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Ask the Teacher

Verbal bullying, gifted students and reading encouragement

Ask the Teacher
March 2013

Question: Is there such a thing as verbal bullying? My daughter has not been physically bullied at school, but many of the comments that are directed at her from other girls are very hurtful. What can I do to help her?

Teasing – an unacceptable but inevitable part of childhood – becomes bullying when it intimidates someone and invokes fear.

Begin by reassuring your daughter that no one under any circumstances has the right to use words to intimidate anyone at any time. Model strength and confidence by keeping your own anxiety and anger in check. Talk through exactly when and where this bullying is occurring. Help your daughter develop some strategies to avoid it such as taking different routes to school or to class and always being with someone else. Adjusting the time of coming and going by just a few minutes may be enough to allow your daughter to avoid these bullies all together.

Encourage your daughter to meet with the school counselor for additional ways to become stronger and more assertive when she is faced with this type of verbal abuse. The counselor should be able to help your daughter feel empowered when confronted by others trying to intimidate her.

You are also obligated to report this bullying to school authorities. They must be aware of what is happening if they are to protect your daughter (and others who are probably being treated similarly) from this verbal bullying before it escalates to physical bullying. Your daughter will likely say that she doesn't want you to talk to anyone about this, for fear she will be targeted for more bullying. Do not be dissuaded. The authorities are in the position to keep a watchful eye on your daughter and to take steps to protect her.

Should you notice changes in your daughter's sleeping or eating patterns that you believe may be related to her concerns about how she is being treated, consider consulting a child psychologist.

Question: Our son has been identified as gifted. As parents, we're not sure exactly the best way to support him academically and socially. Is it always necessary for gifted kids to skip a grade to be mentally challenged? We would like him to socialize with kids his own age.

Meeting the needs of gifted children occurs in a variety of ways. Grade skipping is something that is used only in very rare circumstances. Some schools offer self-contained gifted classes where all the students in the class have been identified as gifted. The curriculum is generally enriched, accelerated and compacted. Another option a school may offer is a cluster group program. Students are placed in small groups with others of similar ability and provided with a curriculum that meets their academic need. Schools may offer pull-out programs that meet advanced academic need with a teacher outside of the classroom, usually in weekly or bi-weekly meetings. In some schools students can attend a particular part of the day with a class of older students, but still spend much of the day with age-peers. Regardless, encourage socialization with academic peers as well as with his age peers from the neighborhood, church or social groups, or sports teams.

Question: Everything that I see stresses how important reading is to school success.  I am not a teacher! How do I help my daughter become a good reader? 

Reading well is, indeed, the key to academic success. You can impact that by having great reading materials available and by demonstrating that reading is a personal priority. Options for reading materials for kids extend well beyond textbooks and classic literature to include high- interest magazines, plays on every topic imaginable, interactive websites, atlases and maps, tables and charts, even graphic novels. The more tools and strategies that children develop through exposure to a wide variety of textual formats, the more effective they will become as readers. There are many ways you can show your child how much you value reading. Establish a daily family reading time: create a special atmosphere that makes this time something everyone looks forward to. Help your children find books about topics of special interest to them. Couple trips to the library with a stop for hot chocolate to preview your selections. Buddy read books with your children, alternating who reads aloud. Reluctant readers can often be enticed by audiobooks. Stick with unabridged books and provide your child a hard copy of the book with which to follow along.

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at asktheteacher@indyschild.com

Tags: Education, In This Issue, Parenting

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