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A Non-Traditional Investment-Related Question (Please Help)



December 05, 2009 – Comments (36)

In keeping with the idea that children are our greatest resource and the greatest investment we can make is an investment in our children (yes, I'm stretching a bit to keep this "investment-related"), and also in the spirit of Foolanthropy 2009, I wanted to ask my fellow Fools a question that I probably otherwise wouldn't have.  I hoped perhaps someone had a similar experience of their own or knew someone else who did.  Plus with it being a weekend and Fools likely having more time to contribute without the markets being open, thought it was the best time to post this.

First, a little background...

I'm Canadian, living in Canada, married, with three beautiful children and a fourth on the way.  My oldest is a boy who is a very intellectually gifted 4 1/2-year-old.

He began speaking relatively early, was spelling words (orally) at 18 months and was writing his name and other words at about 2 years old.  He was reading children's books at about 3 years old and could add 3-digit numbers (666 + 667 is the example I remember that impressed me most) the day before he entered junior kindergarten.

On his 3rd day of J/K, he pulled out a book and started reading it to his teacher who was so impressed she asked my wife if we had a problem with putting him into senior kindergarten just to try to challenge him a little more.  Obviously, we had no problem with that at all.  At the time we were led to believe that if he could do the work and adjust socially he would be moved ahead at the end of the year straight into grade one, essentially skipping a grade.

The day it was his turn for 'Show and Share' (what used to be 'Show and Tell' for the rest of us), he brought in his moon 'night light' and explained and demonstrated the moon phases by name, explaining the amount of reflected light from the sun for each phase as well as the length of time it took the moon to orbit the Earth.  According to his teacher later, the other kids were impressed simply that the moon lit up.  Last week it was his turn again and read a few pages from his "Explore" book to the class about the creation of the Universe.  On his own he's taught himself the provinces and territories of Canada and all their capitals, all the major bones of the human skeleton by scientific name (like mandible and cranium as opposed to jawbone and skull) as well as their locations in the body, the solar system, and last week completely out of the blue started singing the entire alphabet backwards.

Despite all of this (as well as being told by his teacher that he's reading at at least a third grade level and is "miles ahead of the rest of his class"), we're pretty much being told that he won't be advanced early into grade one and will have to repeat kindergarten.  Admittedly, from a maturity level and socially he's still very much a 4-year-old boy which we understand, but my wife and I both think it would be a travesty for him to have to repeat a grade that everyone agrees he is way beyond.

Fairly early on my wife and I realized that we would have to challenge him intellectually (without pushing him) outside of school and do have some ideas on how to do this.  It's been frustrating enough (in a good way) trying to come up with answers, but the school's attitude which we discovered on Thursday has made things increasingly frustrating.

My questions are:

1)  Do any of you have any advice of your own on how to keep a gifted 4-year-old intellectually challenged without pushing him too hard?

2)  Do any of you have any idea(s) on how to work within the school system to have them providing him with more of a challenge, allowing him to grow on his own without being unnecessarily held back? Ideally we'd send him to private school but that's simply not within our budget.

Thanks in advance and please comment lots for the Foolanthropy 2009 goal of raising $20,000.

36 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 05, 2009 at 4:24 PM, Sozurmama (< 20) wrote:

I'm not sure about the caliber of the education system in Canada, but if it's similar to the US, your child is certainly not going to be challenged in public school. Honestly, children of average intellect will not be challenged in the public school system. I for one have learned nearly everything i feel is valuable through independant research and observation of my surroundings.

In my opinion, the best way to challenge your child is to give him the tools to challenge himself. I'm sure you're already doing this, and since your child is already teaching himself, i dont beleive his progress is something you should be worried about. Just make sure he has access to materials he's interested in.

I would like to add that before you make more attempts for him to "skip" grades, consider how pulling him away from children his own age will affect him socially.

Good luck and congratulations!


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#2) On December 05, 2009 at 4:56 PM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


Thanks for the feedback.

