Middle school, a critical period in adolescent development, can pose a virtual minefield for gifted girls, a teacher writes in the March issue of Parenting for High Potential.
Susan R. Rakow, a middle school teacher and a specialist in gifted education, warns that the transition from adolescence to young adulthood "may have a terrible cost." As teenage girls grapple with societal pressures and issues of self-esteem, they are more likely to suffer depression, eating disorders, and other self-destructive habits, she writes in the magazine published by the Washington-based National Association for Gifted Children.
Girls are more likely than boys to drop out of gifted programs and are often tracked away from subjects such as mathematics and science, which could lead to well-paying careers, Ms. Rakow writes. And, she adds, middle school is particularly rough for gifted girls, whose accomplishments often go unnoticed or are looked down upon by peers.
Teachers and parents can help, Ms. Rakow says, by helping girls recognize their options and make choices, and encouraging them to voice their opinions. Parents and school officials should also make sure the ratios in their honors classes and the budgets for athletic programs are equitable for both sexes, she adds.
Some middle schools have begun girls-only classes in math and science, taught by women, to help increase girls' confidence in those subjects, or formed all-girls clubs. Ms. Rakow also suggests mentoring by older girls and women.
Summer programs can make a world of difference for gifted and talented students by providing academic and creative nourishment, as well as recreational and social opportunities, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
An article from the NASSP's February 1998 Bulletin offers principals an introduction to summer programs, which can vary widely in their subject matter, length, costs, and entrance requirements.
The article, written by Vicki B. Stocking, the director of research for Duke University's Talent Identification Program, includes a brief synopsis of the types of programs available. She also compiled lists of some major summer programs offered by universities and other organizations.
Duke also publishes the Educational Opportunity Guide with information on more than 400 summer programs. Copies are $15 from the Duke University TIP, 1121 W. Main St., Suite 100, Durham, NC 27701; (919) 683-1400; fax: (919) 683-1742.
--JOETTA L. SACK firstname.lastname@example.org