By GreatSchools Staff
What should you do if your middle-schooler is bored at school? The most common reason, experts say, that students complain they are bored, is that they are not being challenged at school.
But before you rush to sign your student up for advanced courses, it's a good idea to confer with his teacher first to see if there aren't other reasons for his boredom and ways that his teacher can help. It could mean he is overwhelmed at school, and that he is just tuning out because he doesn't know where to begin. Or perhaps he is feeling isolated, missing the individualized attention he got from his teacher in elementary school.
If the reason for his boredom is the most common one, that he is not being challenged, there are options available, possibly at the school he attends or in your local community, and definitely online. Summer programs geared to gifted students provide another option. Perhaps he has already taken all the math or foreign language classes available at his school. Or maybe he has a burning interest in philosophy or advanced music, and there aren't classes to match his interests at the middle school. Gifted and Talented (GATE) programs at your school, classes at the local high school, online programs, special summer programs and university programs can be solutions to keep your student who needs more challenges engaged.
Most schools do testing to determine if students should be identified as gifted. Check with the school your child attends. Ask your child's teacher, guidance counselor, and/or principal what options are available. Does your school offer a GATE Program where students take special challenging classes either during the year or during the summer? An International Baccalaureate Program? Can students take advanced classes at the local high school or community college?
The Virtual High School (VHS) offers courses online. They have identified several of their high school courses that are appropriate for gifted middle school students as well as several courses that are open to all students. The courses available are typically ones not available at your local school, such as "Ethical Dilemmas for Middle-Schoolers," and "Ancient History of the '50s and '60s: When Your Parents Were Young." Typically, a school will pay a fee and sign up to have access to their online curriculum. As part of the agreement, one teacher at the school will agree to teach an online course for VHS and receive their professional development program in online education. Courses are also available for homeschoolers.
The Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University conducts a nationwide Talent Search for gifted youth. The program is ongoing throughout the school year. It identifies, assesses, and recognizes students with exceptional mathematical and/or verbal reasoning abilities. The Talent Search gives students the opportunity to take a test designed for older students which will reveal more about their academic abilities and will allow them to compare their results with those of other highly able students. They will also learn about educational options and opportunities for students with similar abilities, and they will receive recognition for their outstanding achievements.
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