Advice on Moving 3Rd Grader to the Gifted Class

Updated on October 30, 2014
M.C. asks from Virginia Beach, VA
17 answers

I am looking for advice for my 3rd grader. I have just started researching the gifted program and am looking for any general advice or direction. He is extremely bored. He is in an inclusion class (no idea if this affects teaching or not) and comes home everyday expressing how much slower this class is. He says that he will be done with an assignment before others have even finished reading it. He makes up his own assignments on his downtime. He has to write reading responses on a shared website 3x a week, and compared to his peers, his writing is far better.

A little background: On the very general gifted testing in first grade he scored a 79/100 (a 90 or above prompts further testing). He seemed well-placed in first. Second grade he exceeded the others in his class, but enjoyed school because his teacher was a loud, game-oriented teacher that used methods that excited kids. She asked me at one point if I had him tested for gifted. I explained his scores in first grade. But he was happy, so I didn't pursue a change for him.

Now we are 6 weeks into third grade and he hates it. He has great behavior in school (got Citizen of the Month and Year last year), but has been acting out a bit at home. He's 8, so that may just be 8 too! I have a conference scheduled with his teacher next week, so she will be the best resource. She is however, a very new teacher, so I am not sure what her experience is with gifted. For example, on his progress report everything was proficient. Very average account on her part.

I also spoke again to his first and second grade teachers today and they both thought he should be moved to the gifted class. Apparently it has the gifted students as well as others that just do well in that atmosphere, but aren't necessarily "gifted". I feel like that is where he actually fits.

I guess I am just looking for direction. Is third grade too late to start this process? I was considered gifted but that was 30 years ago in a different state and program, so my personal experience is very limited. How hard do I push for his move? Any signs that he should be more challenged? Thanks for your input ladies!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the great advice so far! I love hearing the stories about all your smart kiddos and finding the right fit for them. I found our Gifted Resource teacher and have a message in to her. I'm meeting with his teacher next week too. Hopefully they will both help me advocate for him and find a better fit, even if it's just a new classroom.

** Second update. Spoke with the gifted resource teacher and she agreed to test him, but it won't be til the new year. Also, his teacher meeting went better than expected. She brought up on her own having him tested for gifted too. She thought it would be great for him and is happily writing the recommendation. She also has a math extension program starting for him and two other students next week. They will be more challenged than the general classroom curriculum. It turns out that she did her student teaching in a gifted program. So, everyone is in agreement to have him tested and challenge him a bit more in class. I'm so excited that everyone came together with the same ideas and are working together to get him where he needs to be. Thanks for all of the fantastic suggestions!

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answers from San Francisco on

Third grade is a big adjustment. Many kids (especially boys) become less thrilled about school at this point.
Having said that, if he is only performing at the proficient level then perhaps he doesn't qualify for the gifted program. Talk to his teacher next week. Just because she's new doesn't mean she's not informed. Teachers WANT their students to succeed, ESPECIALLY bright, new, young teachers. So meet with her, and LISTEN to what she has to say. Being in the gifted class will likely require more focus and concentration and usually this is exactly what young boys are rebelling against at his age. So it could end up being worse for him.

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answers from Washington DC on

well, i don't see why it would be too late. it's only 3rd grade, and the teachers are recommending it. sounds like it would be just the right thing to challenge and re-engage him. are there downsides i'm not seeing?

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Reading on

A 79 isn't even close (in our school, you have to have a 95% to be considered, and anything under a 94 is case closed - they only retest at 94). Third grade is hard - it's a year of emotional transitions - the school actually starts to expect some real work that year and there is a palpable academic and maturational shift. Both of my kids went through a lot of changes that year. There's nothing in your post that suggests you should pursue GT identification further, and I don't see how you can push for a move without scores to back up his needs. You need to talk with the teacher about your concerns and see what you can do to help him, but I wouldn't push for GT. And what's more, GT has a whole new set of challenges that go with it, so it's not necessarily a blessing! Both of my children are in the GT program, and both have been in a 4/5th grade special class for gifted kids - they were isolated from the rest of the school and challenged all day. My son is thriving, but my daughter's anxiety went through the roof in that class and set up unrealistic expectations of perfection ever since. And if he's misbehaving now, how do you think he will do when he can't keep up and feels stupid?

