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Why I advocate for gifted children

Parents with kids designated “gifted” have a choice to make: When they’re out in public, will they use the word? You’d be amazed at how often I see this theme recur on gifted parenting lists: “Do you tell people your child is gifted?”

Of course, parents have no trouble admitting to their children’s other qualities. You don’t hear people trying to find ways not to refer to their kid’s red hair or skill at catching a baseball. But somehow, when your kid is smart you’re supposed to hide it. Some parents go so far as to deny it—they don’t want their children set apart.

In my case, I had no interest in the word until I needed it. We were having troubles with our second child that didn’t fit any parenting manual, and didn’t fall neatly into any psychological profile. I finally found the answers amongst literature about gifted children. Like other parents of gifted kids, I found my parenting manual in A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children.

The thing that I’ve noticed since is that in general, people really don’t understand what this is all about. The most common reaction is confusion—my old reaction: why do you care?—but I also get people thinking that I’m bragging about my kids, thinking that I’m some sort of pushy helicopter parent who wants to promote her kids, and probably lots of other unflattering things I haven’t heard.

So why do we care?

There’s a national organization dedicated to gifted children. There are many state organizations. They all have conferences. Teachers get special training. Parents seek each other out on the Internet and in person. All of us care about gifted kids and their welfare. But why? Aren’t gifted kids automatically successful? Aren’t they every teacher’s dream? Aren’t they bound for success and happiness?

Well, no. We care about the welfare of gifted kids because things aren’t always so rosy for them. Yes, I’m sure you know a kid who’s a straight-A student, has the most wonderful boyfriend, is polite and kind and well-mannered, plays violin like a dream, volunteers at her local soup kitchen, speaks three languages, and, well, you get the picture. There are gifted kids like this, and they don’t need much help. For whatever reason, they are thriving within society as it’s presented to them. (It’s also possible that these kids are getting a lot of help you don’t see.)

The gifted kids who need advocacy are the ones who aren’t thriving. They are more often bullied than kids of average intelligence. They are more likely to have unusual sensitivities and have trouble with social interactions. They are more likely to check out at school if their teachers aren’t trained to deal with them. And surprisingly, they are more likely to drop out of high school than kids closer to the academic median.

It’s true that these kids sometimes come out ahead in the end—choose your favorite billionaire Silicon Valley nerd. But they suffer a lot of pain and risk being lost as productive members of society because they don’t get the help they need. And those of us who advocate for these kids think that is just as much a shame as when other kids are at risk. These kids are not better than other kids; they’re just kids and they need help.

How and why are gifted kids different?

The How is much easier to answer than the Why. First of all, there does seem to be a correlation with the sorts of mental acrobatics tested by IQ tests and various patterns of development. Gifted kids are:

  • More likely to show asynchronous development. This means that they are “many ages at once”—a math-smart fifteen-year-old boy who still cries easily or a six-year-old with adult verbal skills and a two-year-old’s temper tantrums. [Read more about asynchronous development.]
  • Likely to exhibit what are called “overexcitabilities.” They have certain quirks that are more easily triggered than the general population. It’s very common for gifted kids to show sensory processing disorders, to become belligerent when they are bored in school, or to need to run around and flap their hands when they are learning something fun. [Read more about overexcitabilities.]
  • Likely to learn in fundamentally different ways than the “average” child (whatever that is) such that classroom learning can be frustrating and fruitless for them. Gifted kids’ learning speed often means that they so quickly grasp the material presented that they become disruptive in the classroom, asking the teacher questions that derail the discussion. Also, lots of gifted kids are visual-spatial learners. They simply don’t learn from reading a textbook and never will. It’s not uncommon to hear from parents on gifted parenting e-mail lists whose kids had gone from a special education classroom to being designated at the very top of the IQ scale. Sometimes giftedness looks like something else. [Watch a video about misdiagnosis of gifted kids.]
  • Often found to have learning deficits that mask their strengths. So-called “twice-exceptional” kids suffer doubly, from the same frustrations in the classroom and social groups, and also from the fact that they often don’t get help for their LDs due to their ability to mask them. [Read more about 2e kids.]

