My Child is Gifted: Do You Think I’m Bragging Now?

My son is gifted.

She’s gifted.

All three of my children are gifted.

You just can’t say this to anyone, you know! These are loaded declarations that you just can’t utter to even your best friend–that is if they don’t get it. Why? Most often you will be met with a long, blank stare and you just know that this other person, after hearing your my-child-is-gifted declaration is thinking, Ugh, I’m so tired of hearing parents brag about their gifted kids! or Everybody thinks their kid is gifted!

Now try saying this to someone: My child is gifted and it is such a struggle!

Ha! Now, you may not see that long, blank stare. You will likely see a wide-eyed look of disbelief tinged with a dash of disgust.  And, as the parent of a gifted kid, you absolutely know that this person is thinking, Is she really trying to make me believe that raising a smart kid is tough? What? Did she just break a nail thumbing through all of his straight-A test papers?

That ultra smart kid, the one who easily makes all A’s, the one most people think of when they think of gifted children–there is a chance that he isn’t gifted.  Smart? Yes.  Gifted? Maybe not.

Intelligence is difficult to measure, and achievement in school doesn’t always determine intelligence. But historically, we have totally equated intelligence with academic achievement. And academic achievement does not always relate to giftedness.

Say what?

Nope, gifted children often don’t excel in school.

So, is this revelation poking holes in the belief that gifted children are smart and excel in school? I hope so.

I have three gifted sons. Only one really excelled in school. He loved school and always made excellent grades. Neither of my other two sons consistently made all A’s in school likely because they are both visual-spatial learners, and nearly all traditional classrooms are taught using auditory-sequential teaching methods which flies in the face of visual-spatial learners.  Nope, gifted children often don’t excel in school–especially when their unique learning needs are ignored.

This is where the struggle begins. As a parent of a gifted child, you know your child reached all sorts of intellectual and developmental benchmarks way before other children. Pretty awesome, huh? So, why are they not making straight A’s on their report card?

My son is gifted, but he has an F in algebra.

Okay, just try saying that to someone who doesn’t understand giftedness. Most likely you will see a confused look on their face with their nose and forehead scrunched up with deep, furrowed eye brows. If this person is polite, he’ll refrain from spouting out what he really wants to tell you: Dude, I’m sorry, but maybe your kid isn’t gifted after all!

And the struggle continues. Parents of gifted children understand that it is an uphill battle to try to convince schools that acceleration can help the child who is failing. But doesn’t failing in school mean that the child does not know the information? Nope, not necessarily. Failing in school can also mean that a child who is gifted and his educational needs are not being met in the classroom may have just given up. He is tired of waiting because information is not being taught at his quicker pace. He is bored with repeated practice and repetitions of skills he already knows. Or the teacher teaches in a step-by-step fashion leading slowly up to the bigger concept when the gifted child already sees the bigger concept. Or he has decided that rote learning is a waste of his time because knowledge should be useful and purposeful–rote learning is for filling in the blanks correctly so you can make an A+ on your test and have it pinned to the wall of fame in the hallway outside of your classroom.

Kind of like nails on a chalkboard–to a gifted child.

As a parent of a gifted child, we also know that there is more to our child than their intelligence and academic performance. We know, understand and have experienced the emotional and social characteristics that come with higher intelligence. It’s brain wiring. How could a gifted child’s brain have developed more significantly intellectually without other cognitive brain functions such as emotional and social capacity being affected? That higher intellect (giftedness) seems to automatically come packaged at birth with more intense emotional quirks and more significant social mores.

So, you take this smart-but-failing, emotional wreck of a kid and try to get his school to understand that he doesn’t need to work harder or practice more because he is failing, but that he needs to be accelerated, differentiated or taught in a way that meets his needs. Then he may once again feel learning has a purpose, and he just may decide to make a few A+’s just to please his parents and teachers. But how do you convince anyone that a child with an F in algebra needs to be moved ahead faster, taught differently, and not slowed down and pushed backwards by more practice?

And how do you convince your highly-emotional child that school should not define him? And how do you warn him that naturally, he will be the object of envy because he was born gifted, and sometimes this envy results in bullying? And how do you assure him that despite his higher-than-average intelligence, he will find friends who understand him?

It’s exhausting.

So, there you have it. A scary smart kid who may not make the honor roll in school, who may struggle socially to find like-minded peers who understand his complex topics of conversation, who then freaks-the-hell-out when he can’t be like all the other typical kids and he fears he will never fit in EVER. And neither you nor your gifted child can talk about these problems or ask for help because for sure, other people will think you are shamelessly suffering from first-world problems.

 

My child is gifted.

Do you think I’m bragging now?

 

RELATED POSTS AND ARTICLES:

My Child is Gifted and I Can’t Talk About Him

Giftedness is More Than a Function of Education

Why Parents of Gifted Children are Turning to Homeschooling

170 Comments on “My Child is Gifted: Do You Think I’m Bragging Now?

  1. I’m not gifted but I think I have an idea of how it feels (I was stuck in a reaaallllyyy slow set in math aka: a top set). It wasn’t that I was clever – just a dumb kid stuck in a hopelessly SLOW set.

    It’s that liitle slightly dull gritting your teeth only to become so beeping exasperated that you just STOP BOTHEREING TO DO THE WORK feeling. Its doing the hardest question and being told to do every other one before it. Its finishing the work then sitting there annoying your best friend(who finds this hard). Its not giving anyone else the answers because you don’t want to be seen as clever. Its the teacher ignoring your hand knowing full well that you are on the verge of tears from boredom. Its when you finally are challenged, not knowing how to go about LEARNING because you normally don’t need to. its giving up.

    For the record, I got an A* without any revision. (I repeat I AM NOT SAYING “ANY” for brownie points) – it was E-A-S-Y.
    I have given it up for A-level. It isn’t worth it. and I LOVE math. Sorry, loved. Instead, I am doing subjects I find hard.
    Don’t judge, you may as well drink poison (cool Chinese philosopher reference huh 😛 )

    I am not gifted. Imagine how hard it must be if you are.

    • Whether you are gifted or not, you sure have a great sense of humor, a very good insight into how you learn best, and a wonderful little bit of sarcasm that just spices it all up. I’ll predict you will go pretty far in life!

      Thanks for leaving your wonderful bits of wisdom here for all of us!

  2. To whom it may concern,
    I am writing in regard to ask about my three year old son, who is capable to do things that his own aged friends cannot .I, as his mother, have never wanted to demonstrate he himself and others that he is a distinguished child, but as a pediatrician, when comparing him with guys of his age I concluded that it is my responsibility to do something for his development.
    I want to mention here some aspects of his discriminating attitudes; He reads words, sentences and signs and even writes in English as his second language. He can count numbers in Persian (as the mother tongue) and in English to 100 and to 20 in French. He is so much interested to read English signs and words in the street. He asks questions which are not at all childish. He is not interested in net, cell phone and TV for the games and kid programs. He uses the computer and cell phone to search Google for his questions he faces and to type words and sentences for the family and friends with quite a strange obsession about the dictation, capital\small letters, exclamation and correct grammatical points. He has a fabulous memory both about recalling recent matters or things he had been said long time ago. He is thirsty to learn things especially words and letters. He knows all the shapes in Persian and English, knows the colors (even the unusual ones with details like light or dark) in Persian, English and French. He can sing a long song while just heard once.
    He is so talented in the kindergarten that the manager with a 25 year experience tells that she has seen just two children as sharp as Kourosh Kashiha (name of my son) during her work period. He is so caring and emotional about me and his father’s health and feelings. He was not tolerant with his own age class at the kindergarten and is even the quickest and best learner in the higher ranked aged class. He knows the members of his kindergarten (all classes) with their names and family names. He enjoys much to spend time with his elder teachers and staff rather than his friends of his own age.
    He speaks really fluently for his age, wears his clothes by his own, paints beautifully and is eager to hear, sing and play the piano. He owns great olfactory, auditory and visual senses; for example he can read things from far away that my husband and I cannot even distinguish. He can simultaneously watch T.V, paint drawings and make comments on his parents’ conversation. He thinks of new ideas for solving the problems, for example pumping his balloon with a pumper rather than blowing. He is eager to engage in difficult tasks and do things on his own and is disturbed when we involve. He asks complex questions, for some I can hardly find proper answers.
    I am a 35 year old academic Neonatologist and his father is a 47 year old project manager with high standards of living in Iran, Tehran. Unfortunately, here we could find no organization or institute to discover and cultivate children’s talents.
    We as parents have decided to dedicate our individualistic scopes to develop our son’s capabilities. I wrote to request for any guidance and help that your organization can provide and I will be grateful if you mention this serious. I am waiting impatiently for your kind regard and reply.
    Sincerely Yours,
    Dr Sara Sanii
    19th September, 2016

  3. All children are gifted, or at least more gifted than schools can handle. We have no ambition for them, but simply put them in a holding pen until they grow up, and then we wonder what went wrong. They all need to be liberated from the idiocy of school.

    • Agreed, David. Every gifted child, no matter their level of education and achievement, are educated at the average level of their age group in school. “They all need to be liberated from the idiocy of school.” <----Yes, indeed!

  4. I just came across this piece in my Facebook newsfeed and it has brought me to tears. This, all of this, is my daughter. and reading all of the other parents comments has left me feeling so defeated for our children. My daughter is failing this year. A child who has consistently scored in the 99th percentile on all of her “standardized ” testing is failing. She is “odd” for a girl her age because she wants to learn biology instead of cheerlead. She has social anxiety and can not voice her frustrations. And I feel like I’m failing as a mom.
    Thank you for this article. For providing resources needed to try to help her. I need to do more to advocate for her in school. I hate to see her so crushed and defeated. It is a struggle. This is not a gift.

    • Hi Disney Mom,

      My heart gets broken over and over again after reading stories like yours about the struggles our gifted children face and sadly, there are many–same plot, just different characters and settings.

      When I wrote this article, I was in the same frame of mind you are in now. Yet things did get better, but it took more time than I would have thought. The two things I wish someone would have told me when I was in the thick of this agony seeing my child suffer would be, 1. Read, read, read all you can about gifted children. Knowledge is power because educators most often don’t know enough about giftedness to address it properly. And 2. Advocate for your child. All the knowledge you gain from reading you will use to advocate for your child because again, the educators we depend on to properly educate our gifted child often do not understand giftedness–most think it is simply a high-achieving child.

      Accept, embrace and celebrate that your child is on a different path than typical children. Different can be a really awesome thing!

      Good luck to you and check back in if you need more resources or support. Check out Crushing Tall Poppies Resource page– http://crushingtallpoppies.com/resources/ and Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page– https://www.facebook.com/crushingtallpoppies/

      Thank you, Disney Mom!

  5. After reading your article, I cried. I feel like someone has finally spoken out my deep sorrow. Good to know I am not alone.

    From a lonely mother

    • Ariel,

      No, you are not alone, and sadly, there are many of us who have needed support, but knew we couldn’t ask. The one thing that saved me and helped my gifted child in return was the numerous Facebook pages and groups dedicated to gifted parents, gifted children and gifted adults. You will meet so many who are on the same journey as you.

      Thank you, Ariel!

  6. Thank you!!
    I am a mother of three, my oldest daughter displayed these qualities however I lacked the knowledge that there was anything extra for her (other than what I implemented at home and regular school) when this was such a crucial time for her. Now she is finishing her last years of high school and is doing well through this school system, we believe her destiny is hers, however we now have our middle child and younger sibling. Our middle child started school a couple of months ago and is not interested, easily distracted and would far rather be making something, an experiment, artwork, building anything but reading and writing – even though he can do so well, he is just not interested. Discovering the mysteries of the world, history, the solar system, bacteria, anything else…however none of this fits the ‘school curriculum’.
    Anyway…I am finding it hard to talk to anyone except my partner and best friend about this as they just don’t seem to understand or think we are bragging about his abilities (when infact we are worrying about the fact that he can’t be bothered going to the toilet, or is acting out with aggression because he is misunderstood or lacks the social ability to tell his friends he is unhappy with something). I have had a couple of conversations with his teacher, and am just hoping that she will support us in our journey to incorporate his interests into his schooling. I would love to hear any advice.
    There is a program we are looking into, however it is open for children once they are at the age of seven. The child goes to school four days a week and to this program one day a week which allows them to still gain national standards as well as exploring their creativity and extending their interests.

    • Pene,

      Oh boy, do I understand your middle child!

      Many of us don’t “see” the gifted side of our children as long as they are doing okay in school. The one thing that helped me the most with my anti-school child was to read and learn everything I could in order to understand what we were dealing with. The second thing I have come to realize years later is that all educators do not know everything about giftedness. Not every teacher understands gifted children much more than they are the smart kids you don’t have to worry about. And that is not what a gifted child is at all. You need to be the expert and the advocate, so you need to be very informed.

      There are TONS of resources on Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and SENG-Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted.

      Good luck, Pene, and please keep us posted how everything is going!

  7. Pingback: My Child is Gifted and I Can’t Talk About Him | Crushing Tall Poppies

  8. Pingback: Dear Teacher, My Gifted Child is in Your Class | Crushing Tall Poppies

  9. I agree, school are not engaging gifted kids. My daughther is going to 4th grade and she has been telling me she doesn’t want to go to school. She gets bored. I can’t afford to do homeschooling. Very hard when we have to deal with that on top of the difficulty of raising a gifted child.

    • Lynette,

      Believe me I get it and I understand.

      “Very hard when we have to deal with that on top of the difficulty of raising a gifted child.” Then add to this that so many others think school and parenting is a breeze with a gifted child. So much so, they have a lot of animosity towards parents with gifted kids because they think when we talk about our gifted child, we are just bragging.

      Don’t give up! You are not alone–there are many others in the same boat. Connecting with other parents of gifted children whether through a support group or online can help you through this difficult journey.

      Thank you, Lynette. Hugs to you and your daughter.

  10. Pingback: I Have a Gifted Kid and I Will No Longer Be Ashamed | Crushing Tall Poppies

  11. Pingback: NO! For the Last Time, NOT Every Child is Gifted! | Crushing Tall Poppies

  12. Thank you for writing such a lovely piece. It captures the frustrations we all have on a regular basis. I am heartbroken at the moment after another meeting with my 9 year old daughters teacher telling me once again NOT “here are some things we could try to help your child be successful” but rather “she may have a high IQ and be gifted but her test scores dont show it and she is too immature so we want her out of the program. ” (she has been in a gifted classroom since first grade.) This child of mine is a master manipulator and will do everything in her power to get out of doing anything that even remotely resembles work. And so the school wants to allow her to get away with this behavior by moving her out of the challenging program because she is exhausting. and yeah, i get it. I have to constantly tell her to suck it up and get to work. She can do it – anyone who talks to her knows she can. Except she wont. And everyone wants us to give up the fight. Who knows what will happen next. At anyrate, yeah… totally bragging about failing! ha!~

    • But it is not your daughter who is failing, it is the school who is failing your daughter. Did you read this post? Gifted Underachievers: Underachieving or Refusing to Play the Game It discusses the possibility that our gifted children who are not achieving in school have really just given up trying to force themselves to do meaningless work or work they have already mastered.

      And if they call themselves a gifted program and they are teaching gifted children, then they should understand all the quirks and needs of a truly gifted child. They should look at your daughter’s lack of engagement as something they need to improve on in their own teaching, not blame your child.

