Five Tips for the Parent with
a Gifted (and Bored) Child
Being a gifted student is a wonderful thing… most of the time. When a child isn’t being sufficiently challenged at school, it’s easy for them to get bored, restless, and frustrated. This can cause a variety of issues, from misbehaving to mentally checking out from school. As a parent, how can you be a helpful advocate for your child in this situation?
The steps you can take are totally dependent on your child’s unique situation, but there are different ways you can help.
Communicate with your gifted child and with their teachers.
If your child is having a tough time at school because they aren’t challenged, it’s really important to get the lines of communication opened. Reach out to their teacher to discuss the issue at hand. Remember, teachers have hard jobs. Every day, they’re trying to engage your gifted student, but also students who have the opposite problem. They’re creating lesson plans, grading papers, and trying to make sure all of their students are taken care of. When you reach out, it’s important you’re reaching out as an ally and a teammate, knowing that everyone involved wants what’s best for your child.
If your child’s teacher knows that you are an active participant in your child’s education, they’ll be more likely to come to you with issues, ideas, suggestions, and so on. Starting a dialogue between all parties is the first step in helping your child at school.
Encourage your gifted student.
A gifted student is special needs student. Just like you’d support and encourage your child on if they had trouble keeping up with their coursework, it’s important to be your child’s cheerleader if they’re breezing through it, bored out of their mind. Stay involved with their schoolwork and remind your child that good grades will pave the way to more challenges and future successes. It can be easy for your gifted child to just give up and lose interest in school, so it’s important to remind them that this boredom and frustration is temporary.
If you want to be an advocate for your child, it’s important to be hands-on. Work with your child, and talk to them about the subjects they enjoy, the kinds of assignments that excite them, the work that is too easy for them, their favorite ways to learn new information, and so on. If you choose to talk to their teachers or guidance counselor, you can offer up some concrete information. Your child might be more honest with you than they are with a teacher, and your teacher may see things that you don’t. By being proactive and engaging in the schoolwork with your child, you can help find solutions and offer ideas.
Help your gifted student explore their interests outside of school.
In an ideal world, your child would get a customized curriculum and finally get the academic challenges to keep them focused and excited about school. Usually, however, it’s just not that easy. Your child may be able to skip a grade, join a gifted program, find a better-suited school, or enroll in harder courses, but they might just have to be patient and wait for high school, college, or whatever the next chapter holds. In the meantime, it can be tremendously helpful to get them involved in activities outside of school.
If your child has demonstrated a passion for a particular subject, look for an extracurricular that would allow them to explore it. If they love writing, sign them up for a creative writing course or encourage them to start a blog. If your child has a flair for the dramatic, how about joining the community theater? If your child stays busy doing something they enjoy, they can find an outlet to channel that pent-up energy. Boring school days can be more bearable if they know they can really explore their passion once that final bell rings.
Connect them with like-minded peers and people who understand them.
If your child is the most gifted student in their class or their school, they may feel alienated and lonely. If they’re bored in class and bored at lunch, school can be particularly tough. Aside from encouraging them to join extracurricular activities, try to brainstorm ways they could meet other gifted children, or perhaps other students a bit older. It can also be extremely helpful to connect them with people who understand their frustrations.
I was the nanny for a young, gifted girl during my summer break from college. She was heading into fourth grade, and she was absolutely dreading it. In the summer, she read interesting, advanced books, played sports, and explored her love of photography. She knew she would be bored as soon as school started up. I commiserated. I told her that elementary school and middle school were also easy for me, and I struggled to focus. However, I was able to tell her about all of the exciting, advanced courses offered in high school, and reminded her that good grades would help her go to a great university full of challenges. Sure, it wasn’t an immediate solution, but it gave her a light at the end of the tunnel from someone who had recently been there.