When potential clients book a tour of our school with me, I always tell them to be prepared for an hour tour and an informal interview with their child(ren) as we tour. I get a kick out of watching the little ones, who have obviously been prepped for our meeting.
“My name is ________, and that’s spelled________. I can also spell…” at which point the child begins to spell several of the words he knows and count to a hundred while his parents smile nervously.
I don’t interrupt because I know the parents are anxious. I listen, or I ask a question that derails the full display but still lets the child show me what he knows.
About thirty minutes into the interview, most children are tired of being “on display,” though, and then I get a real picture of the potential student. Usually, the kids are just fine.
Conversely, preparation is often a foreign concept to middle schoolers... and some high schoolers. I cannot count the times after a flunked test that I have asked a student how he studied, and the reply is that he “read it over.” No notes were taken during class, and this child feels reading the chapter over once is enough prep. Maybe in other schools, but not ours.
If you are the parent of a gifted child, you are aware that procrastination is common, and feelings of superiority often cause no desire to prepare. You are also frustrated with the times he was right (no preparation necessary) and familiar with the complete meltdown when he was wrong and the subsequent refusal to get back up on the proverbial horse and try again.
It is important that you teach your child that preparation is the only course of action before an event. While he may be able to wing it now, failing only every once-in-awhile, a single failure in a job can lead to unemployment. Failure to prepare for college application in the sophomore and junior years means anxiety and not as many scholarship opportunities the senior year. A lack of preparation in sports often means a very public lesson on its importance.
Beyond making preparation a way of life for your child, it is important that you model preparation for your child. Gifted kids come from gifted parents, so procrastination and “winging it” run in the family. It is unrealistic to think that your child will do as you say rather than as you model.
Now, I’m not insinuating that one cannot wait until right before an event to prepare. I rarely have time to prepare more than a day out. I know, however, how much time I need, and I don’t see that big a difference between preparing weeks ahead and preparing hours ahead, as long as I’ve left enough time and minimized the chances of a distraction. I know… I know… what am I going to do if there’s a blackout… or my computer breaks down… or any other of a hundred “what if’s” that could happen. What can I say? I depend upon the Lord a lot to order my steps and help me get it done. When the days become crammed full of events, that’s about the only course of action!