Ever heard of gifted underachievers?

Tabitha - posted on 11/01/2008 ( 27 moms have responded )

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My 8-year-old son is very bright, with an IQ of 133. He is in the gifted program at school once a week and seems to enjoy it. My concern is his time in the regular ed. classroom--he just doesn't seem to even try. He reads above grade level, but doesn't really like to read (is that strange for a kid who's so bright?)--which results in him not really paying attention when he's reading and then his retention of what he's read goes down. He'll get 100's on several math assignments in a row, then get an F--like he just decided to space out that day. Sometimes on assessments at school, he scores very high, other times he gets average scores. He doesn't seem to actually put any real effort into the things he does. Socially and emotionally, he's 8 years old and likes all the things other 8 year old boys like, he can also be somewhat impulsive. Has anyone else experienced this with their gifted child?

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Elyse - posted on 11/08/2008

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YES! My son is now almost 16, took the SAT in 7th grade and scored higher in math than the average high school senior, and just brought home an F in a chem. lab! They lack motivation, not intellect; he gets bored.

Sandra - posted on 09/30/2012

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My son was definitely an under achiever. They budgeted the gifted program out of our school system the year my son was old enough for it (3rd grade) and started servicing them through special ed. Our special ed program was not something I was interested in.



He would get bored in class and draw elaborate drawings (not just doodles). He would always know the answer if the teacher asked him a question and always aced tests. He would complete class work most of the time. Homework and projects were another story. Despite his amazing artistic ability the art teacher would not let him register for art 4 because she was tired of fighting him to get homework.



My son could read write and spell on a 2nd grade level before he entered kindergarten. By the end of kindergarten he rarely read anything fiction. He thought fiction was boring. He could spend hours reading books that he chose from the non fiction section though or gaming magazines. Harry Potter was the exception. He always read the new Harry Potter books in one or two days.



My son was impulsive but he had a rather severe case of ADHD. He never scored less than a 95 percentile on any standardized test except his ACT. He did very poorly on it. Why? because he didn't feel like wasting his Saturday taking a test so he just guessed. He didn't even read the questions. He was home in less than an hour. At one time he considered joining the Air force the recruiter was less than enthused when he found out that he had ADHD and his grades from high school he let him take a practice test just to see how he would do. Once his score showed up the recruiter suddenly became very interested in my son.



I really feel like my son was held back by sending him to school. We home schooled for several years and he excelled. He hated all of the busy work. Some teachers want everyone to think like them too. My son can look at many math problems and tell you the answer. If it is something he works out on paper it only takes him a few steps. His mind combines steps together. He has had many teachers take would take credit away because he didn't break it down into enough steps.

Tabitha - posted on 11/12/2008

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I can't thank everyone enough for all your responses! I'm actually a little teary-eyed (isn't that silly?) to hear so many others with stories similiar to my son's. He's had teachers try to label him ADD, as well--but I truly do not believe that's the problem. I love the idea of making learning the skill of hard work part of his IEP. What a great idea! Thanks so much to all of you!

Laurie - posted on 11/02/2008

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My son is 10 now, and when he was 8 we had situations like this as well. My son has expressed to me many times that he wants to be a regular kid. He is in the gifted program at school as well and meets twice a week. He has this wonderful teacher that has taught me that when they lose focus most of the time it is from organization. She has taught me that you need to pick your battles with a gifted child. When my son was going through this I would tell him that I am proud of all his accomplishments and that I know that he knows the information, but can we become a little more focused! This usually seemed to help. My son's IQ is 143 and it is a challenge to keep him interested! When my son is not interested in what is being learned I see a slip in his grades. Especially if it's something that he already knows. Hope this helps. He will grow out of it!

Tabitha - posted on 11/01/2008

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The low grades don't seem to bother him--he just shrugs and goes on. He really doesn't ever get worked up about much (pretty laid-back kid, overall). He doesn't seem to be embarrassed by his ability. It seems he just doesn't put effort into something unless he's interested in it, when I'd like him to do his best on an assignment even if the topic doesn't really interest him. I like the idea of making a list of the things he's interested in and looking for books surrounding those topics. That may help with the reading. He seems to prefer non-fiction, usually science-related topics, and if he can learn about dinosaurs, sharks, etc. he seems to be happy.