Currently my son is in the Catholic system which I feel is better than the public school system here, which is probably better than the U.S. system.  I completely agree with you that the school system doesn't really challenge even average intelligence children.  I distinctly remember how bored and frustrated I was in the lower grades, being taught how to tell time (before digital clocks) for the third time in third grade because a handful of kids STILL couldn't get it in the first two grades.  In my opinion, the smart kids should be allowed to move on and leave the slower kids behind rather than holding the majority back for the slower ones.

You're right, we're doing our best to provide him all the tools to teach himself in the areas he's interested in.  I'm really not too concerned about him not making progress.  I'm more worried about him being so bored and frustrated in the school system.

And I totally agree with you about not worrying too much about skipping grades because of the social aspect, but moving him into grade one with the kids he's with now shouldn't be an issue in my opinion.  It would at least be a start.

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#3) On December 05, 2009 at 5:24 PM, rofgile (98.98) wrote:


 Let him get involved in hobbies that are fun.  Music is great, also sports is really great.  When he reaches a good age get him involved in Odyssey of the Mind - if you school doesn't have a program, you could get a starter packet and develop your own (I did "OM" when I was a kid, it was really great).  

 I think video games are good and healthy for a kid too.  Wii has some nice ones like Zack and Wiki that are puzzle-solving.  Nintendo DS sells games like "My Chinese Tutor" that are educational. 


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#4) On December 05, 2009 at 5:34 PM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


He hasn't shown too much interest in sports yet which is probably mostly because he's still only 4, with the exception of Saturday night being our "Hockey Night" (yes, I know, how stereotypically Canadian of us).

He's shown some interest in music and I've tried to show him some very simple things on the guitar, but his fingers are too short to reach around the neck.  LOL!

I'd never heard of Odyssey of the Mind before (other than it being an album by Die Krupps) so the link is very much appreciated.  I'll look at it more tomorrow when I have a little more time.

We have a Wii (when we got it last Christmas he started sneaking downstairs in the early morning hours creating an army of Miis which in my opinion was more evidence of his intelligence that he could navigate everything so easily without ever being shown how, while he was still only 3 1/2). I'll definitely look into the Zach and Wiki that you mentioned, and perhaps they have a "My Chinese Tutor" for the Wii as well as I would LOVE for him to learn Chinese.


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#5) On December 05, 2009 at 5:38 PM, blake303 (28.43) wrote:

I'm not sure about the caliber of the education system in Canada, but if it's similar to the US, your child is certainly not going to be challenged in public school. 

This is nonsense. I would look for a gifted & talented program in your local school districts. If available, a GT program will allow your son to attend class with children of the same age, but the curriculum will be accelerated and customized to his needs and abilities. I second rofgile's OM recommendation. If he has any interest in music, I think that is a great thing to get him involved in at such an early age.

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#6) On December 05, 2009 at 5:47 PM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


This is part of my frustration here.  This is NOT school-wide in our city and we're just now trying to discover the differences, but at the school he currently attends, the gifted program doesn't even start until grade 5.  Also, we're learning that it seems most schools don't even try to test for giftedness until the later grades.  We might end up being forced to find another school for him to attend next year which is a shame because this school is so close to our home and is still a very good school overall.

Admittedly, since learning what we've learned from the parent-teacher thing on Thursday, I've only been searching for information for two days now which is the reason for this blog.  There are so many intelligent people here would could potentially offer some great advice.


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#7) On December 05, 2009 at 5:59 PM, Donnernv (< 20) wrote:


I was in the same situation as your son.  I shan't go into detail.  I've lived a long, happy life.

I skipped one grade and let it go at that.  Public schools through-out, albeit very good ones.

Looking back, I think the social aspect of being in school with kids of the same age was very important.  As smart as he is, there are many levels at which he cannot relate to significantly older kids.  If he were to advance in school as rapidly as he could from an IQ viewpoint, he'd be a freak socially.  He'd be alone.

By staying with his age group, he'll have continued, perpetual success and a growing self-confidence which will stand him in good stead as he faces the demands of the world.

