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Gifted Education - What Is Right For My Child?

 

According to the State of Florida criteria for gifted, students must score at least two standard deviations above the mean on the individually administered standardized test of intelligence to be considered for the gifted program. In addition, a student must demonstrate a majority of the characteristics of a gifted student according to a standard checklist and show a need for programming beyond the regular classroom.

Classroom teachers, school personnel, guidance counselors or parents may refer students to the school team for screening.  The student is then evaluated through a screening process using the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT). Those students who demonstrate outstanding potential are further referred to the school psychologist for an individual psychological evaluation using the Stanford-Binet IV or the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Third Edition.  (Source:  Pinellas County Schools website)

Frequently, families are confused about procedures and unaware of their options.

The following information has been provided by Cheryl Koon, President, Gifted Association of Pinellas County.  It is not a story or a lecture, but a list of answers to some frequently asked questions from parents concerning the Gifted Program:

 

  • You, as a parent, have the right to obtain private testing for your child.  The results will be accepted by the school system as long as the testing source meets their standards.  Check with them prior to scheduling your testing.

 

  • "How many times have you seen "gifted children and learning disorder children" in the same sentence?  The reason is that both have special unique needs in their educational process.

 

  • Positive action for supporting your gifted child:  Join a parent group-one voice becomes many and many voices are hard to ignore.  Also, connecting with other parents is a priceless source for parenting strategies.

 

  • You have the right to know if your child qualifies to be in a gifted class, and you have the right to know if your child is in a gifted class.

 

  • You have the right to know your child's test results and what they mean.

  • You have the right to be a pushy parent if "pushy" means exercising your rights and advocating for your child.

  • Warning signs that your child is not having his/her needs met:  claims to be bored or hates school; pretends to be sick to avoid going to school; says he/she doesn't like the teacher; says he/she isn't learning anything; falls asleep in school; claims to finish work early and "there's nothing to do"; is bringing homework that is "simple, repetitious "busy work"; learning what he/she already knows; starts having self-esteem problems; shows perfectionist tendencies; grades start to lower; mentally "drops out" or becomes an underachiever; teacher sends home reports that child is not working up to potential.

  • Keep in mind the term "peer" does not refer only to people of the same age, but refers to individuals who can interact at an equal level around issues of common interest.

  • Some gifted kids find it hard to get along with children their own age.  Their vocabularies are more advanced, and their interests are more sophisticated and diverse. THEY ARE NOT SOCIAL MISFITS.  They can and do form close, meaningful relationships.  They may need adult help finding the right people and developing social skills.

  • One of the hardest battles is convincing your gifted child that perfectionism is never a good thing.  What's good is the pursuit of excellence.  They are often confused about this. Perfectionist means you can never fail, you always need approval and if you come in second, you're a loser.  The pursuit of excellence means taking risks, trying new things, and sometimes failing.

  • Don't expect your gifted child to be gifted at everything.  A four year old that reads at a 4th grade level is still a preschooler.  A six year old who wants to save the whales will still lose her backpack on the way to school.  A three year old who does math problems in his head might not be able to button his coat.  Gifted kids often seem out of sync with what seems age appropriate.  They seem mature, but lack judgment because of lack of life experience.  Many times their lack of motor skills frustrate them to the point of explosion.  If a parent's expectations are too high, it only intensifies the frustration the child feels.

  • The "G" word.  Should I tell her she is gifted?  Some degree of labeling is essential if gifted children are to grow up understanding how and why they experience the world differently from others.  Keep things in perspective-don't share your child's test scores with them, but explain they have a special gift that allows them to be able to learn at an accelerated level, if they choose to learn.

  • Take responsibility as a parent:  Learn what the gifted programming terminology means. ACCELERATION/GRADE SKIPPING; CLUSTER CLASS/GROUP; COMPACTING CURRICULUM; CONTINUOUS PROGRESS; DIFFERENTIATION; EARLY ENTRANCE; ENRICHMENT; FLEXIBLE GROUPING; INDEPENDENT STUDY; MAGNET SCHOOL; MENTORSHIP; PULL-OUT PROGRAM; RESOURCE ROOM.

  • Once your child gets into the gifted program, that's where he should stay.  Children don't become "un-gifted".  If your child is dropped from the gifted program, find out why.  Being identified as gifted one year and not the next is very confusing for a child, plus it can cause serious frustration, anxiety and loss of self-esteem.

  • Arguments of elitism are foolish.  This nation fosters a sense of elitism when it comes to sports or the entertainment industry.  Certainly there needs to be no apology for those who wish to nurture the minds of bright young students.

  • Are you a parent whose child attends a public or private school?  Are you a home school parent?  Or are you a parent of a precocious preschooler trying to decide which is best?  Every child is different. We will explore each option as it applies to gifted children.  Only you can make the choice that's best for your child.

 

These topics were included in a round table discussion led by Cheryl Koon at Parent University 2004.  Parent University is an award winning, one-day parent education program offered by PTAs, PTSAs, educational professionals and the community for parents, guardians, grandparents, teachers, childcare providers and everyone who cares about children and teens. To learn more about Parent University 2005, visit www.tampabaykidsnet.com/parentuniversity.htm.

 

Additional Resources:

 

Gifted Association of Pinellas:

http://www.giftedassocpinellas.homestead.com/

 

Pinellas County School Gifted Program:

http://www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/gifted/home.html

 

Hillsborough County Schools Gifted Program:

http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/~gifted.elementary/

 

(This article was originally published in February 2004)

 

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