Why gifted kids are different is under much discussion at the moment. The question is being looked at by everyone from neurologists to popular writers. Stay tuned for the conclusive answer. But parents and teachers of gifted kids can tell you that they are clearly different, whether by nurture, nature, or something much more complicated (my opinion).

Are gifted kids “better” than other kids?

This is the crux of the matter. This misconception stems from two roots: First, the longstanding anti-intellectual tradition of American culture. Think we don’t have a longstanding anti-intellectual tradition? Just read a few biographies of gifted kids of the past. Torturing the smart kid isn’t a new phenomenon. The dislike and distrust of smart people is so deeply rooted in our culture parents are afraid to describe their kids as smart for fear it will elicit a negative reaction. Second, there’s that stupid word: “Gifted.” The word implies a value judgment. It implies that other kids don’t have gifts. Many of us who write about gifted kids prefer a neutral term like “non-neurotypical,” but that’s a mouthful, and that’s not the one people recognize. (Also, spellcheck hates that word!)

The designation of gifted is a description, not a prediction. Gifted kids are no more likely to be successful than the general population, no more likely to be happily married, no more likely to win the lottery. But intelligence is, in fact, part of the description of some activities. So you will see that Nobel Prize winners are more likely to be gifted. You will see fewer math-savvy people winning the lottery (because they don’t play). You will see more voracious readers teaching in college classrooms. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs largely fit the gifted description.

But none of this is surprising. If you trade a gifted brain for height and coordination, would it surprise you that taller, more coordinated people are more likely to become basketball players? But in the end, it’s the people who work hard, have some lucky breaks, and believe in their own capabilities who achieve success. Giftedness is not a ticket to success—it can just be one of the cards in a winning hand.

Do I think my kids are special?

Sure I do, and I hope you think your kids are special, too. But I don’t think there is anything fundamentally more special or more important about any “type” of person. Old sayings like “it takes all kinds” don’t become old sayings for nothing. This world would be one heck of a terrible place if we were all alike. And this world is a worse place when any child is not able to reach his or her potential.

I was chatting with a woman recently who told me her daughter’s story: She said, “She really hated school, so I took her out. She decided that she’d just skip high school and go straight to college. She’s eighteen now and on her way to university… to get her PhD.”

Would the world really be a better place if that girl had been forced to sit through high school because it’s “what we do”? Would it really be a better place if she had been forced to hide how smart she was to get along with others? Not all gifted kids end up starting PhDs at eighteen (I doubt mine will), but all gifted kids are kids with special needs. And like all kids with special needs, our society benefits when those needs are taken care of.

Posted in Culture, Education, Parenting, Psychology.


54 Responses

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  1. Sheri says

    Thank you for a wonderful and well written article.

    • Suki says

      You’re welcome! I’ll admit that I worked hard on it. I realized I had never put all this down in one place…

  2. James T. Webb, Ph.D. says

    Excellent article, Suki! I think it will help a lot of parents and others.

  3. Valerie Marsh-Power says

    Thank you for this well written blog! I wish every educator understood this & that our education system accommodated for all children’s learning styles. We all need to keep advocating for our children.

    http://guatemama2000.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-it-means-to-have-gifted-child.html

  4. Megan says

    This is a tremendous article. It describes my situation with my son to a T. Gifted and ADHD. Diagnosed with reading LDs in first grade and was leading the class in accelerated reader points by third grade. Anger issues and socially immature. Add to that my background in education and I find it extremely hard to talk about our family situation with anyone who has a “typical” child. But then I think about it and I have come to dislike all the labels period. As an educator I feel our problem is structuring our education system on what is perceived as the “norm” or the “middle of the road individual.” Your article expressed what my wish for our country is – to find what is “normal” for each child and teach them in ways that make sense for the individual, and to help everyone reach their fullest potential. Thanks again! I’m adding this to my rss feeds!

