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Support for a Gifted Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son is 15 years old, and although his year 6 teacher suggested he may be gifted, since attending senior school he has gone largely unnoticed and is now severely underachieving and has lost interest in school altogether. He refuses to work, although he is learning because he is a mine of information when you talk to him. The school refuse to support the idea that he may be gifted and insist that they have too many children in classes to treat him individually even though the child psychologist suggested this.

I need to know how I can support him and get the education he needs, as I feel at a dead end with his school. How is the best way to get his IQ tested to support or refute my diagnosis? what can I reasonably expect from the school in the way of support? Is it too late for my child to enjoy and succeed at school?

A: It is unfortunate that in spite of knowing that your child is gifted, the school does not support the idea. This is rather typical of a traditional school system where education is meant for the majority of the spectrum and not the minority. It may be hard for a teacher in a classroom of many students to give individual attention to any child. Furthermore, the school may not even have a program for such children, hence the reluctance rather than refusal. The saddest part is that this has been going on for a long time – some damage may have been done over the years.

The school appears to be the main issue; is there any school in your area that has a program for gifted children or individualized learning? It could be an option to move him to a school that supports his needs better. If this is not possible, you may need to attend to him at home since the school is not able to. Or get a creative tutor who is comfortable with the learning of gifted individuals to help him after school hours.

Of course, to gain entry in a gifted program, the main criteria would be a standardized intelligence test (can be the WISC or the Stanford-Binet series). This would depend on what is required by the school. The results would be evidence of a need for differentiation in education. Speak to a qualified psychologist who would be able to test and interpret results in detail.

It is never too late - the task would be to bring it out and that would require some effort and encouragement on your part and a lot of support of the very idea on his part. You could also try homeschooling but only if you feel ready and prepared to.

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Try finding out about support for this in your area. Speak to other parents who may have similar concerns. What is required at this stage is to bring out the best in him by focusing on his strengths. This would motivate him to work harder. Only then look into his weak areas to have a good balance for his educational requirement and success at school. Please do not give up – you have very special child and the best part is that you are aware of his needs trying to support him. It may take some time but I believe he will be able to use his gifts favorably as long as he has your support.

The following are some sites that may be helpful:

  • On parenting gifted teenagers

  • General information on Gifted Children

  • On homeschooling gifted teens

Good luck in your journey!


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