Gifted and Talented

I was always a smart cookie when I was a kid.  And I had this sense of myself, like I knew that I was smart, that I knew a lot of things.  And what I didn’t know, I could guess.  I figured a lot of it was common sense.  I was really good at reading though, and had a natural love of writing.  I was always placed in the advanced reading group in class, reading things like “The Hobbit” while the rest of the class read “A Wrinkle in Time”.  I don’t know why no one did it earlier, but when I went into the sixth grade and transitioned to middle school, I was placed in a gifted and talented program.  Where I grew up, they called it GaTE, for Gifted and Talented Education.  In elementary school, you were bussed to another school for some programs (I knew because I had some friends who were in it) and it sounded kind of fun.  In middle school, it replaced your regular reading and language arts classes and was just more difficult than a normal class.

It didn’t help that we had a new teacher that year and she just did not have a hold on that class.  Sure, the work we had to do was more challenging but I think by then I had gotten lazy in my studying techniques and I recognized all this as extra work.  And I pulled solid B’s in the class.  I knew if I had been in a regular class, I could have gotten A’s and I didn’t like that.  I wasn’t interested in putting out extra effort.  I wanted to use the same effort I was used to putting forth and get better grades.  So I did a very stupid thing and when I went into seventh grade, I had them put me in regular classes again.  STUPID.  If I had stayed in the GaTE program, I would have had an automatic in to the honors classes in high school.  And in those classes, you got more points for your grades.  If you got a B, it was worth 4 points, just like a regular A was.  An A was worth 5 points.  This is how I knew people who graduated with higher than a 4.0 grade average.

If I had been in honors classes, I don’t doubt that my grade point average would have been higher.  I don’t recall right now what it was, exactly, but I think it was around a 3.2.  All my siblings went to University of California for college and I wanted to go to University of California at Santa Cruz, like my sister did.  But my grades were borderline and so were my SAT scores (the math section totally dragged me down).  The application fee was $50 and I had to pay it out of my own pocket.  I just didn’t want to give up that sort of money on something that wasn’t a sure thing.  So I paid $20 for an application to the University of Nevada at Reno instead and got in easily.  And that was that.  See?  LAZY.

Harry takes after me quite a bit.  He’s also very smart and he is phenomenal at reading.  We had his parent/teacher conference yesterday and his teacher couldn’t stop gushing about how far ahead of the rest of the class he was.  She said she can’t tell if he’s bored or not (Harry is very hard to read that way) though and mentioned the local gifted and talented program, which is called GT around here.  She was unsure about placing him in it because the school he would be bussed to is clear over in Sparks and he is only in the second grade.  They just start offering GT at second grade apparently, and there’s also an issue of if the child is mature enough for the program or not.  We told her we’d like to see more information about the program, whether or not we place him in it this year.  We’d just like to know more about it.

My thing is I think he should be in the program sooner rather than later.  I don’t want to wait too long, like I did, until he’s bored with school altogether and lazy in his study habits.  As it was, when we talked to him about it and Kile mentioned some of the work would be “harder”, he visibly recoiled.  Then I told him it’s not so much that it’s harder, it’s more “challenging” and that instead of learning things he already knows (which he does complain about to me on occasion), he would get to learn new things.  And he really liked that idea.  I just want to get him going in a program like this while he’s young and thirsty to learn.  I don’t want to miss this window of opportunity.

What do you all think?