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What are the best things a teacher could do to help a G&T child?

(105 Posts)
CovetingAFiat500 Thu 23-Oct-14 19:13:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

var123 Fri 24-Oct-14 09:17:56

I think its really nice that you have asked. If I may, I'd like to answer you this way:-

What I want as a parent of two G&T children is for them to be challenged.

What I don't want is for them to be made to feel that their higher ability to learn is a nuisance, or for me to be made to feel either deluded or plain pushy because I ask the teacher to provide some challenge for them.

What I fear is that they spend so long treading water waiting for the others that they loose the sense of pleasure you get when you master something, and basically that they become lazy. Both my children are inclined to do the bare minimum and expect to still come out on top. Ds2 takes it further in that even if he comes 2nd or 3rd, he doesn't care because it takes more effort to read the question properly and anyway, everyone knows that he can do it easily, so he has nothing to prove. I know he's going to hit his level some time and I don't think he will be mentally prepared for the shock.

My youngest is in his last year of primary now so I can only answer for what I wish had happened. I am glad that they didn't get sent to another classroom to learner with older children. I am grateful for the times that the teachers differentiated the work in a way that all of the top set were challenged, not just the borderline ones. In maths, this could be questions that get progressively more complex. In English, it could be requiring more in depth answers to the same question.

The real problem is when you get to the repetition part. A G&T child may have got it on the first hearing, and truly mastered it in 5 mins. The least able may still be struggling in three years time and all the others are somewhere in between. So, obviously you are going to do some repetition, but couldn't you prepare some separate work for each child to migrate to once they have demonstrated that they have got it? e.g. answer questions on a passage and once done, write a story about something related making sure you use your SPAG targets? Or if you are making them practice times tables, couldn't some of them do it with decimals or fractions after they have got to 20x20??

Perhaps one of the biggest issues is the reward system. I listen to my children complain about it to each other with rolling eyes and obvious irritation. Like all children they want to be valued, but they've both been really unhappy about this. In fact DS1 had borderline depression at one time because day after day, week after week, year after year, he was asked to listen and applaud someone who had behaved well for a couple of days or who had finally learned their times tables. Its not that he begrudged them this, but the teachers didn't see any point in encouraging the well-behaved boy who could easily do whatever they set him. He's only a child and he wants to be praised from time to time as well.

DS2 seems to be the child that the year 5 teacher held up as the one to beat and he felt it grossly unfair when she would claim that another child had called out an answer first when he knew that they didn't (this used to happen in a particular session every week).

var123 Fri 24-Oct-14 16:05:21

If you are interested, I also asked my two DC would they wish they could have had when they were on the top tables in primary school and they both, independently, gave me the same answer: challenging work.

18yearstooold Fri 24-Oct-14 16:15:27

There are as many issues teaching G&T pupils as there are teaching children who currently aren't meeting expected targets

Giving extra work or additional homework can feel to the child like they are being punished

But if they aren't challenged then they never learn to try hard at something -experiencing failure is important and some children that have never experienced that, when faced with challenge will be afraid to try because they are afraid to fail and lose face or because they don't have the strategies in place

Sideways development is more important than pushing through the curriculum -teach them a skill then give them problems where they may need to link new skills with existing skills to work out the answer

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 24-Oct-14 17:08:34

DD1 is not off-the-scale gifted, but definitely in the "highly able" category and was at a primary school where there is a high proportion of children at the other end of the scale.

She never complained about being bored at primary school. From what I could gather, there were two or three of them at a similar level and they often worked together on something that was a more complicated version of what the others were doing. They did a lot more independent work at an early age (but not to the extent that they were neglected!). Expectations were higher (writing at greater length, doing more complicated maths etc) but they were covering the same topics.

She was never "moved up" to an older age group and I'm sure that was a good thing. She's also small, and young in her year, and I think she'd have felt like a fish out of water.

There were occasional extra workshops and trips that were just for invited children (e.g. a writers' workshop at another primary school, attended by a handful of children from each local school) which gave her something to get her teeth into.

The one thing that wound her up was being used as an unpaid teaching assistant, showing other children how to do something. However, I think there is a place for that to be used in moderation. It gave her a better understanding that not everyone finds things easy and in some cases helped her learn to explain how she does things, rather than just doing them on auto-pilot.