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answers from Washington DC on

Third grade is NOT too late to start! In Virginia's Faifax County, third grade is exactly when "advanced academics" (formerly gifted and talented) actually BEGINS. He is at the right age to start this.

So please listen to the teachers who have taught him the past two grades!

Move him now. A bored child begins to dislike school and learning itself, and you never, ever want him to star equating learning with boredom, especially if he has the capacity to be a strong and interested learner.

You are right to be rather wary of the current teacher's lack of experience with the gifted program. She may not be well versed on it and might feel some motivation to persuade you to keep him in her classroom--teachers love the kids who are good, engaged learners and want them around. Do be sure you tell her that you feel his boredom in school is affecting him at home -- she needs that whole picture so she doesn't think he's dandy where he is because he doesn't act out at school.

Get in touch today with the school system's office that handles the gifted curriculum -- I don't mean your own school's office, I mean the system's head office -- and find out who is the liaison for your particular school. There should be a "resource person" or other staffer whose job it is to know all about and explain gifted programs and who should be assigned to your school to answer parent questions. That could be a good help in knowing what to expect.

But mostly listen to those first and second grade teachers. The fact that they both clearly believe he needs to be in the gifted class is your best indication that it's the way to go.

Don't get hung up on that 79 out of 100 two whole years ago. And don't worry about "gifted according to testing and definition" as someone put it below in a post. The tests help schools place kids but aren't the end of the story -- in our system, kids who come close but don't quite test into gifted programs can still come into them if the teachers feel strongly enough that it's needed and there are other indications the student has a strong aptitude for learning. Really the other teachers' opinion that it's where he should be is key here.

Your son can benefit greatly from being in a classroom with students who, like him, learn at a certain pace. The peer group in a gifted classroom really helps kids want to learn - that's what we've found. Full disclosure: Daughter is in eighth grade, her sixth and last year of gifted "advanced academics."

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answers from San Francisco on

Bored is a good reason to move him to gifted. Move him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I'm assuming that if your school has gifted classes that they have a gifted and talented coordinator. The coordinator would be able to answer questions for you too. I was a GT teacher in our district for a couple of years. Our district doesn't even do assessments for GT classes until the end of 2nd grade and students who are selected start pull-out classes in 3rd grade. So 3rd grade isn't too late.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I have responded many times on here what I think about the testing for "Gifted". As someone who administers it myself in the Jr. High. It is very arbitrary and tests for just one type of thinking. There are many other ways to be advanced, intelligent, mature, responsible (and all the other things that makes one successful- or bored- in school) than just the standard "gifted" type of intelligence that schools test for.

That said, if they are willing to move your son into the Gifted class, than why not do it. Especially if he is experiencing a lackluster year in his current class. The inclusion teacher may not be as experienced at differentiating as she needs to be, and is teaching to the lower the end of the class while the upper end just has to have to fend for themselves while the others catch up. Perhaps his previous two teachers were much better at that particular skill.

Anyway, you can't assume he can move into the gifted class just based on a couple of his previous teacher's passing comments. You should bring it up with his teacher at the conference, and it is probably a decision that needs to be made with the principal. I don't know of many principals who approve mid-year classroom changes for students so be prepared for the answer to be no. If that's the case all you can do is encourage the teacher to try to differentiate more for your son (SHE should be making up the assignments for him if he finishes early, not him), and request the gifted class for next year. Usually a lot of thought goes into the placement of students in classes for the year, so at the end it is always the teachers/principals call as to who goes into what class and what the "mix" needs to be, so you have to respect that.

One last thought, if your son is at proficient in all areas on his first progress report, it likely is undercutting him a little bit. They need to leave room for improvement because he WILL have growth this year so she needs to be able to put "advanced" in the right boxes later to show where the growth is happening. If he starts out advanced in all areas there will be no way for you to really track where the growth is happening. So elementary teachers usually start them out on the lower side in the first grade report. Before I worked Jr. High I worked in elementary school so I know the "ins and outs" a bit (as a counselor).

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Have him re-evaluated. What have you got to lose?

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answers from Norfolk on

There's no harm in trying it.
Not all gifted programs are the same or worth it - many programs are cut to ribbons due to budget cuts.
He'll still be faced with classroom boredom as even in gifted classes they still travel at the speed of the slowest student in the room.

