A Gifted Child Checklist for Teachers

 

 

Summer is catch-up time for many of us, and on my catch-up list is reading, lots of reading.  Amazon has made it way too easy to download the Kindle version of books to my iPad with just one click – dangerously easy. I have downloaded many, and I have been reading several books on gifted children with varying, specific focuses such as emotional intensity, underachievement, asynchronous development, and visual-spatial learners. I have a gifted teen who has experienced some of the common educational, social and emotional issues many gifted children endure so I eagerly read to find answers, help and information.

As I read, one common thread I found in many of these books is the role of the teacher in a gifted child’s life. An impactful and highly significant role. We’ve all heard many times, “a teacher can make or break a student!” Given that gifted children are complex and often misunderstood, finding an appropriate education at a school whose staff understands giftedness is a major coup.  As such, I am ashamed to admit I scoffed and rolled my eyes, maybe more than once, when, in several of the books I was reading, I came across the oft-stated declaration that you the parent along with your child’s teacher and other school professionals can work together as a team to provide an appropriately challenging education for your gifted child. But sadly, we know this is not always true.

I am a former public school teacher who wholeheartedly supports the teaching profession, and I am also a parent of a gifted child who has been deeply hurt by teachers and school professionals who did not understand the characteristics of giftedness. I know most teachers and school professionals would willingly work cooperatively as a team with parents to make sure a student’s needs were met, but if they don’t recognize and understand the common, but often-missed gifted traits in a student, then things can go horribly astray. When a gifted child’s characteristic quirks, behaviors and school performance more resemble learning disabilities, laziness, mental illness or insubordination, then the focus becomes “fixing” the child’s deficiencies instead of teaching to his strengths. This is where parents and teachers often miss the boat and treat the wrong “illness” with the wrong “medicine” much to the detriment of the gifted child.

For every teacher or educational professional who is not familiar with giftedness, or holds to some of the myths of giftedness, or for those who just need a refresher on the traits of gifted children, my A Gifted Child Checklist for Teachers may help to shed light on the often-missed characteristics of gifted students. In my checklist of ten gifted traits, facets and characteristics, the title of each is a link to a more in-depth article on that particular facet of the gifted student.

I have also created a free and shareable presentation of A Gifted Child Checklist for Teachers. Feel free to share, print it out and forward.

Here is my teachers’ checklist of the ten basic traits of gifted learners and the corresponding articles which can help all teachers to optimally recognize, identify, reach and teach our gifted students.

 

1. GIFTED STUDENTS DO NOT ALWAYS EXCEL IN SCHOOL

Many gifted students are high achievers and excel in school. Their inner motivation drives them to achieve with the desired high scores and superior grades. On the other hand, many gifted students are not driven to achieve in school for many reasons–boredom, lack of a challenging curriculum, coexisting learning disabilities, a preference for learning for the sake of learning and not for high test scores, social and emotional issues, and others. If you have a gifted student in your classroom who is not achieving to expectations, look for the contributing factors. Also, gifted students do not excel in all subjects. They may be gifted in math, but  struggle with reading. I can assure you that underachievement in a gifted student is rarely if ever due to poor work ethic or laziness. Simply assuming an underachieving gifted student just needs to work harder or be more conscientious with his schoolwork is always the wrong assumption. And expecting consistent high scores and perfect grades from all gifted students can be emotionally, socially and educationally damaging to a gifted child.

 

2. GIFTED STUDENTS OFTEN HAVE EMOTIONAL INTENSITIES

Giftedness embodies a complex set of traits or characteristics. Along with higher-than-average intelligence, gifted students usually exhibit emotional intensities. They may become frustrated easily, angry for seemingly no reason, or may become upset quickly. They are passionate and intense, and they may resent being pulled away from an activity or subject of intense interest to them. This may result in an angry outburst, emotional meltdown or total disengagement in the classroom.

