helping your gifted kid

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  • #75697
    psychpsych
    Participant

    Since this came up on the school age kid thread, I thought I’d start a new one specifically about this issue. For us, my 7 year old son is highly gifted in all academic areas and after having him tested last year as a first grader, we followed the recommendations to have him skip second grade and he’s now in third. The hard part is that he’s still not challenged enough. So we are currently trying to figure out whether he should skip another grade, move to a new school with a hopefully more challenging curriculum, move to a different school system where we could use public schools (currently we’re in a city with bad public schools and that’s not a viable option) which have some gifted and talented resources but which would require us to spend time commuting (ugh), etc.

    Helpful resources so far have been the Center for Talented Youth at Johns HOpkins University. They did the testing and made recommendations, and we were able to immediately start a “distance learning” math program which my son does on a laptop instead of math in his class. It allows him to progress at his own pace. They also have summer camp programs all over the country which kids can attend with really cool topics especially in science which our elementary school really doesn’t provide much.

    Another resouce has been the Davidson Foundation, which serves “profoundly gifted” kids and their families both in providing resources and recommendations. They were especially helpful in figuring out about accelerating our son and are also willing to talk with the school, teacher, etc.

    Any other suggestions/experiences?

    #75698
    M -AM-A
    Participant

    Hi there,

    When I was 7 years old, I was given an IQ test because I was very bored in school. I scored high and was sent to a school that had gifted classes. I guess it depends where you live, but we had gifted classes all throughout school. It was great, the curriculum was challenging and we got to do a lot of interesting things.

    I would suggest trying to find a school that has classes specifically for gifted children. It would be better for him to be around other gifted children rather than be skipped ahead.

    M-A

    #75700
    rockfeverrockfever
    Participant

    this may be slightly off the topic but at what age did you realize that your son was gifted? how coudl you tell?

    actually i do have something on topic. the talent identifictaion prgroam at Duke i hear is really good.

    #75702
    psychpsych
    Participant

    We knew initially because he was so verbal. When he was 18 months old we counted (for fun) the number of words he said and got to 180 before we ran out. He was also very articulate very early, so you could actually understand all those ideas! Since he was tall, people tended to think he was 4, not 2. Then it was math concepts that he got quickly and early (before school), just figuring stuff out in daily life. Then it was correcting everybody’s spelling and grammar (one of the more irritating phases). Then it was just being really bored because he already had figured out all of the first grade stuff (i.e. phonics and math), which prompted the testing last year.

    #75703
    psychpsych
    Participant

    PS, Thanks M-A regarding the suggestion for a gifted school. We would LOVE an option like that but haven’t found one locally. Where was yours? Anyone else have a local school specifically for gifted kids?

    #75705
    jessiejessie
    Participant

    Your seven year old sounds like my son. Similar early childhood history (>200 words at 15 mos, articulate, reading and multiplying 5x and 10x before 1st grade, recognizing logos–not just golden arches at 19mos.) He is bright but not an IQ of 140 or anything. He is now 12yo. He was tested at the end of 1st grade but before that his teachers just accelerated his work–gave him more difficult spelling words, more difficult math work, chapter books to read while others were learning the basics, sent him to read to the 1st graders while he was in K, etc.) We moved (finished training) right after he was tested, new state, new rules. Had to wait until 3rd grade to get into gifted program. Where we lived for 2nd-5th grade there were 4 criteria for the gifted program and they had to meet 3 of them in order to qualify. Children were removed from their regular class 4days a week for 50 min for the gifted program which focused on higher level thinking skills/critical thinking. The fifth day, the gifted teacher went to the regular classroom and taught all the students some higher level thinking skills. It was a great program, not just “enrichment”. Moved again during 5th grade. NO GIFTED PROGRAM at all in the public schools here and VERY few private schools (one) which would be any different than the public school in terms of such things. Now there is only “enrichment” which is all extra-curricular and parent led (some teacher led but not much). They will accelerate them in math so my 7th grader is now taking Algebra. They have also started a “literature group” with the gifted kids. They meet once a month and discuss a book they have been assigned (adult themed and reading level books). Other than that there is nothing. He sits for the SAT this weekend to qualify for other gifted programs offered in the summer throughout the US. In high school they are allowed to take coursework at the local community college.