But how can he follow his genius and grow if school does not provide it?  I read, voraciously.  Hundreds of books a year.  I learned to play chess and bridge as a kid, from my mother.

But, in contrast, the stuff available today is incredible.  On TV he can watch the Discovery channel, TLC, History channel, et al, instead of the popular crap.  That's only the garnish.

Then there's the meat.  On the Internet one has available virtually all human knowledge.  Buy him his own computer.  Teach him to use Google.  He'll find his own interests and pursue them in depth.  The TV shows will give him ideas on things he'd like to learn in detail.

No one, regardless of intelligence, can fail to be challenged by the sum of information in any field available on the 'Net.  There, he can go as fast and as deep as his IQ and energy permit.

And, in his fields of interest/expertise, he can communicate with other experts regardless of their age.  He doesn't have to tell them he's six or eight or ten or twelve.  He'll have a blast.


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#8) On December 05, 2009 at 6:06 PM, Teacherman1 (< 20) wrote:

Foolanthropy On.

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#9) On December 05, 2009 at 6:22 PM, blake303 (28.43) wrote:

We might end up being forced to find another school for him to attend next year which is a shame because this school is so close to our home and is still a very good school overall.

The inconvenience will be worth it if you can find a school/district that offers accelerated classes earlier than fifth grade. Our gifted programs (Denver) begin in kindergarten and the school district has a special department devoted to providing a more challenging environment for children like your son. If you are not able to find a similar program through school administrators, I would seek out parents with gifted children and attempt to get a program implemented as soon as possible. Good luck. 

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#10) On December 05, 2009 at 7:12 PM, Starfirenv (< 20) wrote:

 kdakota630- Congratulations and welcome to the "blessing/curse". Teaching to the lowest level is a tenet of  classroom education and if you keep that in mind, it will be easier to deal with your frustration and understand that supplementing is Your job. PREPARE. Had the same situation with my two girls. When my youngest started KG, I took her into the Principals office and had her read a couple newspaper stories. Seems 'challenge' isn't very high on their list... An excellent place to start- The forum can be most helpful for specific issues. Hope this is helpful. Note- Many Univ's offer some sort of early learning center. Regards.

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#11) On December 05, 2009 at 7:45 PM, leohaas (30.09) wrote:

My advice: focus his upbringing on things he is not good at. For instance, many highly intelligent kids lack social skills. If that is the case, get him involved in as many activities that require interaction with other kids. Get rid of the Wii: what's the point of playing fake tennis, if you can play real tennis (feel free to substitute any other activity for "tennis").

As a result, he will grow up to be a well-rounded individual who has no problems using his gift to his (and society's) advantage! Good luck...

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#12) On December 05, 2009 at 7:59 PM, portefeuille (98.92) wrote:

Tell him to grow up. He has less than 36 years left to get his Fields Medal.

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#13) On December 05, 2009 at 8:04 PM, portefeuille (98.92) wrote:

less than 36

less than 37

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#14) On December 05, 2009 at 8:10 PM, portefeuille (98.92) wrote:

A candidate's 40th birthday must not occur before January 1st of the year of the Congress at which the Fields Medals are awarded.

So I guess he could try to get one of the 2042 ones. So even less time left. Oh well, as I said, tell him to grow up!

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#15) On December 05, 2009 at 9:04 PM, zCreator (93.22) wrote:

The toughest job you'll ever love....

Parenthood. :)

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#16) On December 05, 2009 at 9:24 PM, scoobamang (< 20) wrote:

It's never too early to tutor them at home in all of the major schools of philosophy.

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#17) On December 06, 2009 at 1:55 AM, ReaganD (29.56) wrote:

My parents had the same problem trying to get me to skip a grade.  Public schools in particular are hesitant to let you do it.  Private schools would probably be more likely to do so.

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#18) On December 06, 2009 at 2:51 AM, anticitrade (98.43) wrote:

I think you are looking at this problem all wrong.  You shouldnt focus oncorrecting the system to account for your son, an aborration, but instead find ways to effectively bring your son back to a standard performance level (how do you think those other kids feel when your son is such a forceful reminder of how inferiror they are?)