      I would be heartbroken, too. Next time, print off a few articles and bring them with you when you have to talk to her teachers!

      Thanks for sharing your story. I truly hope everything turns out for the best for your daughter!

  13. Pingback: saying `gifted` is never just one thing. - Christy's Houseful of Chaos

  14. I was a gifted child who excelled in school. I have also been a classroom teacher. In my experience, parents are quick to claim that their child is “bored” whenever the child misbehaves or fails on work. The number of parents claiming that their child is gifted but bored (and therefore failing) seems to be much higher than it should be. I certainly think that public schools are failing not only gifted kids but all kids (at least in California), but the “oh, he/she is bored” rubs me the wrong way, because it seems to be used as an excuse for all misbehavior by many. This is not to say that it doesn’t accurately apply to some, but it has certainly been co-opted by many.

    • Laura, absolutely, the “my child is bored” and “my child is gifted” is overused and then subsequently hurts those children who are truly gifted and bored and acting out. I was a former public school teacher too, and now I look back, knowing what I know after having my own gifted children (for real, privately evaluated), I worry I overlooked some of those students in my class who, to me, seemed just lazy.

      There is a lot of things wrong in education today, not just in California, and the focus is definitely on bringing the lower-performing students up to grade-level standards. This is leaving gifted kids truly bored and underserved, but the focus on bringing the below-average up to grade level could also be leaving the average, above-average and high achieving students bored and underserved, too.

      I just want teachers to know that, although there are parents who want to believe their child is gifted or bored for the wrong reasons, it doesn’t mean there are no gifted children or bored students, or that, heaven forbid, all children are gifted.

      Laura, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. We all need to be part of this conversation to improve our educational system for gifted children and for ALL children!

  15. Wow, I am so glad the world wide web and facebook exsist! I probably would have gone crazy! Obviously, the problem is world wide and with all the research out there, I find it hard to understand why these kids still suffer at school. I live in Sydney and have been fighting the education system for years! We have tried both public and private schools and met over 50 teachers/ principals in our search for the “right” school. We have one that is about 30 minutes away, although as you can imagine, “they are full and cant except any other students”.
    Try and understand this! Because I don’t! My 10 year old daughter finished year 6 last year and has the certificate from the NSW Board of Education etc to prove it. In Australia, your local school cannot deny a child to an education. We met with out local high school principal, to enter my daughter into year 7 this year. Usually the average child is 12 years turning 13 in year 7. Anyway, they ran my gifted daughter through the WISC and WIATT tests. Scores coming back as expected! They tested her in maths and english and came back with marks similar to those in years 9 -11. So the psychologist recommended she attend year 7 this year and look to further acceleration. The recommendation was then passed onto the principal, who declined to offer her a place. He suggested she go back to the local primary school and be in year 6 with her aged peers and that she can travel to his high school to do english and maths. (80% of time is on these two subjects). So when I told him she had already completed year 6, he said there was no harm in doing it again! The psychologist didnt know what to do except wish me luck and joked that maybe we should go on a long cruise until her aged peers catch up.

    So, you can guess what we are doing! Home schooling! Although i do feel like we have been forced into this situation. I am pretty certain that discrimination laws have been broken due to age, although I am so fed up of fighting the system that I have somewhat given up. I do however chat to people about our journey and I do get a lot of negative comments about choosing to homeschool. I really dont give a stuff what others think, as long as my daughter is happy!

    • “So when I told him she had already completed year 6, he said there was no harm in doing it again!” <--- I just can't wrap my head around this. Maybe this principal should be put back in the classroom, as a new teacher, and see if it feels like there is no harm in it! Age discrimination--that is an interesting thought. Refusing to allow a child to continue learning, moving past a level she has already achieved is like forbidding a tennis prodigy from going pro because most tennis players his age are still playing for their high school team. In the adult world, workers and employees are not forced into a lockstep age-based system. Younger workers get promoted past same-age or even older coworkers based on ability and performance. Why do we force kids to learn by age and not ability? I wish I could offer you a suggestion that would fix your situation, but sadly, your story repeats itself over and over and over, with the same exact details, for so many families with gifted children around the world. Holly, thanks for sharing your story and lending your experience and voice to show what families with gifted children commonly go through just to allow their gifted child to continue learning at their pace.

  16. This is long. Maybe even a bit rambling. I’m emotional about this, and new to the gifted game. I am gifted, but when I was a kid, no one knew it.

    It wasn’t until recently, when my husband and I had our oldest daughter privately evaluated and found out she is highly gifted, that I started to research, and I started to wonder. Apparently most gifted children’s parents are also gifted, and upon finding out about their children, embark on a journey of self-discovery in the process. I have cried many times reading about the emotional side of being gifted: the “differentness” people feel, the overexcitabilities they deal with, and how they experience the world in a very intense way. I have cried reading these things because I *get* it. It’s like I understand myself now, and through this process, many painful memories from my own education have flooded my head.

    When I was in first grade, every time we changed classroom seats, I was always placed at a desk in the back of the classroom. I was excited about school and wanted to be closer to the front of the class. One day, about halfway through the school year, after being placed in the back yet again, I asked my teacher if I could be moved to the front. I was told I was in the back because I ‘always did so well,’ and that she ‘didn’t have to worry about me like some of the other kids.’ She begrudgingly moved me, and made a big deal about it in front of the class, and I felt singled-out and embarrassed. I learned my needs didn’t matter as much as the needs of other kids, and that it was better to keep my head down.

    When I was in 2nd grade, after learning a bit about him, we had to write our own books about Johnny Appleseed. I worked hard, wrote a great summary, and drew lots of pictures. I was so proud. After turning the books in, my teacher called me up to her desk at the front of the classroom. She told me that since I had obviously plagiarized my book, I was getting an F. I stood there, shocked, and started to cry. I knew deep in my soul I would never do such a thing, nor had it even occurred to my 8 year old self to do something like that. I was heartbroken, and mortified. Later, my mom had to advocate for me, and the teacher finally relented and gave me a fair grade. I learned not to work to my best ability or risk shame, and that teachers didn’t trust or like me very much.

    Then, I moved schools (one of the 6 times I changed schools). When I was in 2nd grade at my new school, we had a game where kids had to guess what was in the jar. It was my turn and I had a tongue depressor. A kid guessed a “popsicle stick,” and I said, “no.” The teacher laughed at me and said, “yes, of course it is” and the game was over. I was embarrassed. I learned I shouldn’t pay too much attention to “silly” details, and I was weird for caring about them.

    When I was in 4th grade, our teacher asked us, “where is spaghetti from?” Feeling clever, and knowing the REAL answer, my hand shot up first. I was called on and my answer was, “China!” My teacher laughed at me, told me that was a dumb answer, and asked someone else. The correct answer was Italy. Except, it wasn’t. I knew that Marco Polo had brought spaghetti from China to Italy. I cried and cried. I felt so stupid and so full of shame. Everyone had laughed at me, including my teacher. My mom noticed my crestfallen face at the end of the day, and asked me why. When I told her, she marched right down to the school and gave the teacher an earful. I never got an apology, but the teacher mumbled a correction the next morning. I learned never to raise my hand in class, never to question, and that if I wanted my teacher to like me, she was always right.

    At Summer camp, I chose to do a sailing class as my focus. The first day, I made friends with the other girls in my cabin. We went out to our sailing class on the boat, and the instructor asked us things about sailing: which part of the boat was starboard, what the sails did, etc. I answered nearly every question first, and correctly. My new friends shunned me. When I asked why, I was told I was a “know-it-all” and they didn’t like me. I was crushed. I learned I had to dumb myself down to fit in, even with friends outside of school.

    When I was in high school, I was given an assignment in English class and told I could be creative with it. I relished this assignment and came up with a brilliant idea to do a collage that followed all the rules, in a creative way. I received a failing grade on the project. I was heartbroken and didn’t understand why. The teacher told me it wasn’t along the lines of what she thought I should have done. I had to take her to the Vice Principal of the school over it, and prove I followed the rules, explain my process for the project and how much thought went into it, and was begrudgingly given a better grade. I learned I should never think outside of the box.

    In college, in my first semester of Freshman year, I was given my first writing assignment in the class every Freshman had to take: Writing 50. I quickly churned something out, as easily as every paper I’d ever written. I got a C. I was floored. I had rarely ever gotten below an A on a paper. I also nearly failed my Biology class that year. I had developed zero study skills because I never had had to study much before, and I wasn’t used to failing. I learned I must not be very smart after all.

    In my adult life, I’ve had many problems with employers. I have felt burned out, bored, and have been mistreated by bosses who make sexual jokes and have me run personal errands. I’ve had to dull my natural emotional response, and try to “be ok” with dishonesty and injustices. I HATE dishonesty and those who blatantly disregard, or feel they are above, rules. I can’t even play a board game with someone who doesn’t follow the rules. I learned I’m not very fun, too sensitive, and can’t take a joke.

    Now, I’m the mom of a gifted child (probably 2 gifted children, but the youngest is still a baby). If someone asks me how I taught my oldest daughter all of the letters of the alphabet by 18 months, and I answer truthfully that I didn’t, I’m given funny looks and talked about behind my back. To them, I’m the hothousing mom, who must have “created” this kid with flashcards, and forced her to read by 2 years old (ever try forcing a 2 year old to do anything she doesn’t want to do?). I’ve learned if I ever talk about my child, I’m a liar, or a braggart.

    Through all of this, one message has remained: “STAY SILENT. You’re not likable unless you pretend you’re different than you are. Don’t speak up, pretend you don’t know the answers, you’re not really THAT smart, impostor. Laugh with them at your dumb-blondness because having no friends hurts more, don’t be a know-it-all, don’t be too good at too many things, and don’t talk about your kid if you want mom friends.”

    Anyone you ask about me, would say I did just fine in (mostly) public school without gifted programs. I was social, on the dance team, had friends, got good grades. I have made a happy life for myself, I started, ran and recently sold a successful business, I now have real friends from college and life after college, who love me as I am, so yes, it all worked out in the long run. But did I do just fine? I felt so deeply insecure, timid, and not smart at all, until college. I internalized all of the above “lessons” and had a crippling fear of speaking up in class by the time I got to high school. While I had a few wonderful teachers, for the most part, they never liked the real me much, so I became someone they did like: the girl who kept her head down and got mostly As. I became known as the “quiet girl” in school, which is laughable to my family. My IQ is in the top 2%, and yet I thought I was dumb and weird. I went from being excited, to being apathetic about school, until college. Thank God, for the fact I selected a college that challenged me. I LOVED it, and would be a college student forever, if I could.

    I don’t think school should teach a person to become smaller and smaller, and more withdrawn, until she forgets she loves to learn, and she forgets who she is.

    Gifted education matters. Even if I had had it, and still ended up right where I am today, it would have given me the understanding that I’m not weird, and my thoughts and feelings do matter. I would have known I *am* smart. It would have mattered to me.

    • Erin,

      I am at a loss for words. Your story needs to be shared, and shared far and wide. Your story explains so poignantly why gifted children and gifted education matters, and what happens to gifted children when their educational experience is so totally inappropriate.

      My heart breaks for you–the disappointments, injustices, shunning and heartbreak you experienced as a child. And sadly, it still happens over and over for so many gifted children.

      Again, I am at a loss for words as I think how to thank you for sharing your compelling story. Hugs and my sincere appreciation to you, Erin! <3

  17. Just came across this article and could cry. My son is 14 and started struggling with his grades when he went to middle school in 7th grade. He is currently in 9th grade and it has gotten worse. I have met with teachers, guidance counselors, and the gifted teacher, but it never gets better. He currently has 2 F’s, because he doesn’t complete the classwork/homework, but when he does hand it in he gets a 100%, but 1/2 credit due to being late. He took the “gifted” test in 3rd grade and elementary was a breeze for him. I feel bad because until the last couple of days when I started researching I discovered this is common in “gifted” kids and I was getting so frustrated with him. When I ask him why he doesnt hand work in he can’t give me an answer. I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know when I mention this to my friends they look at me like I have two heads.

    • Yeah, Kari, that two-heads look–I’m at the point now where I am prepared for it when it happens and then I just smile from both my faces 😉

      But, I am so happy you found information that was helpful, and most importantly, I want you to know you are not alone. What you have been through is so very common, unfortunately. There are so many online resources, forums and FB groups to support you and answer your concerns.

      As for the light at the end of the tunnel–I’ve made through the tunnel twice already, so I assume we will see that light with #3! With lots of love and understanding, we found the light at the end of our tunnel.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, keep in touch and join Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page if you need any help or need resources or support.

  18. Pingback: The Most Popular Posts on Giftedness in 2014 GHF

  19. I just found this, and I give you a standing ovation! It is so true. I was a gifted child, and am raising a child who is even more gifted than I was. She went through a phase of just not completing her work in first grade because it was stuff she had been doing since she was four, and she hated it! I moved her to a charter school in second grade. She is in third grader now, and this school has been a perfect fit. They allow her to be her, and work at her pace. She is given challenges and allowed to work ahead. The only thing she dislikes is showing her work in math because she is a human calculator. She has quirks, and is ultra sensitive to the emotions of all around her. It is so hard not to be able to talk to friends about her accomplishments because you worry about offending them with your child’s intelligence! Raising a gifted child is hard!

    • Yes, Erin, you are so right–raising a gifted child is hard! And yes, not showing Math work, oh the stories I could tell about that! How do you convince a child who arrives at the correct answer in their head because they “see” the operation going on mentally, to write it all down on paper? Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  20. I have some questions about my son and peer relationships. Is there an email for Celi? I don’t feel comfortable posting my questions online. Thank you!

      • This post is so what I need right now. Thank you.

        After many weeks of being inundated on Facebook with friends updates of their kids grad photos, prom photos, scholarship awards, university acceptances, I feel deflated. My gifted son is doing/getting none of these. While almost there with one course left to go (that he is now doing online) he will get his HS diploma in the mail. He has struggled through his entire educational experience from JK to now. I comment to friends that his pre-school days (that cost me a fortune!) were his most successful and happy with cognitive learning matched to his intellect. They look at me dumbfounded.

        As soon as he started public school JK, it has been downhill since then. Tested for giftedness in grade 3, he attended segregated gifted classes (we’re in Canada – same issues here) from grade 4 – 10 but its been a struggle, average grades, a few fails. He left gifted classes in grade 11 and entered the academic stream. He failed grade 10 math. He had a wonderful teacher in remedial math to get that credit. The teacher did not put a big emphasis on how he got to the answer. Many times, the teacher was quite surprised how he did arrive at the answer, but he was never called out for taking a different/alternative approach. I like to believe the teacher enjoyed teaching my son, as much as my son enjoyed learning with him. He was one of my son’s favourite teachers.

        My son decided to do a co-op in his last high school semester at an auto shop. He thoroughly enjoyed it and preferred to spend his days with adults than with student peers. His high school days are almost over and I can’t wait. It has been such a struggle. And it has been a huge disappointment. I remember the day getting his test results for giftedness. I was so pleased. So proud. Little did I know the difficulties that lay ahead of him and us. As the years went on, no one understood, his gifted teachers and myself, how he could be doing so poorly academically and be gifted at the same time. Over time, I kept telling myself that achieving A’s or B’s or just barely passing is not the end all be all. That attending university is not an instant road to success. That being said, more can and needs to be done to nourish our kids uniqueness. I like Susan suggestions above to overhaul the entire education system.

