I recently came across this book, Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up by Ellen Braaten, PhD, and Brian Willoughby, PhD, that has given me insight into the daily functions of my son. It started with my son not seeming present a lot of the time; yet feeling he is giving his best each time. I feel I am constantly urging him several times within minutes -- to hurry up OR sit down to get homework done OR get in the car. The simple daily tasks are a struggle. Yet, when he is highly interested in a task such as chess or his Rubik's Mini, his determination and focus is exceptional. Something didn’t add up. My son has tested gifted in verbal comprehension and fluid reasoning; yet his day-to-day behavior on straightforward tasks is a challenge. Mundane tasks such as getting shoes on to leave the house, sitting down to get homework done, sustaining attention to a task, trouble finishing a task on his own, seemed to occupy most of our time. The realization came to me when I noticed that my daughter, who is 2 years younger than my son, catches on much more quickly than he does. So I set out to find answers.
I can’t recall the exact search words I looked up, but those magic words led me eventually to this book. The title itself was intriguing ‘Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up’. I felt “yes!” that is my son exactly. This is the kid who has beaten me in chess, yet can’t seem to get out of the house in time for school. This book introduced me to a new way of thinking about how he works. ‘Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up’ primarily highlights processing speeds. It gives great tools for caretakers – such as using checklists, how to present clear directions and how to speak to a child with slower processing speeds. This book gave me great insight into my own son’s life at home, insight into how his mind might work and how to communicate with him. I believe this book is useful to caretakers who struggle to understand and communicate with growing minds who seem to wrestle with attentiveness. It gives one a better understanding of brain function and relation to behavior. The book also goes into possible reasons for slower processing speeds, such as the possibility of ADHD. In my limited experience, I feel a lot of times the gifted label on a child may mask possible ADHD; when they may go hand in hand. For our journey specifically, the next steps with my son is to test him for any impairments so that we can know for certain and provide him the right tools early on to enhance positive behaviors including executive functioning skills. If your child sounds like mine, you may want to check out this book.
A WATG Parent
In Thinking Like A Lawyer (Seale, 2020) the author builds a strong case for gifted education. Growing up in a world of stark inequalities, Colin, a young, Black boy, found solace and intellectual challenge in the gifted and talented classroom. As he states, qualifying for this program proved to be, “the most important event of my K-12 career.” Reading this book highlighted the importance of gifted and talented programming for all students, especially those from underrepresented communities. As Seale points out, brilliance is distributed equally, but opportunity not so much.
While geared towards educators, the book is engaging and easy to read, and parents and students will also enjoy this story.
WATG Board Member
During our WATG fall virtual conference, many of us were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to join Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings’ presentation, “Racial Disparity in Academic Achievement.”
Dr. Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education and an internationally known expert in the field. She has won numerous honors and awards, is a member of the National Academy of Education, and a former president of the American Educational Research Association. She has written two books, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children and Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms.
At the conclusion of Dr. Ladson-Billings’ presentation, she was asked to share some ideas for readings on her topic that are suitable for adults and teens. She has graciously shared this list with us, and we’d like to share it with you:
Ford, Donna. Recruiting and retaining culturally different students in gifted education (2013)
Love, Bettina. We want to do more than survive: Abolitionist teaching and the pursuit of education freedom (2020)
Muhammad, Gholdy. Cultivating genius: An equity framework for culturally and historically responsive literacy (2020)
Paris, Django & Alim, H. Samy (Eds.). Culturally sustaining pedagogies. (2017)
Wilkerson, Isabel. Caste: The origins of our discontents (2020)
Wright, Brian. The brilliance of Black boys: Cultivating school success in the early grades (2016)
Behnke, Alison, Racial profiling: Everyday Inequality. (2017)
Lewis, John. March (Books I,II, III). (2013, 2015, 2016)
Magoon, Kekla. How it went down. (2015)
Reynolds, Jayson. All American boys. (2015)
Reynolds, Jayson & Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped: Racism, antiracism and you. (2020)
Watson, Renee. This side of home (2015)
Watson, Renee. Piecing me together (2017)
Zooboi, Ibi. American Street (2017)
Zooboi, Ibi & Salaam, Yusef. Punching the air. (2020)
We thank Dr. Ladson-Billings for her expertise and her generosity. We look forward to utilizing these resources as we continue our journey together!
The WI Association for Talented and Gifted Board of Directors