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How to help a gifted child!

maaaaoftwomaaaaoftwo 5 replies1 threads New Member
I have a 10 years old son who is a very self-motivated learner and always eager to learn new concepts in math and science. Now he does 12th-grade Calculus and university level math. He is equally good at Physics and Chemistry. When he was 8 his notebook was full of inorganic chemical reactions. He goes to a public school and the curriculum is too easy for him such as the addition/subtraction of fractions. His vocabulary is not good though as he reads only science books and no fiction.

I am writing it here because I do not know how to help him, I do not know the high-level math or physics questions he asks me. For example, he is reading about Basel problem, complex logarithms, etc. Everything he learns from Khan academy and youtube. He has very little to no homework or mostly he finishes everything at school. At home, he only watches all online math classes. My concern is what if he is super bored at school and loses all the motivation?
19 replies
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Replies to: How to help a gifted child!

  • yucca10yucca10 1390 replies40 threads Senior Member
    edited February 26
    Where do you live? It sounds like you have a profoundly gifted child on your hands who needs a highly individualized curriculum. You need to talk to a gifted program coordinator of your school district. Also read online resources such as National Association for Gifted Children, Hoagies' Gifted, Davidson Institute for Talent Development. You may have to have him formally tested for giftedness.

    Your best options are probably either a specialized school for gifted children or homeschooling (full or partial) with private or online classes in math and science. He really shouldn't waste his time on regular school lessons in these subjects, but humanities should not be ignored.
    edited February 26
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  • maaaaoftwomaaaaoftwo 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks a lot for your response @yucca10. We live in Seattle. He already goes to gifted math class in his school district which is not very advanced either. I do not know how and where to get a highly individualized curriculum for him. He can do Coursera or Udemy courses, but not sure which one would be good for him. All his teachers know but they are also not sure what to do about it. One thing is his vocabulary and RC skill are not that good and his teachers are focusing on that.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1946 replies19 threads Senior Member
    Get in touch with the UW math circle (https://sites.math.washington.edu/~mathcircle/circle/) and look at the other programs listed on that page. Also check out AOPS (the Art of Problem Solving) https://artofproblemsolving.com/ which has courses that explore topics in great depth and lead into many of the top math competitions.
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  • maaaaoftwomaaaaoftwo 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks @Twoin18, those are really helpful links. There are many competitions he cannot participates in as he is in elementary school. Next year, he will start middle school, hopefully, things will change then.

    Also, do you know any such circles for Physics and Chemistry?
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1946 replies19 threads Senior Member
    I doubt you will find much for physics and chemistry - those subjects require a greater base of knowledge than math and have practical elements that are hard to incorporate into a format suitable for younger kids. I taught myself high school chemistry at the age of about 6 or 7 from a textbook, and back then I could buy all sorts of chemicals and experiment for myself (I would buy test tubes and chemicals from a high school supply shop, fertilizer from the hardware store etc.). My parents had a hole in their kitchen table for several years where my chemicals had eaten the wood away.

    Unfortunately making things that explode (gunpowder, nitroglycerine, etc.) tends to be frowned upon nowadays, but a lot of stuff is available on Amazon and so he may still be able to do some practical(!) chemistry in your garage. Similarly, building practical electronic circuits is great fun, I'd start with some kits and go from there. Don't let him just do the chemistry and physics theory, insist he tries to do something with it.

    Also you could look for a local rocketry club, he may enjoy hanging out there (see http://www.washingtonaerospace.org/ for example).
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3626 replies24 threads Senior Member
    @maaaaoftwo

    In addition to the resources listed by @yucca10 Duke, Johns Hopkins, and Northwestern Universities have programs for gifted children. Entry requires taking the SAT or ACT and scoring at or above a certain threshold in at least one area. From how you describe your child, this is probably within his grasp. Once admitted, each offers summer programs - both face to face and on line. Financial aid is available for lower income families.
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  • melvin123melvin123 1666 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Try calling Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and have a conversation with them. Just google them and you'll see their website. I would think that they would be able to lead you in the best direction.
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 386 replies0 threads Member
    edited February 26
    Your kid sounds very much like our own now hs junior. Ours blasted through the entire math curriculum from 3rd grade through precalculus in less than a year of waking up at night to do problems on ixl.com, Khan and (later) Coursera. We did not even know it was happening at first.

    If I had to do it all over again, I would have gotten them involved in competition level math earlier. The suggestion of AOPS is a good one. AOPS fairly recently opened up a brick and mortar learning center in the Seattle area (Bellingham area I think), but the online courses are excellent.

    We found that taking the SAT at 11 years old and qualifying for SET (google JHU SET) helped as well in meeting peers and connecting with other parents. We also did the Davidson Young Scholars program which had some value, but not as much as the SET gatherings. Seattle has many of these kids - you will connect with them and get many ideas from other parents.

    Do not worry about his chronological age. All the math competitions are open to him. Have him start doing AOPS problems and/or courses and target the AMC10 and AIME tests. Plenty of 6th graders do them, even a few rare 4th and 5th graders.

    AOPS also offers courses on physics for sure, targeting the F=ma through USAPhO sequence. Might be worth looking into. Not sure about chemistry, but I know that Areteem has offered some courses in the chem olympiad sequence.

    Overall, though, looking back on our experience, aside from getting our kid more involved with competitions earlier, I think our approach of letting them do what they wanted was the right one. We had a cooperative public school district that effectively excused our kid from all math classes from 3rd grade on until entering late high school courses (precalc and AP Calc) in middle school.

