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It's about time for students to choose their elective courses in the upcoming school year.  My daughter came to talk to me about her options: (1) continue to take French which qualifies for one credit or (2) take 5 courses with a quarter credit each.  She preferred taking 5 courses with a quarter credit each.  She stated that she could continue French in high school anyway.  This would be a good opportunity for her to explore more in her last year of middle school.  She was thinking of taking wood-working, robotics, creative writing, art and design, drawing and painting.  I told her to choose whatever she liked.  It would help her to learn what she really likes and what she would like to study in the future.


Written by Elisa English 

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I have been thinking lately the definition of gifted because my daughter is admitted to the high potential program.   It seems that the definition of gifted varies by people and by schools as well and there is little consensus on a satisfactory definition. Gagné (1991) differentiated between the concepts of gifted and talented by defining giftedness as above-average competence in human ability, and talent as above-average performance in a particular field. Giftedness refers to human aptitudes such as intellectual or creative abilities. Talent however is demonstrated in an area of human activity such as mathematics, literature or music.   Munro (2001) further differentiated between the concepts of gifted and talented by defining talented students as displaying exceptional ability in areas in which they have been explicitly taught, and gifted students as those who display exceptional ability in certain areas without explicit teaching. In 2005, the Department for Education and Skills in Great Britain (DfES) broadly defined the top 5-10% of pupils per school as gifted and talented.   Conservative definitions tend to restrict the areas that are included in the categorization of talent or giftedness, and how many people will be regarded as gifted – for example the top 5% of any given measure of ability. These definitions also tend to use a single dimension such as high intelligence (as measured on an I.Q test), to define giftedness. More liberal definitions would suggest that there is no meaningful difference between those who score in the top 3-5%, and the 10-15% who come just below and so would advocate that 15-20% should be included in the gifted category.

<Source of the definition of gifted vs. talented: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/inclusion_and_sen/gifted/gifted_children_060306.pdf >


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Turning kids into test-taking machines


I know that I am like a broken record when it comes to education.  I have a strong belief of how children should be raised, which is to allow them to enjoy as much a carefree and happy childhood as possible.  I have seen parents enrolling their kids in Kumon, a cram school in the United States originated from Japan where overeager parents and cram school teachers promote mind-numbing drill-and-kill students, disregarding the importance of the quality of student learning.  When it comes to the happiness of kids, that kind of cramming is negatively correlated. 

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If you ask us if laissez-faire parenting works, I would say yes.  Or maybe it is just my husband’s gene that works.  If you ask me how to raise gifted children, I would say to just let nature take the course.  If your children are truly gifted, you really don't have to worry about their study or push them any harder.  They will do fine by themselves.  I have seen parents enrolling kids in Kumon (a little bit like Taiwan’s cram school) to accelerate the study of their “non-gifted” children to train them to be considered as gifted.  The problem with that is that things will eventually catch up.  These kids will have trouble catching up eventually and will have to drop out of the program no matter how much they are being crammed, as intelligence is not something that can be crammed.


What about our laissez-faire parenting?  When I go shopping, I would sometimes visit the toy department to fish out toys that are on sale.  This way, I will have toys at hand to reward my kids as an encouragement for their good behaviors.  Our parenting attitude leans toward laissez faire parenting style which empowers children to make their own decisions and enables them to experience consequences of their choices.  We rarely push our kids to study.  We try to motivate them with rewards (Rewards could be money besides toys to teach them how to use money.  I let my kids pick which method they prefer) and encouragement.  We try to make learning fun for them. 

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Oh, it is all so complicated

The different programs to swallow

My puny brain almost exploded

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An Olympian in the Making


This is actually not a story about an Olympian but rather some trivial about my son.  If you have been reading my blog, you will know that my son took some ski lessons last winter.  This winter, he is enrolled in the snowboarding class.       

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The Company You Keep


Are you at the point where you begin to worry about the company your children keep?  I wasn’t until recently.  It seems to come much sooner than we thought.  I would say that sometimes the parents are the culprits.

