How can parents support their able child?

Most young people, especially those recognised as ‘able’, emerge from their teenage years to become active, accomplished adults, despite the surges of rebellion and discontent that seem to be landmarks of adolescence. There are no guaranteed methods to ensure calm waters and pleasant parent-child conversations during the teenage years, but certain awareness’s, attitudes and behaviours work better than others:

  • Accept that wanting to be perceived as just like everyone else is normal
  • Your son or daughter may be intellectually able, but other areas of development might not be quite as developed.
  • Expect your able child to want more freedom and independence than you are prepared to give. Take a holistic approach to their needs and provide cultural, social and creative opportunities to enrich their thinking. Encourage extra-curricular activities in and outside of school
  • Maintain strong links with the school and let your child see that you have good lines of communication with key members of staff
  • Allow natural consequences. For example, if your child has not completed their homework by the deadline you could call the teacher and explain about the hectic pace of your child's life that prevented on-time completion of work . . . but please don't do this. This ‘rescue’ ultimately harms youngsters more than it helps, as it makes them dependent on you in ways that both you and they thought they'd outgrown. Just like any other child, able youngsters need to be allowed to and feel calm with making mistakes too- this builds resilience
  • Promote self-advocacy. Able youngsters need to become their own advocates as soon as they are able to articulate clearly what the problem is and what solutions to the dilemma exist
  • Walk away from impoliteness. Say something like, ‘I don’t believe we’re accomplishing much right now. We’ll discuss this at another time.’ Frustration seldom leads to workable results, so don’t fight your able child when nothing worthwhile is being accomplished. Moodiness does not have a logical base either. Ask your son/daughter to H.A.L.T. when they are feeling especially foul. Ask if they are Hungry, Angry, Lonely and/or Tired. Ask that they take care of those needs before proceeding any further with their day. Not surprisingly, when they do, the moodiness often goes away. An able teenager’s greatest enemy is lack of sleep. Also, allow your child to enjoy simple relaxation pursuits like watching TV programmes that may not be intellectually stimulating. A balanced approach will not harm them
  • Able children need more alone time than you think they do
  • There is a reason your able teenager may have older friends—or wants them. Seldom is this harmful, and more often than not, it can actually help your son or daughter mature in beneficial ways, as an older young person will let the younger ones know when they are acting ‘like kids’. Social modelling is frequently a positive result when younger able teenagers spend time with their older counterparts
  • Time management and organisational skills cannot be taught until they are needed
  • The greater the force, the stronger the resistance. Punishments and contracts seldom work with able teenagers and coercion never does. Honest discussions about the importance of balance in one's life is a great place to begin; planting the seeds of personal responsibility
  • Continue to be a parent able students. They need your love, attention and interest just as much as any other child. Listening helps more than you think it does

Who should parents contact in school?

Parents sometimes need to contact the school: if things are not going well; to seek advice; or to obtain more information in order to better support their child. The following key personnel should be contacted:

  • The subject teacher or subject leader for subject-specific questions
  • The Head of Year for questions relating to student well-being

Able students from disadvantaged backgrounds:

We help students and families to overcome socio-economic and cultural barriers to attending further and higher education. Some of our most able students come from homes where no parent or close relative has either experienced, or expects, progression to university. Using the PPG (pupil premium grant) Crofton School positively discriminates and engages proactively with the parents or carers of these students to tackle this challenge and students are provided with 'enhanced’: curriculum provision; access to cultural and social activity and personalised support.

Ambition beyond school:

We ensure, from early on, that students know what opportunities are open to them and develop the confidence to make the most of these. They need tutoring, guidance and encouragement, as well as a chance to meet other young people who have embraced higher education. Students are shown how to apply to a range of colleges and the most prestigious universities. In PDL lessons, groups of able students follow a bespoke course. Information, support and guidance are provided to those most able students whose family members had not attended university.

Assessment, tracking and targeting:

Close attention is paid to the progress of our most able students. Frequent assessments are differentiated and a range of intervention measures are put in place when underachievement is measured.

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