Gifted Kids

Gifted Kids, p.7

Many such parents feel conflicted about segregating their children in special classes but think they have no alternative."The gifted program was the only way to get decent schooling for my kids," says Dari MacKenzie, whose three children attend gifted programs at their local public school in Los Angeles.

For some parents, controlling every facet of their children's education is a misguided attempt to ensure that they'll become successful adults -- a process that Alfie Kohn, a Boston-based author of several books on education, has acidly described as "Preparation H," the big push to get kids into Harvard. "[Parents] are not raising a child so much as a living résumé."

Insecurity drives some of the anxiety, says Ian Tofler, M.D., a child psychiatrist in Los Angeles and coauthor of Keeping Your Kids Out Front Without Kicking Them From Behind. "They are adding stress to their kids' childhoods by putting them in a hothouse environment, but they don't see it that way," he says. "They feel if they don't get them these advantages early on, their kids run the risk of falling by the wayside."

What parents may not realize is that micromanaging their kids' education can backfire. "Some parents are concentrating on the wrong things," says Dr. Reis. They're trying to get kids to memorize their multiplication tables instead of fostering the one thing that truly helps children excel in the long run -- enthusiasm.

"Kids are losing the love of learning," she laments. As children are drilled more and more on basic facts, their intellectual curiosity -- and often their academic performance -- drops. She thinks parents would be better off eliminating the flash cards and putting more emphasis on fun. "Instead of working on phonics at home, focus on enrichment. You can say, 'Let's go see where Emily Dickinson was born.' Or just read the child a wonderful story."

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