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Our school has a gifted program for exceptionally gifted kids starting in their 2nd grade (it used to be 3rd grade but changed to 2nd grade this year), whose IQ is above 145 and who scores in the 95th percentile or above on NWEAs over the last three testing sessions. Out of curiosity, we finally decided to attend the open house after two years of hearing the program, not that we think that our son is exceptionally gifted. Maybe our daughter meets the criteria more. Just kidding! We all like to think that our kids are genius.


Anyway, the program seems to be pretty unique as it is dedicated to addressing the unique cognitive, social and emotional needs that these kids especially require. Some of the students have ADHD and issues with social interaction. Most kids seem to show characteristics that set them apart from regular kids such as high sensitivity and the inability to socialize with people. My son seems to fit in the category of being highly sensitive, profoundly perfectionistic and perserverant in his areas of interest.

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In case that you have children who are the same age as my son, you might be interested in the books he is reading now. Here is the list:

Out of my Mind (This is his favorite.  He is almost done reading the book)

Lawn Boy (This is his favorite. He is almost done reading the book)

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I am not in a mood to write, not that I am in a bad mood but that I just feel exhausted. The brain is hard to function when fatigued. Anyway, I spent an hour last night talking to an IRS agent and finally got her to remove all the penalty and interest imposed to our account due to their mistake. What a relief! Maybe I will write something about it later. For now, you just have to listen to my mumbling. Hopefully you won’t feel bored in this seemingly dull place. Oh, if you are still waiting for an update to the fictional story I wrote, I am sorry to have to disappoint you. I am not motivated to write at this point. I did write a few words but I am not satisfied with the plot. I might rewrite the chapter about George. Anyway, what I have in mind to talk about today is the public school that my son attends.


More and more parents are opting for homeschooling or online schooling for the main reason to have a better control of the setting in which their children can learn and a better control of the people with whom their children will socialize. Those parents feel the panic that their kids are being held back by their classmates in the traditional classroom environment. They believe that homeschooling or online schooling provides their children an opportunity to learn at a more rapid pace. By the way, I am not passing judgment on which works the best. It simply depends on your need.

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When I grew up, the only pets I had were fish.  Back then, I had a 25 to 30 gallon fish tank.  I like the different variety of fish and suggested to my husband to get a aquarium for the kids.  We couldn’t find a suitable place for a fish tank in our house, so we decided to get a small tank instead.  It is much easier to keep a fish as a pet.  Fish are cheaper and easier to take care of.  In addition, they won’t stink up the house or ruin the furniture.  We got some pet fish for our kids but the mistake we made was keeping too many fish in a small tank.  They didn’t survive long.  After two years, we decided to give it a try again.  This time, we only bought one fish, a red tuxedo guppy for our 2.5 gallon fish tank.  However, I can’t stand having only one fish in the tank.  I am afraid that the red tuxedo guppy would feel lonely all by itself.  I thought that if we buy a bottom feeder.  Maybe it will help maintain the health of the aquarium.  We decided to get one more fish, and that was when things went wrong. 