CindyLou Fri 24-Oct-14 17:15:53

As a student teacher you will be familiar with Bloom's taxonomy- surely???
So... not just extra stuff, but high up the scale.
Did you ask the question?

howtodrainyourflagon Fri 24-Oct-14 17:15:55

Social skills.

Encouragement to join the clubs or be a monitor, or be on the school council.

I don't really want ds2 to be accelerated any further than he already is. He's doing fine academically. But it's the soft skills that will make a real difference.

This won't apply to all g and t as some kids are academic and socially adept but some aren't.

stealthsquiggle Fri 24-Oct-14 17:22:13

Depth of work, really.

But you asked for examples, so - in Y2 maths, once DS had mastered something, and while she went through the repetition with the rest of the class, his teacher would challenge him to use the model of the problems they had been given to set her some hard questions - so he would take (say) 2 digit multiplication and set her 3 or 4 digit ones - but he had to be able to show that he knew the answer too smile.

rocketjam Fri 24-Oct-14 17:36:22

DS is often asked to explain some maths stuff to other children in the class as his way of working out a solution is often different from what is being explained by the teacher. He will also be asked to lead some initiatives - for example, he asked the teacher why there weren't any displays in the class or in the communal area that are about maths, so she asked him to come up with a few ideas during half term and lead the initiative when they will get back at school. He feels very proud to help others, and this is helping with his social skills.

During lessons, he is at a table with more able children and they get along really well. He doesn't feel any different, he does get the same work as the rest of the table plus some more challenging problems. But if he is stuck he can ask the others on the table to help. So if children are asked to fill in simple number lines, he will be given numbers with decimals, or numbers in 1000 or 10 000.

The more difficult bits are about questions - for example he was asking questions about negative numbers in reception, and about percentages in year 1 which is way beyond what the teacher was planning to teach on the day. So if he will often have a chat at the end of the lesson to explain more advanced concepts - which is also shared with the whole class.

His homework is just the same as the others on his table, and if we do any extra work at home we stick it in his homework book.

CovetingAFiat500 Fri 24-Oct-14 19:15:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EustaciaVye Sat 25-Oct-14 22:00:56

To learn how to fail is the biggest lesson my DDs need.

lljkk Sat 25-Oct-14 23:51:53

Question to OP: How did the lecture define "Highly Able"?

(ps: I coveted a Fiat500 & bought one, but still wonder if I would have liked a Micra better... smile )

CovetingAFiat500 Mon 27-Oct-14 20:13:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EustaciaVye Mon 27-Oct-14 20:29:12

Perhaps it would. DD rarely struggles so if something comes up she finds difficult she hasn't built up strategies to deal with it. No resilience or perseverance skills at all. It worries me.

stealthsquiggle Mon 27-Oct-14 21:59:03

Eustacia - I know someone who started her DD on violin lessons for that very reason - for her to have something which didn't come instantly, but took persistence.

var123 Tue 28-Oct-14 09:33:28

I suspect that there are thousand reasons why this would not be a good thing to do, but thinking of my DC, a way to easily and quickly pick up the most able would be to set them some work that they shouldn't be able to do, but can work out if they think really hard e.g. a complex puzzle. Make it so that when any child wants to give up they can choose to migrate to a really boring activity (such as listen to the HT give an assembly!).

The really able children who just want to be challenged will light up like a Christmas tree at the sheer pleasure of having to think hard.

I find it hard to get DS2 to accept that there are areas of maths that he may not be able to do. So, although it goes against my natural inclination, I set him a maths paper last week that is years ahead of what he has been taught at school. I thought he'd realise that he has a lot to learn and then maybe be willing to listen (because I'm giving up on the school ever challenging him).

I said I wouldn't time him and I'd help when he wanted help. Instead he positively glowed! He sat quiet for about 2 hours steadily working through it. Then I marked it and he got 96% (the missing 4% was not reading the question properly on a couple of graphs). Whilst doing it, he was more content and engaged than I have ever seen him. Now I am wondering how to tell his teacher? Or even IF I should tell his teacher...

longtallsally2 Tue 28-Oct-14 09:50:02

var123 - yes, yes, yes. Waiting for others to catch up was a real bug bear for my two - still is, but by secondary school they have some strategies for coping themselves. They aren't super geniuses but both catch on very quickly to new ideas.