    • Suki says

      I agree that our need to label has something to do with our school system. You can see a vision I had for the perfect school here: http://blog.sukiwessling.com/2011/07/a-different-view-of-schooling/ . But labeling also allows us to use a different lens to look at a problem. My husband and I really hated the “gifted” label until using it allowed us to view the problems we were having with our kids in a completely different light. We were trying to solve our kids’ problems with school by changing our kids… but ended up solving the problems by changing their school (to homeschool). Sometimes labels can be helpful because they lead you to information that would have been lost otherwise. But our school use labels to divide and allocate resources, which pits us all against each other. At the homeschool cooperative I belong to, we all try to solve our kids’ needs by offering what they need and figuring that other kids will turn up. And it almost always works… Thanks for writing!

  5. Carola from Europe says

    Thanks Suki. ” … the longstanding anti-intellectual tradition of American culture.” This is exactly what you find everywhere! I made experiences with this “evil word” in Europe (Germany, Switzerland and 2 other countries) – everywhere the same: “does she want to be something better? I prove that her children are rude, stupid, lazy – worse than the others” and then the teachers start to nag and discourage – only to prove that gifted is not better (than them) … Thanks to all my teachers as well, who tried to prove and nearly manged me to believe being stupid, lazy, not social and definitely nothing “special”. I heard one expression which is sad, but true: “Being gifted is the best way to be disabled” – but would anybody expect from a disabled person to behave like non-disabled? To learn the same way, the same things in the same speed? Why do people expect this then from gifted people? I could write a long text here, but … again thanks for this blog! I will share it definitely!

    • Suki says

      I’m sure it would surprise most Americans to hear that it’s the same in Europe. One would hope, with Europe’s even longer intellectual tradition, that it would be better. But I guess the instinct to push everyone to the “safe” center is a common one among a lot of cultures. Thanks for writing.

      • Jamie says

        Hi!
        I am reading this article over a year after you’ve posted it, and really appreciate it!
        I am from California, but have been living in Sweden for a little over two years now. I have 3 children, the oldest fitting the “gifted” description. There is a word in Sweden, “lagom”, which means in the middle or moderate and seems to be the status that Swedes have been taught to strive for. There’s also something called, “Jantelagen”, which is an unspoken social “law” that nobody is allowed to be “better” than another in any way. This is supposedly an idea that is on it’s way out, but it is still palpable here.
        I am just looking into the “gifted” idea and finding it to fit my son so well. Kindergarten doesn’t start until age 6 here and even then it’s very slow paced academically. My son is very intense and has exhibited some behaviors that the teachers would like to speak with us about (trouble regulating emotions) and I know it will be a challenge to broach the gifted subject here. This article, I think, would be a great thing for his teachers to read to begin the discussion! My main intention, of course, is to make sure that his needs are met just as the needs of a child with other challenges would be met by the school. Since a stereotype about Americans here is that we brag a lot, I’ve been worried that I won’t be taken seriously and that eyes will be rolling 😉 but this article describes perfectly why being an advocate for these kids is so important. Thank you!

        • Suki says

          I’m glad my article was helpful. It’s interesting to see how different cultures respond to outliers in their midst. Americans, to a certain extent, tend to celebrate outliers and outlying behaviors. We celebrate people who achieve in many areas, who do unusual things, who break laws in pursuit of some ideal. But somehow when it comes to education and intellectual pursuits, we agree with the Swedish and say that people who are trying to support their unusual kids are “bragging.” The only thing I can say is to focus on your child’s needs rather than his achievements. Instead of “my child is really smart and you aren’t giving him enough interesting work,” translate that to “my child gets easily overstimulated – I would like to help you support him in the classroom.” It’s always helpful to let the teacher know right from the start that you want to be her ally, not an annoying, intrusive parent. Acknowledging that your son may have trouble integrating into a classroom is the first step – it shows that you are concerned with helping her rather than promoting him as “special.”

          This is a hard problem to work out in one’s own culture, so also be kind to yourself! You’re there to support your son, but you can’t make it perfect for him.

          Good luck!

  6. Donna says

    Thank you for putting into words what I try to convey all the time – as a parent of three gifted young adults, and a teacher of gifted kids, it is difficult to field the aversion to intelligence and the idea if one is “smart” everything in life is easier.