Fortunately, my advice comes with more than just a vague suggestion.  The solution is simply provide your son with increased access to video games.  This approach seems to work well for most parents in America.

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#19) On December 06, 2009 at 4:36 AM, alexxlea (60.09) wrote:

A few things.

School isn't challenging, Those gifted programs aren't challenging.

Throw him a violin or something he'll probably compose in a year or two.

Schools don't want kids to skip grades because the only kids that skip grades are smart kids who do well on tests and inflate numbers and generally skew scores up. Exact same reason they want to process dumb kids as fast as humanly possible, because they ruin numbers.

I'll give you a second to be angry at the system.


Ok there. Books. Books. Book.s Books will help your kid be a super freaking genius. Seems to like to read so that's awesome. Ahead of the curve. Kids who like texting and stuff are sheep and in general turn out to be morons who can't think for themselves. They're the same brainless idiots who go to universities and continue to be morons and text and go on facebook all day.


They're necessary though, society needs a lot of sheep, or the wolves won't be able to cloth themselves.

Sheep have a better potential to be happy than wolves, because wolves desire the impossible.

Which do you think your children will turn out to be? Which are you?


Back to the school issue.

Do you value your child being socially normal. Being around kids of a different age blows for the majority of kids. They don't have the same experience. But that's ok, maybe you look funny and passed it on to your kids so they would get made fun of for that reason anyways, and it doesn't matter what grade they're in.


Your kid will live in a world that sucks when they grow up. Hell, it sucks in the majority of places in the world for the majority of people alive today.



Oh yeah and if you read all that then haha, I'm 22, and have no kids. But I've reached a state of near-enlightenment so everything is transparent to me and sometimes I wish I could go back to being oblivious to everything. 

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#20) On December 06, 2009 at 6:19 AM, JibJabs (86.59) wrote:

Make books free, put a saxophone in his hands. Sit back, observe.

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#21) On December 06, 2009 at 7:09 AM, RLAprof (< 20) wrote:

Heck with school; is the kid any good at choosing stocks? Just trying to keep it investment related. :)

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#22) On December 06, 2009 at 1:24 PM, hhasia (65.15) wrote:

Ok I'll add to the musical instraments. Piano. 

Music requires advanced cognative skills as well as physical coordination.  Check the private music schools which starts the kids at 3 and one half to 4. Find one that teaches Suzuki method as well as traditional. This age is the best time to start.  I agree with alexxea. could be composing in a few years. Mozart did.

Can't comment on the school. I just know gifted children do best with lots of extra out side learning.  The Chinese, fantastic idea too.


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#23) On December 06, 2009 at 1:37 PM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:

Wow!  Thanks for all the replies. 


I completely agree with you that I wouldn't want him to skip a bunch of grades for the reason you mentioned.  I would like to see him move with the kindergarten kids into grade one though.

He doesn't read a lot yet, but he does like this one "Explore" book which is basically a child's encyclopedia, and we bought him 3 other child's encyclopedias on subjects he's shown interest in.  He is still watching a lot of kid's shows, but loves watching shows like How It's Made. We haven't done too much with him on the computer yet, although once he showed an interest in the human skeleton I took him to Wikipedia to learn more about that.

I did want to get him on the computer soon after we've got some childproofing done to it so he's not finding stuff he shouldn't be finding yet.


Thanks for the link.  I'll be checking it shortly.  We're kind of in the process of doing what you'd suggested with looking for other schools and gifted programs, but as I'd mentioned, it's only been since Thursday night.  We e-mailed someone from the public school board but haven't heard anything back yet.


Thanks.  I do feel it's a combination blessing/curse, but I think I prefer this to alternatives.  I totally know what you mean about being challenging not being high on their list of priorities.  I had the same problem as a kid.  With his class, they're focusing on the letters k, l, and m this month, plus trying to get the kids to be able to write the first letter of their name, stuff he's been doing for at least 2 years.

