Gifted children let down

Jayme - posted on 01/24/2010 ( 34 moms have responded )

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Hi. I'm new to the group but I wanted to know if many of you are as upset with the school systems treatment of gifted students... or should I say lack of treatment. It is a problem in smaller schools out in the country. There are lots of programs in place for the lower 10 %, but practically nothing for the upper 10 %, especially for the grade school age. My son is going to be starting kindergarten this next year so I've been looking at the local schools.

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Patricia - posted on 01/30/2010

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Learn to love your child's teacher and be proactive. A parent that is present and shows they're interested and want to be involved in their child's learning is a parent who's concerns are met. That being said -- pick your battles. How many other students does that teacher have? All of their focus cannot be on yours and if you press every little issue with the argument "but they're gifted" pretty soon it's a knee jerk reaction to just tell you no or avoid you.

Also, regardless of what popular culture says -- you have the finally responsibility for your child and their education. Your teacher's underpaid, overworked and no matter how much they try to do they're working against the clock. Nothing prevents you from doing more at home besides your own initiative.

Robyn - posted on 01/28/2010

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Hi! I'm new to this group too. My son is in 1st grade. Our school has very little to offer for gifted children. Our solution was to teach him at home. He goes to school to learn how to get along better with his friends and to learn patience. At home he learns Math, Science and Spanish. Our school's solution was to let him skip 2nd grade. That is not the path we are choosing to take. I would still highly recommend our school because of parental involvement and the ability to talk with any teacher almost anytime including the principle and vice principle. My kids go to a National Heritage Academy. I hope this helped and good luck to you.

Mandi - posted on 01/24/2010

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Hi Jayme - I know it's tough worrying about this but go in with a positive attitude and ask for what you need. My daughters school has been awesome. I haven't got everything I wanted - and nor should I as there are students with greater need, but they have made a huge effort to cater for my daughter who is just about to start Year 1. Kinder went better than I had even dared to hope. Build a good relationship with the class teacher and start from there and remember never to diss the school or teacher in front of your child as it hampers their ability to form good positive relationships there.

I hope your K experience goes well.

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Kathleen - posted on 11/12/2012

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I have been fighting the school system for three years. There are so few resources and so little understanding of gifted primary students. I paid for the testing myself, and the school would not recogize it. They wait until the kids are in Grade 4! My daughter started refusing school in Grade 1. Boredom! I finally found an independent tutoring program and take her out of school once a week.

Kim - posted on 02/16/2010

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Getting rid of music programs and physical education programs in the schools is a tragedy! Music not only enriches the soul, it stimulates learning in reading and math. It also gives children a chance to excel at something in school. Not every child is going to be the football hero or the head cheerleader. I was in choir way back when and I lettered, right along with the athletes. It gave me such a feeling of accomplishment. And we have an obesity epidemic in this country. P.E. at school is the only exercise some children get these days. When I was a child, we played outside. We came in tired at night and we felt good. Kids today park themselves in front of the computer or the video game, and their fingers are the only parts of their bodies that get a workout. As adults, we need to start going to school board meetings, talking to administrators, etc. and let them know that they cannot cut these vital school services.

Laura - posted on 02/16/2010

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AMEN girl!! My children are in accelerated reading and math and are still not getting challenged. We are in a rural area and I do my best to keep them engaged at home which sometimes makes the problem worse cause they just get more ahead. I have considered private school only in my area that is not much better. I feel your frustration and I am uncertain there is an answer. Just keep pluggin away.

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I am very disappointed in the schools. Grade school is when they learn so much and need a lot of stimulation. Our schools are missing the mark when it comes to these kids. It makes me so sad and frustrated.

Michelle - posted on 02/16/2010

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Hi, It's not just in the small towns or schools. My children go to a huge district, in Phoenix, AZ. It's even in the not so good part of town, we all refer to our area as Maryvale, AZ. My son is highly gifted and it has been recognized in this didstrict where they have an excellent gifted program. I've heard that it compares with the gifted programs in the higher class areas of town, like Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, very rich communties. We are a very poor community but we have this gifted program that compares. Out of 18,000 kids, they have a self-contained class for the most gifted. One class of each 3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th, and 8th grades. And these kids are Challenged. They are not bored in their class at school and their teacher has the neatest ideas and get to do the neatest things.