  7. Catherine Gruener says

    Thank you! Thank you. Thank you.

  8. Mom says

    Thank you for a fabulous, child-centered article.

    I have grave concerns about the trend for schools and the industry to focus on serving high-normal or moderately-gifted and use that to represent that the gifted are well-served. The gifted, especially highly gifted or profoundly gifted remain largley underserved.

  9. Nanasha says

    I like the idea of having more resources and understanding of what “gifted” really means, but with the added caveat that it is problematic to just leave it with “my kid is gifted”. A lot of kids have specific gifts and as you mentioned, just because a kid does amazingly at one aspect does not mean that kid is ready to be treated lile a full fledged adult. For example, as a child I had advanced conversation skills. But that meant that sometimes adults would expose me to inappropriate or overly complicated concepts. The most important part about supporting gifted children is to help them with their individual needs and give others clear and simple information as appropriate so that they know the most appropriate way to interact with your child. And in the end, I think that the best course of action is to treat all people, even kids, with respect and to teach my kids the same.

  10. Suki says

    Hi Nanasha, I agree with you: sometimes adults misunderstand high verbal ability for high emotional intelligence. In fact, gifted kids run into this sort of misunderstanding in a variety of ways: A kid who is a computer whiz has parents who trust him to be able to make mature decisions about the people he “meets” online. A child whose abilities in one area are advanced gets judged too rigorously in an area where he is simply at grade level. This is all tied into understanding asynchronous development (see link above). It’s hard to be understanding when your child can remember everything he’s ever read about Java programming but can’t remember where he left his jacket (personal experience!). And it’s sometimes hard to judge when your child is ready for something if s/he doesn’t feel comfortable or doesn’t have the vocabulary to tell you that there’s a problem. I don’t know if it’s due to parenting or just the kids I ended up getting, but I feel grateful that my two kids are very vocal about it when I try to get them to do something they’re not ready for. Parents with unusual kids have to be unusually thoughtful about their choices in parenting – making assumptions about your kids can definitely lead to problems. But of course, we all screw up, too. I encouraged my son to take a course that included Poe’s The Telltale Heart during a period when he was having sleep difficulties. I’m sure you can imagine how well that went over! But part of being a thoughtful parent is noticing your mistakes and trying to learn from them.

  11. Joleen Collins says

    My gifted son fits the description of development as asynchronous. He is seven and has been tested as 7th grade reading and vocabulary, 4th grade math, spelling, and writing. In Tennessee he is considered disabled in order to qualify for independent learning plan. This year he will learn spanish and is taking an online course for 4th-6th graders about architecture at Duke University. He talks more easily to adults and feels uncomfortable around other kids, except those who are gifted. His two best friends are 1: gifted in similar ways and 2: has ausbergers (sp) .
    I worry about his social integration. Teachers will not move him up a grade (which I don’t want them to anyway) because of his social issues. He does not work well in groups or teams and wants nothing to do with silly games or meaningless childish things…even when I do something silly he asks me, “how old are you?”
    I guess my question is do they ever grow out of this socially awkward phase? or is it something that just goes along with the territory?

    • Suki says

      Joleen, I think the short answer is that each gifted kid is his own person, and your son will make his own way. The long answer has to do with what he will become. One of the things we parents forget about, in our hyperfocus on our kids’ childhoods, is that one day they will be adults. When people say that kids need to learn to get along with other kids, the obvious answer is, “Why? They won’t be kids forever.” There are plenty of adults who choose not to spend time with children and other adults just accept that. So it seems like if he’s happy with his two friends, he’s really blessed to have two friends. Many gifted kids don’t have even one. You should take a look at the various bits of research on grade-skipping and social integration – in the large picture, it’s quite successful. But I’d say if he has two friends, he’s socially very well off. Gifted kids are very unlikely to have large social groups at school. The big question is whether he’s happy. It’s too bad he doesn’t appreciate silliness, but perhaps that will come with maturity! (Ironically.) But if he’s happy and making his way, then that’s probably good enough. I think all of us struggle with wanting things for our kids that they don’t actually want for themselves – if we can look at them objectively and see that they’re happy with their situation, that should be good enough. But of course, keep re-evaluating as he gets older and his needs change. If you have a comfortable relationship and he tells you how things are going, you’ll see if you need to help him find different opportunities.