        I just want my kid to be happy and be a productive member of society. Doing the co-op gave him a purpose and has been a life learning experience for him. He got more out of that than all his years at school. I think he’ll be ok, but I still worry. I feel for all of you and wish I had some brilliant suggestion to help you and your children as you navigate your way. All I can say is love them like crazy, hug them often and enjoy your summer in all the precocious and mind-bending ways you can!

        P.S. I so want to post this on my Facebook page (but I most likely won’t 😉

        • Oh Lori, I couldn’t help but cry when I read your story! Damn, this should not keep happening to our children, or any child for that matter. You can read through all the comments (well, most) on my blog and see your same story happening over and over. The magic bullet is for all of us to speak up and it does take bravery, but many voices cannot be ignored. Can you send me a PM through Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page? I have an idea!!!

  21. I love this! Of my 3 school aged children, my oldest is bright and the picture perfect student. She is the one who seems gifted. My 2 sons are gifted. My 9yr old son had so many challenges in the classroom that the teachers wanted him on Ritalin and were offended when I suggested he might be gifted. It took me having a “come to Jesus ” meeting with the principal to be heard. He went through the rigorous gifted testing and was classified as highly gifted. It is a struggle every day. People who don’t deal with this, don’t understand. The fact is that if he were to have a learning disability, the schools would throw all kinds of help his way. My youngest son’s teacher told me this “he is my easy student…he finishes his work and I don’t even have to worry about him.” He is in kindergarten and multiplying numbers in his head and she wants to give him extra worksheets! But I can’t share my frustrations with my fellow moms because it will be like the skinny woman who complains she just can’t gain any weight…

    • Angie, yes, yes and yes! Sadly, you are not alone! Our gifted kids are misunderstood, unrecognized and neglected. Is it any wonder gifted children are the single, largest student population to turn to homeschooling? Thanks for your comments, Angie!

    • With your son did the teacher want him on the meds because she thought it was ADHD? My son’s 1st grade teacher has just declared she thinks he has ADHD but school is the only place that he has any problems and she was in denial that it could possibly be anything else. So I’m guessing that no matter what now she will only see any behavior that reflects her “diagnosis”. He catches on quick to things and doesn’t like to repeat after he’s got it but he gets it done. Also doesn’t help that he said she’s just on her phone and computer all the time and he said he gets tired of waiting for what’s next after he does his work.

  22. Can I pick your brain about private schools? I have home schooled one year (1st grade) and while I do think she is thriving, I often wonder if “the grass is greener” at the jesuit schools. I can’t afford them, but if I traded homeschooling for a 9-5 then I could. However, after touring them, I am left wondering if there is a lack of gifted training. They cluster group but do not differentiate or accelerate. They don’t do much music instruction or foreign language instruction until they are older. People generally feel that private education is in and of itself accelerated, but I wonder is it just busy work for a gifted child, with more stress and longer hours in the day? I am mostly drawn to it for a strong science and math foundation. These subjects don’t come easily to me but they do for my child. I was surprised that the private schools seem to think that all children are gifted, and they simply try to have a “balanced” classroom. Is that enough to trade homeschooling for? She loves her current situation and doesn’t change it (I have asked). I have her in many classes with other children which she loves and then I teach her at home too. I want what is best for her academically of course. What are your thoughts?

    • Every public and private school is different, and some may have excellent educational opportunities for gifted children, and some may not. And homeschooling is also an educational option that may or may not have benefits for every child or every family. My opinion is that trying to find the right educational “fit” for your child is sort of like trying on bathing suits – you may have to try several before you find the one that is the right fit. And even particular schools can change from year to year with staff changes or when school system directives change. Homeschooling will be more consistent than public or private schools, but it can have its downfalls, too. It really all boils down to what educational opportunities you have in your area – private, public, homeschool – and which best meets the needs of your child while keeping in mind that what was a great fit one year may change the next. If you feel the private schools in your area may be worth looking into, I’d ask for friends, neighbors and co-workers opinions of the school; what you see on the surface when you tour the school is not always what you get! Good luck!

  23. I don’t know why so many parents think their children are gifted. K through 12the grade is extremely easy (don’t kid yourself), and if your gifted child struggles in a class, it means they are either stupid or lazy, not that they have challenges that you want to assign special terms (ie visual-spatial) to make yourself feel better.

    If as a parent, you really have not accomplished anything in life but be a parent, you don’t have the right to say your child is gifted because the bar for yourself is very very low.

    • Einstein struggled in school and his teachers called him a “dullard.” His teachers thought he was lazy and told his parents he would never learn. His teachers had mistaken his boredom for laziness and poor work ethic. He was also very visual-spatial. Or maybe Einstein wasn’t gifted; he was probably “either stupid or lazy”, to use your words…

    • Careful David, I think your intelligence is showing. You don’t have a bar at all do you? This discussion appears to be way over your head. Get out while you can!

  24. Ugh! I am your pain. Or, well, I was for my mom. I was one of those gifted kids that was *always* called on the rug for being an *underachiever*. School was the most boring place ever. I literally slept through high school. College wasn’t much better. It wasn’t stimulating enough to keep me out of trouble, even carrying a “very heavy load”. I wasn’t successful at college until I went to school nights while working 40 to 60 hours per week. And I got straight A’s. And, because of the nature of school, night classes geared toward working professionals, it was not just being lectured too. We actually worked in small groups and spent most of our class time in Socratic discussion about whatever business concept we were learning.

    My nephew is Profoundly Gifted. My sister has tried so many different avenues for him. He hated homeschooling because he WANTS TO BE in a classroom. But when he is in a classroom , he is bored to tears and a trouble-maker. He is teased a lot because he is 11 and in 8th grade. And he is still seriously outpacing his classmates. His school has tried to accommodate him by giving him special resources and allowing him to work independently in the classroom. He completed Algebra/Geometry in less than 2 months. At the Gifted and Talented school, they only allow students to work no more than 2 grade levels above their current grade. He is next going to try a University program where he will be working with University professors and Grad students. More than likely he will complete High School and College simultaneously in the next 4 years, or may be faster. My sister doesn’t want him in traditional college classes at his age, just because he’s 11 and 18 – 21 year olds are pursuing interests and bringing discussions that she isn’t prepared for him to be exposed to at his age.

    I have a gifted daughter that I homeschool, but she is “just” gifted, so we can work an accelerated pace and explore interests. She didn’t like the school environment because the “social attitudes were just stupid. Some kids leaving out other kids is wrong, even deserves to feel like a human and be included.” My other gifted daughter is in a traditional (albeit accelerated curriculum) school and is thriving. She enjoys the slower pace because it gives her time to learn a little but really focus on her friendships with her tight-knit group of friends.

    I feel your pain.

    • Monica, thanks so much for sharing your story; the more we all share, the more we help each other. It is a hard road to travel, but at least it doesn’t have to be lonely! Your story helps us all know that we are not alone! 🙂

  25. Hey there, I don’t think you are bragging. I have worked with gifted, twice exceptional and learning disabled students. I understand the complexities involved in raising and living with three gifted children. But I am sure they bring with them the joy of learning, that feeling of awe when they discover something new and those infrequent acts that surprise you! 🙂

    • Yes, Krishna, they absolutely do bring joy and awe – for sure! They can make your life exhilarating! And they are complex, too. On the flip side, when advocating for your gifted child, it seems the biggest obstacle when having to ask that your child’s special needs be met is the ubiquitous perception that gifted children can only bring joy and awe and perfection, so why would they need anything special. It is only natural for parents of gifted children to want others to know that, in fact, our gifted children do have problems and issues due to their giftedness, and these problems and issues need to be addressed. Like someone once told me in regard to raising gifted children, “the mountains are higher, but the valleys will be lower.” Thanks for your thoughtful words!

  26. Hello. My name is Roger.

    Until I turned 18, I was a “gifted child,” too, but this month I turned 20.

    I experienced some of the same struggles you described, and sometimes still do today…as a college student. As such, I certainly empathise with the subject at hand–perhaps even more than a parent of such a child might.

    For example, I scored the highest PSAT score ever recorded at my high school, took the SAT with no preparation, and brought home a National Merit Scholarship with no great amount of effort…and yet I did not graduate high school in the top fifty percent of my class. I also was unable to reap the full benefits of thw scholarship because I could not maintain a 3.5 average or higher. Now I’m probably the only National Merit Scholar at my local community college. Exhilirating, right? I won’t shirk the blame for it, but the problems that led me where I am did include much of what you described, as well as my dreadful case of ADD.

    However, I also found your article offensive in places. Being intelligent is not, at its core, any kind of burden; nor is it something that can evoke bullying in many environments, unless said member of the intelligentia is condescending, or too self-assured that it is some kind of superiority that sets him or her apart socially. You don’t have to be “normal” to get along with people or fit in. I firmly believe this.

    • Hi Roger,

      It sounds like you’ve had an interesting path. However, it also sounds like you’ve been hugely lucky not to have encountered bullying and social exclusion as a result of your giftedness. As a fellow ex-gifted child (went to college for the first time at 16, postponed for a year to try to make up some of the emotional maturity I was lacking at the time in comparison to the 18 and 19 year olds), I’m afraid I didn’t have your luck in this regard. Many other gifted children have experienced, and continue to experience, a profound distance from their peers that has their giftedess as its root cause. As adults, we learn better how to moderate our conversation, how to censor our free expression of interests that set us apart from many others – and those we come into social contact with, in many cases, are more able to handle our differences with equanimity. As small children, though, especially if we have a supportive and enriched home life for a background, whatever our degree of giftedness, generally we lack the social cognition to understand that excitedly demonstrating a deep interest in opera or astrophysics or paleontology, or sharing opinions about Robinson Crusoe in the original with our classmates is unlikely to win us friends, and may well mark us as a target. Most five year olds are not pretentious – they’re just enthused about something their classmates usually can’t begin to fathom. In that regard, as well as in some others, giftedness can be a burden, inasmuch as it makes us stand out, whether we wish to or not. Inevitably, that attracts attention, and not all of that attention is positive – indeed, a great deal of it, from peers and sometimes, sadly, adults in positions of authority, will be, if not actively malign, then at least deliberately and hurtfully exclusive.

      To other commentors on this thread, I’m delighted to have found this page. A tall poppy by anyone’s standards, I can only encourage you parents of the current crop to keep fighting the good fight. My experiences were by no means perfect, but the support and advocacy my mother provided kept my school years from being much, much worse. The challenges don’t necessarily end with adulthood, as I’m sure some of you are aware, but college, for me and many others I now know, whose situations were similar, provided a blessed relief.

      • Kirstin,

        I can’t thank you enough for this comment. Parents need to hear from “former” gifted children like you–your words, your experiences and your suggestions are invaluable!

        I’ve quoted your comment on my Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page to further share your experience. And bravo to your wonderful mom for advocating for you!

        Please keep in touch and lend all of us gifted parents your wisdom on being gifted!

        Many thanks to you, Kirstin <3

  27. Thank you for your blog entry on having a gifted child. Finally someone is able to put into words exactly how I am feeling, as much as any child is truly a blessing, its so dam hard to have a child who is brighter than the average child of their age, who none stop asking you questions, scrambling for an answer you dont know of, or wonder if there is an answer to his questions? (often Im up late at night researching the answers) Its frustrating that schools concentrate on the negative attitrubes of your child and turn them into something that isnt really there – trying to diagnose them as having something else. Its frustrating as a parent – talking to schools/teachers i feel like i am slamming my head against the wall, and often wonder if i have better luck else where or better still go back down the path of home-schooling, as much hard work it is to do.. So nice to see your child happy, extend and learning.. unlike what we are getting at school.. Def. home-schooling is back on our cards..

    • Elisha, I know what you mean – all of it! It all just happens too often to our gifted kids, and it is not much consolation that there are many of us in the same boat…..going upriver, but not without a paddle! We all need to keep advocating for our gifted children! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  28. The comments on this post are as thought provoking as the post.

    I have two identified gifted students and probably a third. Both do well in school- so far. Both have had, at the tender ages of 10 and 12 some pretty horrible academic experiences.

    I am gifted and was always a model student. By sixth grade I hated school and by eighth grade I was trying to figure out ways not to go to school. At the same time, I was involved in lots of extra curricular activities, read voraciously, and never did anything that would call into question a lack of motivation or drive to succeed. I found a wonderful early college and left high school halfway through my junior year despite comments from saddened and concerned principals and teachers that I would miss my senior prom. Seriously?

    It was there that I found my place in the world, developed true critical thinking skills (not the ones that would get me to the correct answer on standardized tests). It was there that I found people like me and friends who remain close friends thirty years later. It was there that I worked with professors in small classes where we often discussed subject matter as equals or at least as adults. It was a discussion, not a “I will tell you all about this and then test you.” I transferred to a top ten liberal arts school and had a different experience albeit a valuable one. I worked hard and got good grades. I went to graduate school. In the end, grades and test scores really did not matter.

    In my adult life, I have never been asked my GPA. In my adult life, I have never been asked what my test scores were. I have never been asked what my grades were. I have never asked others those questions. It is not meaningful.

    In every secondary school application that required the submission of test scores, it was always made clear that that was one part of the process.

    I suspect my husband is also gifted. He was considered an underachiever. He decided not to go to college because he did not see the value in it- for him. He did not like school or a structured academic environment. He went on to have a very successful military career and is now enjoying a successful second career. He is well read and articulate.

    My brother-in-law, who was a college classmate of mine, flunked out of college. A few years later he went back to school. He did okay but not off the charts. He then got a masters in computer science from Stanford, worked for Lawrence Livermore Labs, spent a few years building databases for a small college, and is now developing computer based educational programs for the Wharton School that are being sold to MBA programs across the country. He is successful by any measure.

    There are days that I worry that my kids will figure out that doing well in school is not all that important in the game of life. There are days that I think that would be just fine- so long as they were thinking, challenging themselves in some way, accountable to themselves and others, approached problems in a thoughtful, ethical and positive way and strove to be good citizens of the world.

    In reading and thinking about all the issues that are raised about gifted kids I am coming to a couple of conclusions:

    * maybe we need to change the entire educational paradigm. Maybe instead of classes based on age or even ability, we group kids by learning style. Visual special learners would benefit from learning with other VS learners, and it would certainly be easier on the teachers!

    * maybe we do away with the nonsense that simply because a child was born before September 1 they must be in a specific grade. Some parents wait a year before enrolling their child in kindergarten. Why can’t some parents enroll their child a year early instead of holding fast to a bizarre and arbitrary date.

    * maybe we do away with the nonsense that social circles and peer relationships are somehow fundamentally based on age. My kids get along fabulously well with Celi’s son. Some of my closest friends over the years have been decades older or younger than me. Relationships are based on other things- shared interests, perspectives, environments. That is true for kids too- especially if we let them experience it.

    * maybe we say that the kids on the right side of the bell curve deserve as much – or half as much as the kids on the left side. Maybe we can be stop being surprised on how clear one process can be for our 2 and 3 E kids, and the gifted side so very empty. Is special ed perfect? Nope. But there are far my resources and options.

    *maybe we recognize and accept that a job as a Test Taker does not exist.

    Rob – although I don’t know you, I am betting you are formulating a response. Sure- there are things we all have to do that we might not like. As adults though, we DO have choices. Sure, I may not like ironing and I still sometimes have to do it. But I can make a choice to lower my standards and resort to a steamer, a wrinkle release spray and a long steamy shower. If I really hate it I can choose to budget for dry cleaning or simply buy no iron clothes. The Evaluators of Truly Adult Behavior have not told me I am an under achiever in that area. If they do, does it really matter?

