not gifted

Mar. 18th, 2009 07:24 pm
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[personal profile] flea
Casper didn't test as gifted, as per the very gently-worded form letter we received (she could have had a bad day! maybe she needs to mature! she still counts as smart! don't be sad - read her some books!).

I'm a bit disappointed, only because from the little I know of the gifted program at her school it's kinda fun-looking, one-on-one or small group attention, they seem to do a little French. (One of the best things about my own education, IMO, was my public school had French for everyone starting in 5th grade. Of the numerous languages I have studied or been extensively exposed to - German, Italian, modern and ancient Greek, and Latin - French is the only one I retain any fluency in, and I stopped studying it when I was 16 and haven't used it in an immersion setting since then. I think everyone should have a second language in elementary school.)

I do worry a bit that Casper can't (or won't) read and seems, in general, very little motivated about school work. Mrs. B, her Pre-K teacher, talked to us about her motivation - the goal with Montessori, as that was, is to develop self-motivated kids. Left to her own devices, Casper would have colored all day, but, you know, she was 4! She seems to enjoy school now, as a whole, but from what I've seen she's often a bit lazy and has to be prodded to do things fully (things other than making elaborate drawings, that is). It is a huge struggle to get her to "read" us a simple book that she usually has memorized, and she hates doing the flash cards of words she supposedly knows, and often guesses at them half-looking (based on initial letter) and gets them wrong. She might be able to struggle through Hop on Pop at this point, but nothing beyond that. And she's known all her letters and sounds for about a year now!

I know that the age of learning to read is variable, and in some countries (Scandinavia and Germany?) children aren't expected to read until 7. I know Casper is smart and creative. But reading is so incredibly cool! It's deeply important to me and to success in life! Why the heck isn't she doing it yet? She's five and a half - am I being silly?

Date: 2009-03-19 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My littlest sister didn't learn how to read until she was 7 or 8. She was the youngest of four, and the rest of us had all gone through a strict Catholic school that had you reading in first grade like it or not. Calla, however, went to a comfortable, granola-y neighborhood schoolhouse that was much more relaxed. My mother didn't know whether she had a learning disorder or whether she was just doing it at a more natural rate. If Calla had been the first child, instead of the fourth, she probably would have had lots of intensive attention. Her teacher was recommending lots of tests for placement in special education. But what happened is that my parents just pulled her out of school for a year to homeschool, with weekly visits from a reading tutor and lots of free time for herself... and she just sort of taught herself to read.

OK, I just found the post in my mother's livejournal ([ profile] devils_interval) where she talks about this, instead of me just parroting what I remember her saying to friends at the time. Here:

This is the kid who could not, despite hers and our best efforts, read when she was eight. We had tutors, we had assessments...then in desperation I took her out of school for a year during which she spent most of her time lying on her bed reading Spider magazine. Or trying to. And then, like magic (because her tutor had taken a full-time job and she wasn't being tutored at the time) she started reading with a depth that was way beyond her chronological age. In April she was still struggling through Little Bear books; in summer when the 4th Harry Potter book came out she spent a whole week catching up. In a week she read the first three and then the 4th book.

I guess what I mean is, don't panic; it's definitely possible that Casper's brain is just taking her own pace, and doesn't mean she won't read as well or as happily as other kids once she gets there.

(Sorry for the edits!)
Edited Date: 2009-03-19 12:06 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-03-19 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Did I once know you as R. Lizard? If so, so nice to hear from you!

Date: 2009-03-19 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes! I'm impressed you remembered. I found you on LJ not long ago and wanted to catch up on your life-- I hope I didn't seem too weird, friending you up out of the blue.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, not at all. I will now friend you back so you can read my deep dark secret posts.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Not silly but ... she is only five and a half. And not too long ago, kids were taught to read through first grade curriculum, meaning they weren't expected to be *really* reading till the end of that year.

