Anybody else's gifted child lacking life skills - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-18-2012, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really think my 9 yo ds will live with us for the rest of his life! There I got it out of my system:) Seriously, though, we moved him from public school to a montessori school this year so the sky could be his limit. However, he isn't staying on task while at school. They have an agenda for the week and must have all items completed to attend their electives. He hasn't attended electives for the past 3 weeks. This isn't like him. He always finished his work and would do so ahead of everyone else at the public school. Now that he doesn't have the structure, he reads, writes and draws. Which is awesome, except that he isn't getting things finished. Whenever I ask why he wasn't able the answer is " i didn't know what to do. when i couldn't figure it out, i just did something else" or "i forgot my password so i couldn't do it" or "so and so said I didn't have to do it" or "i typed it all up and it was lost." His time management skills are awful and he can't seem to bring himself to ask the teachers! Am I expecting too much of a 9 year old? I know he has to deprogram from one school and reprogram for the new school and I know that will take time. However, he is like this at home too. Self- accountability is an issue. Any thoughts?

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Old 11-19-2012, 09:40 AM
 
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 Am I expecting too much of a 9 year old? I know he has to deprogram from one school and reprogram for the new school and I know that will take time. However, he is like this at home too. 

 

Is it also a new change for him to be like this at home too? 

 

I think it's fairly common for pre-teens and early adolescents to be a little more disorganized and scattered, for all sorts of reasons. He may be a little young yet to deal with puberty, so perhaps that's not yet an issue, but it's often a factor. At the same time, generally, outside expectations are increasing. Schools tend to give more independent assignments and projects to be completed. Often they move to rotary or semi-rotary schedules for classes, so students are dealing with several teachers and different classrooms. It can be challenging and take some time to learn the necessary organizational skills to cope. It's normal smile.gif. However, some of his excuses are pretty thin ("I didn't have my password", "I typed it up but lost it", "someone told me I didn't have to do it"). I'd also investigate a little to make sure there's nothing else overwhelming him or making him unhappy.  

 

I am wondering how much support he received when he entered the Montessori program. A typical age to start Montessori is 3 y.o. Most of his classmates have probably been encouraged in self-directed learning for many years. It's possible that, as a group, they have developed a certain level of organization and independence. If he's been schooled in a top-down, teacher-directed fashion since he was in kindergarten, the change to a more independent learning environment may be rough without some extra support. HIs Montessori teachers may assume everyone has a certain level of ability in these areas but your DS may not have integrated these skills yet.  He may need some scaffolding to make the transition to a more independent, self-directed learning environment. If they haven't dealt with many transfers, they may not have a lot of experience in providing that scaffolding. Many Montessori schools won't accept students who haven't attended a Montessori/pre-school program and this is one of the reasons why.  

 

 

I would meet with his teachers to sort out a little extra support while he works on these skills. I'd let them know that he's hesitant to approach them for help - or at least that's one of the excuses he's given you. 

 

It sounds like he isn't using some of the available tools, like his agenda, to help himself stay organized. I'd work with him on developing some routines to stay on track with his work. His teachers may have some suggestions to help with this too. 

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Old 11-19-2012, 10:02 AM
 
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A nine year with good time management skills would be rare. If he'd been in that school all along, and had time management being encouraged all along, that would be different. But to switch schools and expect there to be a silky transition is expecting too much. Maybe he should return to where he was doing well. Maybe you should give him more time to adjust. I'm not sure what to recommend. But if he stays where he is he needs to learn skills that haven't been addressed yet for him. Maybe work with at home, by finding out what the school did in earlier grades.
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:37 PM
 
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DS1 is like that at home - writes his own magic Treehouse stories with several chapters and actually finishes them, then after we print them out for him, he draws a front cover. (I never finished the books I started writing as a kid). However, try to get the kid to put on his socks in the morning and you're likely to go distracted. If we don't hound him for every single item of clothing, he'd never get dressed, he has a hard time even to focus long enough on his meals to actually get a decent amount of calories in (it's a real problem - he is really thin and reacts badly to low blood sugar, but never eats up his snacks at school, insisting that he was "so distracted because the teacher read such an interesting story during snacktime" or "the teacher put on this nice music and I listened"). Of course, he has only just turned 6 and is in first grade, but I do worry as we do not really see all that much improvement even though we continually work on these skills.

it was actually one of the reason we decided against Montessori and went for a more traditionally structured program, with some Monetessori elements but not so much of the individual freedoms Montessori offers. It appears he does well there, we haven't had a PT meeting yet...


