Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Months to Prepare

There are a variety of reasons why parents would like their child to be selected for a Gifted and Talented program.   Perhaps the child is really gifted and talented.   Maybe the child stated reading at age 2 and is already doing differential calculus in preschool.  I am not writing this blog for parents of these children.  In the big city, their are quite a few more reasons.    Gangs, schools where 50% of the students don't pass an easy standards exam, schools where 75% of the kids don't speak English in kindergarten.   Maybe the parent is just competitive and wants to cheat their kid into a school with a bunch of braniacs. 

Last year at this time, I found out about gifted and talented programs in the city of Chicago.   This only left about 2 months to prepare for a test that no one knows anything about.   For the novice parent in this situation, there really aren't a lot of resources available without spending a lot of money and almost nothing useful on the web.    The first thing I typed into Google was "How to cheat your kid into a gifted and talented program".  That was not fruitful.   So, I'm filling the void with this blog.

Out of desperation, I created my own test prep curriculum.    I don't think it hit the mark, although it probably didn't hurt.   After the test results were published, I interviewed every parent I could and tried to correlate test results with approach.   I learned a lot here and am inching my way toward the process for child #2.  In other words, one down, one to go.

This time around, I have the luxury of experience, and more time to research, experiment, and prepare.  The one thing that I'm finding is that a parent can spend a lot of money trying to help your little one get ahead.   I learned this with toddlers, when faced with the choice between a $50 stroller and a $500 stroller:  If you want to spend money to feel like you are being a better parent, someone will help you do it.    You get over this temptation to spend money after you have more children.  Last week, I walked through airport dragging my 3 year old in a car seat.  It had no wheels and his feet dragged on the floor.

In this week's post, we'll just cover the definition of gifted and talented children according to the school district.  Here are some variants.   These may sound sarcastic or circular arguments, but are in fact close to the official definition.  What are gifted and talented children?
1.  Children who pass the test for the Gifted and Talented Program.
2.  Children who will succeed in a Gifted and Talented Program (e.g., work ahead of their grade level, concentrate for long periods of time, and complete large amounts of homework.)

If you are serious about turning your child into an overachiever, look closely at these definitions.  It doesn't matter how you or your psychologist or neighbor or grandma define gifted, in this case the test is all that matters.   Presumably, the school district correlates test results with success in the program.  Secondly, if your child is really not cut out for this program (e.g., not the Michael Jordan of academics), then I image you will be miserable as a parent if your child is in this program.  It will be 9 months of daily shouting matches and crying over homework.

Regardless, the goal here is to take your slightly above average child and get them to this program, and set them up to succeed once they are there.  And not waste a lot of money doing it.  For those of you nearing the testing deadline, I'll be careful to point out the secrets that are timely.   For the rest of us, it will be plodding along with about 30 minutes a day of the right stuff.


  1. Why did you stop posting the information. What did you end up creating.

    1. The problem that I had in November of 2012 was not enough time, since we had to prepare for the Kindergarten test. Then after the test, I got distracted by some really powerful general academic work, all of which I've been posting. Now that we are getting ready for the test that counts (the first chance for the younger son to test for the older brother's school which admits staring 1st grade) I'm back to not enough time. Good writing can be very challenging. Plus, there's the issue of competition. There are only 14 slots available at this school. So sometime between now and March, when test results are released, I'll be providing insight on every conceivable test prep device, which I and my friends have tried.

    2. And by the way, if you dig through my posts, through the rambling and bad writing, you'll see what worked, because I have been putting it out there in bits and pieces.