Why Brilliant Children Often Appear Slow, Part Five

Part of my problem in math class, in addition to divergent thinking, was my need to work things out for myself. I had to explore, to my full satisfaction, all those ramifications and implications about language. I didn’t want any help.

Observing this same trait in my own two profoundly gifted children, and battling it when they were in grade school, I finally concluded that it was hardwired in. I had to learn to work with it.

I did this in their cello lessons by a “hands-off” approach, as much as I could tolerate, given that I was their teacher. Working things out for themselves, and not according to the usual sequential music-lesson curriculum I’d used throughout my career, slowed their progress noticeably. However, they were happy and learning faster than they would have if I’d been fighting them.


About Rebecca Hein

Author of A Case Of Brilliance, her memoir of her discovery that her two children are profoundly gifted
This entry was posted in Damage in Gifted Children, gifted children and independent thinking, independent learning. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why Brilliant Children Often Appear Slow, Part Five

  1. Tom Vail says:


    Haven’t heard from you for a while. Hope you had a good summer.

    Every day, I try to figure out what to do with Robert. He is now 6, and has been studying DNA and Microbiology since age 4. I’ve been reading in your book about the topic below, and as you mentioned “math,” it made me think of my problem.

    We started a formal math program with Robert at age 5 ½ (Kindergarten age). He raced through Grade 1, Grade 2, and half of Grade 3. Then, it seemed like we hit a brick wall. I KNOW he is mentally capable, but he refuses to do the work. I don’t know how much is boredom, resistance, frustration with his own writing skills (which are required for the remaining Grade 3 work), or just creative thinking (which is there). He sometimes makes the problems mean more than they do, answers in an indirect (creative) way, of just “daydreams” (something they frequently said about me as a child).

    While his Grade 3 progress has slowed to a maximum of one lesson per day, we are doing 3 to 5 lessons per day at higher levels, including geometry. He is starting to do algebra in his head, but the writing is a MAJOR struggle. He is FULLY capable of writing, both physically and mentally, but REFUSES.

    Just thought I would share my current experience. I still struggle every day, trying to figure out what to do.

    Tom Vail


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