When we got to the pet supply store, we didn’t anticipate that the humane society would show up at the store.  There were four adolescent dogs and five puppies.  The puppies were about eight weeks old.  Their mom is a border collie.  Their dad is unknown.  The puppies were extremely cute and that was why things went wrong.  My daughter likes dogs and puppies.  She has about two to three dozens of dog plush stuffed animals.  She even has a pillow pet dog.  Her bed is filled with dog plush stuffed animals.  Each day, she brings a different dog plush stuff animal to daycare.  Her love for dogs is indescribable.  She has been asking for a puppy since she was able to ask for something.  Anyway, upon seeing the cute little puppies, she decided to forgo the pet fish and bring back the puppy instead.  In the past, we were able to tell her that we couldn’t buy a puppy because there was not a pet store selling puppies in Minnesota.  While we were at a pet store in Orange County, we were able to tell her that we couldn’t buy the puppy because it didn’t have a ticket to fly back with us.  This time, we were having hard time trying to think of an excuse not to bring back the puppy.  We told her that it was extremely expensive to get a puppy even from the humane society.  We couldn’t bring the puppy with us when we travel and the puppy would feel very lonely.  The puppy would pee everywhere and chew the furniture.  The dog food is expensive.  I was almost going to give in but my husband stood firm.  Finally, I told her that we didn’t know who the daddy was and we had to find the daddy first, so we could know what kind of puppies they were.  Mixed breeds are sometimes dangerous.  She was extremely sad with tears all over her face and didn’t want to leave the store.  That was last Saturday.  She still thinks that we will get the puppy once we find the daddy.  My husband thought that maybe we should get one after we come back from Taiwan.  I have mixed feelings about that.  I didn’t grow up with a pet dog and I didn’t know if I want to get into the trouble of getting a pet dog.  Having two kids is already a challenge in life.  Adding a puppy on top of it would be too much work for me.   

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Something Fun

These are some of the Halloween jokes my son told me. I thought that I would share with you to light up your day since it is Friday.  They are pretty funny though.  To reveal the answers, just move your cursor over on the space below each question. 


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What are they reading?


In order to instill a good reading habit into the students, my son's teacher, a 2nd grade teacher, requested that the students read at least 15 minutes per day.  The students get to color a bug on their communication sheet as they complete their assignment each time to show their reading progress.  Each bug counts as 15 minutes of reading.  I think that it is a very good idea.  Though it is not much, it is better than nothing.  I have had trouble in the past asking my son to read.  Since it is a school assignment, he can still complain about it but cannot find the excuse not to do it. 

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A Glimpse into the Life of a Happy American Elementary School Kid


Is the protagonist of my story a normal average American kid?  I would say so.  He is rather average except that he was assessed to have some developmental issue when he was three years old and had to attend speech therapy for about 1 ½ years.  He was thought to show symptoms of ADHD and autism by his aunt who is an elementary school teacher. He was thought to have dyslexia by his parents’ friends and was strongly urged to get a diagnosis.  He was suggested by his pediatricians to get evaluated by the school or to be tested by a specialist for learning disability.  With all these suggestions and pressure around him, his mom decided to give a call to the school and asked for any evaluation for learning disability.  The school advised against it for fear of the kid being labeled as something that he is not.  The only option that the school provided was an ESL program.  Is the ESL program a solution for learning disability?  Is the child really having learning disability?  Some of his parents’ friends thought that he might just be a late bloomer like Albert Einstein.  His parents or maybe just his mom thought that he is probably language challenged and that he will improve by himself as time goes by.  His mom has been criticized by her many friends for being too lax on parenting.  Maybe, it is just that his mom hates pressure and refuses to add any unnecessary pressure or burden onto her own kids.  Anyway, the parents never get the kid tested for the same fear that the school had.  This kid shows high intelligence in math but shies away from talking.  Writing math homework is his favorite.  However, he will stall for as long as he can to work on homework related to reading and writing.         

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What was I thinking?


Apparently, I wasn’t thinking at all when sending my son to a summer camp infested with mosquitoes this week.  Since his regular summer program ends last week, we have to find an alternative program for him before the school starts.  Enrolling him in YMCA’s Camp Christmas Tree sounds like a good idea as this summer camp is loaded with fun packed activities such as lake swimming, canoeing, archery, fishing, cookouts, horseback riding, arts and crafts, and so on. 

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How did “Lady Gaga” come up in our dinner conversation, whose existence I know nothing of until I read the Yahoo news lately about Seinfeld’s complaint to the Mets of rewarding Lady Gaga for her obscenities with Seinfeld’s paid private suite?  I am sorry for my ignorance as I do not watch soap operas nor have I any interest in the publicity stunts.  I do, however, watch Seinfeld, so the news caught my attention.  Now, I know that Lady Gaga sings and behaves somewhat like Madonna or any pop singer, living a life of depravity. 