      • Joleen Collins says

        Hi, thanks for your response. Unfortunately his 2 friends are older and are not at school with him, so in class situations are hard because he will not play with anyone on the playground and refuses to take part in school plays, games, etc. But, like you said if he is fine with that then I should be too.
        Thanks again for your research and dedication to our wonderful children!

        • Suki says

          Aha. Well, having older friends is typical. It would be great if he could find one ally at school – this can make all the difference. Perhaps he will find someone. Sometimes teachers can act as facilitators for kids who are having trouble forming friendships. You could talk to his school about cluster grouping – http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=162 , or communicate directly with his teacher about how she forms groups for activities. Most teachers are still under the mistaken assumption that the more advanced kids should be sprinkled throughout the groups. Research shows, however, that ability-based grouping helps the social dynamics a lot. If she’s always putting your son with other kids who “need help,” that makes your son feel different. If she puts him with kids who can (almost) keep up with him, there’s a higher likelihood that he’ll be able to work with them. Good luck with this – as long as he’s not suffering, it sounds like an OK situation. But at some point he might need a change if things don’t improve.

          • Joleen Collins says

            You mentioned in your first response about how there are studies that show that skipping grades may not be bad for them socially? Can you direct to an article that may help me talk to his school about advancing him?
            Thanks so much for the great discussion!

          • Suki says

            Hi Joleen – for some reason I can’t reply to your message below so I’m replying to my message! You should check out A Nation Deceived – http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/nation_deceived/ . Also, I searched for “acceleration” in the SENG Resource Library – http://www.sengifted.org/resources/resource-library – and got a lot of hits, including this: http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/should-gifted-students-be-grade-advanced which looks helpful. The big problem with acceleration is that almost all teachers and administrators are 100% against it, even though the research shows that it’s a viable option. So it can result in a big fight if they are resistant.

          • Joleen Collins says

            Thank you so much! I will look into this. Thanks for your research.

          • Joleen Collins says

            Hello Suki! I have managed to go through the process of getting the principal, teacher, and special ed teachers together for a meeting to discuss my son being able to skip 2nd grade. Now I’m nervous. I’ve read the articles that you have sent links on which will help me a lot. Do you have any other advice or knowledge for me to be armed with in case they come at me with something unexpected? It may go smooth, but they may say no.

          • Suki says

            Hi Joleen – Good for you! There are some relevant links in this article: http://www.examiner.com/article/gifted-101-what-is-acceleration , especially A Nation Deceived, which you could use for background and also bring to the meeting. There is also a link to a study of accelerated students, which showed overall positive outcomes for acceleration when it was done in a way that served the child’s needs. Of course, the new teacher and principal need to be focused on best serving your son’s needs, not on using him to prove a point. If you have time to help out in the new classroom, you can help things go more smoothly. And of course, act as your son’s advocate, the person who knows him best. Good luck! Suki

          • Joleen Collins says

            Suki, The meeting was successful and Corban will be moving to the third grade, but as expected there was a lot of hesitation regarding his age. So much that it has me a bit concerned. Academically it will be seamless transition since he completed all second grade curriculum during his 1st grade year. We will see with time.

        • Suki says

          Good news. Just wait and see how it goes – one thing I’ve learned is that education is year-by-year, not just a decision you make occasionally. In fact, sometimes educational decisions have to be made month-by-month!

  12. Kelly says

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes! Exactly! I will send your article to the next person (new teacher, counselor, coach) that I have to have this discussion with ahead of time, lol. I use the word for the exact same reasons. It’s not about bragging it’s about being accurate. I don’t have a really smart kid. I have a gifted kid whose brain is wired differently. I explain that gifted puts her in the realm of the special needs kids just at the other end of the bell curve! Still no one gets it until they work with her and after about a month or two they’re like “oh now I see what you were trying to explain to us, you weren’t just bragging.”

