A Day in the Life of a Gifted Child in the Regular Classroom
“Good morning everyone! I hope everyone had a great weekend. This week, we are going to learn and discover new things in math, science and history. Fourth grade is the best grade ever—don’t you think? Before we get started, go ahead and pass your history reports about your most admired president which are due today forward so that I can collect them”
Mrs. Dunlop is going to love my history report. It was a good idea to have Mom bring my report in early for Mrs. Dunlop to read. Even though Benjamin Franklin was not a U. S. president, he should have been and he did more for the country than all the presidents. I’ll ask to make sure Mrs. Dunlop received my report and understands why I chose Benjamin Franklin.
Mrs. Dunlop, did my mom bring my history report on Friday? I asked her to bring it to you early, and I wanted to make sure you received it. I chose to write about Benjamin Franklin although he was not a U. S. president, I felt he should have been. He was a founding father of our country and he did more than most presidents. Did you read where he . . .
“Helen, Helen, I have your report. Your mother brought it in on Friday when she came to pick you up, and you and I will talk about it during recess today. But don’t worry about it right now, okay?”
Yes, yes, yes! That’s right. Mom finally agreed she would bring it in for me because I knew Mrs. Dunlop needed to read about Benjamin Franklin over the weekend. There is so much information I’m sure Mrs. Dunlop didn’t know about Benjamin Franklin because she never told the other kids in class these facts. She said Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but it was really Benjamin Franklin’s ideas and thoughts. I would love to sit down and talk to Benjamin Franklin. I wonder why he let Thomas Jefferson write his words for him when he was a writer himself and probably smarter than Thomas Jefferson? Smart and funny at the same time. I think I’m like Benjamin Franklin. A lot like him. I would love to travel back in time back to meet Benjamin Franklin!
“Pass your papers forward, please.”
This is great that I get to miss recess. Nobody ever really wants to play with me during recess anyway. I hate playing chase, or hide-and-seek, or talking about Taylor Swift. Benjamin Franklin is so much more interesting than Taylor Swift. I can’t wait to talk to Mrs. Dunlop during recess. She and I can discuss Benjamin Franklin. I can tell her the facts she doesn’t know and she will be happy to know more facts about Benjamin Franklin because teachers should know everything. Mrs. Dunlop will be elated that I told her these little-known facts and she will appreciate knowing that the textbook is wrong. Then she can tell the class all of this. I love helping my teacher and classmates. I can’t wait until recess to talk about Benjamin Franklin.
“Helen, Helen! Can you get the papers from Sam behind you to pass forward, please?”
Ben Franklin. Maybe Mom can bring me to the library to get more books on Benjamin Franklin today after school. I wish I could have been Benjamin Franklin’s neighbor, then maybe he would have written something for me. Wouldn’t that be the coolest? I’ll keep thinking about getting more books on Benjamin Franklin this afternoon. This will keep my brain happy and busy while Mrs. Dunlop teaches the other students. If I keep imagining all the new books I’ll get this afternoon, it will give me something to look forward to all day and keep my brain busy. I won’t feel bored or get that feeling like my brain is constantly itching and I can’t scratch it.
“That was the bell for recess, boys and girls. Walk out quietly and no running in the hall. Helen, we can talk quickly about your report and then you can go out to play.”
Nooo. I don’t want to talk quickly. I don’t want to go out to play.
“Helen, your mom brought your report on Benjamin Franklin in on Friday because she said you asked her to. Is that right?’
Yeah, I so admire Benjamin Franklin. He is so interesting, and I knew there were interesting facts you didn’t know about him so you probably needed to read my report over the weekend to help you teach the other kids in our class. Did you know that the Declaration of Independence is apparently the work of Benjamin Franklin, and our textbook is wrong? Without Benjamin Franklin, America would not have been born. Seriously.
“Well, thank you for that information, Helen, that’s interesting, but Benjamin Franklin was not a U. S. president and I asked for three paragraphs on a U. S. president for this report. You wrote three pages on someone who was not a president. I love your report, but you need to follow directions. Did you do all of this report by yourself?
I used the books my mom had requested from the library and I went online and googled everything I could find on Benjamin Franklin. And we watched two documentaries about Benjamin Franklin. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was called the “first American”? He created his own alphabet, too. Benjamin Franklin was wiser than most of those men at that time. I think without Benjamin Franklin, America would not have been born. You should let the other students in our class know about these historical facts. Our textbook says Thomas Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration of Independence, but that is not exactly true.