    In terms of employment, I can choose my vocation and avocation. If I don’t like or don’t get along with my colleagues I can choose to leave. My success at a particular job or field may depend on my work ethic or commitment. But again, that is my choice. If I get fired, that is telling me there was something wrong with my choice, my skills, my attitude. I need to take responsibility for that. Did bad grades and underachieving in fifth grade lead to that? Eh.

    I knew I was not strong in math or subjects that required straight line linear thinking. I was very successful in jobs that required creative and critical thinking, multiple responsibilities, working with people, teaching, learning…my jobs fit my intelligence and strengths. Do I get frustrated or make poor decisions sometimes because of weak math skills. Sure. I just bought waaaay too much lawn fertilizer because I miscalculated the area and volume that I needed. Did it have major consequences? Not really.

    All that to say that maybe underachieving is not such a big deal- particularly if a kid has other interests and is otherwise actively engaged in life and learning.

    I apologize for being so long winded….this is the first time in a few days that I have had the opportunity to think complete thoughts!

    • Again, so well said! Aside from not really meeting the learning needs of our gifted children, school in its current state, is not meeting or maximizing the diversity of all of our children. Our educational system is traveling down a single and constantly-narrowing path while constantly increasing the need for conformity along the way just to churn out mountains of empirical data. Data has become the preferred output, not our children!

    • Missing senior prom? Ha! I hope that schools have moved beyond that kind of thinking, but that was just the kind of thing that made me look forward to leaving high school. Not that there’s anything wrong with prom, but the adults in the situation shouldn’t have had it tipping the scales that much. I went to a great high school, but I can totally picture one of my educators saying that.

  29. I agree with the title and the challenges of discussing this topic without it seeming like bragging. However, I have to disagree with some of your arguments. I have two children in TAG. I also teach recent college graduates. To blame the “style of teaching” entirely, is letting your children off the hook. You are setting them up for future failure. I see this early in each class I teach = an undeserved sense of entitlement and a contentious attitude toward what is important and what is not.
    As one reader has already noted, expecting a public school to tailor a curriculum to every student is not feasible. Even if, as you suggest, the gifted students are in a class by themselves there is such a range to being gifted (as seen in this thread) how do you propose to educate a group? If test scores are not to be used as entrance to TAG what is…the parent thinks their child is gifted? Every parent should think their child is gifted in some way.
    Assuming you could work out the challenges of the classroom I still contend that they are in for a rude awakening when they hit the corporate world. “Hey boss, could you explain that to me again in a more visual mode?” “I didn’t get that project done for you because I didn’t see the value in it.” Learning in real life does not come in the format of our choosing. Nor do we get to choose whether or not to comply with what is expected of us, both in our career AND our personal lives.
    I would offer the suggestion that the real challenge here to both the parents and the gifted children is one of motivation. If you allow a child, with their limited life experience, to write off activities because in their infinite wisdom they don’t see the value that an experienced educator does, they will miss very important keys to success.
    You can probably tell that I don’t think every child deserves a trophy, not if they don’t at least try. There are winners and losers in real life. “Yeah, I failed that class but that is the teacher’s fault”, doesn’t look good on a resume’. Will there be times when a child tries their hardest but still doesn’t succeed? Yes. Not succeeding is a teaching moment, but the emphasis should be on what we should do to adapt to life and NOT on how life should adapt to us.
    I am biased. My children have been blessed with wonderful teachers. As for the title and the challenge of discussing this without bragging, I hope this is an open enough forum that you will understand the following which skews my view: My son took the last standardized tests, in the hospital, after missing months of school, with IV pumps, alarms, chemo drugs and nurses coming in and out. He would have had every right to claim that he didn’t see the value in a standardized test. Instead…he aced them, including a perfect score in science. He has put perspective on what can be considered a valid excuse for getting poor grades.

    • Very well-said. If your child is at one end of the bell curve, that means that he/she will have to function in a world where most people are not in the same place. While it would be great to be able to put every gifted child in a learning environment with their intellectual peers, it’s not a reality for, likely, most. One advantage of being in a mixed classroom is learning that life is not a level playing field. In most cases, it seems that it’s easier to find extra-curricular opportunities to engage a gifted student who’s in a regular classroom than it is to find an environment that replicates the diverse nature of the “real world.”

      It’s not easy raising a gifted child. But it’s also not easy to raise a child with a learning disability, intellectual impairment, physical challenges, depression, impulse-control issues, sensory issues, extreme shyness, anxiety or even the kids who just don’t feel like they fit in or who are “easy targets” for bullies. Kids who aren’t gifted suffer from these difficulties too.

    • I wonder if anyone really understands the emotional issues resulting from the educational systems misunderstanding of highly gifted children. The anxiety these children suffer at the hands of schools that are not trained to teach these children. While the moderately gifted are able to fit into the regular education stream, these children are not. The moderately gifted learn how to play the game, how to do what is required of them and how to do it very well. The highly gifted, because of their visual learning style, learn very rapidly and are not challenged. They used to accelerate these children in school but that is rare these days. We have changed the school system and I am guessing if we had not then we would be able to accommodate the highly gifted in this way. Without being one of these children, or the parents of one of these children, it may be difficult to understand that we only want what we all want for our children, for them to be happy. An article I read explained it well I think. Placing a highly gifted child in a regular classroom is like a placing a child from the regular stream into a class for those with learning disabilities. In both cases, the child learns the material at a faster pace than his peers and then waits for them to catch up. It is very frustrating for these children and provides no motivation or challenge.
      My child attended 9 years of public school in a primarily auditory world, not an easy feat as a visual learner. And in all that time attained top marks with ease but was never challenged, never learned to deal with failure. What sets these children up for failure is never being challenged and therefore never knowing failure. How can you know how to deal with failure if you never fail?
      When we talk about how our children will adjust to the corporate world, these children have already proven that they can adjust to an auditory world as well as a visual world. In fact there are many corporations that need these original thinkers. They want people who are able to do more than follow instructions. The want original thinkers, inventors and creators.
      You may be interested to learn that research indicates that one-third of the school population is strongly visual-spatial. 30% show a slight preference for the visual-spatial learning style. Only 23% were strongly auditory-sequential. This suggests that a substantial percentage of the school population would learn better using visual-spatial methods. If we are to teach to the majority perhaps we should be teaching the visual spatial way.
      These children have, in all likelihood, already had to deal with far more than those who are not highly gifted. Certainly more than a child should have to deal with as a child. It is not uncommon that they endure bullying on a daily basis by both children and teachers who are jealous of their abilities. And I can assure you that these children do nothing to bring on such treatment. My child was bullied by a teacher in grade 2, a teacher who made fun of her every single time she answered a question, a teacher who called her names and told her to stop smiling in class. She destroyed her, something this teacher seemed to enjoy because she was not her first victim and probably not her last. I don’t know why a teacher would do this to a child and don’t even try to blame the child because this child was taught to respect others, was an A student, was an exemplary student and a strong resilient person.
      My child was also blessed with great teachers but not all of them were great teachers and the few who were not were enough to destroy a child. How can this happen? How can these teachers be trusted with our children day after day? And these teachers are protected by the schools and the schools do nothing but allow this abuse to continue. Great teachers make learning fun and foster a love of learning and on the flip side we have teachers who teach by fear.
      Our school system teaches children to follow instructions, to conform, intellectually and socially. It teaches them that intelligence is the ability to remember and repeat and that accurate memory and repetition is rewarded and that non-compliance is punished. It does not teach our children to be creative, original thinkers. Einstein, Tesla, Edison, Gates (and the list goes on) were original thinkers. They were not conformists. School did not work for them but they didn’t give up. They had a dream, a purpose, and they went on to become highly respected for their contributions to society. Many, if not all, had to leave the schools that churned out robot after robot, to find a better way to learn, their way, and learn they did, despite it all.
      Our children know there are better ways to learn and they will be the change this world needs. They don’t just accept things because that is the way it has always been done. They challenge the system because they can see a better way. We need to stop doing what we have always done just because that is the way we have always done it. Challenging the system is the way to improve the system. Our schools teach us to accept, not to challenge, follow, and not lead. Innovation happens when we challenge the way we have always done it.

      • “Our children know there are better ways to learn and they will be the change this world needs. They don’t just accept things because that is the way it has always been done. They challenge the system because they can see a better way. We need to stop doing what we have always done just because that is the way we have always done it. Challenging the system is the way to improve the system. Our schools teach us to accept, not to challenge, follow, and not lead. Innovation happens when we challenge the way we have always done it.” <---- You so eloquently and concisely summed up our gifted visual-spatial students and the positive impact they can make on society. Too many of these gifted innovators have been broken and given up - our square pegs who can never fit into the round holes of traditional school. Many in society become so engrained in the way things have always been done that it is impossible to see outside the confines of their experience that there is a better way; our gifted often see the better way, but instead of listening to their innovative thoughts, we tell them the way to succeed is to do it the way I am telling you, the way it has always been done. Thanks for your beautiful words, Sheila!

      • Sheila,
        I respect your approach and what your child accomplished. There is a difference between what you suggest and what I saw earlier. Your child still “attained high marks” in spite of a different mode of learning. You propose that “never failing” was an inherent problem of the system in place yet here is a system that failed and your child exelled in spite of it. That will help your child in the long run. Where I took issue with the previous comments in the thread was with the parents who seem to think that an F or a D was acceptable and could be laid at the feet of the teacher. Ideally, should there be resources and instruction for gifted students that better optimizes their ability to learn? YES, of course. It is why my kids are in TAG. However, that does not excuse them from meeting the requirements of being in the fourth grade. Using my own position as the corporate equivalent: I love the teaching component of my job and I hate the paperwork portion. I don’t see the value in much of the corporate busy work…but that doesn’t excuse me from it. I can not expect to get an “F” for my paperwork skills and still keep my job.
        I see such passion in this thread. I hope that it is converted into action. How hard do you fight for the change? If the public schools are unable to change have you supplemented the education of your gifted children outside of the classroom? I have a blast doing learning moments disguised as fun at home…but I also make my kids do their homework, even if I think it is repetitive and unchallenging, because I think there is real world value in a work ethic and getting things done even when conditions aren’t ideal.

        • Rob, I can appreciate instilling a work ethic in our children, and as parents, we do need to expect our kids to do things that may not be fun or challenging. Also, I agree with your use of your role in the corporate world as an example of “sometimes you just gotta do it.”

          I think the difference with many of our gifted children, which contrasts with your example and your assumption that all gifted children can be expected to “just get it done”, is that some of our gifted children’s exceptionalities make it impossible for them to “just do it.” Many of our gifted children, I think it is estimated at 30%, are labeled as visual spatial learners. Although a trait highly praised in creative adults, in public school, being a visual spatial learner designates the child as having a learning disability (504 designation) and thus makes them eligible for special education services. Children who are visual spatial are also allowed extra time on tests like the ACT and SAT.

          Giftedness is complex and different in every child, and you were lucky to have gifted children who excelled in school. Many gifted children, especially the ones who are highly or profoundly gifted, have characteristics that make it impossible for them to learn in school without needed modifications and accommodations such as acceleration, grade skipping and differentiation. If you think about a profoundly gifted 4th grader who is easily working on a high school level, but told she has to have a better work ethic and she has to continue to make good grades with her 4th or possibly 5th grade work (she may be lucky enough to be accelerated a grade), she will make good grades for a while, and then she will have had enough because she is a young child, and she will tire of doing work she mastered years ago, sitting in her classroom six hours a day, 5 days a week for nine months. At first, she excelled, she tried the “just do it” approach, she began hating school, she gave up, she failed, then she quits. This is because the school failed her, they failed to meet her high-school-grade-level needs, much like if a school failed to meet the needs of a hearing impaired child or a child with dyslexia.

          In our adult lives, I have to wonder how long any of us would last if our job, all day, every day, expected us to excel at the most boring and menial and trivial of tasks when we were capable of so much more? Adults quit and change jobs. Gifted children with a lot less life experience and immature coping skills are expected to carry on and do well.

          • You’re right Celi, my kids are not the extreme case. They may be near the top of their respective classes but they are not, as you pointed out, fourth graders with high school capabilities. Additionally, they have made great friends which definitely makes the classroom hours tolerable. My sincere apologies to anyone who has truly struggled with an extraordinary child that struggles to fit in…I don’t think I can empathize.
            Please know my comments are based out of frustration and a growing intolerance for excuses. As a corporate trainer I teach engineering to students from around the globe. They are all recent college graduates. The growing trend is that the students feel we should be catering to them (anecdotes available upon request). The corporate world has little tolerance for this so I worry when I read that a child who is gifted in math is getting an F. My son is the one who taught me what is important and why there are very few legitimate excuses. He fought through more than 8 months of chemotherapy. Only once did he ask us to stop. Only once did he say he wished this wasn’t happening to him. Suddenly, all of my excuses seemed lame. When I compared what I was going through to what he was going through…I had nothing. So when I read that a very intelligent child is getting an F because they don’t like the way they are being taught I compare them to my son and I am not very sympathetic. Some underachievement may be understandable…but an F? People struggle to empathize with me because I lost my son to cancer. I struggle to empathize with students who are otherwise gifted but can’t at least get a passing grade.

          • Rob, my sincerest sympathy for the loss of your son. Regardless of what struggles any of us have, losing a child is the most difficult and my heart breaks for your loss! I’m so sorry and I do understand your frustration. And even though we cannot empathize with everyone because all of our journeys are different, we can at least try to understand, and I do understand where you are coming from. Thanks for sharing your story, Rob; it took a lot of strength!

      • I completely agree with you on the point that schools can do damage to the highly gifted. I also agree that schools are not, at present, designed to teach creativity (though some do a better job than others, as some teachers are more prepared for this kind of teaching that others). I have a visual-spatial learner who has struggled in school. Past experience trying to advocate for him hasn’t done anything but made me very frustrated and wasted my time. While I think it would be ideal for schools to address the highly gifted, if you are parenting one, you need to understand that the schools you have access to likely won’t be able to address your child’s full potential. (If that’s not the case for a parent, then they are very lucky.) I have since decided that our best option is for us to enhance his education through extra-curriculars and really leverage those years when he has an amazing teacher who understands what modifications he needs.

        I’m not sure I agree with this idea that putting a highly gifted kid in a regular classroom is like putting an average kid in a special needs classroom. In the vast majority of cases, the regular classroom will follow a less differentiated curriculum, whereas a special needs classroom will address each child’s individual learning disability or challenge. In addition, children with learning disabilities very well could have a higher IQ than an average kid, so it doesn’t seem like an apples-to-apples comparison to me.

        I’m not sure that any of history’s great inventors/entrepreneurs were well served by the educational system. It’s a system designed to accomplish something different. I am completely with you on what it should be doing, but I don’t think any of us can expect it to change for the children of this generation.

      • Sheila, well written. I agree with you. The Highly gifted child is truly unique emotionally and often socially. It’s not just about being ‘smart,’ they are truly and completely different.

