Bored Child: How to Help Your Gifted Child

bored child

Bored child

Once, while teaching science to a group of third graders, I looked out upon the sea of young faces and noticed Kenny had something–a lot of something–running from his nose. Upon closer inspection, I discovered Kenny had filled his nose with Elmer’s Glue, and was letting it slowly drip onto his science book. When I asked Kenny why he did this, he replied, “I was bored”.

Students often need to be taught how to stay focused and be in the moment. Students who listen with intent to learn will most certainly hear something they did not know. However, what action follows the achievement of listening? Many students keep a favorite book at their desk and read as soon as they have completed the assignment. Some students draw, although this isn’t permitted in all classrooms.

Unfortunately, there are those children who get into trouble either by playing with the items in their desk or bothering those around them. When asked, these students will often state they were bored. While this does not excuse the behavior, it may explain it.

Bored students need to learn how to make effective choices. As a parent, this is where you should step in. What can you do? Letting your child know their options and how to prioritize them is a start in helping your child to get the most out of their day.

Questions for your child:

  • What do you do when you have completed your work?
  • What are you allowed to do? What are you not allowed to do, but wish you could?
  • Is your completed work, your best work? 
  • Would you like to speak with your teacher about managing boredom? If so, what kind of outcome are you hoping for? 
  • What do you see other students do when they are done with their work? 
  • When your teacher is teaching something new to the class and it is something you already know what could you do? (ideas: listen for new information or raise your hand and contribute a new fact.)

At this point, let your child help make a list of options generated from your discussion. Parents can help give the child ideas based on what they have seen them do at home that they could also do at school, such as reading a favorite book or writing in their journal. Your child should now be able to select an appropriate course of action which is more to their educational advantage than simply being bored.

Reward your child for memorizing their list of options, this is so they don’t have to work hard to remember their choices. Kids typically pick the easiest thing to do, so you want your child to have new default options of choices that are more appropriate. The child does not get credit with you unless they can say they actually chose to do something from the list. Revisit the list and follow up on how the options are working for your child, and reward them with praise or a little screen time for making good choices. Let the child update the list as needed.

If your child continues to complain of boredom, certainly it is a good idea to talk with the teacher so you understand your child’s alternatives and are aware of what challenges the teacher is offering. Hopefully with your child’s improved attitude regarding acceptable activities, and the teacher’s involvement, you will soon hear more positive comments about school.


See Also: Solving Parent Teacher Issues

Bored Child at School

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6 Responses to Bored Child: How to Help Your Gifted Child

  1. Lisa says:

    I wish you had addressed issues of bored children in kindergarten. My child finds the work so deadly boring that she cannot be forced to do it. The class is working on identifying the numbers…I think they have made it up to 8. She knows how to add and subtract numbers up to ten. They gave her a test at the beginning of the year that basically said she was already 3/4 of the way through kindergarten without stepping inside the classroom. No amount of advocating for her has changed anything. She wants to go to a school where they “teach me things I don’t already know.”. She hates kindergarten. She hates school at the age of 5. That is beyond sad.

    • Lisa says:

      and to be clear….I am not so much sure she is gifted but she is ahead…and being forced to do things she knew two years ago is beyond frustrating to her. Our school system doesn’t test for “gifted” until the third grade….because this is supposedly when it all magically “evens out”. Is it so much that it evens out or that the early learners don’t care anymore because the joy of learning has been stomped out of them?

      • mom to two says:

        As a Gifted teacher, I will say that it doesn’t so much “even out” as 3rd grade is when you are no longer testing them for reading fluency and computation, which kids may be ahead in up to that point. I’ve seen kids who were identified as gifted in first grade flounder when they get to 3rd grade because they know computation very well, but don’t know how to problem-solve. On a personal note, I have the same issue with my own kindergarten child this year, and I agree that there needs to be more differentiation.

        • Lisa says:

          Thank you for clarifying why some schools don’t test for “gifted” until third grade!! Her school did send home a note that she was selected for “Math Superstars” since she is advanced in Math….basically it works out to her getting to do extra homework for prizes. If she were allowed to do this work in class INSTEAD of the things she finds deadly boring easy I would be on board…as it stands this extra homework is also too easy. I never thought I would homeschool but based on her depression I finally pulled her out of school to do just that. I can’t go wrong at this point.

          • Clyde says:

            Good on you! I was in her situation once, my depression got extremely bad. I was throwing up multiple times a day, I often didn’t sleep and I was always sick from a low immune system.
            I am now homeschooled and it was the best decision we ever made, I am now much more happy but unfortunately I don’t think anything could get rid of the scars my school experience left. I’m glad she was pulled out before it got worse 🙂

  2. Clyde says:

    I am a gifted child. I was in school from kindergarten to year 5, now I am luckily homeschooled. The 6 years I spent in school were miserable, boredom nearly drove me to insanity! It isn’t just the time spent after completing work, it’s the work itself. I was doing year 4/5 work in kindergarten. Imagine having to write down the numbers 1-10 over and over when you’re able to do your times tables in your spare time. Imagine having to do such simple things for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week! It would drive you mad!
    By the end I was throwing up multiple times a day, my immune system was almost non existent from all the crying and I barely slept. This is what boredom does to a gifted child!
    Please for the love of god do not ask your gifted child to make a list of what to do in their spare time!
    The “if you listen with intent you will hear something you didn’t know” is not always true. I have strong morals and I thought it was rude to ignore the teacher so the whole time I would listen and only on the very rare occasion where the teacher went off the book did I actually learn anything significant. Boredom by far for me is the worst thing for a gifted child to experience, especially for long periods of time. I beg of you do not let it get to the stage it did with me because it haunts me to this day and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies.

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