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Sara - posted on 06/03/2014

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This sounds EXACTLY like my son! His IQ is the same (he was tested in kindergarden, but I've heard it rarely changes much in childhood). He's been able to read since he was 3...reading the sides of divert trucks and DVDs when he thought no one was listening, but when asked to read aloud, made every effort to avoid it. When his dad and I were together (we split when he was 3 1/2) we bought "your baby can read" for him--although I told his dad it was pointless lol. He ALREADY figured it out, of course. But he would practically have a breakdown when we'd tell him it was time to watch "Giovanni can read" (that's what we named it to get him interested, which was a big mistake because he'd already read the cover and knew we were LYING to him, and possibly tricking him into performing--something else he hates, along with talking on the phone, team sports, and social media). He'd scream "NO!--not 'Giovanni can read!'." And he routinely gets horrible marks on his assignments, if he turns them in at all. He can do algebra in his head, but he won't finish 5 days of math in a row...after a week of 100%s. He won't even sign his name (or it's so sloppy you can't read it.)

The not wanting to reading worried me because he is supposed to read every day at home and he hated it....until we let him read whatever he wanted. He's now alternating between The Bible, an art book about Rembrant, and Moby Dick. In fact, we just discussed how different his next book (Les Misérables) will be because it's actually a translation--whereas MD was originally written in English. And he GETS THAT. How do you know your child is gifted?

You just know. You get it too.

Brynn - posted on 12/07/2012

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That was me. I'm now almost 30, but you basically described my life till I was in high school. At 16, I forced my parents to pull me from public school and place me in an independent study program which changed everything. It might just be that the learning environment doesn't work for him, so why should he buy in? As a public school teacher, 100 percent of school is buy-in and that isn't something you can force someone into.

NRSZALDUA - posted on 11/26/2012

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i dont know if my child is gifted. if he wants to get a high grade he can do it but if he is not in the mood even though he knows what to do or how to answer it he doesnt care if he gets a low score, he answers too fast and writes too fast that makes his notes unreadable but when you ask him, he can tell you what he writes. he can't really focus but he can remember or review too fast, every quarterly exams and quizzes he gets perfect and almost perfect scores but during practice and seatworks he really doesnt mind to get a low scores. He study effortless and when he comes home from school he knows almost his lessons. My concern is he can't focus and always thinking ahead what he's going to do next.

Michelle - posted on 01/07/2012

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I could have been your son at that age. I loved the gifted program time, but back in regular class was awful. I would get A's on assessments but be failing because I wasn't turning in assignments. Two things helped - one, it was discovered that my math skills weren't as advanced as everything else and I got assistance for that, two, the school librarian helped me see the options for jr high & high school and decent grades were as important as testing for the advanced schools. That gave me the kick I needed and there I found other brilliant friends (many much brighter than I!) who had more similar interests and made getting through high school interesting.
The IEP idea is interesting, but I wonder if it will work if your child isn't into it. As for reading, is there anything he's interested in? My child was above average but hated reading until we discovered she was interested in science topics instead of fiction that all the other kids liked. Other kids had book reports on wimpy kids, she did her's on planets, space exploration, spiders, bees...it is what it took to get her reading at level. Good luck! It can take a while for a truly gifted kid to find their path, but something internally motivating to them will be a big help.

Tammy - posted on 11/12/2008

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Just one more thought. One activity that has greatly helped my son is being a teacher's assistant in lower grades. It really makes him focus, because he is having to explain it so someone else. His oral reading (vocals, emphasis, etc..) really has improved as well as penmanship, just a few areas that have improved.

Jenni - posted on 11/12/2008

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My daughter is also very brilliant but we had a really hard time getting her to read. For us it was just a matter of finding her the right book. She never liked reading until we discovered the Disney Fairy books. That probably won't be the right set of books for your son of course, but my point is more that you should try and find some books he will love. Once my daughter found something she loved it was like getting over a huge road block. She loves reading now and is reading much more advanced books.



As far as the not excelling in school aspect. My daughter struggles with that as well. She just has a hard time focusing on things that aren't completely natural to her. I think one of the biggest problems with gifted kids is that they are so used to thing coming easily for them that when something isnt easy they just dont know how to get themself to work. We actually made "learning the skill of hard work" part of her IEP. She has a wonderful teacher who has been very patient with her and has worked with her on this and I think we are starting to see the difference. It also helps a lot that her gifted teacher is very well aware of what is motivating to her students and makes a real effert to use these motivaters as teaching opportunities.

