Monday, March 7, 2011

Are we creating achievers?

According to Sylvia Rimm (1995), children actually develop self-confidence through struggle and become achievers only if they learn to function in the face of challenge. Most of our elementary gifted students don't get the opportunity to face challenge in the general education situation. In their general education classroom, they already know up to 80% of what is being taught. They typically "catch on" quickly to that which is new, and rarely have to struggle.

At Chaffee students may get three or four years of not being challenged before they are placed in the gifted program. The first year in the program can be a source of discomfort for them. Suddenly they have to struggle. They may not understand the first time. They are given new and challenging tasks. Struggling with a problem and "failure" is a new experience. They haven't learned how to work through a problem, and how to try different methods.

What do parents do about this new sense of self, their child may be struggling with? Should parents protect their child from this very real sense of discomfort? Do we want our children to be upset and uncomfortable? Our immediate action is to remove the problem. Our protective instincts rise up. Unfortunately, our children will not grow without struggle. We need to be their support, but we need to help them address the challenges in life not run from them.