Wednesday, November 23, 2016

China and Average Kids

My blog has been getting a lot of traffic from a parenting website in China.  Thanks to google translate, I found out that the members of this forum are skeptical that an average child can be made gifted.

A gifted child has a set of skills that make him gifted, and a pattern of behavior (like reading all of the time) that enforces and builds this skill set.  These skills don't magically happen.  Either the parent organizes home time toward academic pursuits, or the parent leaves the child alone in the house with nothing but books.

An average parent is going to have a hard time producing a gifted child.  I define an average parent as a person who spends most of their time on sports, TV, video games and sitting around doing nothing productive.   The parent is the key to the whole deal, whether they explicitly produce a gifted child through a concerted effort or do it accidentally.

Occasionally I discuss my program with average parents.  Within the first 20 minutes I usually know the outcome. Sometimes I see a wide stair of shock as the parent realizes what they should be doing.   This will usually lead to a chance in behavior to the benefit of the child's future academic career. Sometimes the parent doesn't think this is important and is bored with the conversation.

In a few cases, I've approached average parents of children who are already well on the way to becoming gifted and have been met with a lukewarm response.  This is really disappointing.

I'm not sure what the test prep scenario is in China.  I was under the impression that the US bought into the fallacy that intelligence and giftedness are innate or genetic.  I'm surprised that someone from China would question my blog's banner.

I've decided that test prep is probably the best way to motivate a parent to start acting gifted in the US.  There's nothing more motivating that bad schools to get a parent in the game.  It's a crash course for the child as well.

Is there a difference between a child who learns the gifted skill set the normal way, which is lots of reading and activities that spur imagination, creativity, and thinking, and a child who learns the gifted skillset through lots of test prep?   Yes and No.  No, because at a single point and time these children have the same skills.   Yes, because of what is going to happen next.   If test prep ends, and parent and child resume the old routine, giftedness will slowly evaporate away.  If test prep ends, and the child gets into the right GAT program and is thereafter challenged, and works at home like they want to stay in the GAT program, then there is no long term difference.


  1. It is a fallacy that giftedness is either there or not and that IQ is a constant. These were the exact words of our school councellor when I first approached her for suggested materials to prepare. I was shocked and I refused to give up. That is when I hit your blog and some others who proved my conviction right. I have two gifted kids. One rushes through work and has not made it into the program, another slows down and thinks who made it into the program. This is the only difference. Because I trained them both from age 1 to workbooks, organized homework, reading and NO TV until they were 4. We don't have cable at home, we dont watch TV until they have gone to bed at 8PM and I have a timetable they need to follow. Now, I will not accept only one of my kids is gifted - their backgrounds and training have been the same. I know the other one is just by observing how tackles some complex quantitative problems. Now, how do I teach a kid to slow down. So, now, I have a timer set for every problem sheet and I will not accept the sheet back for review until the timer has gone. Anyways, I am digressing. I believe giftedness can be MADE to happen. IQ can change. BUT, it is the parents who have to guide them and put them on a schedule right from when they are born. I shop like a lunatic at the public library booksale and just throw books in every room. They have no way out but to read. They don't have anything else, no TV, no iPad, no phone, no game boys! I agree a 100% with you. Whether or not my older one gets into the gifted program this year, I know they are both trained to be gifted. I can still train them to think that way by working with them. Thank you for your great blog!

    1. Your timing method is creative, but it would never work with my kids because if they have to do more than 20 problems in 30 minutes, they lose interest, and they know that I feel that is a waste of time. You've got the right attitude except for timing. That's the next challenge you need to overcome as a parent. I am not sure, but would guess that you need to give your kids something 4 times as hard to do instead of whatever it is that they are doing. Also, I give my kids a year off once in a while, and then hit them twice as hard the next year. Something to think about. The older one doesn't get a year off, of course, in your case.