  30. If these were special needs kids at the other end of the spectrum, the school districts have special classes and separate schools for them, but not for ours. We are in the middle of trying to have our son’s needs met in his class. The class pace is too slow and is rapidly becoming disheartened and frustrated. There is no time to offer him the accelerated teaching he needs in class, though the child who struggles with math or spelling does get time. He is one of two ‘gifted’ in his class and it seems as though the teacher balks at the idea of having to help these ‘smarties’ to do better, it feels like she thinks they should be able to adjust.

    The only differentiated teaching is for math which still isn’t at a fast enough pace for him. He reads at up to 8th grade level, his math is at 4th and 5th grade levels, his tester said his verbal skill is at a high school level. Yet all we are offered is a once a week enrichment class that while fun and interesting for him, isn’t enough. If the school and district cannot provide him what he needs – accelerated lessons, compaction of curriculum and enrichment, I will have no other choice than to homeschool. There are no decent options for a gifted school in my area. What other options do we have?

    • Jen, everything you say is true and unfortunately very common. Is it any wonder that gifted children are the largest student population turning to homeschooling? You might want to check out this site by Jade Rivera; she directs a micro-school for gifted learners and offers information to others interested in it: http://jadeannrivera.com

    • Please don’t fool yourselves into thinking that special education classrooms are some special and valuable service for those lucky kids at the “other end of the spectrum.” I’m the mom to kids at “each end.” I am a special education consultant for students with significant disabilities. Special education is usually highly controlled, drill-and-kill, glorified babysitting. There is NOTHING to envy in most special education programs; many of us are fighting for the most basic opportunities for our kids to have any form of academic instruction. I went back to school to get a graduate degree in special education just to try and help ensure my own daughter and my friend’s children could get some kind of authentic literacy instruction. Please, don’t suggest that our gifted kids need anything that our kids with significant disabilities are trying to escape.

      The problem is not that we have figured out all those special education kids and somehow left our gifted kids behind. The problem is that our schools teach to some kind of mythical middle. I am homeschooling my one daughter while still struggling every day to help my other daughter get basic access to instruction rather than just be trained in life skills goals that somehow never include life skills such as literacy, autonomy, or self-advocacy.

      We need to start all over when it comes to how we educate our kids. But spend a day in my daughter’s special program and you’ll see that each of my girls are fundamentally misunderstood as learners, fundamentally failed by the school systems that teach to some imaginary “average” student.

  31. Your words: “And how do you convince your highly-emotional child that school should not define him? And warn him that naturally, he will be the object of envy because he was born gifted, and sometimes this envy results in bullying? And how do you assure him that despite his higher-than-average intelligence he will find friends who understand him?”
    This so resonates with me. Every day my 7 year old son comes home and says that he has no friends, that no one likes him, and asks me why he is different from his classmates. It breaks my heart. He is so hard on himself, and he has such intense emotions and sensitivities, that I wish I could explain to other parents that he is not autistic but is gifted. But I keep my mouth shut, for the exact reasons that you listed above. Yes, we are blessed that he is gifted, but it is such a challenge many days. I just want him to be happy and not so hard on himself about so many things. I keep thinking that at some point, I will see or observe a classmate that behaves like him ,and then they can be friends, but I have not seen it yet. It has been hard for me to grasp how uncommon his profound giftedness is, especially since he is my only child. Therefore I have no scope of reference. Anyway, I have enjoyed reading this blog, thank you!!

    • Maureen, my heart breaks for your little man. Our children should not have to feel this way just because they were born gifted. And yes, finding like-minded peers is sometimes difficult. Out of the same frustration you are feeling, I started a local support group on Facebook for parents of gifted children in my area. It was a good way to get the families of gifted children together. Although I have since moved from north Alabama, the group is still in existence. I’m saying this because it was a solution that worked for me and my family, and we became close friends with some of the families and their gifted children!

    • Maureen, hang in there, keep encouraging him. My son is the same and was often miserable but he did eventually discover a few others like him and a few who like him and don’t antagonize him. One is older and one, mercifully, is in his 3rd grade class this year. He found 2 very smart kids last year in his class and when I met them, I knew why he always talked about them – they were smart, funny, thoughtful and they genuinely liked my son and didn’t act the others. This year he only sees them in math class and recess which makes him sad, we’ve had the one over a few times to play after school. It has taken many tears, many gentle conversations, lots of hugs and constant bolstering to help him along the way. I have been scanning kids for similarities to my son since he was 4 years old.

      I have discovered that if I say to others that my son is very sensitive and intense so that what may seem small to another child is huge to mine they often respond positively with understanding. I know a few other parents well enough, to have been able to mention quietly that he was recently tested and accepted into the gifted program. To my surprise, they too had been sitting on their own uneasiness about their gifted kids and offered all sorts of understanding and support. It is a risk to mention it to any one, but I feel that if we do, more awareness can be created and with that, understanding.

      • Thank you, Jen, for the support. It’s comforting to know that there are in fact others who are facing the same challenges. I just want him to be happy and not be so negative about himself. I know that this will take time. It’s just hard when you see so many kids playing like they haven’t a care in the world, while your kid is worrying that somehow he’ll make a mistake playing, or that he won’t win, or that he isn’t good enough. Especially since we have never pressured him about “winning.” He just can’t see the “fun” in these things.

  32. I loved this article. My son has been berated and given zeros on his perfect math tests because he can easily do complicated problems in his head, but not so much on paper. The past three years he’s hated school, but is now in his second year of a Gifted program, and has friends just like him. It’s still a struggle but I see the problem with his school system and a few teachers- not him! I work in an exceptional student school, kids with disabilities. Each child is taken seriously. Gifted children should be no different.

    • Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts! It makes me so sad to hear how hard it is to be gifted, and it breaks my heart when it is our young children being hurt.

  33. Thank you for your article. Both of my children are gifted, but my son struggles more than my daughter. Both of them have been disinterested in homework, and even classwork, since grade school. My daughter is now a junior in high school and by the end of middle school, she began to take responsibility for her school work and is doing very well. My son, however, is a different story. He is currently in 7th grade and failing at least three of his classes, all due to not doing and/or not turning in his work. The work he does turn in is usually 100%, as long as it’s not late work. We have FCAT here in Florida and the highest score you can get is a 5. Every year since 3rd grade, which is the first year they are required to take it, my son has scored a 5 on both the reading and the math. Every year he scores 100% on either the reading or the math and only misses maybe 2 or 3 questions on the other. His teachers have been willing to work with us but there is only so much they can do per the public school system. He is in the Cambridge program, which is an accelerated program, at his school and is taking Algebra I Honors for high school credit but he is still failing and I am afraid they are going to kick him from the Cambridge program and make him repeat the 7th grade. Neither of these things will be good for him. It will make him give up altogether and he is too good for that. He wants to be an astronomer and/or astrophysicist. I am currently trying to work with his school and his doctor to prevent him from failing. I’ve done the parental things and taken away video games and such but it didn’t make a difference so I’ve given them back to him and resumed our rule of “no video games on school nights”.

    He tells me he forgets stuff and is easily distracted so I took him to his doctor to have him screened for ADD a few weeks ago. He’s negative for ADD but he has an anxiety disorder, which I’ve known since he was in grade school. Back in the 2nd and 3rd grade he would bite himself when be became frustrated or stressed. I put him in therapy at that time and he no longer bites himself, but he does have other things such as pulling at and pulling out his eyelashes. He doesn’t like attention, positive or negative, especially in public. His 4th grade teacher read an essay he’d written in front of the class and began to aggressively praise him. That was a disaster.

    His doctor has him on Prozac right now and I am waiting for a psychologist to call me back to schedule an appointment for him. I hate that he’s on medication, as does his doctor. The one thing I love about his doctor is that she does not resort to medication unless she feels it’s detrimental to my kids’ well-being. She doesn’t want him on it long-term, of course, but until we can figure out how to help him with his anxiety, I don’t know of anything else to do for him.

    He is a visual-spatial learner and has somewhat of an eidetic memory. I don’t want him to fail because the school says he’s not doing his work. That is no reason to fail a child because that will only make things worse. If a child is capable and it is obvious they are capable, they should not be punished because of things that are not within their control. I have often told people that I wish my kids were average because this is a very difficult thing to handle. I am stressed for him. I’ve done everything I could think of doing to try to help him over there years, but it just seems to be getting worse. Your article hit home for me. It’s nice to know I am not alone in this. I just hope I can find what works for my son so that he can follow his dreams without feeling the pressure of being so smart that people expect him to be perfect. He already expects perfection from himself, which he gets from me, sadly.

    Thank you again. I just really wanted to share my story because it can be very lonely to be where I am right now. My husband, though he tries, doesn’t understand it and his response is to take things away from our son and just “make him do his work”. If only it were that easy.

    • Yes, I understand what you are going through and you are not alone! The one thing I have learned and I have read is that the best education for a visual spatial learner is to be homeschooled. Thank you for sharing your story; I know it is not easy to tell others the strife you have in your life, especially when it is a gifted child you are talking about. If we all keep sharing and advocating, we can hopefully make a positive difference in the lives of gifted children.

  34. This sounds so familiar. My daughter goes to a new charter school and we can’t even seem to get the ball rolling on getting her tested. She is in the first grade. We asked for an evaluation, and we received a packet to fill out but it has been weeks with no response. Why don’t teachers get more education on how to identify and help gifted children? I would give anything to make life easier for my daughter, for her to just be “normal”, but then she wouldn’t be our amazing creative girl. Life is a roller coaster for sure with her. It’s the hardest thing to watch your child struggle to find their way in a class where they are constantly misunderstood and frustrated. As exhausted patents we rely on the professionals to help, but they know less than we do.

    • Oh, I feel your frustration and I can sympathize. Most of the comments on many of my posts are from parents who feel as we all do – frustrated, exhausted, confused and sometimes angry. My position is that through parent advocacy, we can make changes to this broken system of gifted education. It will take all of our voices and a lot of talking, but it is so necessary! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  35. I am a student at an elementary school that is just amazing, lucky for me-it’s an optional program. But, although this might not be the exact right place to mention it, THE MATH. Our school had to adopt the Go Math! Program and it’s just miserable. The problems are really easy, stuff I was learning in fourth grade (I’m in 6th grade) and the stuff I haven’t gotten to, they don’t explain it at all and just give you these little fill in the blank spots. Then, after you do that, looking down one step to see what they filled in since they don’t explain it at all, they expect you to do a bunch of word problems (really boring, complicated and uninteresting word problems-Mario can figure out his own tax percentages!) when they didn’t explain at all how you were actually supposed to do the problem. It just makes me want to SCREAM.

  36. I want to cry! You just described my life. 2 gifted children. We are afraid to say “our kids are gifted” because it sounds like we’re bragging. And yet we struggle immensely with the gifted child with bad grades. They are currently attending Catholic school and they about fell over when I presented them with the letter stating my eldest was gifted. As her grades are terrible. We are searching for an affordable school that can give her what she needs to excel. Affordable basically doesn’t exist. It’s exhausting!!

    • Yes, it can be very exhausting and heartbreaking! I understand completely! I wish you and your children the best! The valleys will be deeper, but the mountains will be higher!

    • Dear VLB,
      Take heart, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! It may be that your struggling gifted child has an existing condition…ADHD. You mentioned that it’s your daughter struggling. Girls are more likely to be ADD/Inattentive, so while they are quite intelligent, their own brain wiring (that she was born with) gets in the way. ADDitude magazine (on Facebook also) and CHADD online will be of help potentially determining whether ADHD is a possibility, so start with their website http://www.chadd.org/ . You may find yourself saying “That’s exactly HER!’ You may also find yourself saying the same thing about yourself or spouse since ADHD is hereditary.

      You could look into public schools that have gifted programs, but start with an ADHD coach (whether your daughter is diagnosed or not). An ADHD coach can help both of you learn how to manage her issues and come away with strategies that will work just for her! Even if your daughter does not have ADHD a good coach will still help. Good luck!

  37. You have touched on so many issues in gifted education from underachievement to hypersensitivity. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. As a gifted educator I see this alot. Especially with siblings. Once tends to be a textbook gifted child while the other is just as talented but does not apply themselves, while both of them are within 10 points of one another on an IQ scale. Has anyone else experienced these kinds of issues with siblings?

  38. Both of my sons (12 & 9) are gifted, as am I. My husband calls us “cursed” instead of “gifted”. Personally, I firmly believe that “gifted” is a misnomer. I would love to start a drive to change the name to “high-potentiality” or something else. Then we wouldn’t have to feel like we are bragging, when we are probably looking for comisseration!

  39. As a parent with “normal” kids (if there is such a thing as normal) who believes her kids are gifted even if they have never been tested (or really shown a reason to be tested to be perfectly honest), I find this article and many of the comments a little off-putting.

    A lot of the problems described here are problems that normal kids are having as well (children not being pushed to reach their potential, struggling with relationships with other children, teachers unable to accommodate other learning styles), but the fact that you never acknowledge that this is a problem goes beyond gifted kids, gives the impression that you want my sympathy for your struggles without offering to understand or sympathize with mine. I suggest if you want other parents to understand your plight that you need to look for common ground. It is out there. Ultimately we all want the same thing, the best education for our children. There is much we can do together, but not by trying to assert one type of child’s needs above all others.

  40. Great insights. Having two GT kids, one a high achiever/go-getter and one basically checked out and doing the bare minimum, I find that there are so few people that understand the tremendous struggles that we sometimes face parenting gifted children. I imagine that it’s no coincidence that the high achiever goes to a GT elem school while the middle schooler is in the GT cluster in our regular middle school. The approach to teaching is so much more challenging, student-directed, and engaging for one than for the other. The middle schooler won’t jump through the hoops no matter how hard we try. He’ll get an A on a test, but a 50 on the test review, which just required mindless copying of notes out of the notebook. It’s easy to feel envious of friends whose kids are pretty smart and work hard for those A’s and actually get them, but to say this aloud seems condescending and insincere. I just have to believe that there is something out there that will reignite the spark in my older child. It’s reassuring to read the comments on this article and realize that someday these challenges may be a distant memory and that things turn around for some of the GT kids who struggle.

  41. My son was clearly very, very bright from the get-go, and it took us years to understand why that didn’t translate into great school achievement. Even when we started to “get it,” we still couldn’t easily accept it. As the average-to-poor grades accumulated in high school, we had to learn to let go of parental embarrassment and involvement, and remember that he, not us, was in charge of his attitude toward education. Fortunately, he found a fantastic college that rewarded his high ACT score and put him in the honors program, and he is thriving. He’s excited about learning and about his future, and is blossoming into his own person, and we couldn’t be prouder.

  42. Wow, my story is included asking with everyone else. Bored child in school, But the school did listen and advanced him, he’s still bored so he probably needs to be taught a different way but I know they don’t have for time for that. Great teachers though. I supplement his learning experience at home after I get off work for now.

  43. I was the dept. chair of a gifted program with more than 650 students every year. Each year general education teachers would come to me to complain about how many students should be pulled from the gifted program for low-performance. (One option for students was to miss a different class each week to attend high-rigor seminars in our department, these absences were always a cause of friction between our program and certain general ed. teachers.) I finally had enough of this, and at a dept. chair meeting asked the other dept. chairs (large school, there were 13), to write down what percentage of gifted students they thought were failing at least one course in the school. The average answer was 3%. I then did the real research, and discovered the actual percentage was 13. We built an intervention program to deal with that and reduced the number significantly over the next couple of years. The frame that giftedness is a test score and only equals high academic performance in core subjects has been so long in the making and is so reinforced by standard operating procedure that it will take intentional and coherent work on our part to dispel it. Great essay. Thanks.

