Having a “gifted” child means different things depending on who you ask. Gifted may mean that your child has a tremendous musical talent, or is constantly reading and enjoying books or math. Regardless of what gifted means to you, most school districts define a student as gifted based on how the student learns and processes information.
Of the over 2.6 million students in the state of Florida between kindergarten and 12th grade, only 150,616 are identified as “Gifted”, and teachers believe that there are thousands more that may be gifted but haven’t been tested yet, according to the National Association for Gifted Children . Here are some indicators that your child is gifted, and how to test them to make sure they are in the right programs.
Gifted vs. Bright
Many kids are bright, but since only 6 percent are considered gifted on a national level it is important to know the differences between a child that is gifted and a child that is just very bright. All Children’s Hospital says that some key differences are:
● Bright students may know the answers and enjoy school, but gifted students have advanced insight and enjoy learning in any setting.
● Bright students may have good ideas and like the company of their peers, but gifted students might have wild, highly imaginative ideas and may prefer the company of older children or adults.
● Bright learners may be good memorizers and learn in a linear, sequential way, but gifted learners have a deep fund of knowledge and thrive on complex learning challenges.
● Bright students may easily absorb information and be pleased with what they learn, but gifted students use information they learn to gain even more knowledge and always want to learn more.
Often, the first to realize that a student is gifted, aside from the parents, are teachers. If a teacher, coach, or caregiver notices that the child is performing or doing things above their peers or other kids at their age level, it can be a good indicator that it is time to start screening your child.
One of the first steps that many gifted programs require is that your child takes an IQ test. Most schools require an IQ score of 130 for acceptance into the Accelerated Gifted Program (AGP). However, some schools have different cut-offs, according to Dr. Nekeshia Hammond of Hammond Psychology. The school may also require an observation, questionnaire for parents or guardians, or similar testing.
If you feel your child is gifted, you can also request testing from your child’s school or an outside professional who does testing to determine if your child is in fact gifted. The difference between testing in the school district and a private evaluation is generally the cost, the type of IQ tests used and the timeframe to get results back.
Gifted Educational Plans
If your child receives the appropriate score from an intellectual assessment, they are considered eligible for a specific educational plan. However, keep in mind that many factors, not just her IQ score, should be considered before you head to the school’s office for the placement meeting. It’s important to recognize that many gifted programs are rigorous and your child will need to be prepared for the intellectual challenge of the program. Make sure to pay attention to your child’s maturity level and motivation to do a gifted plan or enter a gifted program. Sometimes it can be better to wait until they are in middle or high school to start the gifted classes if they are not yet emotionally ready.
As a parent you may not really know if your child can handle an AGP until your child actually begins the program. That being said, the process of enrollment into the gifted program begins once the school reviews the report with the IQ score and places the child accordingly. Make sure to be a strong advocate for your child in school by familiarizing yourself with the process of getting your child an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and beginning the gifted education process.
Sometimes children are very bright but do not earn the score to get into the gifted program. There are several things to keep in mind. First, know that as a parent there are still many things that you can do to intellectually stimulate your child and promote good learning opportunities. You could take them to the museum, zoo, aquarium, learning camp or have “home adventures” where they learn advanced information outside of school.
For more information on gifted programs and the best schools for gifted children, check out our Education Guide at TBParenting.com .