Gifted and!

Updated on April 20, 2012
K.K. asks from Carlsbad, CA
18 answers

I was recently informed that my son (7) is most likely gifted. He does great in school, but I never thought that he was superior (or different) than his peers in any way. Once I did my research I realized that the behavior problems we have had lately closely relate to that of a gifted child (incredibly emotional, overly excited). Curious if anyone has any advice or recommendations of resources to help parent a gifted child? Also, since he hasn't been tested yet, did you go through your pediatrician to get a referral or did you get tested through your school district?

Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the responses! I just want to reiterate that he is NOT by any means superior to his peers. I guess I could have chosen a better word, but my point was that his grades are very average. I am just trying to get advice about his behavior. Thanks again! Ill get him tested and go from there.

I have to thank you all again. A lot of the children described in these responses sound very similar to my boy. As for the "bashers," I always like to remember a quote by Plato, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." :)

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answers from Columbia on

I know you're trying to be modest - but maybe you could help him by not calling him superior to his peers.


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answers from Richmond on

i would think that the best thing to do would be to have the child independently tested , not through the doctor, because if the child is truly gifted, the doctor will claim ALL the credit, next thing you know the doctor will be doing seminars on how he "found" this super genius, the same thing with doing the testing through the school. gotta go get my coffee.
K. h.

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi, K.. Your first stop is your child's school district. In fact your local school should be informing parents already about its programs for GT students. (By the way, some school districts use other terms for this. Ours uses the term "academically advanced," or AA, which I prefer to "gifted and talented," since people can be gifted or talented in many ways that are not academic, and the school programs are referring to children's ability at academics).

Does the school test for academic aptitude? At what point? In our system, there are two tests given to ALL students in 2nd grade that create a pool of kids who are identified as AA. When do those tests take place? By the way, you simply cannot study for these tests, so do not stress out your son by telling him what they are for or trying to help him prepare. The tests show aptitude for learning, not knowledge already learned.

Once tests are done, what happens next? Every school system is different but I'll tell you what ours does so you have an example to ask about: In our system, the parents of children in the pool are notified of that fact and have a choice to make by the end of second grade: Their child can stay in their base school (the school where they would go based on where they live) and receive certain AA services in that location, or starting in third grade, the parents can move the child to another school that has an "AAP center" where the child would be in classes with other AAP students all the time in all subjects. The big difference is that if the child remains in the base school, he goes to classes with children of all abilities and is pulled out, sometimes weekly or less often, for hour-long work with an AA specialist. In the center schools, the child is with classroom teachers who teach only AA kids and all the peers in the class are kids who tested and were determined to be AA. We chose to send our daughter to a center and have never regretted it for a second because the challenge is greater.

So find out what your school system does. It may have the option of sending children to a "GT center" at another school or it may not do that and may instead have GT or AA classes within the base school. Either is fine as long as the kids are challenged and happy.

A word of caution for you, K.. You didn't say who informed you that your son was likely gifted, so I have to assume that the person who said that meant academically gifted. Also, that doesn't mean he will test into a program, if your system does that. I know kids who did not get into the pool via testing whom I thought surely would. Some kids just don't do tests well. It does not mean he isn't extremely bright, and in some cases parents are allowed to apply to have children who did not test into the GT pool considered again based on teacher recommendations and an application form.

Also, his behavior problems really are typical of all seven-year-olds. Seven and eight are typical years for kids to be overly emotional, cry for no apparent reason, place what seems like huge significance on tiny things, etc. This is age-related as much as it is possibly related to giftedness.

It's really important that you give him a lot of fun stimulation at home. But the key word is FUN--it should never be a chore for either of you. Don't bother with tutoring programs etc. at this age! Instead, take him to museums (and always ask if they have kids' trails or other kids' programs). Scour the parks and recreation department listings, newspapers and local events listings for anything that might be fun and interesting, whether it's a kids' nature walk at a local park or a renaissance fair or "space day" at some local museum. He does not have to take loads of extracurricular classes or do worksheets at home; but he will really benefit from getting out to new places and doing things that are stimulating. Don't push academics at home too hard, just make everything about the wonders of the world around him. Encourage him to explore the yard and the park and collect whatever interests him there, bugs or rocks or whatever. Go to the library constantly and see if he'd like a subscription to a kids' magazine like Kids' Discover or National Geographic for Kids or Cobblestones (history) or whatever. Don't overload him -- choose activities and materials -- but do keep an eye out for opportunities and listen to him when he talks about what interests him.

