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Challenging Education for the Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter is 7 years old and she is in the 1st grade. She is held back a grade because of the cut-off date required in her school. In Pre-K, she scored a 99 on her Terra Nova Test. Since then she has been doing excellent in school.

I just moved and the new school hasn't shown much interest in her abilities. What steps should I take in order to guide her to a more challenging education? She finishes her homework in about 3 minutes. She is almost done with the 5th Harry Potter book and she also reads Nancy Drew books and does book reports. Besides these books, she reads many others. Her teachers and principal from her old school told me that she belongs in the Gifted and Talented Programs, but that doesn't start until 2nd grade. Please help!

A: From your description, your daughter has shown signs of higher ability based on her chronological age. It is rather unfortunate that she has to be held back when an advanced class would suit her best. In regular schools, it is rather hard to keep track or give individual attention to any one child mainly due to the student-teacher ratio.

You may want to speak to her teachers about your concerns and I'm sure you can both work something out. It may not be possible to give individualized attention but you can suggest that the teachers increase the level of difficulty in your daughter's work. At home, you are already doing the right thing by providing her the necessary reading materials. What you can do further is to provide her with more reading materials of her choice with higher levels of difficulty each time, take her to the local library often, allow her to watch some educational documentaries, etc. (Discovery Channel is very good but you need to choose what may be suitable for her). Having said that, she also needs time with people, so make sure she has a good social circle to develop her social skills. Sometimes, parents can get very enthusiastic of their children's cognitive ability and fail to help develop other areas (affective, psychomotor) which may pose a problem in later years.

You can continue to do all these even when she is in the Gifted Program. Best wishes!


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