 

3. GIFTED STUDENTS ARE OFTEN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE

Another gifted trait many gifted students have is extreme sensitivity–whether it be emotionally or physically. An injured insect, an unfair expectation by their teacher, a funny odor, or a annoying seam in their sock can upset them enough to disrupt the class. This is a common trait for gifted individuals and does not mean they have a mental or physical disability. It does mean that teasing by a classmate, public reprimand by a teacher or other harsh emotional or physical experiences can upset a gifted student more than it does other children in your classroom. Bullying, public humiliation or public reprimand can also have a long-lasting or devastating effect on a gifted child with emotional sensitivities.

 

4. GIFTED STUDENTS CAN HAVE LEARNING DISABILITIES

A gifted student can have a coexisting learning disability or exceptionality which is referred to as twice-exceptional or 2E. Often when there is a coexisting learning disability or exceptionality, the educational focus unfortunately becomes remediating the deficiency, and there is little to no focus on the child’s strengths or talents. Also, many times a student with a known learning disability is never recognized and subsequently identified as being gifted.

 

5. GIFTED STUDENTS OFTEN STRUGGLE SOCIALLY

Finding like-minded peers is often one of the most emotionally traumatic experiences in a gifted child’s life. Their above-average intelligence, emotional intensities and sensitivities, and their complex topics of interest can make them stand out, in an unfortunate way, among their same-age peers, and this often results in their peers rejecting them. Gifted students are often unaware that while they excitedly converse with classmates about a highly advanced topic, they are coming across as know-it-alls or arrogant to their classmates. Due to their larger-than-average knowledge base, gifted students often correct any and all incorrect or erroneous information of their classmates as well as teachers. The gifted child is not being disrespectful; to the contrary, he is very much concerned with knowledge and information, and the correct knowledge and information is critical to them.

 

6. GIFTED STUDENTS DEVELOP ASYNCHRONOUSLY

Although a gifted student may test several grade levels ahead academically, at the same time, he may be emotionally or socially several grade levels behind. Ironically, gifted students may appear as small adults because of the advanced knowledge base they have and exhibit , but at the same time, their emotional maturity may be lower than their age-mates. Gifted students often develop emotionally, socially and intellectually asynchronously while their typical peers usually develop more evenly in those domains. So, although the 13 year old gifted student in your classroom appears to act like an 18 year old, he may have the emotional capacity of an 8 year old. Just because they act like an adult does not mean we can expect them to behave like an adult.

 

7. GIFTED STUDENTS ARE CULTURALLY, RACIALLY, AND SOCIALLY DIVERSE

There is a myth that the majority of gifted students come from upper-middle class families who have the education and the means to nurture their children into giftedness. Nothing is further from the truth. Giftedness, like autism or dyslexia or ADD, is genetic. They were born gifted, not groomed to be gifted. Teachers should be knowledgeable of gifted characteristics and be able to recognize these traits in ALL children despite their cultural, socioeconomic, educational and racial backgrounds. When gifted students’ unique learning needs go unmet, underachievement, delinquent behavior, depression, suicide and dropping out of school can occur. We cannot let unidentified gifted children just fall through the cracks and neglect their right to an appropriate education which they need to fulfill their potential to become successful adults.

 

8. GIFTED STUDENTS HAVE UNIQUE LEARNING NEEDS THAT MUST BE MET 

Yes, gifted students have unique learning needs that MUST be met. Research studies have shown, time and again, that gifted students do not thrive educationally without an appropriate education which meets their specific needs. More specifically, it has statistically been shown that gifted students who are educated in regular classrooms without benefit of differentiation or acceleration, fail to show year-to-year educational progress at the same rate as the average student. Gifted students are literally being held back when we expect them to learn in the regular classroom.

 

9. GIFTED STUDENTS HAVE PARENTS WHO TRULY KNOW AND UNDERSTAND HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO RAISE A GIFTED CHILD

Raising a gifted child is difficult. Parents who have a gifted child are likely stressed and a bit frazzled from the day to day experience of raising their child. When they come to school with concerns about their gifted child, these concerns are usually real. Gifted children do not have it made, and neither do their parents. Yes, most parents want to believe their child is gifted, and the parents who seem to often brag about their child’s giftedness probably have a high-achieving child, not a  gifted child. The worried parent who comes to talk to you about their gifted child is not there to brag, but likely has genuine concerns for their child because they know that true giftedness is complex and rarely easy.