But What I'm getting to, is they want to close it. Not enough money. They also want to do away with Physical Education(PE); and Band. How can a public school do away with band? This is so many kids only chance to ever pick up an instrument.
Parent's we need to work together and let these people in the district offices (because its not the teachers) who run our schools as if they were a govenment, how can they get the most money for themselves individually. Screw the kids. I worked in this distrct office, so I know personally, and now I don't, I couldn't stand it. In fact they've lost a lot of employees to another school district just for that reason. And guess what, the school district that has been losing employees because of their lack of care for the kids, actually blocked emails from this other school district so there is no longer communication between the districts. My kids will finish this year out and they won't be going back and my 21 yr old started this district when she was in 1st grade. In fact anyone know anything about the New Mexico school districts??

Patricia - posted on 02/14/2010

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My sons were considered gifted as well. One of their biggest problems was they would find the work so easy that they finished before the other children. They were bored. But being resourceful they always had a book on hand to read while they waited for the others to finish. To make learning fun for them, I provided them with the enrichment that they needed which helped keep them interested in school and on track.

Joni - posted on 02/13/2010

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There is no federal mandate to provide special educational services to the gifted like there is for children with special needs so more the most part you are on your own. Accelerate and enhance his learning at home by focusing on his interests.

Tracy - posted on 02/13/2010

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Hello Jayme, I'm thinking that if you live so far out is it possible to home school your child. 2 of our children are advanced and we have found advance placement classes for them within regular schools. But I am a little confused, when did you get tested for AP if your not in school already?

Patricia - posted on 02/13/2010

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My sons were considered gifted and talented especially my youngest son. I found that the public schools systems has its strength and weaknesses in working with gifted and talented children. I took advantage of their strength but I provided my sons with lots of enriching activities to enhance their learning and development. Music lessons, visits to the library and museum, sports, and reading with them. I read both fiction and non-fiction to them. It really opened their eyes to the world around them. I took advantage of the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University for my youngest son. Just take it one step at a time. You are your child's most important advocate. You have a lot to offer.

Kim - posted on 02/11/2010

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My faith is starting to be restored a little bit in our school district. Today, we had a meeting to start the process of getting Matt back into school. Prior to the meeting we had all agreed that it would be beneficial for Matt to attend the meeting due to his intellect. We didn't want him to think we were making all these decisions about his life without considering his opinions or feelings. The meeting was to be held at the high school. When we left the house, he was doing fine. However, the closer we got to the school, the more anxious he began to feel. By the time we pulled into to parking lot, he was in a full fledged panic attack. The meeting facilitator arrived about the same time that we did. She and I both sat with Matt, talking to him and trying to calm his fears. She went into the building to let them know we were there, but that it would take a bit for us to get him in. When she came back out, two of the pyschologists who would be meeting with us had arrived. They came over to help us get Matt into the school. I would like to say that we were able to calm his fears and we all walked happily into the meeting. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. I decided, however, that it was important for Matt to cross this threshold and so we basically pushed and pulled him into the building. It was between classes, and we went directly from the outside into the conference room. No one saw him being forced into the building. During the meeting, Matt sat bent over with his head in his lap. We would ask his opinions about things, and while he didn't speak, he would nod his head, so in his own way, he did participate in the meeting. We are going to try to start him back in a building other that the high school as that is the main source of his anxiety. We have a couple of different options, but we are hoping to let him start out in the middle school again. This is a place where Matt felt safe, comfortable, and supported. He is very comfortable with this idea. Once we get him back into a school environment, we will start trying to ease him back into the high school itself. He will have a pyschologist working with him on a weekly basis at the school, and she will be the one to start bringing him into the school. The counselor who told me that joining a club would be the best thing for him, apologized to me, and stated that she just didn't understand the severity of the issue. The school nurse shared that they have several other students in the school with anxiety issues, and that she is going to try and start a support group at the school for them. We all agreed that it would be good for all of these children to know that they are not alone. I have spent the rest of the day telling Matt how proud I am of him for doing the thing which scared him the most. He says that he didn't do it, that we pushed him into the building. But I have reminded him that he could have broken away and run, or thrown himself on the ground, or something. I told him that we never could have gotten him in there if he hadn't let us get him in the building. I think he is starting to see that he crossed a boundary he thought he couldn't cross. I also feel that i now have support from the school and that everyone is on the same page with doing what is right for Matt. I will keep all of you informed on our progress. Thank you all for being such a wonderful sounding board and support system for me. It really has made a difficult situation to deal with.

