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Gifted Students Need Special Attention, Too


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gifted advanced studentsIn today’s crowded classrooms and busy family homes, it’s easy for academically gifted children to get pushed off to the side. They’re bright, they’re not causing problems, and their test scores are good, so people tend to assume they don’t need attention. But that’s a dangerous assumption. It’s a myth that gifted children can succeed on their own. To reach their full potential, they need support from their schools and their parents.

Accept joint responsibility

Because the state does not fund gifted programs, local districts must create their own identification criteria and processes, as well as their own strategies for dealing with gifted students. Consequently, programs vary all over the state of New Jersey. The state does, however, mandate that local districts make accommodations to “identify gifted and talented students” and “to provide appropriate K–12 educational services” for them. The programs offered by the districts “must address appropriate content, process, products, and learning environment.” (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.1)

It’s up to the parents of gifted children to learn about their school district’s unique offerings and to advocate on behalf of their children. The truth is, even the most accommodating school districts can’t be expected to meet all the academic, social, and specific ability needs of every child—gifted or not—so parents are encouraged to partner with schools to maximize academic success.

Schedule a strategic planning session

The first step is to have a conversation with your child’s teacher or teachers. Usually the teacher and parents will view this meeting as collaborative; all participants will be focused on the student having a great year educationally. If possible, both parents should attend the meeting so they can contribute to and participate in this and future conversations.

Take the opportunity to explain a little about your child’s strengths in a friendly, non-boastful way. Adversarial, demanding meetings are fraught with problems and do not serve your child well. Having an open mind and a positive attitude will go a long way toward accomplishing your goals. Know ahead of time what you are asking for, and offer your support as parents in helping to achieve your objectives. See if you and the teacher can come to agreement on an action plan. Setting timeframes and establishing goals may be helpful as you measure progress during the year.

Resources for parents of gifted students—>

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