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Giftedness disappearing?? Anyone else experienced this at 6yo?

(151 Posts)
Pearlington Sat 15-Jun-13 20:05:20

Apologies for the length, but I feel I need to give some background to convey the problem. Dd was scary pretty much from birth. But now, age six, I find it seeming to disappear. It's so odd. Ill give some examples of milestones and intellectual prowess for context...

First speech 6 m
Picked out letters spontaneously 11 m
Sentence speech 13 m
Knew all alphabet letters - names and sounds - 14 m
Naming dozens of plants in Latin 16 m
Drawing recognisable faces 19 m
Asking philosophical, science and maths questions 20 m
Writing name 21 m
Reading 26 m

By 2.5 she spoke like an adult, read non fiction obsessively and had incredible insight and unending spontaneous deductive reasoning particularly in science and philosophy.

She was identified as gifted when she started a highly selective pre-prep nursery at 3 and was given Year 2 homework. In reception, the teacher said she may need to skip a year in a couple of years time and her stock phrase was, ?It must be so exhausting to be her. I?ve never seen a young brain active like that. She never stops experimenting with concepts, deducing how things work, analysing everything around her. It?s tiring listening to it and keeping up with it.? The head of pre-prep and school head jointly decided DD should have her own curriculum put in place from Year 2 on. However, starting Year 2, her new teacher told us the other kids had probably caught up over the summer so DD wouldn't need extension work.

Now, she remembers little of what she taught herself then and seems to have lost the endless thirst. She taught herself the names of all the bones in the body, how the organs worked, today she does not seem interested. The eternal incisive questioning has stopped and if I offer to explain something she says it?s boring and she doesn't want to know. If I ask her about things she used to love to discuss, she looks blank or gives a fairly thoughtless (or perhaps more age-appropriate) answer. If something looks challenging, she avoids it. Her brain never seems to get into gear.

She still says amazing things occasionally and about two months ago, I found her in the kitchen trying to extract DNA from her saliva - she'd found instructions in a book and got the whole experiment together on her own. Her reading age at 6 is pretty much adult. But all the burning curiosity and drive has weakened or even gone.

I've never pushed her but responded to her interests. Now I feel a little lost and confused as to what's gone on. I feel like I'm parenting a changeling. I asked her today if science still interested her and she said, "not like it used to. I'd like to know a bit more about cells.""What would you like to know about them?""I dunno". That was it. She has a Brian cox app and watches a lot on space. The only other relevant info I can think of is that I?m currently pregnant and have been seriously ill with my pregnancy and she seems to be suffering enormous self-esteem problems and keeps telling me she is stupid, a bad person and ? today ? a loser.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Has anyone else experienced this? Thanks so much in anticipation.

prissyenglisharriviste Mon 17-Jun-13 01:05:54

Mine love chess. They play each other before school. grin I suppose it beats cbeebies. <sigh>

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 09:13:06

Oh god. Tell me about those sheets. DD was doing more advanced sheets in nursery where the head of nursery got her and really stretched her. That was three years ago. I can't believe the mindless nonsense she has to do now. At least they take her less than a minute to do for the most part! She got one math sheet where some of the answers went into minus numbers and she loved that but they hadn't done it in the class and a load of mums complained that it was ridiculously advanced and none of the kids could do it. I did ask for different sheets last year but was told it wasn't possible.

What on earth was the rationale for putting DS1 in with a lower year group?? You've had an awful experience. I'm so sorry!