 

10. GIFTED STUDENTS DO NOT ALWAYS EXCEL IN SCHOOL (This bears repeating)

 

ateachersgiftedchildchecklist2

There you have it. A checklist for teachers of ten basic traits, characteristics and issues of gifted children we all need to know and understand. Many gifted students are easy to spot, but some are not and we are letting these children slip through the cracks of our educational system which squanders their right to an appropriate education–an education which is specifically appropriate for a gifted child and his unique learning needs.

 

If you have any more you would like to add to this list, please leave your suggestions as a comment below.

Also, check out the free, shareable presentation based on A Gifted Child Checklist for Teachers here. I’m currently  working on another free, shareable presentation, Gifted Children. What Parents Want Teachers to Know,  to help teachers understand our gifted learners better. Perfect for professional development. Available early August, 2015.

159 Comments on “A Gifted Child Checklist for Teachers

  1. I’ve nominated your blog for the Versatile Blogger Award because I think you’re awesome. (Acceptance optional and I apologize if you’ve been nominated recently—I tried to find fab bloggers who hadn’t been. Either way, pop over to my post nominating you: http://rantsaboutparenting.blogspot.com/2014/06/irony-and-versatility.html) Cheers!

    Wonderful (comprehensive) list. This is excellent. And #10 does bear repeating. I appreciate what you do and admire you for tackling this topic head-on. Thank you.

    • Sarah, you have touched my heart! Thank you for your vote of confidence! Many times I get scared when I go out on a limb and write some of the things I have written, but it is readers and supporters like you who let me know that I am, most often, on the right gifted advocacy path. So many families of gifted children have gone through the unnecessary and needless heartbreak of raising a gifted child in a world where so many people do not understand our gifted children. I’ve had some pretty mean comments about my “precious little snowflake who is not better than other students”, and with my thin skin, sometimes I want to just throw in the towel. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, Sarah! Truthfully, I couldn’t keep writing out on a limb without you!

      • Hi,
        I actually don’t feel school is the place for gifted children. I homeschooled my children until they were 11. They are bright children, certainly not gifted but they benefitted hugely from the rich world of home ed. One of the greatest benefits was being themselves. Growing up to believe in themselves. This gave them huge confidence and when they went to school, they seemed to have huge success socially as they were so used to fitting in to a range of different environments. Contrary to received wisdom, homeschool was a reaching out to the world rather than being pushed in and away from life.
        I tutor a gifted homeschool child now. He is certainly gifted (I tutor a good number of averagely bright students so have plenty to compare him with). He is growing into the most wonderful individual as he can pursue his interests and, at the same time, his parents can offer a wide range of social situations that are positive and happy. He is enjoying life, being himself and his “giftedness” is just one aspect of this, not the whole story. Of course, his mother is able to grow with him, gaining a full understanding of who he is and how to help him develop emotionally and intellectually because she is there for him.
        GIfted children are unique and classrooms are not designed for them. They are, nonetheless designed for life, just like all other human beings. When we trust that rather than seeing them as failures because they don’t fit conventional schooling, they can flourish,

        • Jacqueline,

          I have to agree with you! Some schools, very few, have adequate gifted programs and some gifted children can do well. But homeschooling is assuredly an environment where gifted children, and any child, can learn and grow at their own pace and following their interests. Homeschooling exposes children to more opportunities, rich learning experiences and many various social activities.

          I thank you for sharing your unique experience homeschooling your own bright children and the gifted child you tutor–you made so many great points!

    • What I am finding out is that gifted children will fall behind if something does not change for them They don’t always get the straight As and what I have noticed more then any thing is they learn things in a different way. A lot don’t fit in that little box and it has gotten worse with common core.To me when I send my son off to child I feel I just put a pair of shoes on him that are to small and I know they are going to hurt his feet all day and I just cannot put him through that any more. It breaks my heart. I try to tell his Teacher look I don’t have problems with him at home this is all school related and yet it goes in one ear and out the other.

