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Think It Off


One morning last week, I was working during recess in the Computer Lab at one of our elementary schools when one of my third graders popped in. "Oh! Ms. Fish! I want to come in here during recess and do some research about space and astronauts, but my teacher said I could only do it if someone was in here with me. Will you be in here for a little while?"

"Sure thing - come on in. You can use this computer next to me."

He opened up a browser page and headed off to his first destination. A moment later, he looked up at me and said, "I don't like recess," and followed that statement with a grin: "I like to LEARN! My favorite classes are GT, Library, Music, and regular class." (He listed them off on his fingers.) I could really do without PE and recess."

My first reaction to hearing him say "I like to LEARN!" was "oh, cute!" But I quickly became surprised... This little guy is *very* active. He oozes energy from every pore. He's the kind of kid that some would refer for an ADHD evaluation. He has one speed (fast) and one volume (loud) and his middle name must be "Wiggle."

I was suprised because I had figured he was the kind of kid who loved recess, the kind of kid who needed recess. I had thought that recess was his way to "run it off."

But he apparently doesn't feel that need.

And then a couple days later, I thought to myself... "Maybe he needs to think it off..."

So I asked him this morning... "What gets rid of your extra energy?"

"Learning! Learning helps me get rid of energy. Sometimes learning even wears me out if it's hard enough. I like the harder problems better than the easy ones."

I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised. This is the same little guy who, back in 1st grade, had trouble walking down the hall with his class without getting his hands into everything along the way or spinning in circles while walking. What was his teacher's strategy for helping him learn how to manage himself in the hallway? As the kids were lined up in the classroom by the door, before leaving the room, she would tell him a three-digit math problem. He would figure it out in his head while walking down the hall and then tell his teacher the answer when they arrived at their destination. By figuring out a challenging problem along the way, his energy had been re-directed to thinking. This little strategy worked consistently with him!

Is there a brilliant but extra-energetic little one in your class? Maybe there's a way you can help him to think it off.

A special "hello!" to everyone that I met in Kansas this past weekend at the KGTC conference! I look forward to seeing many of you again in Tampa. :o)


Any tips on how to make a dreamy kid stop thinking about math and pay attention to the world around him long enough to make it across a parking lot in one piece?

Great post, Tamara. Your description of the student sounded very familiar and astute.

I did not see a link to send you an email, but if you could reach out to me at adv[email protected] I have a few questions for you.

Thanks for your blog. I am a loyal reader.

You just described my little girl! She's in 1st grade and she LOVES TO LEARN!!! She's had some difficulty though - had lots of doctors diagnose her with all kinds of stuff - ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, Mood Disorders, Sensory Integration...

Could it be that she is just gifted???

Curious and Loving Mom wants to know!

Hi! I worked as a special education teacher in Houston before deciding to stay home with the babies. I am glad to have found your site.

I worked with one kiddo that has Autism and is high-functioning. When things were becoming too much for him in one of his classes, I would ask him to draw a picture of something red (or what ever color/object I thought of). He would draw the most organized and detailed drawing that he broke down into catergories of foods. Strawberries; a red apple; strawberry sundae,etc. By the time he finished, he was calm and able to focus on the task at hand.

I have just discovered your posts and I think you're amazing and am thrilled to not be alone in my plight to secure education for my gifted 5 year old. I will take your challenge, perhaps via an online course,and continue to inform myself, and subsequently my community on the needs for these students. I do have to add, though, it's not a particularly easy subject to broach with just anyone, as parents whose children are not gifted, usually aren't interested in my predicament. I feel I usually make excuses for my daughter's accelerated learning to not turn people off, especially mindful not to brag. Although, all I want to do is brag because she impresses me so much! Having exhausted other schooling possibilities in my community, I'm currently homeschooling her via a virtual academy to meet her needs. All is going well and we're both enjoying the experience. My worries still exist for her future education though. Thanks.

I am a strong proponent for servicing the whole child. The most successful people are those who serve their bodies, minds and spirits. I'd be interested to know whether this child has problems interacting with other children on the playground that may be fueling his need to stay separate from them and "learn" through those periods (read: avoid potential discomfort)

It's wonderful to be bright, but it is not wonderful to be alone and unable to interact with others of varying levels. It is admirable to be well schooled, but not very meaningful if the body is treated as merely a transportation device for the brain.

I don't think we do any service to these children if we isolate or allow them to self separate from their peers. We need to encourage them to develop all sides of their person,including their ability to work with and relate to others and experience the prowess and abilities of their bodies. Such efforts should begin when they are very young, before they become so identified with their intellects that they dismiss these other equally important parts of themselves that create the whole human being... particularly the successful and happy ones.

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