Teaching a Gifted Middle School Child

When I taught public school language arts, I was also the gifted coordinator for the middle school. I tested the children who were recommended for the gifted program and placed children in the gifted classes. I taught gifted eighth grade language arts. Those students were my shining stars, and I still chat with several of them on Facebook today…and they’re now either in grad school or beginning their exciting lives, some as teachers themselves!

My daughter, Elizabeth, reminds me so much of those students.

Homeschooling the Gifted Middle Schooler

She’s in my territory now. Bwahahaha!

I was out of my comfort zone for so long teaching preschool and elementary, and now she’s twelve and learning almost at the level I used to teach when I worked in a school.

It’s a wakeup call for Liz, in a way. She doesn’t like to be told her work isn’t up to par.

Elizabeth has never been formally tested for IQ or gifted abilities. I don’t know if she would even test into the gifted program at a school since she doesn’t really have any experience with standardized testing, other than one required by the state we lived in three years ago. She scored exceptionally well on that one, except testing average in math. But that is neither here nor there. I know she has gifted tendencies. I know her abilities and potential.

My expectations for her have shifted this school year. I now have a real standard by which to judge her work, in a way. I certainly know what she’s capable of, academically. I remember the level of work my students did, and I am gradually shifting Liz more towards that level. I am changing the requirements little by little to fit. She deserves to be challenged. This is why we homeschool!

I evaluate and re-evaluate her school subjects and assignments often to make sure it’s not too much nor too little. It’s a constant worry to balance everything and make sure it’s not too challenging, yet challenging enough. She’s no longer in the grammar stage. She’s quite into the dialectic stage now, and I must constantly hold her to that higher standard.

Sometimes Liz flails about (literally and figuratively) during our weekly review conferences and “forgets” all she that memorized in the past. I have to pick the connections out of her like pulling teeth. Other times, she’s full of words and blowing me away with some of her insights.

I guess I could have worse problems than that all she wants to do is lie around and read…

She has no interest whatsoever in popular culture. I told my friend the other day that Liz was born an old woman. She’s so  conservative that I will never have to worry about her wanting to wear immodest clothing or reading, watching, or listening to something inappropriate.

We recently added a logic course and it’s challenging both Liz and me. I remember getting a C in this very class in my second semester of college. {collective gasp!} During our reading of Socrates’ Apology, Liz made this connection: “Socrates was smart. Dr. Sheldon Cooper is smart. I am smart. We should start a club for all the really smart people and no one else can join!” {Never mind that Socrates is quite dead and Sheldon is quite fictional…} It really cracked me up.

I’ve had to explain to Elizabeth that she won’t make any friends bragging about her knowledge of Shakespeare or Latin…

It’s often a challenge to me to provide appropriate yet interesting reading material for a young girl. Her lack of cultural and worldly experience make this somewhat difficult at times. Much of her being “sheltered” is by her own choice and interests, but I am glad to have a “little girl” as long as possible. She will grow up all too soon.

If you have questions about whether your child shows gifted tendencies, here’s a fab checklist. Do you wonder about your child’s learning styles? You can have your child complete a free online quiz at Kidzmet.