Tiggles Mon 17-Jun-13 10:12:22

Maybe she is just changing interests and feels you will be disappointed if she no longer likes science?
DS1 sounds very similar to your DD. Except that at 18months he wasn't into flowers, but digestion - he knew all the enzymes used in digestion, what food types were broken down by them etc - because he was interested and he learnt it from me.
At 2 he changed to being into history, a fascination he held until he was about 8, although he is still interested now (Aged 11) it isn't in the same way, he hasn't constantly got his nose in a history book, but he enjoys doing school history projects for example.
Around the age of 8 or so, he came really interested in music (pop music, not anything 'cultural' in the classical sense). I was a bit disappointed as it seemed a bit of a waste of his brains, although I didn't let him know that. Now however, he is still very into music, he writes his own songs (quite amazing poetry and music). If I had tried to keep him focussed on history I would probably never have seen this side to him. Every now and then I google the stuff he writes, just because I can't believe he has made it up himself. (Yet ask him to write a poem and he can't as he doesn't yet understand that his song words are poetry).

cory Mon 17-Jun-13 10:47:08

LittleMissGreen's point is one to consider. My db had an interest in science and astronomy when he was little, but then switched to music, and is now a linguist.

I personally wouldn't think someone who was trying to extract her DNA from saliva had lost her interest in learning: that seems pretty cool to me.

It may be that she just wants to be more independent in her learning (which again would be a sign of unusual maturity). The endless questioning is a characteristic of small children; older children learn in different ways and are often jealous of their intellectual privacy.

My (admittedly far less bright) ds went off parental explanations at a fairly young age. Greatly to my disappointment as I love nothing better than a good expounding session in an art gallery or a museum. I thought he had lost interest and would end up uneducated and dull. But lately his teachers have been telling me how very well informed he is about the world. I find it particularly odd as he never reads a book. But he clearly has his sources of information.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 10:53:16

Thanks LittleMissGreen. Your son sounds amazing. The scary thing for me is she is disinterested in everything and until recently was interested in everything. SO a case in point: the club list for school arrived yesterday. Normally she wants to sign up for everything and we have to prioritise. Yesterday everything sounded boring. Book club - she usually LOVES reading and then discussing what she's read - was rejected because, "discussing things is totally boring". We were going to a stately home to watch jousting and I asked if she'd like to know more about jousting before we went. I found some info on medieval history and the traditions of the knights. She said it was boring and she wasn't interested. Until the last month, I pretty much never heard the word boring come out of her mouth. Every single thing was interesting: current affairs, nature, science, history, music, maths, languages...and now nothing.

I'm glad you made the point he learned that stuff from you. People don't seem to realise, we don't force them to learn this stuff - they want to know. Just because we answer their questions it doesn't make us pushy. Just because we provide the information they asked for, doesn't make them hothoused. And just because we told them the stuff they internalise and then use, it doesn't make them less smart. Or put another way, you can try and make a kid learn stuff as much as you like but no regular 18 month old will memorise and be able to discuss which enzyme is used for which food just because their parent told them. Funny enough DD developed a digestion obsession from about 2.5 after she read about it in a book. We didn't get into enzymes, but it did lead to her wanting to understand osmosis among other things.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 10:55:04

Thanks Cory. I'm finding all this really comforting and helpful. It was all so new and odd to me but it sounds like it's a little to be expected...

Acinonyx Mon 17-Jun-13 14:47:56

Nothing like as far-out gifted as your dd but we have gone through something similar this year. Dd (now yr3) similarly lost the 'thirst'. She changed schools and as she is still 2-4 yrs ahead teachers completely unconcerned - but the change in her that I saw was shocking. I have never rationed screen time as I didn't need to - until this year otherwise she would loll about for hours watching kids TV. She stopped reading - just wasn't interested in anything. I've been at my wits end wondering what has happened.

But over the last couple of months it's come back. And as pps have said - her interests seem to be changing and still not entirely fixed. She is suddenly very into music and I have started her on lessons pdq - she had NO interest in this at all previously. confused She has mostly stopped watching TV but still has the odd hour on the pc. She's just more engaged again - it's a relief but I half expect we will have phases like this in future.

We still have a terrible aversion to challenge or failure to deal with - I want get to grips with that over the next year.