Pamela - posted on 02/11/2010

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I have found if you are willing to take your child to school in another town or allow them to spend an hour or so on the bus every day. You have choices and options. But if you would like to keep your children close to home the options go down greatly. The schools around my home do what they can but the gifted children that are designated "gifted or talented" have one class a day that is considered a gifted class. It can be very frustrating as a parent.

Felisa - posted on 02/10/2010

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I have been very lucky with my son's elementary school....they came to me about putting him into the gifted program for his math and reading. But, I agree that you have to be your child's biggest advocate. If that means that you have to fight tooth and nail to get what your child needs, then so be it. Good luck.

Angela - posted on 02/09/2010

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Both of my kids are "gifted" students. There has been talk of moving them forward in school, but we have decided that in the long term, that can really only shorten their childhood, and can really only harm them. I believe that keeping them with kids their own age is good for them.. I don't want my 13 year old son having 16 year old friends that are learning to drive, and starting to date, same for my daughter. I don't see anything really good about it. We have a somewhat limited, one afternoon a week program here in our schools for gifted kids. Libraries have great programs, and you can find community education classes in science, aeronautics, engineering, etc. Chess club is really good, music is a great enhancement to a child's education, And I encourage sports too. I was very stressed out about my kids' educations when they were very young, but realized that they really don't need additional education in school at such a young age. Mom can always enhance a child's education as well. Now that they are getting older, they are getting better classes and excelling in the harder subjects and having more of a challenge. Also, here,and in many places over the country, they allow high school students to attend college for credit during the school day before they graduate High School. My brother was able to finish his freshman year in college before he graduated from High School. I am a proponent of following your child's lead, letting him do the things that interest him and don't push the education thing when they are still so young. A childhood only last a short time. If they are truly gifted, they will still be gifted when they get a little older.



I was a gifted child too, and I refuse to entertain the idea that my kids are "bored" in school. I don't believe in boredom. There is always something that can keep their brains working. My kids have learned to make good use of their time. My son never has homework, because when the teacher is explaining things over and over to the rest of the class, he is just plowing through the assignment. He brings a book to school, and reads when he finishes. His teacher doesn't have a problem with it, because he isn't causing any problems in class, he turns in quality work, and he is getting good grades on tests.



There is more to school than pounding the facts and figures into their brains. The social aspect is so important, and they learn self discipline, and time management, and they learn how to keep themselves happy when they aren't the center of attention. Take a breath, and let your children grow up, let them do it on their own a little. They will turn out to be confident, well rounded, well socialized, and generally better citizens.

Suzanne - posted on 02/09/2010

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This is not a new problem. nut rather, an ongoing one. I am 62 this year and was reading at 7th grade level in grade 4 and 1st year college level in grade 8, I learned early on to take a book with me to school so that I had something to do when the rest of the class was still working. I was blessed to have parents, grandparents and a great aunt that treated me like I had a brain, they never talked down to me, they expected me to be able to take part in an adult conversation and hold my own in the thinking department, I read 2 newspapers a day for years and anything was fair game for discussion, I lived in the library and at 13 bought myself a membership to a private library in a neighboring town, I paid 50 dollars for access to the library with my own money that I made babysitting. Luckily by the time my son and daughter were in grade school our school district had a program for the lower grades and both children did very well until they reached 7th grade when they were thrown back into the mainstream, at that point both children's grades began to fail and my son would come home and complain-he didn't understand why they had to listen to everything 7 times-it frustrated him because he had it the first time. I considered home schooling them and still regret not doing it. I am a retired school teacher so I could have done it and done it well. Just about the time I was deciding to home school their father died and Left me feeling like they needed the normalcy of school. I am still sorry that I didn't. Home schooling is a wonderful alternative for these kids and a real investment in the future of your child. There are super materials available and for those of us who really like to spend time with our kids it is a wonderful alternative. Always keep in mind, if you decide to do this, that it becomes your responsibility to provide your child with opportunities to socialize with other children. Many people who don't have teaching degrees have successfully educated their children and done it well.. Most home schooled kids do very well in a college setting and show a higher level of maturity compared to public school educated children. Whatever you decide to do remember that these kids need to read, read and read more. I once read that the average person reads 10,000 books in their lifetime, I had easily read that many by the time I graduated from high school .

