Gifted children sit in classrooms where they already know 40 to 50 percent of the material. Others become underachievers, and because of consistent boredom, along with other factors, drop out of school.
Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs
Your state may have schools with GATE programs, but these programs are highly competitive. There is usually a once or twice a year opportunity for your child to interview and test. Children who are indeed gifted may not pass the screening test, and it’s also possible that although your child is gifted, she may be wait listed for a gifted program.
At age 5, my son was tested for a gifted program, but didn’t test well. He was then admitted to a magnet school, complained of boredom each day, and was later re-evaluated and confirmed as “cognitively gifted.”
Another option is allowing your child to enter or return to the neighborhood school’s inclusive general education classroom where she’ll be given accelerated work, and if that isn’t challenging enough, you can discuss her skipping a grade or two with the teacher or principal.
Gifted education as special education
Special education is available to help children with disabilities and challenges get a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and there are states that include gifted education in the special education category. If your state lists gifted education under special education, you can get an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to address your child’s needs. You can initiate this by talking to your child’s teacher.
All children deserve a FAPE, but often gifted children are overlooked. Reasons for this vary, but in our society, many believe the gifted don’t have special learning needs and that they already have an advantage over other children. Not every gifted child has a rich family; there are gifted children from varied ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and poor children have few opportunities for gifted education.
Federal funding for gifted education
Last year, the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Act, the only federal program for gifted students, was funded with 7.5 million dollars. Now, two dozen members of Congress are calling for the House and Senate Appropriations Committee to re-fund Javits, after the Committee proposed defunding it. After December 3, it’s unclear whether Javits will be funded.
You must advocate for your gifted child at your neighborhood school or at a school with a GATE program. With the proposed cuts in funding, it may be difficult to get your child into a gifted program. However, parents of gifted children can supplement their public school education with enrichment classes, books, and experiential learning. Just as all children should get a chance to reach their potential, so should gifted children.
Carolyn K., “Gifted 101: A Guide for First Time Visitors,” Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page
“Students with Gifts in Inclusive Programs Need to Be Challenged,” Council for Exceptional Children
Susan Goodkin, “Leave No Gifted Child Behind,” The Washington Post