    • Suki says

      Kelly, that’s such a common situation. People hear the word “gifted” and think “bragging,” but most parents of gifted kids secretly feel that they’d gladly trade a few “gifts” for a little peace in their household or a bit easier road educationally. If you want to use a more specific term, you can say “non-neurotypical”, which is cumbersome but does emphasize the brain difference rather than the “gifts.”

  13. imagifted says

    We can never have enough people writing about this issue. It’s a struggle that goes on even when gifted kids become gifted adults. You are right, it’s important to be happy even with just one or two friends. 🙂

  14. Suzanne says

    Thank you so much. My son is 6, and just received his test scores which FLOORED me and quite frankly scared me. This article validated everything I thought, as well as made me feel a sense of “normalcy” for my child. I am afraid of the misconception of a “smart” child…but if he was an all-star baseball player, well that’s cool! Thank you so much for putting this into words. All children are special, just in different ways.

    • Diane says

      Gwen,
      You may be interested in googling the Davidson Institute for Talent Development and their Young Scholars Program. It is free!

  15. Gwyn Ridenhour says

    A beautiful piece. I’ll be sharing it. I’ve got two gifted kids who dropped out of school for homeschooling, and are now re-entering as hybrid students – classes in the elementary, middle, high school, and even college, and some at home too. It’s definitely complicated and messy, and I see so many other gifted kids whose parents are shy of the title and the issues connected to it. I’ll be passing this article onto them in hopes that another voice will help them see the benefits of embracing this characteristic of their children.

  16. Diane says

    It would be nearly impossible to imagine how grateful I am for your writing.

  17. Joan Lindsay Kerr says

    Excellent article! May I have your permission the share it in my new GATE teacher training this fall? (For an in-district GATE Certificate)

  18. Helena says

    I wish I had read this article a year ago when my daughter started the “zero-class”. But this year I am much more wiser and thanks to You, even more brave to speak up for her!

  19. Catherine Gruener says

    Thank you for blogging about gifted children. Your post was included in the January Parenting Gifted Children link up party. http://www.pinterest.com/gruenerconsults/2014-parenting-gifted-children-pin-parties/

  20. Jenn says

    Thank you so much for communicating, so succinctly, that which so many of us have trouble expressing to others. I think I have been through or experienced everything mentioned in your article with my son through the years. It took a move to a school for gifted children to get him on the right path. I really believe that, if colleges would spend half the time training future educators on the differences and needs of children 2 standard deviations above the mean, as they do on the students who are 2 standard deviations below, these kids would fare so much better in school and in life.

  21. Elizabeth Flora Ross says

    This is such a well written article! I’m glad I found your site (followed a link from FB). My daughter has recently been designated as gifted and started an enrichment program. I will definitely be reading more of your work!

    You mention the reluctance of parents to admit publicly their child is the G word. I struggled with this myself and wrote about it just this week:

    http://mom.me/blog/15909-gifted-child-not-hiding-anymore/

    • Suki says

      Thanks—I’m glad it was helpful. It’s crazy that we can’t just look at individual children and figure out how best to serve their needs without quibbling over labels, preferential treatment, etc. It sounds like your daughter is starting out well, though, with a strong advocate in her corner. Good luck!

  22. jessica says

    I loved this. Thank you. I just had a discussion Monday night, rather reluctantly, with a mom of a non-gifted child and found myself actually apologizing over text later if I offended her for insinuating anything negative about her child (when I was merely talking about my own in a matter of fact way)… sigh. I don’t usually care what others think but this world (recently identified as gifted over the summer) has me on the learning curve once again. I’m grateful but needed to read this post.

