If you’re the parent of a highly gifted child, you know that all kids are not created equal. Your child, though similar to other children in many ways, is indeed quite different. Children who are extremely intelligent require education that fits the way they think and feel and most parents are hard-pressed to find an educational system that caters to the special needs of the highly gifted child.
Many parents of gifted kids are forced to do the best they can with an educational system that often attends more to the needs of the learning disabled than to those of the extremely intelligent. This can be frustrating to both the parents and the child and may result in years of battles with teachers and administration. Often, the school district wins and the gifted child deals with the realities of the system.
What Gifted Kids Need
Most likely, you’ve noticed how different your child is from others. Though it’s tempting to exploit the differences, encouraging your child to exhibit their intelligence to friends and family, you’ll often find that it’s best to play down these differences. When your child reaches school age, his or her special gifts will probably become immediately apparent to him and he’ll no likely be singled out, in some way, for his talents.
You’ll want to try and find a school with a program that recognizes your child’s differences yet treats him like his peers. That can be difficult. Your child may be the same age as the rest of his first-grade classmates but, intellectually, he could be far superior.
How schools handle this challenge can be a clue as to whether or not your child will be successful in that particular environment and you’ll probably need to do a little research before enrolling the child or arrange meetings with teachers and administration.
Theoretically, your gifted child functions at many different ages and you’ll need a school that recognizes and accepts this fact. Your six-year-old no doubt possesses many characteristics of a first grader. She probably loves lunch and recess, even though she can rattle off her multiplication tables. In cases like this, school’s that consider an option known as “subject matter acceleration” may be a good match for your child. For example, the school may give her the opportunity to study math at a 4th grade level yet remain in her own class for lunch, recess, art, physical education, and other appropriate subjects.
Grade acceleration, or “skipping grades”, is also a consideration. This option, however, should be approached with a bit more trepidation as young ones are not always socially ready to be placed with older children.
Some schools tout “gifted” programs, though many don’t start until at least 3rd grade. If this is the only option in your school district, be sure that your child is placed in the program as soon as possible.
If all else fails and you’re unable to move to a district that can accommodate the needs of your highly gifted child, endeavor to enroll the child in as many intellectually and artistically-stimulating outside activities as possible. Music lessons are a great idea as music uses the same part of the brain as math and strength in the two subjects often goes hand in hand. Also investigate reading clubs, computer classes, and other subjects that may interest your child.