  44. The broader theme I found in your article was merging the lessons of the past with the presence. After learning, at the age of 30 (back in 1995) I had ADHD my whole life, I called my mother and she exclaimed, “Well. That explains…everything!” Along with the ADHD testing was an IQ test and I was shocked to learn that I was smarter than mud and in fact gifted! Yay! Only, I nearly flunked out of high school…literally half a point from it…because I was ‘very bright but never applied” myself. Fast forward to my teens, 17 and 15 who are both gifted but completely different in their learning modalities and unique brain wiring. My girl is self-sufficient, a self-starter, focused, driven…has wanted to go to college since she was six…completing essays, scholarships and applications all on her own. A friend of mine said “That’s a testament to your parenting!” “I know! She learned that she can’t rely on me to help her!” Please, hold your applause. My son…oh my son…is exhausting. He’s the kid that can get away with everything in class because he’s well liked, really funny and the first to mentor another kid in class, first to raise his hand whether he knows the answer or not. He’s gifted with ADHD so every moment of every day is filled with his…energy. At least it’s positive. After reading about your children’s experiences with school, right now I’m beyond thankful that our public school does what it can to help all kids learn. At the beginning of each school year the kids get a questionnaire about their learning modalities…are you visual/spatial, auditory, kinesthetic, verbal; what do you find distracts you; what do you need to hold your interest, etc. The educators work to make sure all students get into a space where they can learn. So, when a teacher assigns homework during a World History lesson about the USSR, my son jumps up and yells, “That’s Bolshevik!”, the teacher and class laugh and they move on.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! Now, if you would tell us where your kids go to school, I think many of us will be moving there! lol What a wonderful school environment! Awesome!

  45. Well done! Sounds exactly like my day. While my gifted child isn’t failing (yet), he does tend to pull out books and read while the teacher is talking. The only ones who understand are the gifted and the parents of the gifted. It is our blessing and curse, and more often than not our burden alone to bear because no one is listening.

  46. Thank you for this. I’m homeschooling my younger daughter for all these reasons. However, I don’t think these challenges are unique to kids who are gifted. My older daughter has significant disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, and does not speak. She is at least as misunderstood as her sister by a school system that makes children in special education repeat themselves and prove themselves with 90% accuracy over 90 trials over 90 days before the teacher moves on to the next step. Both my girls suffer when educators present information for rote memorization without making learning real and meaningful. Both my children have withdrawn from learning that seems pointless and irrelevant, that ignores their lived history, and that makes learning something that is done to you. Both my children have struggled with teachers who fail to teach children to think critically, generate and express their own thoughts and critical analysis, and generate the questions they seek to answer. My children are on polar opposites of the IQ score scale but they need so many of the same things. I think there is much that the gifted movement misunderstands about intellectual disability and so often presents the needs of gifted students as very unique and distinct from all other students. Instead, what our gifted kids need is so much of what ALL students need. The difference is that some kids will tolerate traditional teaching and achieve within it while others refuse to play the game. My daughter with giftedness has more in common with her sister with intellectual disabilities, in terms of her learning needs, than with most other students.

    • Thanks for your thoughts! I think our educational system is not meeting the needs of many students, no matter what type of learner they are, but it is especially lacking for those further away from the mean. I can’t speak for all parents of gifted children, but many of us do understand about intellectual disability because there are many 2E (gifted with a learning disability) out there. Our educational system is failing nearly all of our children, so we advocate for improvement from our own personal experiences. For me personally, I want to see our educational system improve for ALL kids, but historically, gifted students have been the most underserved/neglected student population, and it has had needless and dire effects on many of our kids. We all need to work together to help improve our educational system for ALL of our children no matter where they fall on the bell curve!

      • As someone who had to work for two years just to get my older daughter’s school board to begin working on literacy with her, because she was considered too “low-functioning” to be considered potentially literate….as someone with a child whose label legally means “cannot profit from classroom instruction”…as someone who now works full-time trying to work within special education services to include ALL kids in basic research-based literacy instruction…I can say that kids with significant intellectual disability may have had lots of expensive services thrown at them but we should NEVER make the mistake of thinking that means they have been understood or well-served.

        Intellectual disability is not learning disabilities; by their definition, learning disabilities means “normal” intelligence.

        I am just cautioning that it’s a broad statement to claim gifted children have been the most misunderstood or neglected. As a formerly “gifted” student myself, the school system did little to help me reach my potential. But it did not exclude me from the possibility of learning at all. It did not make presumptions about what I couldn’t learn and therefore cut off opportunity to learn.

        I don’t think it’s useful to claim our gifted students have been so much more terribly neglected because we have tens of thousands of children and adults with intellectual disabilities who have been babysat across their entire school careers in separate spaces with zero expectation they could learn. That’s all I’m saying. The research is only just now starting to catch up yo understanding and respecting what our kids with significant disabilities can learn and how they learn. It does no one any good to claim that our gifted kids or our twice exceptional kids or our LD kids or our developmentally delayed kids are the worst off. What they ALL need is meaningful high-quality instruction that meets diverse learning styles.

        I sit on special education advisory committees and all I hear is this competition to see who believe their kids are the highest priority because of why their kids have been the most under served. It is not a useful argument because it begs for specialized exceptionality-specific responses that broader overhauls that can meet every child’s learning needs.

  47. i am the mom of a 6 year old boy whom we have often refer to as “scary smart”. however, he is also a highly anxious child who is already struggling socially at school. even at this young of an age, i can really relate to your experience. thanks for sharing.

  48. Sing it! I totally have one of those. But I also have a gifted child who L-O-V-E-S school…and that is no picnic either. The child is relentless in his quest for knowledge and cannot fathom that the rest of us might not be as interested in how Ole Kirk Christianson had to rebuild his LEGO factory three times and never gave up and how we could all learn from his can-do spirit and do I think I am a determined person and can I give him three examples of how I have persevered in times of hardship with illustrations and he will give me two minutes to form by answer GO! And this is usually before 7am and before I have had my coffee. Because we would not want to wait until school to actually learn something. I am being educated against my will! Help!

    • I’m laughing hysterically and have to share this — I actually posted it on my Facebook wall the other day. This was at BEDTIME, with my two very TIRED boys, ages 4 and 7 — and only a small sampling of the questioning we got!
      “Were all the Gorgons girls? Then how did they have Gorgon babies?”
      “How did Gorgons speak? No, you’re doing it wrong. They would’ve done it in Greek. Can you do it in Greek?”
      “Can you look up how many operas Diana Damrau will be performing this Spring? I think it’s like a million, but I’m not sure.”
      “How come God made things so you have to spend so much time away from your family? I like our family. God shouldn’t have done it that way.”
      “Where are the Olympics going to be held the next time they do it in the summer? What about the next winter ones? What about the next 20 years? Can we get a new world map so I can find all the countries? What languages do they speak? Can I look up how to say hello and thank you in all those languages?”
      And they hadn’t even brushed their teeth yet…! Solidarity. I feel ya! 😉

      • This sounds like my house. My oldest talks a mile a minute in the mornings before I’ve had coffee so I can barely keep up with him…when I figure out my answer he’s on the bus already. My youngest had a whole conversation about why words were spelled different ways and how the alphabet was formed and why some words change over time (thou for example). Then he sat really still and I asked what he was doing and he said, “just pondering language”. Same boy whose handwriting is almost illegible and struggles in math. He says he’s bored at school which is a combo of him reading 4 years above grade level and him not seeing the point of learning math when we have calculators or writing neatly when we type most of the time. As a teacher myself, I know the challenges of teaching a room of kids ranging from a pre-K to 6th grade reading level. Even within my special ed room last year I had a kid who was a math whiz but couldn’t read, a kid who could draw comics like a pro and a kid who could sing like an angel. They couldn’t read even close to grade level. Gifted can mean so many things and most teachers I know really want to be able to meet the needs of all the kids but they’re only human.

        • Laura,

          Okay, “just pondering language”, that is just too funny. These are the endearing moments we need to keep in mind when we are about ready to pull our hair out, right?

          Yes, as a former teacher, I feel sometimes teachers as a whole get a bad rap for the few bad apples. Yes, for the most part, teachers are trying to do their best, but mandates and directives from school systems, states and the federal government are really to blame for the situation our educational system is in. Teachers are just trying to balance it all, but there are too many children falling into the cracks.

          Thanks for sharing! It is important for all of us to keep in mind that most teachers are really trying to do their best!

  49. Thank you! My 10 year-old is gifted in math and dyslexic. Great combination when the newest math curriculum is 95% word problems.

    I heard a wonderful motivational speech about dyslexia and went home and downloaded his book. Totally agreed with what he said until he mentioned 2E…and that it is just parents trying to rank their dyslexic kids above other dyslexic kids! Uhm, no. Just like dyslexia is part of “who you are” so is giftedness. My daughter THINKS differently. She grasps math concepts in minutes…and is bored to tears when she has to wait for the rest of the kids to get it.

    Again, THANK YOU!

    • Yes, Marie, 2E kids absolutely do exist! Whether it is dyslexia, visual-spatial, ADD or other issues like underachievement or high anxiety – all of these co-exist with giftedness. Your daughter is lucky she has a mom who understands her and stands up for her! Thank you for sharing your thoughts; it helps all of us!

  50. My opinions on gifted education have gone in many directions since my visual-spatial learner started school several years ago. I worked very hard to develop a level of understanding between myself, his teachers and the administrator at his previous school, a few of whom “got it,” even flagging me on some things. But intentions and understanding don’t go far when the system is structured in such as way as to address the majority.

    And, of course, schools will address the majority. Given the state of education now, a parent is lucky to have a school that focuses on that broad of a group, because it seems that many focus primarily on bringing kids to the middle. This is the basis for where my mind is now — it’s my job to make sure my son gets what he needs.

    He’s at a new school now that offers more consistent high-quality teaching, and that’s been a great change for him. He understands that some of what he has to do comes too easy, but we explain the value of that education to him, and his teachers are more engaging too. We have him in extra-curricular programs to give him the other things he needs — things we’ve explained to him that most other kids aren’t ready for right now, but he is.

    I wish we could provide an education that is tailor-made for him, but homeschooling isn’t a possibility for us right now, and I do think he gets something out of being a part of a school community. (We are at a small, private school.) Still, helping direct his education is a bit more work for me than for parents of kids who fit well into a traditional learning environment.

  51. I am literally crying right now as this so described my gifted 8 year old son whom has struggled like no 8 year old should ever struggle. He can not show his work because he doesn’t understand why he has to prove what his brain does. Nor does he write well because his brain and mouth work much faster than his little hands. He is nerdy, but doesn’t get straight A’s and is the most polite and loving child I’ve ever met but he gets in to trouble in his gifted 3rd grade class because there are 30 students with one teacher! This article was as if you dug in to my brain with a spoon and just force fed the rest of the world with what us Gifted parents have been saying. Thank you!

    • Cola, you are making me cry, too, for your child and mine. It is so heartbreaking and difficult and needless pain….and it is a child who is suffering needlessly because our schools don’t understand gifted children. My sincerest hope is for the best of everything for you and your son!

  52. This is truly a wonderful, insightful article on giftedness. Unfortunately, my children’s school mixes “high achievers” with gifted students in order to meet minimum class size for a full time program. The teachers are trained to work with gifted kids, but I question whether the teachers are able to teach the class the same way they would if they had a room full of truly gifted students. I know it’s better than many children have in their public schools, but I struggle to get my son to care about grades. It’s frustrating when I hear that some of his classmates think he is not smart when he gets some poor grades, when he is actually one of the only kids in that class who is truly gifted. I know that it affects him too.

    • Gina, unfortunately there are too many of us in the same situation, and the worst part is our kids are suffering because our educational system does not recognize or understand the unique needs of gifted learners. Stay strong, and best wishes for you and your gifted son!

  53. Many times, teachers look at gifted kids as a problem or they, as adults, are envious. It’s sad and, unfortunately, the biases against homeschooling, correspondence schools, and accelerated programs are just proof that the education system in the United States is broken. People look at homeschool/correspondence/accelerated programs as being a last ditch effort for kids – and for some they are. For gifted children like my siblings and me, we found it to be a better learning experience. Gifted children are waiting and wanting to be challenged. It’s not enough to give them the same work as the rest of the class; they need different work, more suitable work at their level. It’s hard for children to sit in the classroom and wait for the classmates to catch up. It’s frustrating and that’s when they start losing interest. Letting gifted children work at their own pace on material that challenges them is the key to getting them involved and excited in learning. Making them sit there and suffer when they’ve already mastered the material is the next step to watching them wither and die.

    Of course, it isn’t all the educator’s fault. Teachers can only do so much and unfortunately in this “No Child Left Behind”/Core Curriculum push, their hands have become even more bound. There are laws that restrict them and what they can teach. Many teachers want to find a way around this, but the punitive punishments from state boards and different associations make them hesitant to do anything. There is a restriction of autonomy for the teacher and the student.

    I think teaching gifted children involves more than just putting them in a different school. I think they have to be in control of their education. If they feel they aren’t learning, they need to have the ability to change that – whether that’s online courses, extracurricular assignments, or mentoring with an expert in that particular field. This will allow them to have an investment of their education. This investment also gives them a choice in what they learn and how they learn it. If they have a mentor in Biology and they find that they don’t particularly like General Biology but they are fascinated by Molecular Biology, they have a mentor that can put them into contact with someone else that will be a good educational resource for them. Now, they have 2 mentors that can help advance their education. This leads to an introduction of new material, which challenges the gifted learner and gives them a greater thirst for education. It’s a domino effect. Besides, who says the teacher has to stop learning as well? Why not have a collaborative effort? Even in a gifted program, kids don’t learn the same. I think education has to be treated like a living being. It’s always breathing and changing. If we treat it as we have been, like something stagnant, then we will keep turning out some students that fall through the cracks – both gifted and learning challenged – while the majority do enough to get by and are mediocre/average at best.

  54. Each gifted child is unique in their own way, but as unique as they are, they also have characteristics that they share. I am not sure if this is the same for all gifted children but, for those that are primarily visual learners, homework is a BIG issue. Homework is a touchy subject for many kids and parents. It may not be necessary for many kids, both gifted and not. Visual kids learn most things the first time and repetition is, not only unnecessary for them, but it is very frustrating. While other kids may not like homework (who does), for visual learners their frustration level equals meltdown, every…single…night. Some might think they are lazy. If you gave them work that challenged them and engaged their mind it would be a different story entirely. I have gone as far as asking the teachers to let our child decide when homework needs to be done and when it does not need to be done and I can assure you that she can be trusted to make this decision and the teachers believe that she can too. Being a parent of a gifted child is not an easy road. It is one that really can’t be understood until you walk that road. There are certainly times when we wonder what it would be like for us and for our child not to be gifted. It is a wonderful gift but the more gifted you are the more challenging it is. So we are not bragging…we are looking for a shoulder to lean on…a friend who understands that this is not the road we chose but it is the road we are committed to because this is our child.