    • Suki says

      I’m glad it helped! It’s really crazy how it makes parents feel when we talk about our kids. People I know who have kids who are skilled musicians or athletes never have to apologize to parents whose kids aren’t interested in music or even parents whose kids are complete klutzes! 🙂 We can have any type of conversation in which a parent expresses frustration over some aspect of serving her child’s needs and it never requires that parent to apologize… unless those needs are academic or tied to a child’s intelligence in any way. It’s important, though, to emphasize that the difficulties of raising our kids don’t come from their being “superior” in any way, but rather it’s just like any deviation from the norm. The world is set up to work well for people who fit into that big, crowded center of things, and anytime we have needs outside of the norm, we find it harder to get those needs served. And kids who learn differently simply have different needs, no matter in which direction they deviate from the norm.

      As parents, we need to focus on being our children’s advocates, and consider it a positive role we are taking. Other people’s negative associations aren’t something we can help them with. Good luck!

  23. Erin McKnabb says

    I have 9 year old son who showed significant signs of being gifted at age 2, attended gifted classes at a major university in pre school and kindergarten, skipped most of 1st grade and then in 3 rd grade ended up with teachers that only wanted to address his behavioral issues. He was board and not able to focus then would have tantrums because he was frustrated. The talented and gifted program that he participated in was a joke and was never truly challanged him. The year he spent in 3 rd grade really ruined his ambition and interests. He used to wake up in the morning and research biology and advanced math bacicly teaching himself high school and college level work on his own and loving it. How do we get this love of learning back and convince his teachers to look beyond the little things that get in the way? He also doesn’t show a good work ethic anymore and doesn’t take school work seriously when it’s too easy and in his mind a waste of time. This doesn’t make it any easier for us to advocate for gifted services when they don’t see him doing his best. Help

    • Suki says

      The further outside the usual range a child’s abilities are, the harder it is to serve his needs in any institutional setting. It sounds like your son is way off the curve, and you should find someone in your area who can advise you. If you are able to travel to Denver, the Gifted Development Center is the way to go. If not, talk to local gifted advocates and GATE coordinators in your area to find a local psychologist. If you have to keep him in school, you might look for a less traditionally structured school where they will let him do independent study. You’re unlikely to find a school where he will “fit in,” so perhaps you should look instead for a school where he’s able to be happy. The best approach for a child like this is homeschooling so that he can follow his interests. Once you find a place where he’s able to be himself he’ll probably regain his love of learning pretty quickly. Good luck!

  24. Heather says

    You speak as if I myself wrote this article. Thank you! This fits our situation exactly…….coming with it a roller coaster of emotions. I would love to meet more Parents like you to organize a support group of Parents of Gifted children in the Orlando/Winter Park, FL area.

    • Suki says

      Do you know about the SENG Model Parent Groups? http://www.sengifted.org/programs/seng-model-parent-groups/smpg-facilitator-training This would be a good place to start looking for like-minded parents, either by finding an existing moderator to lead a group or by getting trained to lead one yourself. You could also join national gifted email lists to see if you can find any locals. These days it’s harder to connect with people next door than across the country! Good luck.

  25. Virginia Hamilton says

    Hi Suki, this article was just sent to me and you so hit all the nails on all the heads! I teach gifted resource in an elementary school, grades K-6 and love it! I cannot imagine teaching anything else or anyone else! I agree with so much of what you have said and everything my kids do is project-based learning, problem solving, challenging activities and self-awareness. The toughest part of my job is team building! Any help in that area would be most appreciated! I also have my students work on community projects and involved with Future Problem Solving. After all, they will be the leaders in my golden years! Check out http://www.CanineCommandos.com and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-df9J4DaweY.

    • Suki says

      Great video! It must have been fun to do. It’s great to hear from such an enthusiastic teacher – clearly your students love working with you.

Continuing the Discussion

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    […] My discomfort with the word, and with even pointing out differences in intellectual ability, is deeply ingrained, pounded into my psyche by years of cultural pressure. If a mom says they’re choosing a new school because their daughter is an avid volleyball player and the new school has a good coach, we think that’s completely reasonable. If a mom says they’re choosing a new school because the current one doesn’t offer advanced enough education, suddenly she’s a) bragging, b) being pushy, and c) probably deluded about her son’s intellectual ability in the first place. […]

  3. Why I advocate for gifted children | Must Read Articles linked to this post on November 23, 2014

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