Thanks for the link and the university program suggestion.  We do live in a university town, so that might work.


I hadn't really considered focusing on stuff he's NOT good at.  Socially he's mostly fine.  He's VERY friendly and polite, but from what we've been told he's not really close with his classmates because they have a hard time relating to each other.  And we definitely want to get him involved in activities with other kids.




I started my family a little later than average (although I've discovered that a lot of the high school people I know started at roughly the same age, which I guess is more of the trend now), but I wouldn't change any of it for the world.  Plus I think I've been very lucky so far.  My eldest son is very gifted, my little girl is the happiest and cutest little thing ever, and my youngest while not showing any real verbal skills yet is showing some signs of being gifted in a more mechanical sense. 


True.  I have been doing some work on teaching him the value of money and the importance of saving.  I also try to bring a little reality to some of the stuff he sees on TV, like when he watches "Super Why" on CBC and they do a story on The And and The Grosshopper, I explain that instead of the ant helping the grasshopper find some "winter seeds" so that he can grow food in the winter, in reality the grasshopper would starve to death.  Outside of that I'll have to start fairly small, although that's what I was hoping I could find a gifted program that would do that.  Not that I'd mind, but I own a small business and currently put in close to 70 hours a week.


I didn't realize until recently how hard it was.  In fact, my first customer of the day happened to be a school teacher who told me it's next to impossible to have a child skip a grade, and they won't even hold a student back a year without parental permission.


Thanks for the laugh.


He definitely likes to read which in turn I think will help him find other areas he's interested in, and with any luck, will help him become more independent in discovering other areas of interest on his own, and other people with the same interests.

I think grandpa is buying him a child size guitar for Christmas, so at least I can show him a few things with it, assuming he can reach around the neck of that one.


The saxophone isn't a bad idea since mommy could help him with that.


I think it was last summer when I was at home glancing at CAPS when he asked me what I was doing, so I tried to explain it to him as simply as possible.  Finance and economics are definitely two areas I want to focus on with him.

Again, thanks all!

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#24) On December 06, 2009 at 1:43 PM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


I HAD considered the piano, but don't really have ready access to one.  I suppose I could find a decent organ that would do the same job.  Will definitely have to look into that.

The only drawback there is that we'd have to pay for lessons and we are definitely on a limited budget.  Another area we'd considered putting him in is martial arts which again we'd have to pay for classes, although I could help there a bit as well.

The biggest drawback for having him learn Chinese is not know where to start looking.  If we do end up putting him in another school it will probably be one that is french emersion, so he'll likely be at least bilingual with French and English.

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#25) On December 06, 2009 at 2:40 PM, Tastylunch (28.51) wrote:


Looks like I'm late to the party on this one

I completely  agree with Donnernv and have had a similiar life experience as he had apparently , in my experience social skills are harder to augment than intellectual ones. As the others have mentioned you and your spouse can do a lot for Kdakota jr outside of th classroom to keep him interetsed in learning.

Obviously the gifted program is ideal but 5th grade is pretty late. When I was a young lad I went in one at third grade. 

I like to think my sibling and I ended up pretty well. I run a couple businesses and she went one to get a law degree with honors from one of the top three law schools in the country. But i think the key was/is that we relate pretty well with other people. She in aprticaulr has very polished people skills.

If you promote him too early, even in  a nice school he might not fit in well being so much younger than his new classmates. Whether it be size or maturity that could lead to him being isolated or even bullied. If he is so much smarter than his classmates as long as he doesn't brag about it the should give  aplace of respect among his peers, something he may not have a  grade higher.

The thing most people also didn't cover is confidence.

There is all sorts of research to show people generally like easier things better,especially kids. So putting him in too challenging environment might give the reverse problem where he quits  and is unwilling to learn. That might not be a problem now but if he doesn't continue to outpace his age bracket (which happens fairly often) it could in the future.

It's a lot easier to make up the difference from school pushing him at home, than it is to try help him catch up at home if he's getting left behind.

