In no particular order. . .
Yesterday, I ran into one of my gifted first graders for the next school year. We were catching up on what she had done the first few weeks of break. She told me she had "raced to the finish" with the summer library program. It had a car theme, and she had already completed the whole course. The first week of break.
It reminded me of a program that my school had when I was growing up. If you read a hundred books, you received a plaque at the end of the school year. As a kid, I read about that many books a month! I was excited to receive my plaque at the end of the year assembly with all the other kids, however it was kind of anticlimatic.
Which brings me to my third point. AR. Many of you may be familiar with the Accelerated Reader program, however if you are not you can check it out here. Accelerated Reader was designed to motivate kids to read. They receive a series of prizes and incentives for earning points. The points are received for answering questions about books.
What these programs all have in common is that they were created by well-intentioned adults trying to motivate kids to read more. Which all sounds great, doesn't it?!
But not really when you look closer, and especially not when we are talking about gifted kiddoes.
My primary concern- we want kids to be intrinsically motivated to learn. We want them to learn for the love of learning, which gifted children do by nature. They only become extrinsically motivated when we get in the way and start trying to bribe them to do what comes naturally!
Second off, gifted kiddoes work the system. I know I did, and my students do! Take AR. You can read a Harry Potter novel or five Dr. Seuss books for approximately the same amount of points. Which one are you going to do? The questions are also part of a multiple-choice, computer-based system. That causes them to be surface and lower-level thinking.
Same thing goes for summer reading programs. . . Your child read five Dr. Seuss books and is five steps closer to the finish line in the summer reading game. But have they really learned? Have they truly grown in their love of reading?
Why bring it up? To keep things in perspective. Summer reading programs and AR are a great distraction. If you want to play along, feel free. But recognize that they are not an indictator of your child's reading abilities nor a measure of their success.