“Helen, I love your enthusiasm and that you are interested in Benjamin Franklin, but I need to know who helped you with your report. Did your older brother write this for you?”
Doesn’t Mrs. Dunlop want to know all the facts about Benjamin Franklin? Why does she want to know if James did my report for me? James is always too busy programming for his robotics team. He would hate Benjamin Franklin because Mr. Franklin was a writer, not a programmer. I am going to be a writer like Benjamin Franklin. And I want to tell Mrs. Dunlop about Benjamin Franklin, all about him. He did more for America than any president!
“This is a very good report, Helen, but you didn’t follow the assignment I gave, and I think you may have had too much help at home with this report. I would like for you to redo this report, by yourself, and write just three paragraphs about a U. S. president. Benjamin Franklin was not a U. S. president. Part of being a good student is learning to follow the directions and you need to make sure this is only your work and nobody else’s, okay Helen? Stop crying, it’s okay. I won’t give you a bad grade and you are not in trouble. There is still five minutes left of recess. Why don’t you go out and play and then you will feel better.”
Noooo, I don’t want to go out for recess. If Jake and Ava see me crying, they will tease me and tell everyone that I am a baby. They always do that when I’m sad, and the duty teacher never cares when I tell her the teasing hurts me. Nobody cares about me or Benjamin Franklin. Why do I have to write a report about a president who did not do nearly as much for America as Benjamin Franklin? Why would Mrs. Dunlop ever think James did my report and what is wrong with writing more about someone as great as Benjamin Franklin? There are BOOKS written about him. Everyone needs to know what Benjamin Franklin really contributed to American history. Now, I have to do another report on a dumb president this afternoon, and I won’t be able to go and get more books about Benjamin Franklin at the library this afternoon. And I can’t stop crying. I wish Ava and Jake would leave me alone.
“Did everyone get a drink of water after recess? Are we all ready for learning?”
No. Benjamin Franklin is probably just dumb anyway. Nobody cares about how significant Benjamin Franklin is. Mrs. Dunlop doesn’t care about Benjamin Franklin. School is dumb. I hate learning things I already know and it all makes my brain itch, and it takes so long to get to something new that I don’t already know. And now Jake and Ava are giggling, and still teasing me and calling me names for staying in with Mrs. Dunlop. Why can’t they stop calling me names? I’m not a nerd. I hate Jake and Ava. I wish I could sit somewhere else. I wish I could sit up front by Mrs. Dunlop and be closer to all the information. But Mrs. Dunlop let’s Tim sit up front. I hate Mrs. Dunlop. I hate learning. I hate school. I never want to come back.
Helen is a highly gifted 4th grader who, like many gifted students, struggle in the regular classroom, being taught information they already know, and kept from delving deeper into the complexities of a specific topic not touched on in a regular classroom. When their atypical emotional and social behaviors come into play at school, these issues are usually not recognized as a characteristic of giftedness—these behaviors are usually wrongly labeled behavior problems, displays of disrespect or arrogance. When gifted children like Helen have their unbridled enthusiasm for learning and their innate intellectual drive crushed by regular, grade-level criteria, they learn to hate school and then fail to thrive. Many gifted children in the regular classroom, starved for a befitting education, begin to fail, experience emotional repercussions and lose all hope in school and in learning.
Homeschooling is an excellent educational option for gifted students. This is why anecdotal evidence is showing that gifted students are likely the largest student population turning to homeschooling recently. Homeschooling provides for the unique learning needs of our gifted children that most traditional schools can’t or won’t provide. Gifted children have the freedom to delve deeper into subjects they are passionate about or master subjects they excel in at an accelerated rate—traditional school with its time constraints and curriculum limitations can’t provide this needed educational freedom gifted children need.
If you are considering homeschooling your gifted child, take a look at the other blogs in this Gifted Homeschoolers Forum’s blog hop, “A Day in the Life of a Gifted Homeschooler” to get a real-life glimpse into the homeschooling lives of gifted children. Then you will be able to see how homeschooling allows gifted children to learn in the way they need to learn, to fulfill their potential without unnecessary constraints.