You both will have a wonderful time. Just be aware that academically advanced kids struggle just as much as any kids, and have the same behavioral stages, and need help just as much at school and at home. So parenting a gifted child is like parenting any child, with the added challenge and joy of keeping them stimulated outside school in ways that work for them.

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answers from Tucson on

My 8 yr old is in a gifted class. SHe's in 3rd grade and everyone in her class is gifted. WHich means they move a lot faster than the other 3rd grade classes. SHe also does book reports which other 3rd graders dont do. Her class is in the 4th quarter and now doing 4th grade curriculum.
My daughter is globally gifted scored perfect on the test in K and 2nd grade.
She has many behavioral problems at home and usually in the first quarter of the school year. She doesnt listen, tends to be in her own world, talks back, still throws tantrums at home, ect. She is a straight a student and needs to be constantly doing something.
She was tested at school. GATES test.
There are always a lot of haters on this topic. The reality is some people are smarter than others. I feel she is smarter than me to be honest. lol

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answers from Seattle on

And... You've just gotten your first wave of being slammed for having a special needs child. Every other disorder is 'ok' but this one in the eyes of other parents.

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answers from Washington DC on

Go though the school district. Usually by 2nd or 3rd they test. In some schools they tier by 3rd, some dont' until middle school and have pull-out programs in the elementary schools.
My kids have tested into it. I have mixed feelings. Many times it means more busy work, not neccessarily higher level work.
By middle school these are the kids doing Algebra in 7th grade.
By high school they are taking the AP courses.

Gifted kids can "get" things without much explanation. Teaching to the norm completely bores these kids, hence the behavior issues.
I have sent mine to various summer camps geared towards the "gifted" child. These start in middle school.

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answers from Seattle on

My daughter who is 8 has similar issues. She's academically gifted and very emotional and overly excited; she does have ADHD as well but no it is not medicated. What we do is work through using behavioral therapy(CBT)for her. I've had her actually start keeping a notebook or journal if you will, of her feelings be they negative, positive, or other and then look at her behavior and reflect on what she was doing or how she was feeling when things got that way. Teaching her to reflect on how her behavior does not always present appropriate or match her internal dialogue has helped her to manage things and realize that sometimes in spite of how she's feeling inside her external self needs to behave appropriately. *Note, she is not mean, violent, or anything of the sort but rather hyper or quick to be bossy because other children are not getting the lesson. My daughter also works as a tutor to other children in her class; she's been appointed as such from several of her teachers at various points.

Try to work with you son and help him to reign in things and work on his own triggers and ways of how he needs to function in the school, or in a group whatever it may be.

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answers from San Antonio on

There is a book by Greenspan...The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five "Difficult" Types of Children.

It is great on understanding children with son is "incredibly emotional and overly excited" to name a few. He falls into the "highly sensitive" category and the book has helped me a lot with him.

Our school district tests in second grade for GT...however my son has been referred for testing twice, once in kinder and again in first grade...he is gifted in certain areas, he is just above his peers right now in those areas...he will eventually level out, maybe not until high school...but his peers will catch up to him, I am sure. But anyways both times he has tested he has not made it into the GT program and I get a call from the GT teacher on how he should be in the program but his reading level pulls down his test scores and makes him just a few points shy of qualifying. She keeps telling me I need to really push reading with him and that way he will qualify.

He already reads one grade level about his peers, but that is apparently not enough...his logic and spacial relationships are to quote her "off the charts"...but you know what?? I refuse to push his reading...he is already ahead in reading...he is ahead in other areas as well...I really don't see how a label and one hour a week in her special class is going to enrich him enough to make it worth it. We read at home every single day and that is what we will keep doing but I am not going to "push" him about reading more...(oh and his teacher even told us he should be reading further ahead than he is...he is a full grade level ahead and they are telling me he should be further than that??) might try the book, it helped me...sorry for the bashers...GT is one of those hot topics it seems...hugs!!

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answers from Dallas on

Ouch! I know you are proud and looking for resources but the LAST thing your child needs to hear or watch you model is that "he is superior" to everyone. If he gets a vibe that he is in any way "superior" you will have a bigger issue on your hands. I see it first hand all the time as a regular sub.

