote on the sheet was a big question mark next to the score.

DD bawled her eyes out when she saw that I had the worksheet in my hand. She says that she doesn't like second grade because now they get "real" grades and she's afraid of getting a low one.

She is the type to walk away from something new if she doesn't get it right away. She'd much rather do the things that she excels at instead of trying something different, I'm guessing out of fear of failing? I would say that her self-esteem is starting to diminish out of fear of getting a lower grade. She cried and cried while telling me that she sometimes doesn't even want to try, because what if she gets it wrong?

I honestly don't know if DD minds being the helper. I just asked her and she said that she never thought about liking it, she just does it because the teacher tells her to.

I sent an email asking the teacher for a conference. Today is an in-service day and the first report card comes home on Monday.
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kate42 View Post
Thank you for replying.

The only thing the teacher wrote on the sheet was a big question mark next to the score.

DD bawled her eyes out when she saw that I had the worksheet in my hand. She says that she doesn't like second grade because now they get "real" grades and she's afraid of getting a low one.

She is the type to walk away from something new if she doesn't get it right away. She'd much rather do the things that she excels at instead of trying something different, I'm guessing out of fear of failing? I would say that her self-esteem is starting to diminish out of fear of getting a lower grade. She cried and cried while telling me that she sometimes doesn't even want to try, because what if she gets it wrong?

I honestly don't know if DD minds being the helper. I just asked her and she said that she never thought about liking it, she just does it because the teacher tells her to.

I sent an email asking the teacher for a conference. Today is an in-service day and the first report card comes home on Monday.
That does sound like there may be some perfectionism going on. Removing the emphasis on grades and offering lots of positive reinforcement for effort instead and for trying new things are some basic things that can help. Role modeling what happens when you make a mistake is also helpful, so she can observe resiliency in action.

There are some really helpful older threads about dealing with perfectionism, if you want to do a search.

At the same time, the teacher conference is a good idea, to make sure that the teacher is aware of the issue.
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:21 PM
 
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Have you read any Carol Dweck? I find her perpspective and research informing. DD's very much a perfectionist, although it's improving with age.

http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

http://www.pobronson.com/blog/labels/children.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=fdj...ed=0CCoQ6AEwAA

In addition to using some of the Dweck approach, I've flatly told my kids that I don't particularly care about grades. Grades are simply a reflection of what they demonstrated they knew - if the mark isn't great, maybe they need to spend more time on the subject, or they weren't attending to the task closely enough. Marks don't reflect the person, their value or their intelligence - they're simply an indication of what the person demonstrated that day. If the kids get a poor grade, we simply reflect on what was going on that day and what they could have done differently (ie prepare for the test), and discuss whether we need to do some review. It's a hard line to straddle, as I do want them to try but not obsess over the results. I want them to pursue excellence, but not beat themselves up or give up due to unrealistic perfectionism.

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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Old 10-09-2010, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the links!
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Old 10-10-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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Poor baby! I hope she is feeling better about it now. Everyone has a bad day, but it can absolutely crush some children.

You've gotten some great info already - I can only add that maybe you should ask her how she feels about being a "helper" to the teacher? I really dislike it when my children are made into peer tutors simply because they excel at something.

Ditto what a PP said about grades -- I'm a teacher and I explain to my students that grades are not an indication of intelligence; they are simply an assessment of certain skills.

Joy, mama to Aquaboy (10), Goldilocks (8), Squidge (4)
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Old 10-13-2010, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmm. I got a note from DD's teacher saying that a conference is not needed at this time due to the fact that DD is doing so well. So I only get to talk to the teacher if she's doing poorly?
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kate42 View Post
Hmm. I got a note from DD's teacher saying that a conference is not needed at this time due to the fact that DD is doing so well. So I only get to talk to the teacher if she's doing poorly?
Yeah, teachers have said that to me too and I find it a little irritating. What happened to creating a supportive team for a child that combines school and home and teachers and parents? It's helpful to establish a good relationship and good communications BEFORE there are problems. I know teachers may be trying to be careful with time - theirs and the parents - when they say things like this, but I wonder about the unconscious attitude it reveals. It's a tendency to be reactive, rather than proactive.

I'd pursue the conference and explain that there are matters you'd like to discuss in any event. Let her know you want to talk about the issues you identified in your earlier posts, and any others you may have.

Particularly since "doing so well" may refer mostly to her grades and a big issue for perfectionists is removing the emphasis on final product and focussing more on the process.
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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So, my DS is just a little guy yet...I'm doubting he's gifted, as his favorite thing to do is pull his own hair, scream because it hurts, pull harder, and scream louder. Time will tell...maybe he'll figure it out by 6 wks...so, anyway, I don't know anything about parenting a gifted child, but I was one, once...

I definitely was that teacher's helper perfectionist kid. I probably would have avoided anything that seemed difficult, except that my parents always challenged me at home. It was like they homeschooled me and used the public school as free babysitting. They didn't help me find a way to be less wrapped up in grades and looking smart, though. It wasn't until my junior year of college when a professor and mentor told me, "I don't value you because you're smart, I value you because you're a good person. You've got a good heart." I was kind of angry that no one--not my teachers or friends or parents--ever took the time to tell me that I was smart, but that that didn't matter to them.

Now I make a point of telling this to every gifted perfectionist kid I meet. Your brains are great, but what I love is your heart.

Mama to Silas Anansi, born 9/9/10 and Petra Eadaion, born 10/1/12.

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