In the the end blake303's suggestion might be the best solution as unpalatable as it may be to move/switch schools...For it combines the intellectal aspect while still keeping him with his age group peers.

well good luck whatvere you decide. Sounds like he's got two great parents and that's one heck of an advantage.

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#26) On December 06, 2009 at 3:13 PM, RonChapmanJr (30.13) wrote:

Chess, chess and then some more chess.  And maybe some other games if there is time. 

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#27) On December 06, 2009 at 3:27 PM, go4buffs (98.40) wrote:

My parents were confronted with this blessing / curse with me when I was in 3rd grade or so.  The counsler made a very blunt statement to my parents:  you will either have to let your child skip multiple classes (with the risk of becoming a social outcast) or you will have to make it your personal goal and duty to challenge this child outside of school.  Otherwise, your child will risk getting bored...which could lead to many, many bad after effects.

My parents chose the latter.  They never told me until I was 17 or so that I was 'gifted', even though I was always in accellerated classes.  They allowed me to be a normal kid.  My dad did some off the wall things to challenge me:  1) when I was in 5th grade in Cub Scouts, he made me read his college physics book to learn more about aerodynamics, 2) when I got in a fight in 6th grade, he made me read Tom Peter's "In Search of Excellence" and write a book report before I could get off of being grounded.

When we moved from Oklahoma to Texas, I had to 'redo' a reading class (nonaccellerated) that I had the year before (accellerated) in OK.  It was the same book (Star Flight was the book for 6th graders).  I wanted to skip into the 7th grade class.  My dad told me that I could skip when I got 100% in the class on my report card.

I got a 99% in each of the 6 grading periods...but this relatively small.  I was really mad at my father, but this simple act from him unleashed my work ethic, attention to detail, and desire - that is still with me today.

Why do I ramble about myself when you are asking the group for help:  because I firmly believe that the secret to my parent's success was that they challenged me with everything I did - and they did it in a way that didn't make me know that they were challenging me.  They tried enough things until they hit the right button.  And they got it right.

I am the product of a normal public school system, I loved video games growing up, and I did every sport possible.  I was allowed my childhood.

If I may give you a recommendation, I'd say to not get too hung up on the school system (public or private).  Both can work - but both rely on the parents to 'unlock' the child.

I'd also not worry too much about whether your child should skip a grade or not.  The final answer is the same:  you will have to challenge your child.  If you allow him to skip grades, you will have to challenge his social skills.  If you keep him in his age group, you'll have to challenge is intellectual skills.  You might even have to do both...don't try to seek the 'right' challenge...just keep throwing stuff and ideas to your child.

Let your child have their childhood.  I had my childhood, and I'm very thankful for that.

To come full circle, my parents decided to invest their most precious asset in me:  their time.  Don't outsource this most precious asset.  If you invest this into your child - gifted or not - you will see this 'investment' grow and flower beyond your imagination.

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#28) On December 06, 2009 at 3:28 PM, Teacherman1 (< 20) wrote:

I noticed several people here mentioned musical instruments, which is a good idea because music and math go hand in hand.

When my son, (who is now 33 years old) finished highschool, he was offered the opportunity to attend both Johns Hopkins and The Julliard School of music simultaneously. After lots of discussion and serious consideration, he decided instead to attend the University of Texas School of Radio, Film and Television ( I always let him make his own important decisions).

He is now a post production sound engineer in L.A. , and has had the opportunity to pursue all of his interests. While film is his main pursuit, he still composes music in his spare time and plays a wide variey of instruments.

Get a copy of the ThinkGeek catalog and do some Christmas shopping. It is amazing how many interesting and challenging things they have in there. They are also reasonably priced. They are online. Let your son explore and learn. Knowing how to learn is more important than what you learn.

With the explosion of information in our world today, it is impossible for anyone to really know everything about anything, but knowing how to find it, is invaluable.

That is the direction the best schools are taking for the future. Teach them the basics, then let them explore, they will learn more on their own than you could ever teach them.

Keep on encouraging him, but be mindful that as he gets older, he doesn't start to think too much of himself, and end up alienating those around him.

