The absolute highlight of my job with a local school corporation is that I get to administer tests to move-in students whose parents want them placed in the high ability classes we offer. Most are simply not qualified for the classes, but a few shining examples do stand out and are offered any spots we have available.
Today, I tested a young seven year-old girl who was a student at a gifted magnet school in the Chicago Public Schools system (yeah, those words don't quite go together, but believe me, she is one smart little whippersnapper). She is currently being home schooled; honestly because I believe that her parents believe that our "hick" schools aren't up to the task of educating their gifted little one.
She was an absolute delight to be with! She had that self-confidence and cockiness of a seven year-old whose parents have constantly made her aware of how gifted she is and who has known nothing else in her short life. Once I wore down that defense, however, she warmed up to me and was full of smiles and words for the rest of the test period.
In fact, she was ripping through one of the tests and was going to have ample time to spare, so I gave her a "talk break". She instantly brought up some books she thought I should read (!). They are from the Knuffle Bunny series of books by the children's author Mo Willems. Knuffle Bunny evidently is a little stuffed bunny that has a knack for getting lost or misplaced by his owners and finding his way back. I got her condensed version of the plots of each book and what she liked about them.
Then, in truly gifted child fashion, she explained the titles of the books (Knuffle Bunny, Knuffle Bunny Too, Knuffle Bunny Free), and suggested that the next book be titled Knuffle Bunny For (note the play on words in each title). We both then delved into the possibilities of the next plot and what it might contain. It was truly a wonderful, creative conversation with a very bright seven year-old mind and a very tired almost-51 year-old thought process. I am thankful to her for the injection of positive thinking and hope that she unknowingly gave me.
When all else fails, listen to a child. You will be recharged and rejuvenated.