Monday, August 8, 2016

Meeting the Needs of Twice Gifted

If you have been following this blog, you will realize that I am usually writing about best practices for a child with a brain injury and meeting the needs of a gifted learner. Alex is both, twice gifted. The great difficulty with twice gifted students is that most public schools are not designed to meet the needs of gifted and talented students. Further, some teachers are blinded by a child's disability and do not recognize gifted and talented abilities, even when a parent advocates for his child. Some states have laws to protect gifted students that make it much easier for parents and schools to meet the needs of an above grade level student. Unfortunately, despite cries for change, MA does not. When Alex hit second grade last year, already working on 5th grade math, we met a wall of opposition to meet his gifted needs (on both ends) so fortified, that we eventually decided there was only one option for us, to leave public school. We could not afford to have another missed year. If your child is gifted and his needs are not met, he will suffer. Alex sunk into a depression and completely gave up on school. We tried to embrace boredom, and hoped it might inspire him, and to some degree it did. But it also made him so angry and bitter about going to school every day, that it was ultimately not a positive situation. Boredom, frustration and acting out are common experiences for gifted children who are not being challenged at the height of their zone of optimal development. You may provide your child with challenge out of school, but if he is not getting excited about learning during those 6 hours of the school day, no amount of after school activities can make up for that. Many parents focus on the high school years, believing that elementary school is all about making friends and learning the basics. But it is in elementary school when kids make their minds up about school, whether it is a responsive and worthwhile institution. In our experience, by the end of 1st grade, strong opinions and ideas about self have already taken root. If you find yourself with a child who has lost interest in school because his intellectual needs are not being met, you might consider consulting with professionals. I would suggest starting with some of the gifted and talented magazines that are designed to support parents of gifted students. I recently found TEMPO, the Journal of the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented. Great read. But there are magazines from gifted associations around the country. Do some research and subscribe. You only have one chance at childhood.

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