Glenda - posted on 02/09/2010

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You think the schools can't handle gifted kids? Try the "Twice exceptional" ones--those gifted with "learning differences" My son is beyond bright, until you ask him to write it down. Then he is lost. The school is too (to add to it a host of other issues like ADD, anxiety, and on and on. In a perfect world, I'd love to home school him. And if you are worried about falling short in a subject area, you may be able to find classes geared towards home-schoolers in your areal to help with that. It seems to me (especially if you aren't worried about social issues) that home schooling is the way to go. I wish I could do it (working and having the bad habit of liking heat and food does get in the way). Also, research private schools in your area. We have found one that caters to kids just like my son--with different learning styles and some learning disabilities. I am just hoping right now for MUCH financial aid!! Good luck to you!!!

Teri - posted on 02/08/2010

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I was lucky enough to be in a school system who has a great GT program as well as a GT Magnet for 4th-7th. It has been the greatest experience of my daughter's life. She was so socially awkward that she had a hard time keeping friends. This Magnet class has really helped because they only allow the top 3% of the district to be included and these kids are just as different as her. We did have to fight hard for this program on a number of occasions. They've tried to cut it every year but when you get 500 people at the school board meeting fighting for very few, they tend to listen. Maybe if you worked with other parents in your community you could find ways of helping these kids. My other option, which I have also considered, is the home schooling. I know it's not possilble for some but with all of the internet schools coming out it really seems like a great option. We are considering it for high school.

Jayme - posted on 02/07/2010

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There is a lot of great ideas and information here. I really appreciate everyones support. I have been debating about homeschooling my kids but I wanted to give them the opportunity to try learning in public school for a while first. If I feel that this is doing more harm than good and the school isn't working with me, then I will definitely be reconsidering homeschooling.

Lara - posted on 02/06/2010

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I totally hear you, Kim, about feeling like you're not the person to teach him at this level. I feel like my son is surpassing me as well but I have found curriculum guides, books, and resources to help so that I can still homeschool him like he needs me to. He is taking two college classes but still does his literature, history, and math at home.

There are curriculums for high schoolers that support homeschooling parents whose kids have surpassed them, there are computer programs, there are self-study techniques, there are community college classes that are far less stressful socially because the kids are only there for an hour and then they go home where it's quiet again. Geez, one of my son's computer programs is so cool - it was $30 and it covers every subject including the explanation of the material so that he can learn new material on subjects like grammar, algebra, history, geometry, you name it. It has all the subjects of high school. Gifted kids don't need repetition or even too much explanation, so these types of programs can be a godsend. Our kids are super absorbent sponges who will excel by just being exposed to the material. So we don't really have to be capable of teaching them.

The way I see it is gifted kids don't need to be taught, they need to have the opportunity to learn. That's the difference for gifted kids - they know how to teach themselves. They just need to have the opportunities to be exposed to the material. So if a parent can find resources to offer their gifted child then he or she will learn without being "taught" by someone else. So don't let your belief that you aren't capable stop you, because there are lots of resources to help you so that you don't even have to teach him math and science and he can still get the education he deserves.. And socially, groups of homeschoolers are everywhere that give them the opportunity to socialize in nonstressful environments.

I'm telling you this from my experience to offer you an alternative to the traditional path which seems to be attempting to force the public school to conform to the child or conversely, to force the child to conform to the school. But ultimately, you are the expert on you and your son and I know that you will make the best decision for your family! So if you truly believe that having him go back into the public school is the best thing for him and your family, go for it! You know best.

Kim - posted on 02/06/2010

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That is fantastic! Part of the reason that I am working so hard to get him back into the public school system is that I don't feel capable of home schooling him. Matt has far surpassed me in the areas of math and science. My degree is in elementary education, and if I was teaching him at that level, I would feel perfectly confident. However, my math skills are abysmal! I got a D in geometry (about 100 years ago! LOL) because the teacher felt sorry for me. I want to make sure that he is learning everything that he can, and I just believe that there are others who are more capable than me.