GooseyLoosey Mon 17-Jun-13 15:09:13

Ds is now 10. Because of concerns about his social skills he was assessed by an ed pysch at 7. He has an IQ of 150 something and is (or was at the time) up to 7 years ahead of his peers in maths and english. He was described by his year 2 and 3 teachers as "exceptional". He did nothing like your dd though.

At his last primary school he stopped asking questions in class because he was always told that he should let other children have a chance (which is true, but he never got a turn of his own). He did little extension work and was in an environment where it most definitely was not cool to be clever so he never asked questions. In the view of the ed pysch he had little understanding of the motivations and actions of his peers but was trying to moderate his behaviour to fit in. He appeared to disengage with all learning, except for maths where he was doing extension work several years ahead.

The ed pysch informally suggested that if we could move him to a selective school he would benefit. We did so (for other reasons) a year ago.

Ds is now enthusiatic and committed to school. He is set work that he cannot complete sometimes so he is challenged and it is seen as good to succeed. We were astonished to discover that our very outgoing child would not at first answer anything in class or give only 1 word answers as he had been taught for so long that talking in class in his case was a bad thing.

What I am saying is have a good look at how your daughter is interacting with her educational environment and what she thinks about the different aspects of it.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 15:51:38

Acinonyx - your DD sounds similarly gifted to mine! how did things get back on track? did you intervene? What did you do about screen time?

GooseyLoosey - I honestly don't think DD has anything like 150 IQ!! However she has not been given any extension work yet and is not, IMHO, working at her level. I don't know if this has had an impact. I will try and ask her more tonight but she hates talking about school. The teacher did say she often has to remind DD that there's only one teacher in the classroom.

Acinonyx Mon 17-Jun-13 19:08:28

I did eventually start monitoring the screen time. We'd started to have regular screen slots - and I just stopped even referring to or offering the TV/PC and I would just say 'not now maybe after XYZ' if asked. I had become a bit slack about having the TV on e.g. while making dinner to keep her occupied blush. I got more scrupulous about letting her find something to do rather than stepping in with the easy fix.

I chose a few books to read with her at bed time that I thought might spark some interest - and some of them she did start reading herself again. She's certainly not a bookworm though - as a pp commented - she seems to have ways of finding out stuff though.

I think the music has been a big turning point. She's really interested in musical notation - it's a big new interest.

I still don't really understand what was going on though - I've never seen her so mentally floppy like that - just like a bored teenager. I think she's not always very engaged at school and that's something I will pay a lot more attention to next year. by the time I realised how much time she was wasting at school the year was practically over.

Acinonyx Mon 17-Jun-13 19:09:32

Other big interests now are magic and card games generally. She seems to really thrive on stuff that is very different to school stuff.

justaboutalittlefrazzled Mon 17-Jun-13 19:24:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 19:29:50

You sound a lot like us. DD exactly reminds me of a disenfranchised teenager. Sometimes she even stomps around like the Harry Enfield perry character, it's hilarious.

And like you I really feel like I'm tuning into the school problems very late in the year and I feel really bad.

Thinking about it, she's suddenly practising the piano a hell of a lot. I used to have to nag her but now she loves it and has to be nagged to stop. But she's no musical talent, I would say she's doing quite well and enjoying it so that's what matters. That said, in restaurants she will take a napkin and draw a stave and work out the notation of a song she likes so she can play it when she gets home. She gets it pretty spot on. I hadn't thought that music could be overtaking her academic interests but maybe that's the case.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 19:30:09


Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 19:34:58

School friendships are really good. She has loads of friends and has several play dates every week. The only trouble she has at school is some of the rough and tumble she gets into with the boys. She likes to play hard but she can't hack the consequences! She's a football playing, tree climbing tomboy and not really into dolls or princesses. So the complaints are "Jack pushed me into a tree" type rather than "Sophie said I was stupid".