    Last, do not overlook the fun summer math camp experiences available as young as 11 now. Look into MathPath for when he is 11. Our kid had a lot of fun at it, and then went on to Canada/USA Mathcamp the following two summers.
    edited February 26
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  • yucca10yucca10 1390 replies40 threads Senior Member
    He might be able to audit classes in UW. I would contact them and describe the situation. If you have means you can try private lessons. UW has many strong students and graduate students who would be glad to earn some extra money.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    edited February 27
    Duke, Hopkins and Davidson are all good recommendations, along with AoPS for math talent. They have a listing of math teams/math circles that can be very valuable - my D has been competing with the CMU team for a few years and it’s immensely more useful, interesting and challenging than school math.

    You’ll likely find many of the same students that compete in the various science competitions.

    At Hopkins, the specialized SET team should be who you reach out to - more focused than the overall CTY program.

    http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ is a great place to have discussions with parents in a similar situation, along with testing specialists/development psychologists focused on gifted education that can provide advice.
    edited February 27
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  • yeehawqueenyeehawqueen 11 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Try Lakeside school— it’s the best in the area, has great financial aid, and will have the capabilities to deal with a profoundly gifted child. Evergreen is also worth looking into. I think that going for a private school (not college) would allow for some sense of a normal childhood, while still taking advantage of your child’s talents. Please ask me if you have any questions— I have a lot of experience with these two schools.
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  • UWfromCAUWfromCA 1327 replies51 threads Senior Member
    edited February 27
    The application period is still open for this program for current 5th and 6th graders:

    https://robinsoncenter.uw.edu/programs/summer/challenge/

    The Robinson Center also has a Saturday Program:

    “Registration for Spring session 2020 will begin on Sunday, March 8th, at 4pm. ... Our new course listings will be online one week before registration opens. Spring classes begin Saturday, April 4th.”

    https://robinsoncenter.uw.edu/programs/enrichment/
    edited February 27
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  • maaaaoftwomaaaaoftwo 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks @mamaedefamilia for sharing the info. Most of the summer programs are face to face. I will explore more if they have online as well.
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  • maaaaoftwomaaaaoftwo 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks @melvin123. I will take a look.
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  • maaaaoftwomaaaaoftwo 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks @OneMoreToGo2021 for such a detailed and super helpful response. Your kid sounds so much like our one. Yes, it all started when he was in 3rd grade. That time his favorite subject was evolution, biology, all kinds of scientific names, etc. Then in a few months, he started chemistry, and eventually math, statistics, and physics.

    JHU SET sounds very promising, will definitely try that. He participates in local math competitions and performs well. Like to add that, he is not very exam centric, sometimes he gets lost in his thoughts and totally ignores time. We enrolled him in different local math camps which offered pre-algebra classes and found he excelled in those. We bought him AOPS books and he loves those. Will try to enroll him there as well.

    Did you ask your school to excuse your kid from all the math classes from 3rd to high school? We haven't tried that yet.

    Thanks again, really appreciate your help.
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3626 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited February 27
    @maaaaoftw I forgot to mention, when your child gets to the 7th grade, he may want to apply to this competitive scholarship for gifted youth which provides full tuition to private high schools where recipients are admitted.

    There are some threads about this scholarship in the boarding school section of this website.

    https://educationaladvancement.org/caroline-d-bradley-scholarship/
    edited February 27
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 386 replies0 threads Member
    edited February 27
    @maaaaoftwo
    Did you ask your school to excuse your kid from all the math classes from 3rd to high school? We haven't tried that yet.
    Honestly, it was a mutual thing. Our kid was not always the best in class (often correcting the teachers, lol). It started in 2nd grade when the school just gave ours some problem sheets to work on independently outside the class. By 3rd grade we cut a deal that our kid would only take the final exams and required state assessment tests and the district was happy with that.

    Upon entering middle school in 6th grade, we could not get the class times to work in order to take precalculus or AP calculus at the LPS (10 miles distant), so our kid sat with the 8th graders and acted as the class tutor for algebra 1 - again same deal, no need to do the homework, only take the state assessment tests. This was at a "10" rated suburban public school district, so we were pleasantly surprised at the flexibility we got. I do not know how common these sorts of arrangements are, but you never know until you go down the path. From 7th grade on, the class times worked with the LPS, but our kid was a little limited in course selection due to schedule conflict.

    Maybe our experience can give you an idea of what is possible. For sure, the standard and even honors versions of most elementary and high school math courses are basically a waste of time, but it was exciting for ours to be sitting with high school juniors and senior as an 11 year old at the start of 7th grade. That seemed to keep them engaged.

    Also, another plug for the Caroline D. Bradley (CDB) Scholarship. Ours was a finalist, but just missed getting the actual award (there are about 50 finalists iirc, of which roughly 32 actually win). It is a great program, and even if you do not win, it seemed to open doors. A few private schools contacted us based on outreach by the CDB people, and ultimately our own chose from 3 or 4 very substantial merit scholarships for high school.

    Best of luck with your son's journey! High school is a whole other set of challenges to find courses, especially in math...
    edited February 27
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  • JudiAUJudiAU 8 replies2 threads New Member
    You’ve had lots of good recommendations here and I would echo them. I will warn you in advance, schools will only advance a child if all areas of a subject area are met so if he is doing advanced equations but his geometry is weak, they will use it as an excuse to grant your request. I won’t address the math other than to say CTY online classes are great and Davidson, AOPS, and math contests all have great reputations. Some public schools will even pay for the classes.

    I would try to address the vocabulary and reading though. I’d find out his reading level and work his teacher, librarian, or bookstore with a great fiction area to find books that interest him. It doesn’t have to be only fiction. Graphic novels, biographies, nonfiction, and vocabulary word lists (this really works for some kids, they can easily memorize content, etc) might be more accessible.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    edited March 12
    Tangential - I’d highly, highly recommend AoPS math courses over CTYs. My D has been through six of them and every one has been valuable and very well run.
    edited March 12
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