Foolanthropy on. 

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#29) On December 06, 2009 at 3:56 PM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


I find I seem to have a hard time conveying how my son is socially, probably because I don't fully understand it.

He's VERY polite and friendly and has no problem talking to other kids, or as I witness in the school yard before class starts, running around and playing with the other kids (usually tag) and is a very happy child.  But the teacher is telling us that he doesn't seem to fully connect with the other kids inside the class.  According to her though, it's because he's at such a different level mentally than the others.  Also, he seems to be overly emotional.  He gets upset if he doesn't get a turn at something and isn't particularly good at sharing toys.  I think those are minor issues that will correct themselves in time.

At this point, him moving into grade 1 next year would be a skipped grade, but he'd still be with his classmates, and physically he's probably even slightly bigger than average so bullying probably won't be an issue, but I do understand what you mean.

You bring up a good point regarding confidence.  He IS pretty confident, but seems to be a bit of a perfectionist and is afraid to make mistakes (which again leads to him getting overly emotional).

One of my customers happens to be the founder of the Oxford Learning Center and I've asked him for some advice.  Basically he told me to expose my son to as much as possible so he can discover what he's interested in and learn at his own pace, and warned me that at some point the school system will begin to try to stifle his creativity and for me to do my best to prevent that from happening outside the school system.  I'm going to have to talk to him again now that there are some new developments for me to share with him.

Agreed, blake303's suggestion about moving schools is one that we're strongly considering.  I'm not sure we'll find a school that starts their gifted program as early as kindergarten (but certainly before grade 5), but anything that's more challenging I think will be a good thing.

And thanks about the good luck and the compliment.  I have to concede that I think as far as parenting goes, most of the credit has to go to my wife.  She's got an ECE background, excellent mothering skills, and spends her days at home with them.  That being said, I'm the favourite of all three kids. :)

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#30) On December 07, 2009 at 10:15 AM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


I hadn't really considered chess, and that's not a bad idea.  I'm probably not the best teacher of it, and I'm almost positive he'll take losing badly, but that's a definite possibility once he's ready.


Excellent and very helpful reply.  While there have been some great replies here, yours was probably the closest solution to what I was looking for.


Thanks very much, especially for the ThinkGeek idea.  I probably wouldn't have heard of that without you suggestion.

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#31) On December 07, 2009 at 2:43 PM, go4buffs (98.40) wrote:

kdakota630:  I'm glad I could help.  I have to say, I felt a bit guilty telling you that 'time' was the key ingredient while others gave more tangible suggestions - many, if not all, good ones.

Personally, I'm a bit hesitant on those solutions that 'cost', and I sense that this is also a limitation that you are keeping your eyes on.

Expensive or glamorous items may challenge your child...and while my son is much younger than your child, I've found that the simple things are the most interesting and challenging for kids:  books, legos, balls, looking in the yard or forest for bugs and stuff.  I totally geek out with my son showing him how hot breath can turn frost into water droplets.

As my son and daughter get older, I'll have to get more creative.  I have the advantage over my dad:  I have the internet to help with my creativity (no college physics books for my kids yet...).

But, the common denominator is all the same:  time.

Thanks again for your comment.  It made my day.  Good luck with your adventure. 

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#32) On December 07, 2009 at 3:28 PM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


I e-mailed my wife an abridged version of most of the comments and we're very happy with the responses we got.

My main original intent was for ideas on any sort of programs we could get him into that would challenge him, including school as we knew we'd have to do stuff outside of school to keep him challenged (as well as the other kids), but it was refreshing to hear so many people, many with their own personal examples, of why not to get too hung up on what the school can offer.

We're definitely trying to find things for him to do that are within our limited budget, and the things we do find for him that cost we want to make sure he gets the most out to be as cost-effective as possible.

The main drawback for me is the time factor as I personally work 7 days a week for close to 70 hours.  At least my wife is home for most of the day with the kids and does a great job so far.