Jake was a horrible beginning reader. I tried lots of things to motivate him, and not much worked until he simply *got it*. (Sometime in first grade.) It's a bit like toilet training for me -- the more you push do it on your schedule, the more they'll resist. But they all learn eventually.

And honestly, just because she's not thrilled about reading right now doesn't mean that won't change.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She loves being read *to* - mr. flea and she are finishing the first Harry Potter tonight!

Date: 2009-03-19 12:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
See, that's awesome. Sara will happily look at her own books forever, and takes one to bed every night to look at before she goes to sleep (after we read a bedtime book or two), but I haven't tried reading chapter books or anything longish to her yet, because I'm not sure she'll sit for it.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She's always had an endless attention span for narrative - we took her to Curse of the Were Rabbit at 26 months and she did fine.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's fabulous. Sara will sit through most movies now, except at home, where it's too easy to get up and wander away if she's bored for a minute.

I want to start her on A Little Princess or Little House, but she LOVES the Harry Potter movies, so maybe I should try that. Selfishly, I just want to read A Little Princess aloud and sort of bask in it.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am holding back on reading her The Secret Garden because I adore it so and what if she doesn't like it! Casper does tend to like action and adventure. Some of the first chapter books we read were movies she had seen (Peter Pan, Charlotte's Web) so that might be a way in.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, you know, Herself was not reading until about two months ago, and that's with me beating phonics into her head every morning.

Now? It's like someone's flipped a switch, and she's suddenly doing it.

Getting her to get off her ass and do her math is still a colossal pain, though. She knows perfectly well how to do that, she'd just rather read comics and screw around all day.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As would we all, of course.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, sadly the apple does not seem to fall far from the tree, there.

Date: 2009-03-19 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chiming in with more anecdata -- the Blue-Eyed Boy didn't read until close to the end of first grade, and then (as others observe upthread), it was like flipping a switch. I think a lot of pre-learning goes on under the surface.

Date: 2009-03-19 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You aren't being silly.

I will say that one of my kids was an early reader, one a late reader (for Montessori school, anyway) and they both came out fine. Sometimes kids just don't quite make the developmental leap until later. It really was like that with our son -- one day the light just went ON over his head and he went from not quite understanding sounds and letters to reading.

Date: 2009-03-19 02:58 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I tested "not gifted", too and wouldn't have been sent to the gifted program if my 3rd grade teacher hadn't argued strenuously that I just tested poorly. (FWIW, orchestra cured the test anxiety- auditions are way worse than a test. And I loved orchestra, so I put up with the auditions.)

Anyway, I obviously have no actual experience with teaching kids to read, since I have an almost two year old and a fetus. But I wonder- you say Casper likes to draw. Maybe there are books that are about drawing in some way? I had a book that taught you how to draw animals when I was in elementary school. (It didn't work. The elephants Pumpkin asks me to draw now are pathetic.)

Date: 2009-03-19 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] (from
oops, that was me. I forgot to give an ID.

Date: 2009-03-20 12:38 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Would she like graphic novels/comic books? I had a cousin who HATED reading until his mom broke down and tried that. He loved them, and once he realized he enjoyed reading, he was fine.

My older boy (just turned 5) is like Casper; he can read, but he won't. But he's in pre-K now, so I'm not worried. Yet.


Date: 2009-03-22 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been thinking about this. And I have a cousin who doesn't like to read, reading for her is a struggle as far as I know she was never diagnosed with a learning disability but she had problems writing papers as well. So she doesn't read books for pleasure the way I do or my Mom does or even her mom or siblings.

However, she's incredibly artistic. She took ballet until injuries forced her to quit. She played the cello quite well. She was in college when she discovered her talent in painting, drawing, and photography. (I think she dabbled at art, but really came into her own in college). She has a degree in art, she's working at Montessori school.

Casper may be like that, words may not be her strong point but it sounds like she is talented artistically and that may be where her interests in gifts are.


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