How do I know if my child's curriculum is challenging enough?
In curriculum, you’re looking for that “Goldilocks” feeling from your child—school is not too easy or too hard, but just right!
So if you are getting the feeling that it’s too easy, first talk to your child’s teacher. He or she may have some suggestions and insight. Your child's teacher will also know about programs and opportunities at school that your may have missed. Also, just as students who need more support have a legal right to that support, students who need more challenge also have some legal rights. So ask about the legal definition of “gifted” in your school district and see if your child may qualify. (Do not panic if your child isn’t legally “gifted." You still have a great kid!)
However that conversation goes, the good news is if you think school isn’t hard enough, you can ALWAYS extend learning and provide extra challenge at home. Here are a few easy ways to do that:
Seek out learning experiences for your family. One of the easiest and most cost effective learning experiences--read books together! Read on a variety of subjects. Read thirty books on one subject. Read aloud together or have your child read and tell you what they learned. Make the library your second home. And take advantage of museums, nature centers, free music programs, etc…
Do the kind of projects that schools have a harder time doing. Schools often don’t have the time or resources to do projects that can teach kids . Build a birdhouse at home or a pencil box and viola—your kids are learning about geometry. Here is a great one for middle school kids. What about learning about patterns through knitting? You can learn anything via Youtube. Here is one channel (of literally thousands) that may help.
Model learning yourself. Show your child what following your own curiosity and bravely trying something new look like. Your child will follow your lead. And if he or she can do these two things—they can easily rise to any educational challenge.
Make your own homework. Give your child art lessons, musical instrument lessons, or try to learn a foreign language.
Ask the teacher for more challenging work. Your child’s teacher has tons of resources and can easily scale up the work if you make it clear you want more challenge. But I would do this at a last resort. Students often have a highly developed sense of fairness and they usually resist “extra work.” A masterful teacher can weave in more challenge easily but it takes some teaching finesse. Either way—a conversation will be helpful.
Have a question? Ask me!
Did you know I love to work directly with teachers, families, administrators, librarians, dads, students, abuelas, community members, program directors, teachers-in-training and literally everyone else? Talk to me.