Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gifted kids and the summer slide

I'm reading: Gifted kids and the summer slideTweet this!

I'm part of the Yahoo! MotherBoard, a group that will to tackle a new topic each month on the public side and maybe play with a few Yahoo! tools on the private side. I'll weigh in when it moves me. On a related note (keep reading) happy National Parenting Gifted Children Week!

In July, the Yahoo MotherBoard is talking about the summer slide. Apparently the summer slide is about the academic losses children tend to suffer over the course of a summer. I thought it referred to a tendency to lose all structure between the time school lets out in June and it starts again August. You know, when you realize there's not longer a set bedtime for the kids and you've served hot dogs for lunch and dinner every day for two weeks?

When I started this post, my thoughts were about how the summer slide is not much an issue for my gifted children. Well, maybe they have a bit of a setback, but they still start the school year far ahead of their age peers (i.e. classmates). Besides they read, read, read. Granted they're not reading the classics, but I'm more likely to command my boys to put a book down than I am to make them pick one up.

My boys attended a couple of weeks of a fun science-y camp and we've gone on a few factory tours. They are playing around with Windows Movie Maker and my older boy is dabbling in basic computer programming. They are always learning*.

Well, with the exception of when they plant themselves in front of the TV or Wii (both of which are time-limited), I don't worry about their brains turning to mush.

The cynical side of me wonders, "So what if they do turn into mush brains? The first 4-6 weeks of school are spent in review, anyway. Maybe if they fall far enough behind, it will make the beginning of the school year a bit more exciting for them."

Statistically speaking, based on the common interpretation of years of test scores, my boys, like many gifted and academically talented children, they already know 75% or more of what their classes will cover over the course of a school year. And they integrate new material more quickly, with less repetition than other students. They are not just smart, they are different.

I can almost envision a day when high ability children are asked not to work on academics over the summer in an attempt to "even them out" or "not get too far ahead" and help them "fit in with their age peers."

Wait a minute, that's not a vision, that's a flashback!
DH and I had that lecture from our older boy's kindergarten teacher back in 2004. *sigh*

Another side of me (not sure if I should call it adventurous or fatalistic) is waiting to read this book and say, "Screw it all!" and move to South America. (Who can afford Europe or Australia these days?)

The practical side of me says the school things will work out. Plus, I have health concerns and it's not like South America is littered with synagogues. I won't book our flights just yet.

As for my high ability boys being out of reach of the summer slide. Well, I must admit that math does not fall into our lazy summer life as naturally as other pursuits. In fact, the other day I tossed out a few multiplication problems for nine-year-old Pikachu and was surprised when he couldn't shout out answers without a bit of mental gymnastics.

Maybe a few flashcards are in order after all.

*When they are not fighting.

Take a peek at what other MotherBoard members have to say on this topic:
Ilina, Melissa, Julie, April, Kimberly

More of my musings on raising and schooling gifted children.


SwitchedOnMom said...

Kim, here's a sample of one, but for three years running my child's MAP-R scores would be highest in the fall, drop during the school year, and then recover and/or improve over the summer. Hmmm. Summer slide? That's when some of the real good stuff can happen.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Actually, we have the same issue here for several years running with the MAP scores...even when the boys attended a private school for gifted kids.

Jeanne said...

You cynical self made me laugh! I used to buy in to the Summer Slide and would buy Summer Bridge Books to work on in August to prep them for the return to school. What a mistake! It only made the first 4-6 weeks of "school review" even more tortuous once they got there. My oldest is a shameless gamer but is also doing a math acceleration program in his spare time (not with the same level of enthusiasm, mind you). My youngest is happily downloading sheet music from the internet and banging away on our 100 plus year old piano in between neighborhood games of kick-the-can and capture-the-flag. Summer slide into sludge - bring it!

Amy from Occupation: Mommy said...

I would laugh if it wasn't so sad. It's true that we experience more of a "school year slump" than a summer slump at our house. My rising third grader is able to spend so much more time reading in the summer than she can during the school year. And she can pick her own books instead of reading the "beyond level readers" (what does that mean, anyway?) at school.

April said...

I'm glad you weighed in. Truth be told, as long as we keep the scholastic schedule on this agricultural calendar, I don't think the summer slide will go away.

Karen said...

I enjoyed your blog on the 'slide', i also found myself keeping my kid away from learning so he might find the new school year interesting. Sad when i reject his request to go to the library and make him go to the pool instead!