Sunday, October 24, 2021

Virtual school

 On a good day, Cooper is kind of a challenge to have in class. He is really, really smart, and when he gets bored (which he does a lot because he is really really smart) his favorite thing to do is drive whoever is in charge of him batshit crazy. If you met my dad and heard about his school days, you know that Cooper comes by this naturally. If Cooper were a dog, he would need a Kong. Also, he would be a border collie.

And I say that Cooper is smart as someone who knows smart kids. I have many children of my own. I teach smart kids. I was a smart kid, I married a smart kid. I know that everyone says their sneauxflake is advanced, but Cooper actually is. And he is advanced in that stereotypical boy way that makes people rail against the educational system and how it treats boys (which makes everyone else roll their eyes because clearly white men are doing just fine in America). He does not appear advanced at first glance because he is not doing the work. Because the work is boring because he is so mart. You are rolling your eyes, but this is just the truth about Cooper. When I tell his teachers he is smart and that's why he is a jerk, they do roll their eyes. Then he takes a math screener test and doesn't do great (because screener tests are not the only way to flag gifted kids) and they roll their eyes even more, especially when he hands in pages of blank work that he didn't feel like doing.

Meanwhile, Dorothy is in pull-out advanced learning groups for literacy and math, and I never said a word to her teacher because she can behave herself even when she is bored because girl (and now you are rolling your eyes again). (Also she did not take a screener because her work is good and do you see how this cycle is a problem).

Anyway, Cooper is even more bored in virtual school, so he does even less work and acts even squirrellier to his teacher and to whichever parent is home with him. It's all very frustrating, and I feel bad for him. BUT ALSO I JUST WANT HIM TO DO THE WORK so his teacher will see that he is smart, and he, too, will get advanced learning opportunities beyond some extra enrichment work. GAH.

I have been providing the extra opportunities beyond some advanced classwork, and it has been fun for all of us. We studied the War of 1812, and he is writing historical fiction about James Madison, which has engaged him. We talked about slavery and cancel culture and the renaming of lots of stuff in our town because of Madison's problematic past, too. Also the myth of Dolley Madison and the Washington portrait, which none of us new was a myth. We go to the library every week, and he is reading about the solar system and the history of NASA in a more focused  way. But dang, you guys. I want him to show everyone how smart he is, not just me. And not just for the parental head pats (although) but also because he will get real opportunities later if he gets ahead in math now (AP credit, etc).

Mostly, I want him to get vaccinated and get back in class (but also I think everyone at his school thinks I am a pain in the ass and maybe that's not great for him? I mean I am a pain in the ass-- anyone who reads this blog knows that, right?)

TL; DR: I am glad we can keep our unvaccinated kids home, but I want Cooper to work up to his potential.

Afternoon nature walk
Kiwico light up haunted house
Minnie would also like to stack cups, BTW:
Loving virtual school
No, for realz

This week, we are trying his school laptop for Zoom and an iPad (not his because that would be tempting for him to play Minecraft on) with an Apple pencil for proofreading (an exercise he freaking hates to do) and math worksheets (that he has been leaving blank because he doesn't want to do the work on a separate piece of paper. But maybe if that paper is actually a cool tablet and he can screen shot his scratch pad?) Also, he and Dorothy tested into the same level of their adaptive learning literacy platform, which is great for Dorothy and just average for Cooper. This has sparked a rivalry that is getting them both to work on phonics, so yay?


Ali said...

This post really connects for me!
I have 2 boys. 1 is smart and does well in school and everyone agrees that he is a 'smart kid.' The other is kindof scary brilliant, spends all his time imagining things instead of paying attention and doing boring school stuff. I feel like a real asshole when I try to explain that he is really 'gifted'. 3rd grade right now. We'll see how things progress as he grows up.
good luck with Cooper! I feel like it'll probably work out because his potential capacity is so high...

Anonymous said...

Getting schools to identify and reach kids like him can be really hard. His response to boredom, or what is basically busy work for him, is very normal and so often misinterpreted by schools. I've found SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) to be really useful (

Chiconky said...

As the mom of a really smart boy, I feel this so deeply. We had so many of these same issues (and full disclosure, I don't think we've reached "work to his potential" yet). We ended up having to have Eli tested by a psychologist to show that his IQ was not in-line with his performance. This got him access to the advanced programs, which at least got him teachers who were skilled in working with gifted kids.

One thing that's really hard for us is that he's so smart that he knows that he only has to do the bare minimum. He doesn't care about grades/scores/whether his teachers know he has mastery. I've reached a point of acceptance, that he 100% will carry a D until the final, when he'll ace the test and pass the class. As a smart kid who took a lot of pride in people knowing how smart I was (humility came later) this just baffles me. There's a lot of conversation around hoop-jumping...

I just re-read this and realized that it's not at all hope-giving. So I'd suggest stopping after the recommendation to have him tested independently. But I also agree with Ali in that his potential is so high that he'll probably be fine even if his performance suggests otherwise