Every child is gifted in his or her own unique way. Labels aren’t what they need. Instead, they all need to feel special, challenged, and appreciated. Let’s discuss.
Every Child Is Gifted And Labels Are Not What They Need
If you are part of the public school system, I’m betting you’ve heard of the “gifted” label before. Kids who excel in certain areas get separated out from the rest of their classmates and moved into a different class entirely. Is this really good for them, though? And what about the rest of the kids in the other classes? Aren’t they special too?
While I’m sure whoever came up with this system had the best intentions, this term “gifted” really just separates and divides students, literally and figuratively. It also creates so much stress and frustration for the parents. Instead of just trying to raise well-rounded kids, we feel like we have to compete with one and other to prove that our kids are just as “gifted” as the next.
In my opinion, every child is gifted at something. Every single one has a special interest, passion, and unique talent. I believe that all students should be challenged, not only the ones that belong to that special “gifted” class.
Why are we always focusing only on grades and academic achievement anyway? Instead of labeling kids, we should be looking at other very important aspects of their lives. We should be teaching them values, respect, and kindness.
Even science agrees that we’re focusing too much on grades and labels
Even expert researchers agree that we parents are putting way too much pressure on our kids to get good grades, and that trying to push them to be “gifted” is coming at a very high expense. Let’s look at just a few of them.
- An Arizona State University found that prioritizing grades over teaching kids about compassion and decency actually worked against “helping kids become well-adjusted and successful later in life.”
- A 2010 University of California – Los Angeles study found that friends- specifically, being in the same classes as friends- played a major role in academic success. Gifted classes often separate children from their friends, FYI.
- Two years later, in 2012, American Psychological Association (APA) researchers concluded that “Children may perform better in school and feel more confident about themselves if they are told that failure is a normal part of learning, rather than being pressured to succeed at all costs.”
- A recent University of Ottawa study found that pressure to get high grades led to more depression and anxiety in teenagers.
To tell you the truth, I am more interested in my kids’ well-being than in them being the best students in their class. Of course, I want them to do good in school and get good grades, but a good education to me is way more than just academics. I want them to be happy, to be kind, to be curious about the world.
There is so much more than just learning in a classroom. Traveling, for example, teaches our kids about the world SO much more than they could ever learn just sitting in a classroom reading books about other countries. Take your kids on vacation, on a field trip, or simply show them new places, new experiences, and watch them learn and grow. Even experts confirm family vacations make children smarter.
Kindness is very important.
I also care about the people my kids are becoming. Are they making friends in school? Are they really enjoying learning new stuff? Are they being challenged? Are they being offered the right tools so they can explore their interests and passions?
Kids need to feel happy to be able to succeed. And in the process, they also need to learn that they need to be good people. Be nice to others, be kind, help whenever you can. If you are interested in learning more about kindness and you want to teach your kids that kindness is vital in their lives, please see read my post: I’d Rather Raise Kids with Rich Hearts Than Rich Bank Accounts.
Nobody is perfect.
I want to teach my kids that they must work hard to achieve their goals. They must pay attention and learn about geography, math, history, and all the other subjects. Knowledge is power! But I don’t expect them to get perfect scores or straight A’s all the time. Grades do not tell the whole story. Oh, and please don’t punish your kids for not getting good grades, either. It’s very counterproductive!
I recently read a very interesting article that talked about How Successful Valedictorians Are After High School. In the article, a researcher at Boston College, followed 81 high school valedictorians and salutatorians from graduation onward to see what becomes of those who lead the academic pack. Interestingly, she found the majority have good lives, but none of these number-one high school performers go on to change the world, run the world, or impress the world.
What really matters.
It is more important for me to know that my first-grader is happy than to brag about how many words per minute he can read. Or how many math problems he can solve. I am more interested in knowing how he treats his classmates, if he offers them help, if he cares about their feelings.
I want my kids to find their talents and interests. Sure, I also want them to be successful in life, and I also want them to follow their dreams. But I am also 100% sure they can achieve their goals without having to be #1 in everything. They do not need to be in a gifted class, get straight As or be perfect all the time. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes, and those mistakes actually make us grow.
I truly think that labeling kids as “gifted” is really not what they need. All kids need to feel special because they really are. They are all unique, and talented, and wonderful. Please don’t compare your children, every child is special in their own way.
“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid” Albert Einstein.
Every child is gifted in a very unique way. Every child needs to find their true passions, and labeling them from a very early age does not help them at all.
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