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Old 11-20-2012, 06:57 AM
 
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DS1 is like that at home - writes his own magic Treehouse stories with several chapters and actually finishes them

 

 

 

.

 

 

Hey, Tigerle, it's good to "see" you. Hope you and your family are all well, especially the new little one. If you get a chance, it would be lovely to get an update from you in the "What are they up to Nov/Dec" thread. I haven't yet posted to that thread myself. I don't have much time right now, but I think I'll try later on. 

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Old 11-20-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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(coming out of MDC retirement to randomly post)

 

I'm in the middle of reading Smart but Scattered, and it's describing DS1 to a T. He's only four, but he is, um, my kid after all, and I see a lot of me in him when it comes to organization and self-monitoring. So far, the book isn't long on solutions, but there's a constant thread of "they need extra help with executive skill-requiring tasks, it is our job to scaffold and help them build those skills, and don't just yank all the extra support away at once!" throughout the book.

 

That message might be helpful to share with teachers... that, just like a student who is struggling in reading, you don't just teach him a skill and expect him to use it perfectly every time. You teach him a skill, help him use it in a very guided, structured context, pull away a little of the guidance, pull away a little more, spot check how he's doing, step back and add a support back in, pull it away some more, and some more, and THEN he's capable of doing it on his own.


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Old 11-20-2012, 08:47 AM
 
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My kids are both like this, and it's related to two very different, but equally disabling medical conditions.  Poor executive functioning can be caused by many things.  Have you considered looking into that side of things?


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Old 11-20-2012, 12:31 PM
 
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We *are* talking about a 9 year old, right? That's third grade. I don't remember being responsible for getting work done in the third grade. Work was assigned, and time allotted for completion, unless it was specifically homework. Why should children be expected to have skills their parens weren't expected to have?
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:55 PM
 
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We *are* talking about a 9 year old, right? That's third grade. I don't remember being responsible for getting work done in the third grade. Work was assigned, and time allotted for completion, unless it was specifically homework. Why should children be expected to have skills their parens weren't expected to have?

 

If we were discussing non-gifted children, that comment might be appropriate.  But the majority of parents in this forum are looking for the delicate balance between challenging kids who need a challenge to prevent them from becoming incapable of dealing with even the smallest of challenges (and becoming slackers that live with us forever), and allowing them to be the children they are.  And although this is likely the concern for parents of all children, providing it for a gifted kid is actually a challenge.

 

And since a lot of the parents in this forum carried that label and suffered for the lack of that kind of consideration, we're all just trying to do a little better for the kids wearing that label (whether we like labels or not).


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Old 11-20-2012, 01:21 PM
 
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What evidence do you have that without challenges in every aspect of life the child will grow up to be a slacker, living with parents forever, and not be able to deal with the smallest of challenges? This child has just moved from one type of school to a different type of school with different expectations. I think it's a little early to be worried that he'll never move out.

Even if a child who is gifted in science, that child may not be gifted in math, or time management. That child may be an Einstein, who was brilliant in science and struggled in math. If he could get someone else to do his calculations, he did! He was also lousy at time management! When he was a college professor, his students learned that class began whenever Einstein was in the room with at least one student, and ended whenever it ended (frequently going overtime).

So was he a skacker? Did he never leave his home? Did he faulter with every small challenge?

He made numerous discoveries. He left both home and his homeland. He handled being persecuted, a divorce, and the creation of the atomic bomb before the Nazis had one. I think he did alright.

There is lack of concern at one end , and paranoia at the other. Shoot for the middle. There is a whole range between excelling and failure.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:52 PM
 
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What evidence do you have that without challenges in every aspect of life the child will grow up to be a slacker, living with parents forever, and not be able to deal with the smallest of challenges? 

 

Heatherdeg wasn't predicting anything of the sort, she was pointing out that it's a question of balance between extremes. Go back to the original post. You'll see a very balanced assessment of the possibilities (is this just transition-related? age-related? since he's like this at home too, should we be concerned?) and a request for people to weigh in with their opinions. And no one is suggesting that kids need challenge in every aspect of life! There's simply the fact that the OPs kid is not finishing work, is not getting to do any of the electives at school as a result, and seems unable or unwilling to ask the teachers for help with even simple things like computer access. I think the situation warrants some concern. Perhaps no intervention is required yet; clearly you think not. But I don't think kindacrunchy is wrong for keeping a watchful eye on it. He is in a school that expects children to be capable of some self-direction, and one term in, he is clearly not demonstrating that self-direction. Maybe it's too early to do anything, but the comments about "scaffolding" seem right on the money to me. Helping him adapt to the new school with specific tools might help him better meet with the school's expectations. And get access to the electives!