Patti - posted on 02/06/2010

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If you're able to get the public school to help out, that's great. I wound up pulling my 7 yr old son out and home schooling him. He went through 2nd grade in 6 months! This past Dec. 11 he started 3rd grade and is flying happily through it.

Kim - posted on 02/04/2010

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I know exactly how you feel! Gifted children should be considered part of the special education section of the educational system. The reason that I say this is because gifted children frequently do not learn in the same ways that average students do. Often, they require the same specialized education that mentally challenged children do. My son has severe anxiety disorders. Being a part of a regular classroom is almost impossible for him. If he was mentally challenged, people would be falling all over themselves to make sure that he was getting the educational services that he needed to function. In order to get the educational services that my child needs, I am being required to jump through hoops in order to get what he needs. His anxiety disorder is very severe, but when you tell the school that he has social anxiety disorder, they here shy kid. This is so far off the mark! One teacher told me that if he would join a club, it would "cure" him. It just makes me crazy! Keep fighting for your kids no matter how difficult it is. You are the one person who trully understands your childs needs. Like the old saying goes, "The squeeky wheel gets the grease!" Make sure they hear you and that they respond.

Joan - posted on 02/04/2010

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I would agree. We have a similar experience with our oldest and had her take college classes so she could graduate early. Good for you for looking to your child's special needs.

Lara - posted on 02/03/2010

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We had enormous difficulties getting the schools to respond. We tried Montessori which was only available until first grade, private school, etc. We had him in a gifted public school in Florida (a very good school) and even that was not challenging enough. He was bored and his self-esteem suffered because he thought he was a bad kid for not sitting still and for participating too much. So in fourth grade we pulled him out to homeschool him and it's been the best decision we ever made. He has been able to work at his level and he has a group of 30-50 kids that he hangs out with socially with our secular homeschooling group. Now he is 13 and has started classes at the local college and is doing very well. His early puberty and social maturity has helped him fit in, too, and he is just blooming. Sometimes you have to think outside the box, especially with gifted kids!

Joan - posted on 02/03/2010

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Taking care of the "gifted" is now part of federal law. Your school should be doing something. Most schools have some program for either differentiated instruction within the classroom or an enrichment program outside the classroom.
Good luck.

Brenda - posted on 01/31/2010

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We have to fit to keep our children engaged in school due to boredom and so we stay on top of it.

Jennifer - posted on 01/31/2010

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Do what is going to make your child happy.If school is not a challenge for him but he is happy there then challenge him at home with subjects that HE is interested in.Introduce new subjects as he gets older.I am happy with our gifted program at our school.They dont even consider testing for gifted untill 2nd grade so the teachers gave her extra when she finished regular class work to keep her busy.She never minded it so neither did I.Plus my husband and I kept her challenged at home.She is now in middle school and competes all the time with other school districts and has a ton of projects but she is still happy doing it.I see the other kids in gifted who put too much pressure on themselves so my biggest advice to you is NEVER strive for perfection.Just let your son be his happy little self and make his mistakes because he will learn from those as well! Good luck!

Linda - posted on 01/31/2010

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Hi Jayme.

I share your frustration.

I have a 10th and 8th grader. Both are well above average bright. The older is a girl, and the younger a boy. I will have to say, speaking in generalities, I think the gifted girls handle our public school system better than the gifted boys.

I agree with the poster that recommended researching local school districts, and if possible, moving to get into a better one. We did that before our oldest entered kindergarten.

I'll share our experience --

Elementary school: They break out a math group in 1st grade, and run them a year ahead. They break out a language arts high group in 3rd grade, and enrich and augment.

Our elder child (female) - did very well, although 5th grade they stopped challenging her as much, and 6th they unleveled many of the classes, further reducing the challenge.

Our younger child (son) - entered kindergarten being able to read, and we couldn't get the kindergarten teacher to nip across the hall and get some first grade readers for him. His third grade teachers wanted to label him ADD/ADHD (a child psychologist disagreed, he wanted to label him bored). Fourth grade teachers were the best, but by the time he got to fifth grade, they had unleveled classes a year earlier, and his days were a tedium of get work done, wait for the others, etc. He also ended up in classes that were not composed of a peer group that he fit with, and the social problems heightened considerably.

