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My daughter’s not challenged at school
Amber Syracuse
As a strong supporter of our public schools, I predict that you can work it out so that your daughter doesn’t lose her love of learning. Our public schools were a big factor in transforming America from a collection of immigrants who could communicate only with other immigrants from the same place to a unified nation with a single national language and common goals. Incidentally, when they were the age of your daughter, my children attended Edward Smith School, a public school in Syracuse, and they loved it.

I would start by requesting a conference with your daughter’s teacher. Tell her candidly what you are observing—that your daughter is bored and not challenged. Her teacher may surprise you with evidence that your daughter is not too advanced for some of the curriculum and that her apparent boredom may be a cover-up for unrecognized difficulties. I’m not saying that this is the case, but it does sometimes happen. A good one-on-one conference with her teacher, with neither you nor the teacher being defensive and with both being willing to learn from one another, is essential to the development of a plan of action that will benefit your child.

If, in the conference, you don’t find any hidden evidence that your daughter is concealing learning difficulties from you, ask the teacher whether there is a program for gifted children in the school. Many public (and private) schools now feature schedules that allow gifted children to spend part of the day in their regular class and part of the day in a more challenging program. This pattern helps prevent the development of “elitist” feelings in the children selected for such enrichment and allows them time with all the children in their age group.

If something like that is not possible, it is going to be up to you and her father (and perhaps her grandparents, if they live close by) to arrange activities that interest and challenge her. Take her regularly to the library to select books that fit a topic of special interest to her. Teach her how to use the library search mechanism on the computer and then how to find the materials she selects. Become a regular museum visitor with her. I lived in Syracuse for 10 years and know there are many facilities there that offer enrichment opportunities for children. Enjoy them with her.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education