While your child with high learning potential (HLP) often gives you the impression that they can never squeeze enough out of their day, you sometimes feel that you can never give them enough. You know on good days that you’re doing the best that you can, but when grey sky greets you throughout the morning, you don’t feel that you’re giving them your all.
Pressures, expectations and conventions can generate that feeling of guilt. Why don’t we try and be like our children, who are a little different from the conventional “norm” and are finding their own path to be individuals amongst their peers?
HLP children know the power of their words. You might hear persistent comments such as “everyone has more screen time and I should be allowed it because …” or “just five more minutes of playing because I got back from school late and I did all my homework”. HLP children are often able to add that extra bit of reasoning into their requests and arguments than their peers. You may think it was a well-made point, requiring a concerted effort to find an equally well-made answer. However, if you’re not in a position to make the effort, you may resort to a flat “because I said so!”, or capitulation. Either choice can lead to guilt. Be proud of their verbal ability, but if you know you won’t have the time or the patience for a full discussion, be consistent and fair in your response about the point you are discussing and don’t get stuck in a talk-back situation with your child.
“Grrr – There’s So Much Housework!”
This can be a difficult one with an HLP family. Perhaps they’re untidy around the house – how many books are falling off your child’s bookcase? Or there are fewer minutes for tidying up because you’re a home educator, juggling work with providing your child’s learning extension or taking them to activities. Hold a family meeting about how you can split household tasks up with a system. Emphasise responsibility to your child and get them to help draw up the rota and pick a job that they’re willing to do.
I Can’t Afford Private School
You or your child would love them to join a private school, but you can’t afford it. Reality is that the cost of living is so high that you gulp when doing your weekly shop. Paying for an independent school just isn’t feasible.
Be aware private schools are not a panacea. There are many expensive schools that still disappoint HLP parents. Also accept that working longer hours, while generating more income, has its downsides. Maybe your child needs to see you when they finish at 3.30pm, or your health isn’t excellent. In that case, remove the pressure by accepting that private school isn’t feasible and discovering positive ways to do things together instead; be ready to chat positively with your child after they’ve had a trying day; sign up for a free online class you can share together; or consider what your child can offer the world via the school system that they’re already learning in.
I’m Spending Too Much on School
Conversely, your child made it to the private school but you’re still paying a lot of money even though they won a scholarship; is it too much? Whatever/wherever you’re paying, be realistic about the fact that some people will always use money to try to gain advantages; even in the state system, parents buy houses near the best state schools and use multiple tutors. Don’t try to compete with that. As parents of HLP children, we’d like to see reduced class sizes and tailored work for ability; however, no education setting guarantees a great outcome these days. Whether state or private, there is always the risk that a school won’t suit your child. Watch for the signs of whether they are happy or unhappy and consider, with them, whether they would prefer another school and whether the money that you are spending on sending them to a private school could/should be better used on other family activities.
Not in School
Maybe you have removed your child from school altogether because they fit an HLP profile that doesn’t work well in that environment? (PA105 Profiles of High Learning Potential Children) It could be that your child actually needs a “push” that they weren’t getting before, and you’re more able to provide it.
Are you worrying that they are missing out? Accept that it’s a mixed answer. You may not possess a chemistry lab at home but equally you’re not forced to operate within the constraints of a teaching timetable. There are pros and cons with all schooling options.
You Didn’t Realise that Something was Wrong
Your child tells you that they got the best mark in class but shies away from mentioning that they were alone at break time, or that another child has pinched their bag for fun and that they had to chase them to retrieve it for the fourth time this week.
Accept that it is common to most parents that as your child gets older, they will be more inclined to ask for help locating an item and enquiring what’s for dinner than asking you to aid friendship dilemmas. Make sure that you always leave the door open to conversation for them, let them know that you are there to talk to when you become aware of a problem but don’t push the subject too hard. Model behaviour by being open about problems and work/friendships you have that aren’t going as well as you would like.
You Wish You Knew as Much as Them…
Sometimes it is hard to accept that your child has outgrown your knowledge. You’re stumped by differential equations, but your child usually knows how to do those. When they do find something challenging, you’re inevitably unable to discuss it with them, which leaves you feeling helpless and guilty that you can’t help.
Focus on your own strengths and bring those into your child’s education. It needn’t be academic – for example, soldering, emailing and packing shopping neatly are skills too! Or why not look on this as a growth moment for you and watch videos about a subject or ask them to teach you – often teaching someone is great revision for the person doing the teaching.
Know that Your Child Doesn’t Need you at Every School Event
Your child may beg you to attend every school assembly or event because they depend on your reassurance or take pride in the fact that you are there. If your child tackles an event on their own, they’ll learn not to depend on you for confidence. Do you have second thoughts about whether you’re doing the right thing in booking their first solo school trip or camp away from home? Think positively about the possible independence gained, the fresh perspectives that the trip might bring and the resilience. They might not get the dormitory pals that they hoped for, but exciting trips usually make up for it.
Being selective about which events you do attend will also make the show or sports day extra special for you both. However, bear in mind that when your child reaches secondary school there will be much more emphasis on gaining independence and far fewer opportunities for you to be involved in what is going on in school, so make sure you get the balance right and enjoy those activities you can attend in primary school.
You Feel Guilty Because You’re Not Worrying!
Relax… life has its good moments and you’re entitled to enjoy them. Perhaps you’re one of those parents who can’t believe it when there’s a good spell in life: your child is happy in their learning environment, there are no problems with their friendships, and your own work-life balance is faring well.
If you think that everything is just too great and that there must be a problem somewhere, accept that it’s a relief not to be worried for once. At the same time keep in touch with the realities of your child’s day and show that you have empathy and are approachable if they want to talk. Being mindful that something may happen is better than worrying due to anticipating. If you live in the moment and enjoy some peace, you’ll be mentally or emotionally prepared to deal with it. The HLP world of your child demands that you deserve a rest!