Now, he is 7.. MANY children level out around 7-9 and many parents believe their children are the next Einstein. Yes behavior issues go hand in hand with GT as well.

As a regular sub, we do have some children in GT program and they work hand in hand with the special ed department to address the behavior. Some are worse than others, some have no issues at all.

I have seen in 1st grade the attitudes of the children in the program and their parents (these children are NOT told by the GT teachers that they are GT).... they learn it from home as being "superior" and they make many enemies with other children who have more street smarst/common sense than the GT children.

In Plano, testing is done through the school system.

Be patient with him, encourage him to enjoy childhood.... they grow up too fast and there is plenty of time for him to excel.

Good luck.

ETA: I read your SWH and you sound like you are in control of things. True, maybe a better word could have been used but I see your point. Some on here love to bash others for one reason or another, my point was not bashing GT at it goes hand in hand with behavior.

My post simply states what i see on a regular basis and the major issue is that some parents are very arrogant about this topic, even though they have smart kids.

No matter who you are, no one person is better than another. Every person has something about them that is not perfect.

Best wishes to your son.

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answers from Dallas on

In Dallas you go through the school district.

Yes - behavior problems DO go hand and hand with gifted children.

I dont have any resources, but I also recommend reading research on different kinds of GT programs schools have to offer. Some programs seem to be more harmful to students than helpful. Some pullout programs create a situation where GT students feel that they are smarter than other students AND that that means they do not have to work as hard in school. The end result is that by middle school their performance and skills are lower because they have not been trying. Programs should give GT students the opportunity to go beyond the regular classroom work, and to work with other GT students in open ended projects.

Also - GT is under the same umbrella as special ed. Your child has special needs that need to be addressed.

Good luck with your little smarty pants! :)

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answers from Norfolk on

Our son was in private school until we moved and then he went to public school.
The new school tested our son in the 3rd grade.
He had perfect scores.
He was the only kid in the whole 3rd grade who ended up with perfect scores across all 6 SOL tests that year.
The thing is, the Gifted and Talented program has been cut to ribbons and the school system doesn't do much with it till middle or high school.
The hard part is keeping them from getting bored while the whole class works to the speed of the slowest kid in class.
I always tell my son, you HAVE to get through the boring things - just do it quickly, check your answers, don't distract others - and once the drudge work is finished we can go learn about anything you want to learn about.
We visit museums, art galleries, zoos and aquariums.
At home he's built catapults, done science projects (loves the diet coke/Mentos geysers), and reads up on everything that catches his interest.
We don't let the school limit what he can learn.
His teachers just love him and they sometimes use him to help tutor other kids.
Last year (6th grade) he was voted 'Most Tolerant' by his peers and he's a popular kid.
I think he's going to do really well in high school and college (and beyond!).

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answers from Miami on

Yes Gifted children tend to be emotiional but maybe it just seems that way sometimes. Remember your son may have a higher intelligence than his pears but gifted children are still at the emotional level of their peers maybe a little younger. Hence while one minute he will be talking about highschool stuff the next he will be crying and overwhelmed by something little. Also I've noted with my child because she is more inteligence and can deduce things faster she has a great comprehension how it is with other kids. More aware so to speak so while one kid might shlep off a mean word or a kid being a bully your kid actually really understands whats going on and it hurts there feelings even more. I found it was necessary to get my kidout of the public system and into a smaller class in a montissori style teaching.

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answers from Cleveland on

It's funny my son is in our gifted program and we are in the process of having his I Q tested.

In our state which inst OH. the teacher recommends the gifted program and the parent has to agree, he gets pulled out for and hour once a week to work with other kids on special projects, EX learning Chess, building a catapult etc. If his IQ ends up being high enough, they will create a special ed IEP for him and he might get 2 hrs per week pulled out to go to gifted AND the classroom teacher would work to try to adapt his work a bit to challenge him more.

i know the other kids in his gifted program and they are nice,but i really woldn't have considered them or him anything all that special. I think it's much more common now adays.

OH and Behavior is a Component, If he isn't doing his classroom work or if he is causing any sort of disruption or trouble, No more gifted program.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I didn't read all the other answers completely, so I apologize if I repeat anything anyone else said.
First thing, find out what they (whoever they is) mean by gifted. It can mean a lot of different things.
I have heard that when they test kids for GATE, it is much more than a test for kids who might excel academically, they are testing more for some pattern of abstract thinking, more right brained thinking than left brained thinking. At least that is what I heard, but that may or may not be true. You owe it to your kid and yourself to find out exactly what this person or people are referring to.