    • Thank you, Gail! I wish I had had a list like this when I was teaching! As I wrote this, I kept going back to all the students I have taught and wondered, and worried, how many I may have overlooked because I was looking for the straight-A student!

      • Celi, I found my grandson in every item on this check list. He was recently tested and accepted in the G.A.T.E. program through his school. This list is truly enlightening and has given me a better understanding of what my grandson needs – something different.

        Thank you!

        • You are very welcome, Sharon! So happy to hear it has helped you better understand your grandson’s needs. Thank you for your kind words, too. It means the world to me!

  2. I just want to thank you for taking time to write this it was truly enlightening, I am the mother of a gifted teen. and I didn’t realize that these things were “normal”. This is so reassuring, traditional school had been such an emotionally tortuous train wreck.
    constantly criticized when I go to the teachers for help with concerns ,only to be met with hostility, because she is constantly “disrupting the class” correcting every one, including the teacher,” she is a know it all” and her attention to detail is disruptive to the other students “right to learning.” what ever that means,so they take her out of anything that would help her excel like art, music and drama and every other “elective” put her in remedial classes even though she has mental capacity 3 years beyond her classmates because she has “behavioral issues” they isolate her from her peers like she is contagious. and then they have the nerve to say she is anti social ,doesn’t try and doesn’t apply herself. she is socially with drawn. in one sentence she is purposely disruptive to the class in the next sentence she is withdrawn and disinterested doesn’t apply her self because she is lazy and doesn’t want to do the work ,well teacher, principle, school counselor why do you think this is? Seriously am I the only one who sees this? If I was publicly reprimanded and given detention every time I gave input I would stop.
    This is why we homeschool. and by the way after nearly failing the seventh grade she passed the 8th grade with a 4.1 gpa and her end of year testing placed her at a 2 quarter of 10th grade.I am not bragging… ok maybe I am a little, it wasn’t easy it was still a great struggle and still very frustrating at times, but so worth it! instead of depriving her of her interest we use those as the focus of her learning. I am constantly looking for more ways to expand her horizons ,and am open to any and all helpful and positive input. thank you for the free venting session, didn’t start out that way and I didn’t even know it was in there. I just feel so validated knowing I am not the only one. again thank you ! from the bottom of my heart.

    • No, please, you may vent and brag all you want! Sharing your story helps us all – it validates all of us who have traveled the same painful gifted journey and it helps to remind us that we, unfortunately, are not alone. And if we can’t brag to each other, then who can we brag to? 🙂

      “Purposely disruptive” – I was told by two of my son’s teachers that he would purposely and daily disrupt his teachers lessons by telling elaborate stories to his classmates just to divert attention away from the teacher. He was 3 years old when this happened!

      So happy to hear you are homeschooling and your daughter is no longer being held back in school. I wish you and your daughter a future full of all the best!

      Thanks for sharing, Debey!

      • Oh I am here to vent today. I just dropped mine off at school cried all the way home. I have reached a point where I don”t want to communicate with his Teacher any more in fact its gotten hard to even check his folder because I am sick of the notes Even though his teacher has told me her and I communicate more then most parent Teachers. Thats just over for me. I am sick of punishing my child for what happens in school. Finally yesterday for the VERY 1st time in four years and he hasnever heard this from me I keep my thoughts about gifted to myself. He falls a sleep in writing almost daily even though I know he hashad more then enough sleep. So yesterday I ask him why do you keep falling a sleep in writing – is answer= because its stuff I already know and its so boring to me and I look at it and it just makes me tired. I remember the 1st time his Teacher realized how smar the was- it was after test and she looked at me her eyes wide and say HE IS SMART!!!!!! I said prob more then you know and she said no I have been doing this for 20 years and he is very smart. This was way before I ever dared use the G word. I have two words for her- Smart n Failing! Now what have I done- I have taken his things away from him for up to a week more times then I can count. He wanted a pug so I sat up a reward plan. He will not be getting it. I have rewarded. I have sat and made sure he has done his home work. I have worked with practice sheets in math with him,I take him to therapy I have Talked with his Teacher almost daily, I have talked to the counselor, I have met with them all. What has the school done? hmmmm told me he was given a blue take home folder and has a daily planner like every one else so its up to him. I will say it again SMART+ FAILING and no fault of theirs??? HE goes into school each rmuch smarter then he comes out.. I dont even want to punish him any more for the notes sent home is that awful???