  55. I sure wish I had read this years ago! I have 3 gifted sons who are all adults now. I had nowhere to turn with my questions or for guidance and the schools were no help once they were school aged. I was told there was nothing a public school could do for my boys and they had to spend their resources just trying to get everyone to pass. My oldest and youngest were over-achievers and my middle son, who I am convinced is just as intelligent as his brothers is a chronic under-achiever. I still feel heartbroken at times that I could never find the right solution to his lack of interest in school. So, he’s sandwiched between brothers who are an actuary and a theoretical physics major which I’m sure just continues to make him feel he isn’t measuring up. I hope more options and solutions are found in the future for kids who learn differently can succeed as well. I called the mental health department at the hospital on the base we were stationed when my oldest was 2 1/2 to ask for advice how to handle him. They told me he was extremely advanced for his age and raising him will be a much bigger challenge than raising a child with a disability. Then said goodbye and thanks for calling…that was that….I was sitting there in tears with a 2 1/2 yr old a 1 yr old and pregnant with a 3rd wondering how I was going to survive raising them all!

    • Janice, your comment has me in tears. I know and feel your heartbreak! I fear for my underachiever, too.

      “I called the mental health department at the hospital on the base we were stationed when my oldest was 2 1/2 to ask for advice how to handle him. They told me he was extremely advanced for his age and raising him will be a much bigger challenge than raising a child with a disability.”

      Yes, it is difficult and I just wish more people understood that. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story!

  56. Thanks for this post. Our position is particularly challenging because we can’t get an evaluation done on our boys. Our state has no gifted programming nor funding of any kind, so there’s no evaluation done even in public schools for “gifted” placement. We could take them to a neuropsych for evaluation, but it would be an out-of-pocket cost — a very significant one that we can’t absorb right now. Last year my older son’s kindergarten teacher, in an end-of-year conference, said to us “I never recommend this; I’ve maybe said it once in my career. But somehow, somewhere, there has to be a school for gifted kids that he could attend.” She documented his areas of excellence, she documented his weaknesses (we’re pretty sure he’s a 2E kid), and she helped us communicate to the 1st grade teacher.
    And yet. He says school is “boring,” but he doesn’t act out or get bad grades…he just does the minimum required. His teacher says, “He’s fine. He does very well. He works hard.” No, he doesn’t. Aside from a few struggles with math, he doesn’t work AT ALL. He dabbles at the homework and then does more interesting things. She’s evaluating him based on grade level work, even though his file clearly states that he tested at a 3rd-4th grade reading level last year. I’ve brought it up to her and she basically says that she doesn’t believe in “overloading young children” and that as long as his grades are good, why should I care? She’s fortunate so far, that the child of mine she currently has is the retiring type. Now his brother…that one will be the child who finds plenty to keep him occupied if she can’t, and she won’t like what he chooses!

    • Bri, Your situation is a testament to the state of gifted education in the U. S. and in many parts of the world. Yes, many gifted kids are mastering all their age/grade-level work and making excellent grades, so why worry about them, right? Wrong! We all know that a gifted child who breezes through school easily while being prevented from moving beyond his easy, grade-level work is not being provided an appropriate education. I wish all schools and teachers understood this!

      Thanks for sharing your story! If we all keep sharing and talking, we will bring attention to the unique learning needs of our gifted children! And maybe gifted education will finally be what it should be!

    • I have a 2e child. We did put him in a private ‘gifted’ school. Be very careful. If your child has any special needs most gifted private schools cannot accommodate them. We ended up taking our son out during Thanksgiving break. It was truly awful. He is back in the public schools where they do a better job with him. And BTW lots of his peers at the gifted school were not gifted at all. They had standards to let kids in that they would ignore to get more tuition dollars.

      • Thanks for your comment! We are at this place with school choice:
        1) There is ONE “gifted” school even remotely close to us, and the tuition far exceeds our means, so he’s not going there.
        2) Other schools with “whole child” approaches are still well beyond what we can spend in tuition, and we don’t qualify for enough aid to make it feasible — the old Catch-22.
        3) So we have him in an academically sound parochial school, where at least he’s in a small group setting and has lots of the enrichment type classes — Art, Music, etc. — that public schools are lacking. Some of his strongest gifts are in music and art, so this is important to us and him, and those enrichment teachers do recognize and support his gifts.
        4) We try to give him lots of downtime and time to be a kid, but also supplement his schedule with activities he feels passionately about and that can stimulate him — such as music lessons with a phenomenal training school run by our Philharmonic. We provide him with books and resources to learn on his own, as he chooses, about things that interest him — Greek mythology, the American presidency, opera — but don’t “push” him to do anything. We feel like he sets his own learning course outside of school right now, and we just try to watch for signs of stress.
        Bottom line, there’s no perfect solution. But currently he does have a strong friendship network at his school and loves his peers and many of his teachers, so we try to view it as a healthy social space for him, which is so important for 2E kids. We plug in his passions wherever we can with his classwork, and we try to give him an environment at home that’s “chewy” enough for his brain. I feel like that’s the only tightrope we can walk right now!

          • I am looking for anyone in the Tennessee Public School System who is having trouble getting appropriate gifted services for their child. I’m a teacher in the same school system that seems to be subtly refusing to test kids and for my child is wanting to place her back in grade level work even though she has excelled in accelerated math and reading. She and the other gifted student who somehow got through the gauntlet to get test now seem to be “too much trouble” and we are being told that we have been getting way more than “we deserve” in the way of services.

          • LH, my son attends school in a small rural county in TN. I requested an evaluation in 4th grade after he had effortlessly excelled in every subject from Kindergarten through 3rd grade and expressed continuing frustration with the lack of subject rigor. The school honored my requested and performed the teacher and IQ evaluation. He had high scores on all areas outside of the IQ testing and as I expect a variation of scores on the IQ test from mid to high. (Unfortunately an IQ test isn’t the best way to evaluated what he knows and what he is highly capable of learning.) All scores combined didn’t reach the minimum to be considered gifted and therefore they didn’t provide him with any alternative teaching or curriculum. (Even if he had met the minimum score I doubt they would have been able or willing to provided him with the type of curriculum that he needs) Middle school starts in 5th grade in our county and we were fortunate enough to have a wonderful, understanding and supportive principal that allowed my son to skip 5th grade. Grade skipping isn’t for everyone but it provided a better fitting (but not perfect) academic situation for my son. My son is just finishing up 8th grade and the last 3 years, even with what they consider “advance classes” haven’t been able to provide him with accelerated and rigorous curriculum that he wants and needs. We’re now in the process of trying to move out of the county before he starts high school because our county no longer offers any AP classes in high school.

            Tennessee does have standards for identifying and the education of gifted children but they’re vague at best. Once identified as gifted it’s left up to the IEP team of teachers and administrators to determine what “appropriate” education is. This standard doesn’t guarantee that any child will receive what they need if identified as far as I’m concerned. Under the state’s plan for intellectually gifted the school MUST test a child if they are asked to. Please refer to this link for Tennessee’s official plan for gifted education.

            http://www.state.tn.us/education/speced/doc/11210igmanual.pdf

            If you haven’t already, signup your child with the Duke TIP program and have them participate in above level testing. There is such a variation in kids that score in the top 5% of grade level test that a great way to get a good idea of not only how much your child already knows but also what they’re capable of is to have them take an above level test like the ACT Explore, ACT or SAT. High scores on these types of test may also give you some help when advocating for alternative curriculum.

            We’re fortunate to have the Vanderbilt PTY (program for talented youth) right here in our state. Everyone involved in this program understands and is passionate about teaching and helping the kids to reach their full potential. They provide classes for kids in K through 12 during the spring, summer and fall. This program has been a life saver for my son. He not only thrives on the advance curriculum but also enjoys being with other kids like him. They also provide services and information to parents and teachers. I would highly suggest that you contact them and ask for help with your situation. Please don’t be scared off by the program’s cost for students. They do offer financial aid so don’t hesitate to apply for it if you need to.

            http://pty.vanderbilt.edu/

            TAG is another organization they may be able to help you out.

            http://www.tag-tenn.org/

            I know how frustrating the entire situation can be and I hope this information will help you to not only provide appropriate education for your child but also help you as an educator.

  57. I cry with you. I have a 16 yr old who beat herself up because she ONLY got a 28 on her ACT, and a 10 yr old in public school struggling with standardized testing because it shows she “isn’t smart” (she sees patterns in numbers I am pretty sure most kids her age will never see). My eldest cries on a regular basis because she is so lonely and the adults around her don’t understand why she just can’t “make friends” (Try to find another 16 yr old who thinks typical 16 yr old stuff is just a silly waste of time) I hurt for you and with you. I know the look- what are you complaining about- they are gifted they will get along just fine….

    • Thank you, Marna! Thank you so much for your kind words! You know, I would almost rather that the other person would just come out and say what they were thinking so that I could address their misinformation about gifted kids, but that silent stare – it is so hard to move on from.

    • Marna, I have a “highly gifted”, ( schools label for her ), 12 year old daughter that also cries about being lonely and having no friends. She can make quick friends at a park or party, but cannot sustain long term friendships with other girls. She is in a class within a public school for gifted children. Even being around other gifted girls she still has very unique intrests and habits the other girls don’t.

  58. In my experiences, seeing my daughter and her friends who have been in gifted programs, these kids are gifted in certain or specific areas of their lives. The problem is most people have think “gifted” means academically straight A’s which is not a true definition of gifted, esp when using multiple intelligences theory. Where something comes super easy for them compared to others, and where amazing talent and ability comes esp at an early age at a fast rate is what I have seen in her and her friends. My daughter’s mind works much faster than average – I have seen that gifted people can process, learn and use new information much faster than the average person, and they also have a voracious appetite to learn the subject matter they have a passion for – with the intensity. My daughter excels musically, has an ear for music which amazes me, and with less than a year of piano lessons, started playing in church band after 4 months of lessons. She can also sing amazingly on key, play guitar as well with little lessons. She has only been in choir for 2 years, and has made it into varsity choir as a freshman out of 180 kids auditioning in the entire high school. However, she is failing Honors Physics. But SO WHAT? Her passion and talent is MUSIC. Most gifted kids I have seen an amazing talent beyond their years which is remarkable, especially for how little training they have had, which normally would take a “normal” person many years of hard work and training to get to that point.

    • How awesome for your daughter to be so gifted in music! Music will bring her lifelong joy! You are right, it is not always about the straight A’s in school! Thank you, Chris!

  59. “I was already supplementing them with challenging extra curricular work to help them through the tedious boredom of non-stop busy work the teachers affectionately called “homework” or “extra practice.”

    There are many great contributions to this article and discussions, but this comment above is insulting. I can just see you making the quotation marks with your fingers, and we all know that means you are insulting the children that do find regular homework or assignments sufficiently challenging by suggesting they are not as smart as your children. Please take your attitude elsewhere.

    • Sophia,
      I am sorry you took offense to my comment. My comments were in no way meant to insult anyone and would never hold my children up as better as anyone elses. Every child is born unique, valuable, and needed. I do realize that the schools have an extremely difficult task of having to cater to a broad range of learners There are some it really does work for, and that is fantastic! And there are some that it doesn’t, and that is okay too, that is why there are so many other choices that can be made for these kiddls. I was only agreeing with the article in that I can understand that struggle that goes on when the system doesn’t work for some kids. That is all. I’m sorry it hurt you. No offense was ever intended.

    • Oh my goodness… I did not read that anyone was suggesting their child was smarter than yours… Telling someone to take their attitude elsewhere seems to me more like you are slightly misguided as to who has the attitude.
      When you are seeking support from places like this your efforts would be much better spent with a more receptive attitude. We all think are own children on a different level. Be kind, share your loaf of bread and be your brothers keeper. Do not seek to destroy others with unkindness.

    • Wow Sophia, sounds like you are the only one with the attitude that needs to go elsewhere. Jealous much?!

  60. “So, you take this smart-but-failing, emotional wreck of a kid and try to get his school to understand that he doesn’t need to work harder or practice more because he is failing, but that he needs to be accelerated, differentiated or taught in a way that meets his needs. Then he may feel learning has a purpose, […]” <–So much of this.

    This is what we're dealing with when it comes to our pre-k some and I fear we're going to be deal with the same when it comes to our first grader, even though she currently is very driven to get good grades.

    There's only so much "hard work" and "practice" you can convince your kid to do before they realize it's pointless and they realize YOU think it's pointless, too. We've already told our first graders, on more than one occasion, "You just have to do it."

    How many smart adults would continue doing a pointless task without developing a developing some resentment along the way?

    • Amy, absolutely! These kids have too much intelligence and adult-level reasoning to be forced to complete pointless tasks, that I might add they have already mastered, only to be rewarded with a good grade. You are just starting your wild ride, and hopefully our educational system will begin to recognize our gifted children so the educational environment will be better for your children! Good luck with your little ones!

  61. this is very good , my child too …. i took my child out of school at 11 , and she did her gcse’s at college from aged 14-16 ,i wasn’t going to waste mine and her time any more etc she is still only 19 but in her last year of a 3 year musical theatre course, she has a lovely singing voice, so we then focused on what she is good at which is this course she is on …

  62. Thank you for such a well-written article. It’s very difficult as the parent of gifted children to not be understood when talking about my children. I do understand other parents not “getting” it, but it makes me sad when teachers don’t understand what gifted children need or worse, don’t try to learn so they can better educate gifted children.

    “He is tired of waiting because information is not being taught at his quicker pace. He is bored with repeated practice and repetitions of skills he already knows.” These two sentences perfectly describe our oldest child’s experiences in elementary at an American public school. I would take it a step further to say that these (and many other) experiences can then lead to underachieving gifted kids.

    • “I would take it a step further to say that these (and many other) experiences can then lead to underachieving gifted kids.” Yes, you are absolutely right! Underachievement in gifted kids seems to be on the rise and I’ve experienced this with my own son. Worse yet, underachievement is very difficult to reverse. Thanks for telling us about your experience; the more we all talk, the more likely we will all be heard. Thank you!

    • Please receive this with the knowledge that I am merely trying to open a dialogue here. Often we become obsessed with our own struggles and forget to empathize with others.

      Perhaps it is unfair of people to expect a teacher in the public school system to cater to the needs of every individual student in a class…especially a student with special needs. It is easy to sit back and chastise a teacher for not “getting it,” but as someone who has obviously given this a lot of thought, you must realize that in order for them to “get it” (to your standards), they may be forced to neglect the other 15-20 children in class (whose parents also expect special attention paid to their child). If your child is “gifted,” and if public education currently isn’t working for him or her, that’s probably not going to change. Public schools are *technically* for everyone, sure. For most kids they are adequate. However, the extremely disabled and the “gifted” are always going to require more creativity and attention than other kids. Unfortunately our public school system spends a fortune in time and money to accommodate those special needs students who are of (far) below-average intelligence, but very little on “gifted” students. I do believe that should change.

      I’m not saying the teacher of your child won’t try to give him/her the best education possible, but it’s unreasonable to expect the teacher of your child to “get it” like you do *and* develop an entirely separate curriculum for him/her. I guess that’s why they have schools for the “gifted.” Home schooling may also be an option.

      • This is one of the strong arguments in favor of having separate gifted classes (by district or region, if the individual schools do not have enough children to justify a separate class), and ability grouping in general. Every time ability grouping is suggested, it gets shouted down as elitist, but those same parents have no problem with the fact that their child made the travel soccer team, while someone else’s child did not. If we are okay with the idea of grouping athletes together by ability, so each one can train at the appropriate challenge level, why can’t we agree to do the same for English, math, science, etc? Then the teachers could teach at a pace more appropriate to a group of students who, while not identical, are at least closely grouped by knowledge and ability.

