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Challenging Gifted Kids
Q: What can we do to continually challenge academically gifted children? My husband and I are sometimes criticized by others because we are told we are not allowing them to have free play. We do not force our children to have computer time, they enjoy the programs that we purchased for them and we encourage their interest in learning. They are read stories whenever they request them at bedtime. We always purchase workbooks that are a level above where they are in order to challenge them. Are we rushing them academically if they are learning the material? What social issues do we need to consider?
A: Just because they can learn the material does not mean that challenging them is in their best interests. Please let them guide you as to what might interest them. Young kids can be provided stimulating supportive environments for their growth without always challenging them to learn. I would assume that they are not the ones requesting these advanced workbooks. Even though you may believe that you are not pressuring them to achieve academically, they may feel obligated to please you by doing all this work that you provide them.
You don't mention the ages of your kids but social development is very important in the overall healthy development of all kids. They need to learn how to play, share, and get along with their peers.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.