Gifted Child Wont Do Homework

Why gifted kids don’t want to do their homework

For over thirty years I have worked with gifted children and their parents on problems with starting, completing, and handing in homework. Unfortunately, homework is a huge problem for many many families with gifted children. Parents cannot understand why their super-smart child is being so difficult, rude, and irresponsible. I have come up with eight reasons that are contributing factors to consider, to talk about, and to work on with your son or daughter.
1.  Homework is not important to smart kids.
Maybe the homework is too easy or too boring, and they are not interested in doing it. Kids don’t understand that homework is their personal responsibility. One way to help children learn how to do things that are boring is to give them  responsibilities at home that they are not interested in completing. They need practice at doing boring things.

2.  They can get away with it.
This is a parental problem with not setting limits and consequences. Smart children are always very compelled to outsmart their parents, even if their behavior is inappropriate or self-destructive. Parents need to establish rules that their child can manage to follow. Being too strict or too permissive gives your child permission to not listen to you.

3.  Gifted children have fun when they aggravate their parents.
No matter how wonderful of a you are, gifted kids love to argue. They are “know-it-alls” to the core. Challenging mom and dad and teachers can be a sport for them. Try and communicate with them that you are not interested in every argument they start. Teach them to respect your authority.

4.  They get used to negative attention and thrive on it.
Gifted kids are challenging and stressful to raise. Parents normally and naturally get frustrated and angry. Kids pick up on their parents’ anger and learn how to react in the most annoying ways. Parents need to get better at understanding and diffusing their frustrations.

5.  Some smart children are not confident in themselves and think they can’t do their homework.
This is a truly perplexing problem for parents and usually something that is resolved with the help of tutors or psychotherapists.

6.  Perfectionistic behavior can lead to homework not being completed.
This a very different problem than lack of confidence, but tutoring help outside of the family for the child can break this cycle.

7.  Gifted children can have learning problems that require special educational interventions.
The way to handle this issue is to have an educational therapist evaluate your child and create an intervention that will help your child develop his or her potential.    

8.  When smart kids are angry at you they may try to get back at you by not completing their homework.
If you believe that your child is doing poorly at school as a revenge tactic, it is time to seek out the help of a mental health professional who has experience working with children and their families.

Symptoms of homework problems that need to be addressed

1.  Complaining about homework being boring, which is often an excuse for not doing homework, especially in younger children.

2.  Losing homework on the way home from school.

3.  Forgetting to hand in homework after it is completed.

4.  Refusing to do homework through directly avoiding, ignoring, or procrastinating.

5.  Lying about homework or pretending it is done.

What parents can do to solve the homework problem

Ignoring or making light of the problem with homework will only make the problem worse. Parents who put their heads in the sand and pray for a miracle are not helping themselves or their child. Being afraid to confront your child’s homework problem won’t help either. Parents need a practical strategy to begin to solve the stress in their houses over homework. Being negative or overly dramatic about the problem is counterproductive. A simple plan that you can evaluate and build on is essential. The following steps will be helpful.

1.  Make a plan to speak with your child’s teacher and establish a reliable feedback loop for completion. Using online technology is very effective.

2.  If homework continues to be a problem, request a student success conference or an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Both procedures are offered at public and private schools.

3.  If your child remains noncompliant with homework, get an evaluation from an educational therapist or a clinical psychologist who works with children and teenagers.

4.  Continue to communicate with the support team that you are working with.

5.  Evaluate progress and the areas that need more attention.   

“The teachers, therefore, SHOULD be prepared to differentiate, and yet they are only one person. With 1 teacher for 20-25 students, all at different levels of learning, it becomes a real challenge to be able to accommodate each child’s needs. ”

Excellent point! As a student teacher in a diverse classroom I live with this challenge — and I say that, fully aware of the blessing in my mentor teacher’s first grade classroom, (where I co-teach for three days a week), that we only have 16 students. It is still a tremendous challenge to meet everyone’s needs! With seven kids who speak English as a second language (two of whom have been in the country less than a year and came into our classroom speaking little more than their own names), 5 children with IEPs, one who is reading two, nearly three, levels above grade-level, but often runs out of the classroom in anger and struggles when he comes to making the simplest choices, and the rest on the high end of average, trying to help everyone actualize their potentials is a daunting task. Yet, it is not one we shirk. We spend hours thinking, discussing, researching, and planning. Our early finishers work is not just more of the same – it takes the amount of thinking required to the next level. Our reading and math small instruction groups are separated by ability and within those groups the children are given instruction aimed personally at them. We have a policy not to verbally frame things in terms of intelligence, but rather in terms of effort and responsibility. We emphasize that will do our best to give everyone what they need and that those needs will be different from student to student, but in return we expect everyone to try their hardest, to take responsibility, and to be respectful.

Taking all that into account, I know we are still not doing enough. It pains me to see that our gifted students are often the ones who, when push comes to shove and we have to choose, we choose not to support, because they seem more likely to be able to make the best of that loss. Having been …well, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call myself gifted, but having been a student who was hardly ever challenged in elementary school, despite my parents advocacy, I have empathy for these students. I can easily put myself in their shoes, and their parents’ shoes. I know the boredom, the frustration at the slooooowness, and the desperate yearning to learn more than I was being taught.

Yet, from most of these responses, I wonder if any of the respondents have ever tried on the shoes I am currently trying to fill. Have you really imagined, or even asked your child’s or your own teacher, what they were trying to do? Why they were making the decisions they were? I don’t think any of the responses on this list are acceptable, no kids should be pushed in a corner, or told to suck it up, but I do think there are good teachers out there fighting a hard battle, working for EVERYONE – gifted kids included – who just have to make tough choices. I don’t really see any appreciation for that in these posts.

Also, to respond to the second part of this post. Research has shown that inclusion classrooms have minimal impact on students at the higher end of achievement, but have a significant impact on lower-achiever’s scores. I understand that you want the best for your child, but in my opinion (and maybe I will feel differently when it’s MY kids – but maybe not), what’s best for your child is to part of a society of well-educated people. If they are in a classroom that works slower than they do in general, but are still being accommodated somewhat, and their presence makes a difference to those who come from less secure backgrounds, in the long run they will be better off. They will have contributed to making our nation’s education have a stronger foundation, and we all benefit from that.

On that same subject, addressing the last paragraph of this post: Do you support segregation of races? I would assume not. If you read anything at all on the subject of tracking, the sad, but undeniable truth emerges that when tracking is in place hardly any minorities make it into the highest tracks. How and why that happens is the subject of much debate, but as far as I know, no one disagrees that this deplorable phenomena occurs.

So despite the challenges of trying to accommodate such a variety in one classroom, and despite the pangs of awful familiarity and giving less than the best to some of our students some of the time, I am for keeping things this way.

If you’d like to take some time to stand in my shoes, and after taken things in from that vantage point have any suggestions to offer, I’d really appreciate hearing them.

(And yes, I really did just take the time to write a nearly thousand word response to this, even though the original and subsequent posts are mostly from long ago and most of the responders will never see my words, because I was touched, disturbed, hurt, and moved by this issue and everyone’s thoughts on it. I came to this blog while researching what to do about my concern that in scaffolding and supporting our students with language needs we are losing and boring our kids who already have a strong vocabulary – which seems to be an inequitable practice in the opposite direction of the traditional form. I truly care and I truly would like to hear suggestions.)

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