 

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Old 11-20-2012, 02:32 PM
 
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pek64... do you have any first-hand experience that you can share with the OP?  Because this is a support forum, not a debate forum and you seem to be moving towards debate again.


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Old 11-21-2012, 12:34 AM
 
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I was mildly gifted, but if I understand the OP's description of expectations (it's kind of vague), I can't imagine my nine-year-old self achieving that except maybe with a lot of stress and anxiety. I can see why kids who'd been in that education model from a young age would be able to do it; they started learning the skill in easier increments and worked their way up to this point. Not saying your kid is just five years behind, because age counts for something, but it doesn't seem feasible that most kids would be able to go from kindergarten through third grade at a typical public school (anything like mine--in the 90's, granted) and then survive being thrown to the executive function wolves at age nine.

 

Granted, I'm still so bad at life skills that I think the only reason I'm still alive is that suicide is too difficult/complicated.... (No, I don't think having more or harder hoops to jump through would have helped.)

 

Have the teachers been working on these skills with him, or have they just been punishing him for failing?

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Old 11-22-2012, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Some of you have made good points. It is sometimes hard to have a kid that is so mature in one realm of life and remember that he is only 9 (almost) 10. Yes, it has only been 4months in this type of structure. He does need to deprogram from the top-down ways of the public school. And, no, he has not had this type of schooling since kinder so he is not used to the lack of structure in the school environment. I agree that he needs the scaffolding and have voiced this to the teacher. Either she doesn't get me or I don't get Montessori or this isn't true Montessori. She did give him a go-to guy but that boy policed him rather than guided him. I think I am just going to ask for the classroom agendas and go over it with him at home and help him make a plan for his week. Try it different ways for a few weeks to see which one suits him the best. He did tell his teacher that it wasn't working out with the other kid because he can't find his own way with someone hovering over him.

What we do like is he is finally challenged in math and he has been writing like crazy! We have pages all over the house. He is writing 3-4 different stories right now. Each with many, many pages. His right side has been uncorked. Which also goes along with the scattered-ness. My mom is an artist and whenever she was painting, I could have full conversations with her that should would not remember having. He is also so much more relaxed than he was at public school. I just think that he is taking the child-directed thing to a whole other level. This is a public charter school so they do have work that needs to be completed. He thinks he has the choice on whether or not he does it but the reality is he has the choice of what he does and when he does it. The goal is to have it done by the end of the week.

I do have a bit of a problem with the teacher as I don't feel she is the best fit for him. We have been trying to get a switch but the school is very full and an opening has not become available with the teacher we prefer.

You girls were a big help. I don't want to be the controlling, enabling, helicopter mom but I don't want him floundering either.

Thanks:)

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Old 11-22-2012, 03:18 AM
 
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Great update! I hope he continues to thrive in his new school!
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:34 PM
 
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My son is very similar. He does fine on things that are the same every single day and that he likes to do (ex. his nightly reading assignments). But he does not remember the instructions given in class and never wants to ask. When the beginning of the year routine started, it took him more than a month to internalize and remember the daily schedule. I have met with his teacher and she just acts like it is because he isn't listening. I don't think she understands that even if he is listening, it doesn't sink in. So then he feels stupid asking. I am trying to teach him to utilize his peers more, ask them when he forgets the next step. But it is slow progress. At home, we are working on setting short term goals to reach his long term goals and he is getting better.

 

When I taught gifted students, a high percentage (especially boys) were very disorganized. They were often seen as daydreaming...but as my son puts it, "Mom, I am not daydreaming, I am thinking." His brain is always going in unpredictable directions making it hard for him to always catch everything being said by the teacher. Especially since he is not an auditory learner.
 


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Old 11-23-2012, 03:14 PM
 
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My son is very definately an auditory learner, but that doesn't stop his brain from taking him along a tangent! There are so many reasons for a 9 year old to not complete assignments. I'm glad the OP is working with her son on his difficulties.
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