    With that said, I think it would have been detrimental to him to be accelerated a grade. He is very young for his grade (late august birthday and sent to K at 5yo) and socially it would have been a problem. In my opinion, academics are not everything and there is a lot to be said for learning how to fit in with others who are not like you. I don’t want him to be bored (tho I think he is sometimes) but I also don’t see the point of finishing college before you’re 18 yo either. Social maturity and emotional maturity are just as important to success as academic ability.

    #75706
    EM momEM mom
    Participant

    I echo the warning about accelerating your son to fast because of social issues. I was identified as “gifted” (sort of a loose term if you ask me) in the 1st grade and several teachers approached my parents about skipping grades. They said no and to this day I am so glad because socially it would have been very difficult. Elementary school would not have been such an issue, but middle school and high school would have just been that much tougher. As it was I was a “late” birthday in my class so I always hit every milestone “last”-think driver’s license time!

    I know my 3rd grade teacher did a lot of extra math with me and I attended a gifted summer school during elementary school. It was easier being challenged in middle school because that is when all of the “advanced” classes started being available. Then once in high school I took Advanced Placement classes and I skipped my senior year of high school to go to college (a great private University) on the state’s dime (Minnesota). I’m not sure if that program still exists, but I felt that was a great way to go…I had already done everything in high school I wanted to do (lettered in sports, been to prom twice, participated in student council, had a great circle of friends, etc) and I got to choose whether or not to go early. Saved me a year of college tuition! I know that this program was also available on a part time basis with people taking half time college credits and still attending 1-2 classes at high school to stay with their peers. I actually moved into the dorms so that I wouldn’t feel like I didn’t fit anywhere. My first roommate was actually a sophomore, 2 full years older than me and we had a blast! But…by then I was ready for the social pressures that come with hanging with an older crowd.

    Good luck, its a tough issue, and unfortunately a lot of states don’t do enough to help with this issue.

    #75708
    M -AM-A
    Participant

    I am in Canada so I don’t think this will help, but the gifted program was in Toronto. I’m sorry you can’t find one! Has the school helped you at all with this situation?

    M-A

    #75710
    psychpsych
    Participant

    The teacher is helpful, but the principal was very reluctant to skip him the first time, even though he has done fine. I’m not so worried about him having skipped once because he’s tall and doing fine socially, and I skipped too and graduated from HS at 16, college at 20, and that gave me some extra flexibility so I was still done with residency by 30. But skipping another year I think might be tougher because he really isn’t so organized and self-motivated at this point, and for fifth grade I think he would need to be. We will be applying to 2 other schools, one a public school gifted class/program and one another private school that might have a more challenging curriculum.

    One of the issues that has come up is that he really needs intellectual peers so he has some kids who can encourage each other and be curious together. Currently his class is pretty negative about school and complains a lot about ANY work. Not good. I’m just trying to figure out how to find out whether the kids in the new schools’ classes are brighter and more interested. Ideas?

    #75711
    M -AM-A
    Participant

    I think he would definitely benefit from being around other gifted children, rather than older children. He will get more stimulation and a sense of equality with other gifted kids. I’m glad I wasn’t skipped ahead, but rather was with other gifted kids of the same age. I think it would be a better environment for him to learn and grow.

    Good luck with the gifted schools!

    M-A

    #75713
    bekagainbekagain
    Participant

    I would really like to hear from those of you that have gifted children that are in school regarding what you did for kindergarten. I have a daughter who will be five next month. She currently attends preschool just for the socialization as we moved midway through the year so she didn’t get to do a pre-K type program. She sounds very much like the previous posts I have read in terms of early vocal development, thinking skills, etc. She is reading easy chapter books already and has a huge vocab. She can do addition and subtraction, counts by 5,10, 2, etc. I am taking a beginning Spanish class this semester and she is learning a lot of it right along with me. I am very concerned about next year when she goes to kindergarten. On the one hand, she loves the social aspect of it anyway, but on the other hand, isn’t school about learning? I have seen the objectives for kindergarten in our district and she can do almost all of them. My concern is that the teaher will not spend time with her in challenging her and instead focus on the children that need to catch up. What was your experience with this?
    Obviously, my husband and I challenge her at home, but school is a huge deal. We were both homeschooled and so just worked way ahead at our own pace. But, we do not want that for her. So, we are really not sure what to do. Any ideas???