        • Cass, I got to this point with my youngest after his third year of public school (he was homeschooled before then entered public school in 6th grade). Seriously, what you said is IDENTICAL to what I went through and so have many others, too. What I did wrong was wait too long to take him out. I underestimated how much emotional damage a year in school like your son is having could cause a gifted child.

          This is NOT your son’s fault! I too kept trying to fix my son, but schools, even excellent schools, don’t always understand gifted children! It is not up to the child to turn things around. Teachers are supposed to try to meet a student’s needs; a student isn’t supposed to conform to meet a teacher’s expectations if those expectations are unreasonable or nearly impossible for him.

          As many parents here will tell you, we understand, we’ve been there. You’ve come to the right place to vent and find solutions. Tell us what you need! <3

          • I don’t know what I need I need to just pull him out and home school.But its so close to the end of the year. Yet just like you I know every day there is killing his mind. I know how frustrated he is because I AM so it has to be awful for him and it shows. Today got even worse I went to pick him up and he is back in AER No surprise but what did surprise me was his behavior . This was not the Josh I know. We talked for a long time I said how could you behave like that. He said because it seems like she just focuses on me all the time.He got upset because he loves to read so she told him he could not read in AER. Which is something I don;t believe in you don’t take away reading as a form of punishment. I will forward the email I got from her today when it all came down.

          • Teachers should know better than to take away an enjoyable learning experience as a form of punishment. Well, Cass, you know we are all here for you, and also on the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page!

          • Hello,

            Josh is taking a time-out in the AER. Even though he has been disruptive, disrespectful, and noncompliant, Josh was told if he did some of his paper, he could go to gym class. He had stormed out of the room and started to wrinkle up his paper. I reminded Josh he was on camera. When I took the class to gym, I went to check on Josh and see if he was ready to go to gym. He had shredded his paper into tiny pieces and thrown on the AER floor. Ms. Hodack said he has just been putting his head down on the desk and trying to sleep.

            So, I will write a Synergy form because Josh will be staying in the AER during the time he could have been in social studies class and gym class.

            I hope the next email is a better one.

            Thank you,

          • I wish adults, especially teachers, would understand that when a young child acts up like this, it is never because he is a bad child, it is because something is not right, something is bothering him. Why can’t she look further than his acting out and find that maybe he needs something else?

            I know what you are going through. And you have a place to vent when you need to!

          • Thank You So much to be honest I am just heart sick, I knew this was coming it happens every year the longer he goes misunderstood the worse it becomes then he shuts down and starts with the misbehaving/. This only happens in school. I do not have behavioral problems with him at home if they would just hear me but its like talking to a brick wall then when he finally has had enough they act surprised It seems this teacher does not care if he is gifted and needing more from her- she is just determined to push him and have it her way at all cost It never starts out this way but after months it ends up this way. He becomes frustrated. It is so clear to me what cant she see? She knows how smart he is so why is he going through this i mean does she ask her self this question ever? She wont even go near the gifted part yet I have had him tested, And she wil lamitt to him being very very very smart. So lets say she wont accept gifted ok. So she sees a kid that she knows is very smart putting his head on his desk and not wanting to do the work . I mean does this speak to her at all?? I just dont get it.