The most important thing I took away from everyone's suggestions were to let him have his childhood (which was my first priority), expose him to as much as possible for him to see what most interests him and don't rely on the schools to challenge him.

The 3 biggest things I was told NOT to do (from the OLC guy) was don't let the school system stifle his creativity, don't let him watch too much TV (which I think depended more on what he was watching), and NEVER tell the child that they're gifted or smarter or better than other children.  I thought most of that advice was fairly obvious though.

It will be a challenge, although I'm guessing a very rewarding one.

Thanks again.

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#33) On December 12, 2009 at 7:54 PM, BravoBevo (99.97) wrote:

kdakota30, you've got some good info from the fellow Fools and the OLC guy.  I think the OLC guy is right on.  But the "social issue" is something you'll want to work with soon instead of letting him "grow out of it."  The OLC guy said "Never tell the child that they're gifted or smarter or better than the other children."  I agree that he shouldn't be told that he is "smarter or better," but I disagree on the "gifted" issue.  

I think that is is appropriate for him to know that he is gifted so long as that giftedness instills a sense of purpose.  As an aside, I've learned that my purpose in life is to glorify God, whether it is at work, at home, socially, with family, etc. so that everything I do comes within the overarching umbrella of that unifying purpose. Regardless of whether you and your wife have that same purpose vision or not, you two are able to teach your son that his giftedness has at least one purpose, and that is to be a blessing (and a help) to others.  The key is not to make the giftedness seems to boost the pride and is not to drive him into himself, but to learn to use it that betters his fellow classmates, his family, his teachers, etc.  He might not always get recognition for helping others (and making the world a better place) but at least he won't develop a mindset of hoarding selfishly.

I'm afraid that the public school system might not be challenging, so be careful to watch what is going on in his classes with his teachers. Encourage him afterschool into some of the hobbies mentioned earlier:  math, music, piano, guitar, reading, chess, and no or little tv, chess.  What I haven't heard anyone mention but which children are uniquely capable of learning (and the more the merrier at his age) are languages.  Children are born into this world where every language is a foreign language. The older we grow, the more difficulte we find it to be to learn new languages. His younger siblings will learn to imitate him and to benefit from him (he being the eldest).

And help him learn to be compassionate, caring, considerate.  Teach him humility and meekness. Being meek is not being weak. Teach him to pursue and seek God. And with all of that, pray that God will guide you and give you wisdom and strength to raise him up in the best possible way. Blessings to you!

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#34) On December 12, 2009 at 8:02 PM, BravoBevo (99.97) wrote:

Oh, yeah, Odyssey of the Mind (OM) is an excellent program.  I remember that it was indirectly promoted in the movie Little Man Tate starring Helen Hunt as Tate's waitress-mom.  Find a local chapter of OM for suggestions and additional resources from other families that are facing similar challenges to yours.

Searching for Eddie Fisher is a good movie, where the kid is on the verge of being a child-prodigy and the parents struggle how to promote and help him grow into this talents while allowing him a normal life.

Pay It Forward is a good movie about how one kid uses his gift to help others around him and influence the world. Again, Helen Hunt plays the mom.


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#35) On December 12, 2009 at 8:06 PM, Wh1sp (99.99) wrote:

Give him a Rubik's cube, they kept me busy for a while. Also, some of the smartest people I know play Go regularly.

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#36) On December 14, 2009 at 11:01 AM, kdakota630 (28.77) wrote:


Thanks for the advice.  Admittedly since this blog is a few days old I almost missed it and I didn't see it until just before leaving work yesterday so I didn't get a chance to reply until now.

I like your idea of instilling a sense of purpose in him, although he's probably a little young for me to really do much more than just providing him with a strong moral background so that he can discover his own purpose in life.

He's actually quite caring and compassionate for someone his age.  If he sees another child fall down on the playground he's usually running over to see if they're OK.

Good advice, and overall I think he's on that path, although I hadn't really made a concious effort toward it until now.


He's probably a little young for that yet, but I'll have to keep that in mind for a future gift idea.  Thanks.


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