So, how did “Lady Gaga” come up in our dinner conversation?  One day, as I was busying preparing fruits for our kids to eat after dinner, my son blurted out “Lady Gaga”, followed by my daughter’s laughter.  You can imagine my astonishment.  I asked them how they knew Lady Gaga and who she was.  My son told me that she danced on stage.  Apparently, some of their friends did watch her dance on TV.  They were just amused by her name “Gaga” and that was the end of the conversation.  You know how kids are, easily amused.  I am glad that they didn’t know how she looks like or what she does outside of dancing and singing.    

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Embarrassing Moments


There is never a dull moment with my daughter; or more precisely, a lack of embarrassing moments with her.  We or maybe it is just I who don’t know what to do with her.  Her twinkling big eyes, her seemingly pitiful yet innocent look, her cute and adorable face and her giggly laughter and nightingale voice are all so irresistible.  Though I can see through her sycophancy, I am not immune to her cuteness.  She is such a doll, at least in the eyes of her mom.  I like to hug her, hold her, kiss her, cuddle her, pick her up in my arms and carry her.  She is so small and light-weight.  My son is too embarrassed to allow me to do to him half of what I do to my daughter.  Besides, he is too heavy for me to carry.  I like to ask my daughter if she is a cutie.  She would always jump into my arms and say yes.  How could one resist any request from such a cutie?  My son’s afterschool program staff knows it firsthand.

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Finally, the baby coral cat shark has hatched.  I was starting to get worried that there might be complication and that it might die since there used to be two eggs and one died a few days after arriving at the school.  The kids would be heartbreaking if that was the case.  I am glad that my worry is unnecessary.    


Without the program in our son’s classroom, I would never know what a coral cat shark or a horseshoe crab is.  It is a learning experience not only for my son but also for me.  I am learning alongside my son as well.  Though, I did not physically see how the baby coral cat shark chewed its way out of its eggshell, the excitement of waiting a new life to come to this world is inexpressible.  The anticipation of a new life is pure ecstasy.  This is such a great experience for the kids.  We were notified on Saturday morning that the baby shark had hatched.  My son was so anxious to go to school this morning and was really thrilled to see the newborn baby coral shark.

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My son’s class has a Shark program (this year only) where Underwater Adventures Aquarium supplies them with everything they need to hatch a baby shark egg.  They were pretty lucky to get into that program because it is offered to only a selected few schools throughout the United States.  They were ecstatic to get two shark eggs but one died about two months ago.  In addition to the shark, there is also a starfish and a horseshoe crab.  The starfish is nicknamed Patrick.  The kids didn’t name the crab.  Oops, when I first heard the name, I thought that it was a crab.  In reality, it is a hard-shelled invertebrate living in warm, shallow coastal waters on the sea floor.  Its shell seems to be too big and heavy for its body and it keeps turning topsy turvy and constantly struggling to flip itself back up.  Watching it swim is extremely interesting as, for the majority of the time, it swims upside down.  I wouldn’t have known anything about the horseshoe crabs if not for the school program. 


Our teacher has alerted us that the baby shark will be hatching any minute.  You might have remembered an article I wrote earlier about “Perfect Sense”.  (Link to the article: http://elisaenglish.pixnet.net/blog/post/2946913)  My son was picked to participate in the Independent Investigation program in High Potential Enrichment Room, a program designed for high potential students.  He picked Shark as his research subject, so the Shark program in his classroom turns out to be a perfect complement to his research.  He has recently completed his research and presented his finding to his class.  It is too bad that we weren’t invited to listen to his speech.    

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We attended Parkers Lake Park Fire & Ice Festival today.  The entire event was held on Parkers Lake and the activities included ice fishing, ice skating, dog sled rides, bonfires with s’mores, hay rides, pony rides and ice sculpture demonstration.    These are the pictures of my kids.  Too bad, my daughter was still not feeling well, so she only got to ride the pony and had to leave early to get some rest.


DSC00351.JPG DSC00360.JPG

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