Richelle - posted on 11/12/2008

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When my oldest son was in second grade, his teacher suggested we get his IQ tested. The charter school didn't have anything for G/T until 3rd grade. We didn't have enough money to get him tested, but the teacher stopped helping him. She would instead put him off into a corner and leave him to his own devices. This led to teasing and bullying by the other kids (which she also didn't stop). He would finally defend himself, which then caused him to be labeled the "bully". We went rounds with this school. We finally pulled him out in the beginning of 3rd grade and put him into the regular public school where he could get some help. Even though we had kept tabs on his schoolwork and grades, we didn't realize that he had fallen far behind because of bad habits and very low self esteem that his 2nd grade teacher instilled in him. He went through counseling in and out of school and Sylvan to help him catch up. He's starting to integrate back into working with a group now, and he really likes school again, but he still sometimes loses focus. It's still work, but he's getting back to that high level that he was at before that disastrous 2nd grade year. My youngest is in kindergarten and the school has him doing his reading with one of the first grade classes. We won't make the same mistakes we made with Patrick!!

Caroline - posted on 11/11/2008

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Your son is probably bored at school a lot of the time. Are there any alternative schools or programs near you? Or maybe you could try something on the internet... We had our gifted son in private schools and he was still bored. Finally when he was 15 we put him in a small alternative - student based school. He has soared ever since and now has graduated from art college with honors, and is working on a show in NY. I hope you can find things to help get your son passionate about the things he is most interested in. Being bright and bored is such a waste.

Jeanne - posted on 11/10/2008

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Thanks for posting this; I'm reading the replies with interest. My 9 year old son, in 3rd grade, fits this to a tee. I just checked out a library book titled "Bright Minds, Poor Grades" to try to figure it out and head off future problems, though I've only begun to read it. His teacher put his desk right next to hers so she can keep reminding him to stay on task. In our schools there is no gifted program but we might be able to pursue an IEP for him.

Julia - posted on 11/09/2008

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I would guess that's he's simply bored. My son had a difficult time in a regular ed class because he was reading far beyond where the other kids were. He needed to be in a full time gifted class and that is where he discovered kids that read the same things he did and could discuss them on his level. Is it possible to increase his time in the gifted program? Good luck to you!!!

Tammy - posted on 11/09/2008

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My son is 8, 3rd grade. After struggling through2nd grade with many of the things you mentioned 3rd grade brough us a totally different child. Personally I think two things happened ~ he matured, I specifically requested that his two best friends be in different class rooms.

Also, here in Colorado, Gitfted/Talented falls under the same 'rules' as those with special needs. For us that means when he is bored they are required to work with the G/T teacher is get him more interventions, sometimes even a more indepth lesson plan.

Nichole - posted on 11/08/2008

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My daughter is 7,in the 2nd grade. We had her tested in kindergarten for the gifted program. We were told at that time she was above average,but it wasnt until the end of 1st grade they did the IQ test on her. Her IQ is 134...we just had conferences with her teacher this week and her teacher commented on "LD Giftedness". Emily has a 97% in Math and 98% in Science. Her reading and writing is below average for her IQ and is puzzling the teacher. Of course a B+ is excellant for the "average" student...but because of her high IQ she doesnt understand why Emily doesnt puncuate and her reading is choppy. Her teacher explained that gifted students CAN be LD in other areas....BUT it isnt like the typical LD student,because they still grade pretty high,just not to their potentional.

Like mentioned below,punctuation doesnt interest Emily...she knows her answers are correct and she stops there. She doesnt care if she capitalized the proper words or not. It's strange,but I kinda understand it.

Amanda - posted on 11/05/2008

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We had this same problem with our son last year (he was 8). He is ridiculously bright but was not focused on class at all.



He seemed bored and spaced out quite a bit.



We did some work with "eye teaming" at our local eye doctors and it really seemed to help him. We also got him a squishy ball for his hand to squeeze while he was doing his work. We also arranged with the teacher to allow him to sit in the back of the classroom where he could stand at his desk instead of sit. Sitting still seemed to be a big problem with lack of focus. All of his energy was being used to try to remain still instead of allowing his brain to focus on school work.



All of these helped tremendously!

Jenny - posted on 11/05/2008

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Thank you for posting this! My 10-year-old son is going through this same thing. The school is suggesting ADD, which is certainly a possibility, but won't even consider that he's just not being challenged/stimulated enough. He focuses just fine when it's something that interests him, but shuts down if it doesn't. The issue I need to figure out is how to convince him that he still needs to do the work, even if it's too easy or too boring. He gets pulled out for the gifted program, but it's only twice a week. The rest of the week he still needs to do the work the other kids are doing. I keep trying to tell him that if he does what he's supposed to do, instead of making trouble, the teacher will be more likely to work with him to find other challenges. So far, it's not getting through...