Our son went through this.
What we did was tell him he has to slog through all the boring stuff at school, deal with the repetition (quizzes when you know the material are easy A's), help others if you're permitted (no helping anyone cheat), be quiet (he usually has a book with him to read on his own when he finishes his work) and don't distract others who need to learn this stuff.

But get that all done (neatly) and THEN we can do some fun stuff at home - build rockets, make catapult models, do our own science projects, etc.
There's no reason to limit his learning to ONLY what the school is teaching him (and they teach to the SOL tests for the most part).

If he has fun stuff to look forward to, it keeps him engaged and interested in learning new things even if school is moving at a snails pace for him.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think you can ask either that he is retested, or simply ask if he can be placed in the gifted program based on teacher recommendations. I definitely don't think it's too late. Doesn't mean that they'll do it (especially based on his previous test score and average current evaluation), but you can ask.

That said, even gifted placement won't fix your in-class problems. At least in my child's school, the gifted program is a pull-out program for 90 minutes per week (30 min per session, 3 days/week). The other many hours of school, he's in his standard classroom with the rest of the kids. The teacher needs to be able to differentiate her teaching among the many skill levels in her class - and like any job that requires multiple skill sets, teachers are variable in their abilities to do this. With that in mind, I also think it's perfectly ok to schedule a parent-teacher meeting with her and let her know that you think your child's behavior issues might be because he is bored. Ask if she has ideas, really listen to what she has to say, and ask what you can do to help. Don't assume that you are right, offer your suggestion as just one possibility of what is going on - she may have a totally different perspective on why your son is acting out. There is an old saying - you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk. I think that's a good strategy in your upcoming meeting.

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answers from Austin on

Go for it. He needs this opportunity so he can be challenged.
I wish more schools would do what our daughters elementary does.

ALL of the classes are taught as gifted classes. All of the teachers are trained to teach gifted. If a new teacher is hired, the PTA pays for them to go to training.

And typically, every teacher on this campus has their Masters with a specialty. If they do not, they are encouraged and assisted to pursue their Masters. If a teacher finds a innovative idea with information about the percentage of success, if they cannot get grants, they can ask the PTA to match their funds for them to attend.

Many of the teachers have traveled out of state to learn about new ways of teaching, motivating and enhancing their classes. They then come back to the campus and share this with all of the rest of the teachers.

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answers from San Antonio on

Start with testing and re-evaluation and then go from there. If he does not meet the criteria on paper, they won't be able to move him. If he does, then they will. The requirements have to be met on paper before there can be a movement from one area to another.

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answers from Detroit on

My son, now 13, was a trainwreck in the public preK in our town. The parapro working on her masters at the time pulled me aside around january of the school year and said "have you had him IQ tested? he finishes his worksheets in 5 minutes and it takes the others up to 20 and so he spends the remaining 15 minutes running around the room touching everything, including the other kids which they don't really appreciate." i had him privately IQ tested that same week and it was clear that a mainstream program was not a good fit for him.

After researching three alternative schools, we found a wonderful school, The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, MI, that is designed for, and built around, providing a comprehensive education for gifted kids. The public schools in Royal Oak, where we live, don't even test or provide options for any gifted kids until 8th grade. We had him go through Roeper's evaluation for admission and it became clear that he was an excellent fit and he's been attending there since kindergarten, he's now in 7th grade.

It's a private, tuition based school so we work very hard and make sacrifices to give him this education but I believe it's worth every penny. He's thriving, he's understood, he's given the tools he needs to make the most of this environment.

Giftedness goes beyond just a high IQ. It manifests in clusters of related aspects, some very positive and some that can be very challenging....perfectionism is one example. We found the book Parenting Gifted Kids by James Delisle, PhD very useful in understanding the whole of his experience, over and above the intellectual/academic side of it.

I'll say one thing about having your son IQ tested. The test doesn't just churn out a number, the subtests that go into that aggregate are super useful when it comes to understanding how he processes things and how he approaches problem solving. This is so very useful when it comes to understanding his learning style and his perception of his world. Examples:: is he a concrete thinker or an abstract thinker? Is his thinking linear or does he percieve things as a gestalt before he can sort things out. I have found it to be a wonderful tool in communicating with his teachers and helping them to understand if/when an approach is not working with my DS.