Most importantly though, realize every single kid/person is gifted in some way, and some in MANY ways. We all have our God given strengths, talents, passions, and weaknesses too.

The sad thing is that the modern state of public schooling is so standardized, that many many kids never get to discover their true passions and talents, especially in the academic arena. There is no time / room for kids who think out of the box. The attitude is, "You need to do your work and do it the way the teacher wants you to do it", that is pretty much how things go in the public school world. Sometimes it's just so dry and mediocre and stifling.

And for that, I am a strong advocate now for homeschooling if you can swing it. There is NO way any school can do for your kid what you can do for your kid by educating them at home. People will try to poo-poo that notion, and try to say, "Oh no, how can you teach your child without a teaching credential?"
Trust me, you can do it. There are PLENTY of resources out there and people / groups willing to help you do this.

No one knows what makes your child "tick" better than you. And you can spend more time on the subjects he is truly interested in, and go way in depth. Not to mention extra time for music, sports, etc., and NO homework into the evening. Homeschooling is very family friendly :)

I have not always homeschooled my kids, due to personal life circumstances. But they always learn so much more during the times they are homeschooled. Thankfully we are in a season where all 3 of my kids are homeschooled to some extent (one does charter school classes 2 days per week), the homeschooling is such a blessing.

And I want to share, that I pulled my middle son out of 2nd grade because he was bored to tears in class. Would finish his language arts and math before lunch, and be forced to read silently at his desk the rest of the day. There was never any science or history or penmanship at all, such a joke. Now in the time he did math and language arts in school, we are at home doing math, language arts, Bible study, penmanship, art history, science, gardening, skateboarding, surfing, etc. on a daily basis. And with a 2 year old in the mix and an older brother homeschooling as well. And having time to make homecooked dinners and relax as a family in the evening. No, every day is not perfect, but my so called "gifted" son is oh so much happier than he was in public school :) Just something to consider.
And if you can't homeschool, at least realize that every kid learns differently, and some years will be brutal depending on the teacher, and some will be okay. Just try to really encourage your kid to delve into his interests outside of school, because his passions are what will make him feel good on a daily basis and stay motivated.



answers from Los Angeles on

My son is in the gifted program in LA. Check with your school on how they do the gifted testing and with the school district on which resources they have for the gifted program. We are in LAUSD and they have a pretty good GATE Program in place. You can probably get some ideas from their website. I had my son tested by the school in first grade but I had to get permission from the teacher and the district psychologist. They did an individual test on him at school. In 2nd grade they do a group test for any kids they thought belonged in the program. We did not have to pay for testing. However, LAUSD will only put kids in the GATE program if they are tested by LAUSD. They won't take tests from outside the school system. So don't pay for any testing until you check with the school. If they said he is gifted, they should be able to set up testing for you. Also being an average student doesn't mean your son isn't gifted. My son's best friend is an average student because he doesn't like to do school work or home work but his standarized state test scores are amazing and he's a 9 year old computer genious. Hope this helps! Good luck with everything!


answers from Austin on

My child barely made the cut off for GATE in Las Vegas years back, but he scored high enough to get accepted. I guess because he BARELY made the cut off--I did not inherit the (bad) emotional issues from him. Thank God he was borderline. LOL



answers from Kansas City on

Our school district tests the children if they feel they are gifted. And if the pass the testing they go to a gifted program one day a week that is through the school and the school buses them there as well. We can set up parent teacher conferences with our daughters gifted program teachers and they are happy to talk to us about any concerns we have and they also have a parent library. I checked out a book called parenting the gifted child,I am sure they would have it in your local library.



answers from San Diego on

I don't know how they test in Carlsbad Unified but in San Diego Unified you have to pay for the GATE testing, and on one Saturday a month offer it to students. I did pay for it and found my child tested into the Seminar program. My kid's go to a project based charter school which is how the seminar program works, so no adjustments were made for her. Maybe a project based school might be better for your son's learning style. Project based school's aren't for everyone though. My daughter liked it because she was engaged the whole time. My son can't wait to get out of it because he feels like he carry's his group, and is looking forward to the regular book learning.

Good luck!

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