      • This is upsetting. As a school teacher I agree with Eric…..we cannot possibly meet you expectations. Our focus MUST be on the bottom 25%…not the top 25%.

        • I understand your plight here. The problem I have with yours and Eric’s statements is that when you ignore the top 25%, you hurt them. You have to be able to take care of everyone’s needs. Did you know that 20%-40% of high school dropouts are gifted students? Do you know why that is? It’s beause they are not getting what they need to be successful. They are left to flounder and get bored and eventually, give up. Is this fair? No. It’s not. Some of the brightest minds are being ignored and left to rot because the school system isn’t set up to accommodate them. They don’t get 504 plans and the like. They aren’t allowed to excel at their own pace because teachers are too busy trying to get the kids who struggle caught up with the state’s expectations for their grade level. I’m not saying give up on those who struggle. I’m saying don’t ignore those who don’t struggle just because they can handle the information. The problem is they learn the information and they need to move on. You cannot hold them in place. They become bored and then behavioural problems in class. The “No Child Left Behind” wasn’t created just for those who struggle. It was created for ALL children. If schools cannot help those who are afvanced, they need to rethink their curriculum. Thankfully I have a great support system in our schools. My son was able to skip a grade, which he desperately needed, and is doing very well. He’s no longer bored and he does his homework. He’s a freshman now after skipping 8th grade last year. The thing, after all the research I provided for them, that finally led to their decision to double promote him was his ACT score of 22. High school juniors have difficulty scoring a 22 the first time they take it, much less a 13 year old 7th grader. I think it’s highly unfair that these kids aren’t given the proper attention they need. It only happens when a parent steps in and says something, researches until their heads explode, and meets with teachers and administrators. Not all parents are knowledgable enough to know their options. They don’t know how to advocate for their kids. I do. But I’ve also had great teachers work with me and my son to help him along. His 2nd grade teacher gave him 3rd grade math because he was more advanced. His 5th grade teacher didn’t count class work and homework as grades…only tests and major projects…because he always aced them. He scored 100% on his FCAT! His 7th grade algebra 1 honors teacher is the one who suggested he skip 8th grade. His middle school principal has a son who is my daughter’s age…they graduate high school in two months. He is also gifted so she was thankful that I gave her all the research I did. I have been lucky enough to work with wonderful teachers and adminstrators to help my son get where he needs to be. Our school system works very hard to make sure ALL kids get the education that benefits them. The rest of the country needs to do the same. And it starts with teachers and parents stepping up and advocating for them all!

          • Thank you Crystal! Well said! You are telling it like is should be. I am very happy that you have found a school that works with your son. It has taken a lot of trial and error and research to realize that this is exactly what the school should have done for my daughter. As a matter of fact, this was recommended by the psychologist who performed the gifted testing but not followed by the school. I trusted the school to do what was best. I was wrong. When we talk about not having time for the top 25%, which is actually much less than 25%, in most cases acceleration is the answer and I would not expect that this would be a burden on the schools. And yes it does negatively affect these kids. My daughter has spent the past 3+ years in and out of different schools and we have finally decided to go the distance education route so that she can work at her own pace and not spend a good part of her time waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. So we can count this one as almost a dropout but the story has not ended yet. These kids probably have the ability to be working 3-5 years ahead of their age appropriate grade. That is like putting a 14 year old in a grade 4-6 class and expecting them to do grade 4-6 work and make friends with 9-11 year olds. Schools need to have a better understanding of what these kids need. Acceleration is nothing new, schools just stopped allowing it.

          • I’m glad you were able to figure out how to help your daughter. I have often contemplated distance learning for my son, (at which I KNOW he would do VERY well), but because of his anxiety disorder, which includes little bit of social anxiety disorder, I felt like he needed to be around others to help him learn to cope with his anxiety. I look at it this way: one day he will have a job, which usually means working with other people. He is going to have to be able to handle this type of environment. I have him in therapy for his anxiety. (He also pulls his eyelashes and eyebrows out and doesn’t have any of either at the moment. He used to bite himself and, thankfully, therapy stopped that..) 🙁 It’s been difficult, but we are trying to get him to a place where he is comfortable and can be successful in whatever he chooses to pursue in life, which is astrophysics.

            I wish the best for you and your daughter. 🙂

          • Forgive me for playing devil’s advocate here, but unfortunately, acceleration isn’t always unrelieved good news. I started school a year early, then was accelerated a year at the start of high school, so ended up graduating two years younger than my classmates. Academically I was fine in most subjects – still well ahead of the curve in many, even, though my maths skills suffered somewhat. Socially, though, it was fairly disastrous, and in some ways I feel I am still paying the price even in my early 30s.
            Additionally, my college choices were affected, as a couple of very prestigious schools overseas offered me places, but would only allow me to attend if accompanied by a parent/guardian until I reached 18. My parents weren’t in a position to make that possible.

            In some cases it may work well, but acceleration was the easy out for my school – a better approach would have been to have me working with the appropriate level for each subject, but that was “a scheduling nightmare”, and may have created its own social issues anyway, in all fairness.

          • I agree that acceleration may not be for everyone, but that is a decision parents must make with their children. I didn’t choose to pursue double promotion without my son’s input. In his case, he started a year later than most because he is a September 30th birthday. So he is already older than his classmates from the previous year and even older than some of his current classmates. So his acceleration didn’t affect him in that way, though the school was worried about that but shouldn’t be because, again, he’s already older than most of the current 8th graders but the same age as most of the current 9th graders.

            I don’t know about other states and counties, but here we have dual enrollment. Our high schoolers have a chance to earn their AA while still in high school at the same time as earning their high school diploma. That also helps those who are more advanced because it allows them to work at a higher level and actually accomplish what they need. My dsighted graduates in three months and many of her classmates already have their AA and have already completed all their courses for high school. They don’t she any extra classes, but they take college courses on the high school campus and also the college campus and whatever class they take counts for both HS and college credit. And, of course there are still AP classes. My daughter has both of her humanities credits and will have Com I & II at the end of this semester because she’s taking AP Lit/Lang. We also have online courses at all of the grade levels here in Florida, should a student need to work at their own pace, whether behind or ahead of their current grade level.

            All the research I did for my son showed me that kids who are gifted and are allowed to skip a grade are much more likely to go on and earn PhD’s and the like. Martin Luther King, Jr. skipped a grade as did Sandra Day O’Connor and Oscar Wilde, I believe it was. Those who have the ability to work ahead should be allowed to blossom at their pace and not be held back for any reason.

            My daughter, by the way, won’t be 18 until August. She didn’t skip a grade but she started school 10 days before her 5th birthday. She will be 17 when she graduates. She had an opportunity to study in Germany for a year, all expenses paid, but I chose not to let her and she didn’t think she could spend a year that far away from her family so we opted out. She would have left in June and they wouldn’t have required a parent to be present because she’s only 17. She is also gifted but has different qualities and needs. She functions well in her environment and doesn’t have the issues my son has. So I have one of each: one who started school early and one who had to wait. I have one who is gifted and functions well and one who is gifted who has anxiety issues he doesn’t know how to handle.

            I am actually thinking about creating a support/informational group for parents of gifted children. I think it would be helpful to others and I have personal experience with two kinds of gifted kids. I just have to plan it out and find the right venue…Facebook or a regular website.

          • ***There is a nonsense word in that last post that should have been “daughter” as in my daughter. I’m typing all this from my phone and I’m trying to catch typos but that one escaped me. lol

        • With respect, I have to ask why the educational challenges of the bottom 25% are more important than the challenges faced by the top 25%, as implied by your capitalised ‘MUST’? Both groups face unique – and upsetting – difficulties in the classroom, and in the wider world. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect teachers to individualise programmes for each student (and most of the people commenting here are talking about the top 1-5%, whose challenges are often in a different league again), but 25% is a lot of the class to be ignoring or de-prioritising their needs. Certainly the 25% who are not achieving well require support, but so do the 25% who are achieving above what is expected!

          • Well said, Kristy!! Thank you for that!

            Teachers and administrators should not be allowed to ignore the upper leveled kids and pass them off by saying, “They can handle it.” No. They can’t. Many of them have anxiety and social disorders that must also be acknowledged and tended to, which makes them just as important as the lower leveled students. In the real world, BECAUSE they ARE students they ARE just as important as the other students. When we tell these kids teachers don’t have time for them, we are telling them they are unimportant. This exacerbates those disorders. These kids become frustrated and give up: “If they don’t care, why should I? Obviously is doesn’t matter.” These are kids. They don’t know how to stand up for themselves and are usually discouraged from doing so because it’s deemed “disrespectful”. Anxiety and social issues tend to go hand in hand with being gifted. Many teachers don’t know this or they ignore it thinking it’s not their problem. They need those social skills to be successful in the real world.

            Personally, I feel that if a teacher cannot handle the needs of every student in their class, they shouldn’t be teachers. I say this because there ARE teachers out there who CAN address and attend to every student’s needs. I have witnessed it firsthand by all my son’s teachers. It CAN be done. You just have to care enough to take the time! One of the ways you can utilize these brighter students is by letting them be peer mentors. They CAN help the other students. It helps you, as a teacher, and it helps build these kids’ confidence. My son’s teachers would have him help other students who struggled with subjects like math. It’s good for both students.

            Let me say this, too: my son’s 6th grade teacher was the teacher in which they put the lower leveled kids and this teacher not only helped those kids, but was able to be there for my son. He worked with my son to ensure he was just as successful as the lower leveled kids, but obviously in their own ways. THAT is the sign of a good teacher! THAT is what ALL teachers should strive to be.

            Gifted students may be the minority, but that does NOT make them any less important or deserving of attention and opportunity to get a good education! There are those who believe they don’t need help. Well then, if you think they are so capable, why bother sending them to school? Just give them a degree right now. Doesn’t make sense, now does it?

        • Here’s a dilemma… what do you do when a top-2-percenter is also learning disabled? Do you not pay attention to him because he’s “smart enough to get by” or do you support his needs, even though they can only be detected by a level of educational testing not provided by most schools?

          I come from a family of educators, and I realize that teachers have only so much time in a day to accomplish many, many things. If I weren’t on top of the kind of situation I describe above my kid wouldn’t be getting the differentiation he is at his school. But if he didn’t get this kind of help, it would, in fact, “hurt” him. In the long run, he’d be assigned work not even close to his potential, and we (meaning his teachers, my husband and I) wouldn’t have the opportunity to strengthen his areas of weakness so that he can truly learn at school and not just get through it.

          Teachers may only be able to do so much, but gifted education needs to be on everyone’s radar in terms of finding ways to address it. Even something as simple as flagging a parent of something incongruent (like test scores vs. classroom performance) and suggesting the parents look into it further is helping in some way.

          • You are so right, Traci. Before my son was allowed to skip 8th grade last year, his principal suggested differentiated education for him, as well as mentors for him. It is very possible to get these kids what they need without over burdening teachers. Many of my friends are teachers, and I am a substitute teacher and have subbed for my teacher friends, so I completrly sympathize with teachers. But those teachers who are my friends work very hard to help EVERY student in their class. I’ve witnessed it and been the recipient of that hard work. It CAN be done and NEEDS to be done in order for our children to grow to their full potential. The school board and administration is also responsible for making sure these kids are getting what they need. It’s also up to the states to fix this problem. They need to stop focusing on standardized testing and worry about actually teaching kids the information they need in life! Real careers aren’t about testing. It’s about knowledge in your field and being able to implement and use it. But that’s a topic for another thread.

        • Really? REALLY?! As a teacher you MUST focus on the bottom 25%? Perhaps you’re in the wrong profession – I was under the impression that public schools were to provide an education for the majority. Why should the lower end of the spectrum take priority? How is ANY child failing acceptable, regardless as to whether they’re gifted or not?

  63. I really don’t like the phrase “scary smart. ”

    As a gifted child I found it unbearably othering, and as the parent of a gifted child I hate the way my son’s face crumples when well meaning adults try to praise him with some variation of that phrase.

    Other than that, this is a succinct summary of the challenges that gifted kids face in our test obsessed modern school system. We chose to homeschool after the worst year of my son’s life.

    • I understand your objection to “scary smart”. It seems there are problems with many of the terms we use to describe our children with above-average intelligence. “Gifted” is another one that causes trouble. I wish someone could coin a new term that would magically not cause any negative feelings in our kids or others….sigh…. Thanks, Caroline, for commenting on this post!

  64. Actually it’s a D in Trig, but I am sooo there! My son is accelerated 5 years and hates the fact that there is an expectation for him to prove that he knows/understands a subject. When called on the carpet, he always proves that he knows what the teacher is talking about but puts very little effort into day to day assignments. It makes me crazy!

    • Yes! “Sooo, you’re gifted? Then where are the good grades?” That is how my son felt too – challenged to prove himself! More than one teacher told him that if he is really gifted, he should be doing better in school. One teacher even dismissed his giftedness because 30% of the students at the school were gifted, so his giftedness, to her, had no bearing on the problems he was having.

      And I understand how it makes you crazy! I just try to think how crazy our kids feel being forced to operate successfully in a system that really isn’t set up for them. Good luck to you and your son!

  65. Thank you for this – we are in the same boat struggling to figure out a way to meet my highly gifted son’s needs…I can never talk to anyone about it because they either don’t get it or think I am bragging – thank you for letting me know I am not alone

  66. Thank you so much for this! People love throwing the word “gifted” around but it’s always a struggle to get people to understand what it really means. I was a gifted child, now raising my own gifted child, friends with many other gifted individuals.

    It’s so difficult to divorce the notion of “gifted” with “high achieving” for some folks. So much of my childhood was, “Not working up to potential” and it was difficult to hear. I homeschool my daughter so that we can work at her level, rather than rail against a system that’s ill equipped to handle her abilities.

  67. Thank you so much for this article. Both my kids are gifted and this is exactly why I have opted to home school. It was so tiring fighting the schools that my kids needed acceleration. I was frustrated, my kids were frustrated, and I was already supplementing them with challenging extra curricular work to help them through the tedious boredom of non-stop busy work the teachers affectionately called “homework” or “extra practice.” I can’t tell you the difference in my kids now. They have reclaimed that love of learning the brick and mortar school was crushing out of them and have gained back their self-starting attitudes and curiosity. Our home is so much less stressful and calmer. I had one mom tell me, “Well, sometimes some kids can’t hack school.” This angered me to no end. I said “No, sometimes school can’t hack the kid.” In my case, school was failing my children. My children weren’t failing school.

    • And thank you for your comment, Jenette! Hearing that your children have rebounded so well gives me encouragement for my own son. We are still struggling with regaining his love of learning his last school crushed out of him, and your children’s success gives me hope! You are so right! Our children are not failing school, school is failing them! Yay for homeschooling!

      • Oh, I hope your son regains his love of learning too! I’ll keep positive thoughts in your direction!

        • Just found your blog and am so glad there are others out there with my same struggles. I am gifted as is my brother. I excelled in school, he did not. We both hit a huge wall of boredom in elementary school and I overcame it, he did not. I have two children of my own now and am seeing the signs in my 3 year old daughter that she too is gifted. I had anxiety about having kids for this very reason. I want to do what’s best for them, but how? There are certainly very little resources out there for parents of gifted kids. Should I home-school? Is a one day a week pull-out program for the gifted in my school district going to be enough to fulfill her needs? I wish someone had some good answers for me. Thank you for all sharing your experiences!

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