If they don't move him to the gifted program there are other gifted resources out there to challenge him and get him socializing with some peers. Start by googling mensa for kids. I know there's a lot if information here but we've had a long and adventurous road with him so far and look forward to our next chapters.

It saddens me that we live in an area that has seemingling endless resources for the children on the left side of the bell curve but, if the kids are on the right side of that curve, private tuition based school is really the only functional option. By no means do I believe resources are poorly spent on helping those with learing disabilities or autism and the like. I just find it frustrating that the same isn't true for their counterparts. I guess the bottom line is that we made him and now we get to take care of him.

I applaude you for advocating for him and for taking him seriously in his effort to advocate for himself. That shows real maturity and courage and not all kids, especially in the 3rd grade, can do that.

Best of all to you and yours, I hope you found this helpful. :-) S.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter did not pass the gifted screening test at school, therefore the school did not pursue IQ testing. Long story short...I knew she would place and so I had her privately tested...she passed...her school put her in the gifted program in 4th grade.

I would pursue the other class if I were you.

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answers from Dallas on

I would bring examples of the writing you have seen as well as anecdotes of his constant boredom to the parent-teacher conference (basically everything you've said here) and ask the teacher if he could be retested.

It could be that he was missed in first grade (not all kids take tests and show their true proficiency), it could be that he's just not inspired by her teaching style (maybe she's a workbook/sit-in-your-seat teacher). If it's the latter I don't know what the solution is. :(
I really think it's hard to know what's going on when your child us out of your care the majority of waking hours. Wondering if he's gifted and bored, or if he has ADHD, or if he's depressed, or if he's a bully, or if he's being bullied, or any one of a million things that parents wonder and worry about, seems totally normal to me and worth investigating.

Good luck with 3rd grader, I hope you can figure our a solution that makes school a better place for him.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Many programs don't even test until around 3rd grade, and don't have a program before 3rd grade. I would certainly pursue it. He is bored. One of the chief complaints my child had through most of elementary school was that it was boring b/c it was too easy. Our system has a pull out program, so the gifted students are not put into a class together, period, but rather, are sent one day per week to a central location and have class for that one day together. The rest of the week they are in regular classrooms all day long.

The only class she ever talked about, asked questions about, shared information about, or was excited about was her Challenge (gifted) class.

Here, once they hit middle school (6th grade) all the classes are integrated and there is no requirement to "be" gifted to be in a gifted class. Although, they only offer gifted classes in Math and Language Arts. But there can be students who exceed in math but are not "classified" as gifted in the class. Same with Language Arts.

It is not "too late" to get him placed where he can excel. Losing a love of learning and excellence due to boredom and frustration is not the direction you want to see this go.

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answers from Washington DC on

GT classes don't start in my district til 3rd grade and we're in the top 100 school districts in the country. They test for placement in GT classes in 3rd grade at the end of 2nd grade. My son has ASD and he's been in GT since third grade. Definitely talk to the GT resource teacher and see what she says. Up til 3rd grade his school offered curriculum extension units where they were pulled out of their regular class twice a week and offered instruction at a higher level or extra instruction in addition to what the rest of the class was getting. There also were levels within his homeroom class (below grade level kids, at grade level, above grade level) and they each got different work too. HIs teachers were always great with working with him. He went into K reading at a 6th grade level to give you an idea of where he was. Honestly in 2nd and third grade he had brand new teachers and they were the best. THey had no preconceived ideas of how things had to be done and were so open to pretty much anything. Sometimes kids and teachers just aren't perfect fits but that's also a life lesson for the kids. First I would bring it up to his current teacher see what her thoughts are. I personally wouldn't start the meeting with he need to be in a gifted class just ask how he is doing tell her your concerns and take it from there. Find out what her grading scale is. If he's only proficient maybe he's missing a piece of the puzzle she is expecting from him. I know with my son, third grade became a challenge since they expected so much more from the kids and there was much less hand holding. He could be stressing from that and that could be causing his behavior at home. Or he could just be an 8 year old boy too. Just because academics come easy there still are social adjustments. I personally wouldn't want to pull my kid out of a class this late in the year unless there was a serious problem. I don't want them being the new kid when everyone else already knows the classroom. Hope that makes sense.

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