New beginnings. That is how many people view the beginning of a new month and a new year. Others view it even more deeply and relish the new beginning each and every morning.
Perhaps this is the view that educators, students, and parents should take when looking at the remaining school year. Some see where we are now, in January, as being half-way through a school year. Others see it as the start of a new semester. Some parents of gifted children whom I have worked with prefer to see January as a time for reset and adjustment, so the rest of the school year is manageable and/or more positive for their gifted student.
Just because the first part of the school year may have had obstacles for gifted students does not mean that the rest of the school year has to be a repeat. Have you or the student learned anything from the obstacles? As a teacher, do you better understand the needs of a gifted student, even if it is one small characteristic? As a student, do you better understand your own needs in the classroom, and are you better able to self-advocate to show your teachers how they can help you? As a parent, do you better understand the parameters in which teachers must work so they reach all students, including your gifted student, and are better able to pinpoint one way to help them do that?
If the first part of the school year was positive and your gifted student is having a “good” year, acknowledge that (out loud to the teacher/school staff), make note of why you consider it a “good” year, and consider how to help ensure the rest of the year is just as positive. As a teacher, can you identify what you are doing to positively impact gifted students? It is worth noting and reflecting upon, so you may continue to improve your craft of teaching, because generally what benefits some students also benefits other students, albeit perhaps in different ways. As a gifted student, think about what has made the first part of the school year a positive learning experience and talk with your teachers so they know what is working and what is not. Often, teachers need to learn from students about what is working and how to better meet student needs.
All of us might have a more helpful mindset if we thought about the pleasant minutes from the day and how to have more of them tomorrow.
Here are some websites with tips for second semester.
Second Semester Self-Care Tips for Teachers
10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School
10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Middle School
10 Ways to Help Your Teen Succeed in High School
Starting Second Semester Off Right: Tips for a Successful Spring Term (In High School)
New Semester Tips for Parents and Students of Virtual Schools
School Attendance Matters
This resource is helpful for parents, students, and teachers. It highlights the statistics about school attendance and how important it is for students.
A study just came out that talks about how children who are the youngest ones in their school class are often identified by teachers as needing to be referred, and by doctors who often diagnose these children with ADHD. For example, in Wisconsin the cut-off for attending kindergarten is September 1. Generally, students must be 5 years old by September 1 or they have to wait a year before attending kindergarten. The study appears to show that the youngest children (with birthdays in August) in elementary classrooms are often the ones more often diagnosed with ADHD, when in fact many may have immature behaviors when compared to their older peers, and not a disability at all.
My first thought reading about this study was concerning the misdiagnosis of gifted children. There are many gifted children who are misdiagnosed with ADHD rather than giftedness, and they suffer through many years of school and medication while still not having their gifted needs met. Many parents have contacted me through the years with questions about this matter since teachers suggested they get their child looked at by a doctor for ADHD because the child won’t sit still, or appears to be daydreaming, or is very unorganized. The assumption is that the child has ADHD, and nothing else is considered. A closer look may reveal a gifted child with these same characteristics, not a child with ADHD. In addition, some children who start school early because of their giftedness, or are grade or subject accelerated, may be quite a bit younger in chronological age than their class peers, but not in intellectual ability.
Since ADHD is a subjective diagnosis (there is no concrete blood test, for example), and should never be diagnosed by a teacher, it is often difficult for parents to know what to do. Teachers suggest the child has needs, but parents may see a totally different child, or view the ‘needs’ differently when the child is outside of school. Sometimes teachers view active children as non-compliant, and that is the real issue: the teacher wants compliant children in class. As a teacher I know the challenges of an overcrowded classroom, mandates of too much to teach with too little time, or of serving active learners when the school culture is one of quiet compliance. Nonetheless, the teacher is the one who children look to all day long to help them learn by meeting their individual learning needs.
Parents have to advocate for their children, so that they get the mental stimulation and learning environment that meets their needs, rather than sitting still at their desk all day to be compliant in a quiet classroom. I realize these comments are controversial. In my work with gifted children and their parents, as a parent of a gifted student, and in my work with children with disabilities, I have learned from them all that gifted children need advocates, and need to advocate for themselves in the classroom so that their learning needs are met, just like other students’ learning needs are met. Misdiagnosing a disability is not the way to meet the needs of gifted children regardless of their age or grade.
“Younger School Entry Could Set Stage for ADHD Diagnosis”
The New York Times, November 28, 2018
“Youngest kids in class are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than older kids, study finds”
The Washington Post, November 28, 2018
“Youngest Children in a Class Are Most Likely to Get ADHD Diagnosis”
National Public Radio, All Things Considered, November 28, 2018
The original study abstract:
“Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and Month of School Enrollment”
The New England Journal of Medicine
Online: November 28, 2019
As reported by Reuters:
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