Cassie - posted on 11/05/2008

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My daughter is in the 1st grade and we experience the same things. She only wants to go to school on Mondays because that's the day she goes to the gifted program. She says the rest of the time school is so boring and so she doesnt even want to do the work. My husband, however, is the same way. Very intelligent. I mean I was in gifted and did well in school, but nothing compared to my husband. The books he reads are so far above my level of thinking.... Anyway, he went to a boarding school in high school in the NE to try and challenge him more. It did, but he still was bored and just didnt try, so his GPA didnt reflect that he was even bright. His IQ and SAT score on the other hand did... And the same went for college also... he just didnt apply himself. Not to worry though.... He was encouraged by a teacher really young about his ability to write. Now he owns his own newspaper. And yes, I do believe my husband truly has ADD, which is often a diagnosis given to really bright kids. But he was never medically treated for it, and he does fine (well, most of the time!). So I try not to worry about my daughter....

Allison - posted on 11/05/2008

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My best friend's son had a 138 iq, could name every dinosaur when he was two, tell you the habitats and eating patterns of any animals at 3. He can name every player on any sports team and rattle off their stats, position etc. He had focus problems though, would not be challenged, was not surrounded by people who would challenge him like intelligent classmates, and 15 years later is barely graduating from high school. They go see a counselor, had him tested for ADD, everything, and there is no answer....except that his mom should have addressed the situation of being challenged, and enforce any sort of discipline and hig hlevels of expectations for him. Because he was smart, his parents were afraid of discipline and punishments for not meeting certain grade and behavioral requirements. It is very sad because he could have done so much more.

Amanda - posted on 11/03/2008

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My Daughter is 9 and in third grade. We have constant problems with this in both school and in dance. I believe that her problem is that she gets bored. It isn't that she is disinterested in doing well, it's that she can't stay in the moment because her brain isn't getting enough stimulation. Two weeks ago we had a parent/teacher conference and discussed these issues and her teacher was very open to trying some new things. We talked about letting her move around in class in order to give her physical stimulation to go with her mental stimulation. We talked about the teacher giving her enrichment work whenever the class is covering something they have already learned. So far these things really seem to be working for her. I hope you can find something that works as well for you son.

Claire - posted on 11/03/2008

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Yes! When my son was 8 (he's 13 now) he didn't want to have anything to do with school and the school kept telling me he wasn't achieving even at grade level. This is after he tested with an I.Q. of 145. It took us a few schools and the right psychologist to get him out of his low self esteem (gifted children often view the world very differently and are so sensitive to being different - which can lead to low self esteem or even depression!) and find a curriculum that engaged him. It can often take an alternative school or a teacher who truly understands the gifted mind, or it can be activities you do at home. Many people find that enriching their academic curriculum at home with gifted math programs or research projects that pertain to their interests can allow the child to feel better enough about themselves to get through the boredom at school. I think you'll find that your son's mind is always on overdrive and that may mean when they're doing tests or assignments at school, he's thinking about how he could build a pyramid out of Legos, or the quadratic formula or the fact that he's so bored he can't stand it any longer. I think the impulsiveness can come from the frustration of not being challenged or even engaged. If you or I were forced to do the same mundane tasks over and over every day, we might go a little nuts. The fact that you are aware of what's going on with your son means that you will do a great job figuring out what he needs and he'll be just fine. :)

Christa - posted on 11/02/2008

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Many gifted kids are misdiagnosed as ADD because they don't want to do what is assigned in school. It is dull, not interesting, not excited, and they don't care to try.

My 10 year old loves the 'project' type assignments and has ups and downs with the typical class and homework. She wants to dive into something and learn it from all angles, and I'm so glad when she gets a project that lets her do it.

With the reading, finding things to read that aren't 'easy' but are still age appropriate can be a challenge. My daughter's reading ability is a high school level, but she can't read the novels that high school girls read, not at age 10!

Good luck!

Amy J. - posted on 11/02/2008

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Uh yeah, I was one of those growing up! Naturally I can't speak for your son, but I remember thinking that a lot of things in school were "beneath" me -- if I wasn't interested, I wasn't putting forth an effort (forget about the fact that I was just supposed to DO them, regardless)! With the things in which he underachieves, if you can find something about it that interests him and makes him want to learn more about it, I think that would help.

Tabitha - posted on 11/02/2008

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Thanks for the response! Focus definitely seems to be something we need to work on!

Michelle - posted on 11/01/2008

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My son is 7 years old and we have had similar experiences. Sometimes, I wonder if the "out to space" days are just more obvious because of the contrast to his ability. In our case, I know he has admitted to just wanting to be like the other kids in his class and not wanting to sit there waiting for everyone else to get done. My son loves reading because that is the only area at his school where he is allowed to work above grade level. What is your son interested in? My son's love for reading really took off when we started a list of things he was interested in & kept searching for books around those topics to start. How does your son respond to the low grade? Does it upset him?

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