Yes to challenging work and praise, but you can create a rod for your own teaching back if you keep trying to keep up with them. DS2 is in a class with 4 or 5 similar children. Their y5 teacher used to prepare extra work, but by the time she had gone round all 5 of them giving it out, the first would be finished on the extra work - they just ate it up. Get them to negotiate/help create the extension work. For example, if there is more than one g & t child, once they have finished you could encourage them to come up with an exercise to challenge the next person to finish - ie they write 10 maths sums for the other person to do and vice versa, or they recommend a book for the other person to read.

DS1s Y1 teacher was fantastic at encouraging him to explore around the subject too, so when he had finished he there was a table to move to, with appropriate equipment/books/a computer for him to see what else he could discover on the subject for himself.

It is also educationally very valuable to pair them up with a slower learner to get them to help them - it reinforces the g & t child's learning (in fact, I remember reading that Japanese education has always been built around the maxim that you don't really understand something until you have taught it to someone else.)

longtallsally2 Tue 28-Oct-14 09:52:32

var - X post. I was responding to your first post. Re the test, I think you ought to take the paper in to show the teacher, and "ask his/her advice'. Sounds v much like my ds1. How old is your ds2?

var123 Tue 28-Oct-14 11:03:10

He's 10 so only 5/6ths of a year left at primary school, not that I am counting!!

longtallsally2 Tue 28-Oct-14 11:06:36

Y6 was a very very long year for us, but ds1 had a nqt who didn't get him at all. DS2 had an easier ride in y6 with an imaginative teacher who kept the challenges coming thick and fast.

Secondary school was much better. What sort of school is he going to?

var123 Tue 28-Oct-14 11:16:09

It is an outstanding, non-selective secondary.

DS1 already goes there, so I know its a vast improvement on the (feeder) primary. It still isn't ideal - there are still mixed ability classes for example - but the work is better differentiated so its a start even if the pace is still slower than DS1 could comfortably do.

Sending them to a selective fee-paying school just isn't an option for us financially, unfortunately.

longtallsally2 Tue 28-Oct-14 11:38:11

Exactly our situation - much better at outstanding non-selective secondary, where ds2 is very happy.

DS1 did find a fee paying school and won himself a scholarship! Might be worth looking. He could have got 100% scholarship if he had applied in y6, but it just wasn't on our agenda. We really hadn't realised how bright he was. He found out about them in y8 and won himself a heavily subsidised place and is very happy there - though would have done well at the local comp too.

iggly2 Tue 28-Oct-14 19:09:27

something to get there teeth into! How about really lateral/logic based problems? Sideways extension.

PiqueABoo Wed 29-Oct-14 00:26:54

Do you think that would come naturally if they were challenged properly?

Now that's a good question.

Forums like this select for a bit of a stereotype (essentially the Tortured Genius) because people don't tend to post about their lack of problems.

I believe my Y7 DD was born self-motivated, determined and resilient. Although DD has coasted for years and there has been some quite significant wasted opportunity/enthusiasm, she has been quite cheerful when doing too-easy things and more cheerful fighting fierce battles with new difficult things where she might fail a few times.

DD does a couple of not-school activities that you might call 'character building' and could blame for the resilience, but I think they're largely character revealing i.e. activities where she can put some natural resilience to good use.

I don't think it's a simple nature v. nuture dichotomy though and there is probably some wriggle-room to make a child who isn't like that more resilient (or vice versa).

tenderbuttons Wed 29-Oct-14 13:02:31

DD's resilience has improved, but mostly through activities which aren't academic (she's not naturally gifted at sport so any kind of physical activity helps her in that). But it has taken time and patience. What worked most from the school's side was working out why she was melting when faced with certain types of problem and then breaking it down into steps that she could deal with.

It is also educationally very valuable to pair them up with a slower learner to get them to help them - it reinforces the g & t child's learning (in fact, I remember reading that Japanese education has always been built around the maxim that you don't really understand something until you have taught it to someone else.)

I've heard otherwise. Some research seems to show that these activities are very valuable for the slower learners but have no educational use at all for the more able children. What worked best for them was being grouped with other children of similar abilities.

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