Junior High -

Our elder child - 7th grade, we asked her if she learned anything new all year (despite being swamped with homework), and she said no.. well, that she had but nothing that wasn't easy. Mind you, she always had to work to be in the accelerated classes, so the signal that it was all easy to her was a disastrous signal for our son following in her footsteps. We took him private. (We gave her the choice as well, but she wanted to stay with friends and balanced social situation against boredom.) 8th grade, the accelerated science program began a gateway to technology class (part of Project Lead the Way) which began her still continuing enthusiasm for engineering.

High school (elder child) - our high school is the "best" in our particular city, and better ones are too far a commute, plus cost of living is out of our range right now, so we're staying put. There is a robust pre-AP and AP program, but the school is massive (3500 students). If a child isn't self-motivated, they will float right off the rails, and no one will catch them. Teaching quality, even in the AP level classes, is sporadic at best. The model seems to be the more homework you give them, the better you're teaching. So our lives are swamped by hours of homework, and her grades have wavered because of not always getting it done. However, she is enjoying some aspects of a larger school -- the engineering program she loves. So it's a mixed bag. We've got her back on track on grades and homework, and I'm pretty sure she'll be okay. She may not get into top engineering colleges, but she'll land somewhere. Her PSAT test showed her at 99 percentile reading and 91 percentile math against other sophomores, and 95 percentile overall against college bound juniors.

Our son - we had a bumpy road through the private schools -- we thought we had found one that did some selecting for academically advanced kids -- they did not, and although he did end up in classes with an older grade, it didn't necessarily move any faster, just had older kids around him. We've since been fortunate enough to find a very unusual private school somewhat in the area (we drive him 40 miles each way to get there) that has a completely different format. He is flourishing socially, which is important for his healing right now, because 6th through the beginning of 8th grade, he was tormented and bullied mercilessly. Being around other kids equally bright has done wonders for him! When he was in the horrible social situation, we'd gone through therapy, and he was diagnosed with anxiety disorder plus OCD, and presented initially with mild depression. It was so hard on him! Now, he fits right in, he's out of therapy (although he retains elements of anxiety and OCD, they don't overwhelm is life), and he's with kids who get him. Oh, as part of his testing process, they did administer the Wechsler IQ test, and he was 99.8 percentile (IQ 144), so he's provably highly gifted, although we never disclosed that to him.

So - I guess my answer is -- be careful, be an advocate, watch out for labels that are counter-productive, and if possible, position yourself for the best schools publicly that address gifted kids, but even those can let you down.

Mary - posted on 01/30/2010

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when My oldest son went to school there was a gifted in talented program that started in 3rd grade thru 6th grade .He enjoyed it . Looking back I think he would have excelled as he would do alot of reading on his own, [self learning]He's now in 3 rd year of med school and doing well.The gifted program was nice for the creative part . sorry to hear there is not a program for your childWould moving to a different school disrict be an optition?

Jayme - posted on 01/29/2010

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Thanks for all the great advice. Thankfully, I don't have to worry too much about Carter's social skills. He is quite outgoing but he tends to be overly sensitive which can be difficult to deal with at times. School will be a great way for him to learn how to deal with a variety of different people and control his emotions a little more, hopefully. I'll do as y'all suggest and work with him after school.
Thanks again for the support!

Maura - posted on 01/29/2010

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I totally agree with the posts above. Suck up to the teachers, it's the best way to get more. Don't talk negative about any of it in front of your son. Lead him to believe that learning at home is normal. Fill in the blanks at home. Be willing to pay higher taxes to support the school system. Vote for candidates who support schools (not more testing, as that has been part of the dumming down problem, and is costly). Smart kids often are behind in social skills, so that becomes much of the focus in school. Keep him focused on learning outside of school. Good luck. You are already on it!

Ann - posted on 01/25/2010

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Hi Jayme.
My son was in the gifted program in our school district and did not like it. If there is nothing in your area, then take him to the library and any educational or cultural places in your area. Reading to him is the best thing you can do. My son could read before kindergarten, but didn't tell anyone. He is now a senior in high school and planning his college years.

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