    #75714
    wannaBmdwannaBmd
    Participant

    My school district has several alternative schools. Some of them allow your children to go part time with the *gifted* school and part time regular. Or even just part time gifted school. I have my oldest in a alternative school that is not a *gifted* school, but rather a school that focuses on the fundamentals. i.e. reading, arithmetic, and science. For the most part it has kept him busy, but we do alot at home…He’s in 1st grade and loves to read Harry Potter :laughing: :laughing: In fact it was kind of funny, I went to check on him after he was asleep and found his Harry Potter book in bed with him. How cute!
    The problem with the alternative schools is that the regular schools do not usually tell you about them, even if they are in the district 🙁 Well, good luck…it is deffinately a challenge!!!

    #75716
    njbmdnjbmd
    Participant

    My 10 year old is like many of the others described. From his experience and my own, I would difinitely not recommend kids skipping grades. How many of you encountered the keds on college or med school who were younger than everyone else? They were ‘different,’ and didn’t socialize with the others. It is not only important to progress in academics, but to learn the other life ‘lessons’ that come at every age. I attended a lecture recently where several parents in my school distric berated the administration for not meeting the needs of their particular gifted children. The moderator made a really good point. Life will not always challenge you outright- you may need to look for the challenges you need. Your child may think the reading or math material at grade level is boring or easy, but the truly gifted child can go beyond to find something interesting. I do believe, however, that this is a learned skill, and that educators need to identify the exceptional kids and teach them the tools they need to look beyond the ordinary. Our school does not have a gifted program per se, but does practice differentiation within the classroom. For example with reading, one group gets the story read to them, another reads it themselves, another reads it then makes up a new ending- a good way of helping kids at various levels deal with the same material.

    #75718
    psychpsych
    Participant

    Wait a minute. I was one of those “younger” kids, only by 2 years, but still younger, and I think I did fine and fit in fine. We’ve reviewed a lot of the literature, and for many of the kids they do better when they are with intellectual-matched peers than with age-matched peers. I think it depends more on the kid. Some are obviously better at managing social situations than others. Anyone know how the Miss Wisconsin (I think?!) who graduated from med school at 20 fit in?

    But I think you have an excellent point in that life doesn’t provide the challenges, you need to learn to do that for yourself. It’s just hard when you are 7. In our case, we don’t have a local school district with a lot of resources because we’re in an inner city where most schools don’t even have libraries. Parents here tend to pay, often a lot, for school. And that means that we are really trying to figure out where to make that investment. We already supplement school with so many other learning opportunities both at home and in other areas like language and music and museums and travel. But we would like school to be challenging and not boring. Right now our son is increasingly negative about school. He gets excited when he’s learning, and right now he’s not. It’s just not clear yet whether a different school would solve the problem or whether he still wouldn’t be challenged enough until he’s in a higher level of material. I’ll keep you posted …

    #75719
    mommd2bmommd2b
    Participant

    psych,

    This is something that we have grappled with as well with our oldest child….we came to the conclusion that for him, skipping a grade would not be the best thing. He wasn’t ready socially. We’ve been very lucky with the school district that we live in because they have an excellent gifted and talented program for elementary school. We did look into the JH and Stanford math programs but also decided to wait. I am afraid of getting us into a situation where he gets too far ahead academically and then will fit in socially less and less.

    He struggles so much already socially that it is a huge issue for him. I worry about that for him.

    We are challenging him in other ways….I homeschool them in German and he and his siblings go to a german school every Saturday. I would suggest that instead of skipping him another grade that perhaps you do some lateral learning (as opposed to trying to skip ahead more). Maybe you could find a language immersion program, music program etc that would interest him?

    kris

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