Acinonyx Mon 17-Jun-13 20:46:27

Dd doesn't play by ear - honestly I thought she just had no musical talent at all. But being able to read music has really opened that up for her and she's really into it. She still doesn't just play by ear - but she has a bit more of an ear developing than I had considered. Is your dd into languages - dd is interested in the idea of languages (unfortunately not so keen on the hard slog of actually learning vocabulary hmm]) and I think that's where the music notation interest is coming from - it's a code.

She seems especially disengaged with school but I can't quite get to the bottom of where things have gone wrong this year in particular. She was offered extension work but just doesn't want to do it - I'll look at that again next year and see if we can make it more appetizing. I've never been one to talk to the class teacher much, but for the first time, I think I'll ask to talk to next year's teacher in Sep. I'm going to be so popular wink.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 20:57:31

Ha! I was literally thinking today I would meet the teacher in September and send an introductory letter before term ends to request the meeting.

She LOVES language. She took two terms of mandarin club but then the club got cancelled. The teacher was blown away by her. Said she'd never seen an English kid pick it up like that and asked if she'd had lessons already. She keeps asking for a mandarin tutor because she wants to carry on but I can't find one. The Chinese mums hunted me down to say they speak mandarin at home but DD was better than their kids in the club and I must let her carry on. She watches YouTube stuff on reading and writing the characters which interests her. She also will translate takeaway names as we drive past :-) so yes I guess you are right, she is a languages girl. Such a shame I can't help her take it further.

inthesark Mon 17-Jun-13 21:03:48

You've had lots of good advice on here, but one thing I would say is that DD (also six) does exactly that teenage stomping when she is bored at school. They 'forgot' the promised extension work at the start of the year, and for three weeks she was awful. The work started up, the strops stopped. Drama classes also cheered her up.

We've spent all year talking to school about extension work. It finally got sorted out about three weeks ago, but to be honest I have been so exhausted by the whole process (and school have not been entirely receptive) that I don't know I'd do it again. Next year's teacher is apparently 'laid back' and I'm not sure I can face the battle.

Acinonyx Mon 17-Jun-13 21:12:47

That is so funny - a couple of days ago dh suggested learning mandarin with dd. He fancies himself linguistically hmm. Youtube - of course - great idea. The great educational resource of our time smile.

The extension work is totally <<meh>> - part of me wonders if there is any point but you take what you can get, eh?

inthesark Mon 17-Jun-13 21:15:30

DD meanwhile, is learning Latin, of her own free will. We should set up a languages school for them.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 21:15:36

Inthesark - how did you persuade them to give her extension work?

One weird thing - following a pp advice I grilled her about school and she told me there are five math sets and she's in top set with four kids. She said they her really hard maths. But the math homework is stuff she could do at 3 yo mostly. So I don't know what to think. She might say it's hard because she got something wrong today because she misunderstood a question - that would be enough in her world to mean she sucks at math and it's really hard - or maybe she actually is being stretched. She finds year 3 math enjoyable at home so not sure.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 21:21:33

Great idea inthesark :-)

Exciting! How is she learning Latin? Does she have books?

inthesark Mon 17-Jun-13 21:22:36

Being a relentless pain in the arse, mostly. Have you asked school to actually test her levels - this was the first thing we did that opened their eyes. DD isn't so special at maths, although she picks it up quickly, but her reading age is 6 years ahead. Although, weirdly, getting an IQ test (which we did for other reasons) also made them sit up and take notice, which I didn't expect at all.

But we've pushed and pushed and pushed, it gets results for three weeks then it all slips back. Next year, if we stay, we're going to be much more laid back. But ideally we'll move school.

inthesark Mon 17-Jun-13 21:24:25

Minimus! We ordered it from our local library and I've found worksheets and so on online. It's fab and DD loves it.

Pearlington Mon 17-Jun-13 21:27:48

I know she's 6-7 years ahead in reading and spelling and moderately advanced in math (I think maybe two years). We are starting to consider a formal assessment externally. What was your DD's IQ if that's not intrusive? It sounds like they are similarly advanced so perhaps that might be indicative for us. I understand if you'd rather not say.

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