          • In the very beginning she just did not get he was gifted refused to hear me refused the testing refused to notice his boredom, So then she decides him being bored is just him being lazy Its just him not wanting to do his work well not in her class- she decides he is just a problem and she can fix that. Well I know for a fact you better be fair to a gifted child and you dont approach them on the wrong level You have to be fair with a gifted child because they understand when you are not in fact they understand a lot about a lot. Had she in the very beginning recognized he was gifted and moved him along in the right way she would not be having the problems with him she is today. Because now she is out to make him conform to her way and its just not working for her And the more she tries the more he feels targeted

          • Some, no, too many teachers do this. One of my sons was supposed to be in advanced math but the advanced math teacher hand-picked her students and she hadn’t picked him even though his math test scores were all 99th percentile. Principal told her, his regular math teacher told her, but nobody was going to make her take him in her class. She told my son, “I know your mom thinks you are gifted, but you have to prove to me just how smart you are before you *earn* the privilege of being in my class.” That is when we left the school.

            I feel your pain, Cass! <3

          • exactly see mine is in the reading there is nothing to hard for him to read, I take him with me to my doctors and he picks up the popular science and reads every page without missing a beat in fact when i pick him up from school he is the only kid walking up the hall with his face in a book reading. So she tells him he cant read in AER as if he doesnt know what she is doing. I dont have a problem with him at home because i know how to approach him n how to talk to him I want to yank him out so bad but dont know how or what to say to the school n stuff. I did home school my grand daughter for 10
            years but I had her enrolled in a good home school and never pulled her out of public school I just started a new year off with her so I dont know what i do .

          • Cass, Facebook is a good place to search for local homeschool groups. Once you locate a few local homeschool groups, they can help you with what to do next.

          • I dont get to far with that for some reason . Like I said I did home school for 10 years and it went very well.. I am just wondering with it being so close to the end of the year what do I do just go to the school and say he wont be coming back I have decided to home school? This is something I have never had to do. I am still in fact a member of a co op,and hsld

          • You do have to officially withdraw him from school so you will need to do that legally or else he will be considered truant. Your local school board/system should be able to tell you how to do that, or contact the co-op you are a member of. I’m sure some there have had to withdraw their child from school.

          • good for you i am glad you leave the school wonder where your son would be today if you hadnt

    • Oh thank you so very very much this is my exact story. only mine is just in 4th grade but I get the same thing year after year. Mine is in 4th grade reading at 9th grade level and it kills me to send him to school every day. I watch as his self esteem plummets I know he is going to have an awful day .He is just lazy we have paved the way and its up to him TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT? He is bossy with the other kids, he refuses to do his work just sits there. I know he has just shut down but the Teacher does not get that. Its like torture to him every day. I want to pull him out it is near the end of the year but I don’t care. I am home schooling also and I wonder if you have any advice for the gifted as far as home schooling

        • Thank You so much I will be getting your book it never stops I don’t think.

      • Thank you so much for your article (as well as all of the wonderful comments that followed your article). My daughter was fortunate that in her first few years of school, she had teachers who understood her. As a result she excelled and loved school. This year, however, she had a 4th grade teacher who really didn’t have an understanding of gifted kids needs and as a result my daughter became disengaged. I am now homeschooling my daughter with the hope that I can reenroll her at the school provided that she gets the 5th grade teacher that I know is good dealing with gifted kids.

        • Hi Colleen!

          Yes, having a teacher who understands gifted children is more than half the battle. You know, sometimes I feel that a less than rigorous education could be so much less detrimental to a gifted child if only his or her teacher had a real understanding of gifted children.

          Enjoy your year homeschooling year and I hope your daughter’s 5th grade year will be just as rewarding!

  3. Thanks for this. My 8-year-old is 2E – her assessment was complete early spring of this year. These characteristics ring so true. The school has been quick and responsive in responding to her LDs – she now has use of a laptop to reduce writing demands, and has the option of using a scribe for tests. The teachers have reported that they’re beginning to see the gifted side shine through.

    I have seen nothing done to address the gifted side however. Next year she will have an IEP in place at the beginning of the year (from what I can see, IEPs in Canada aren’t nearly as thorough as what seems to be the case in the US at least on paper and there is currently nothing measurable on it – just a list of the tools they’ll give her to address the LDs – I will be addressing that next year) and I plan to take in this list to discuss with the teacher, to ensure that we’re on the same page. I especially appreciate the comment about the parents at the end – it will help her teacher see where we’re coming from.

    • Juliette, so wonderful to see a school take such quick and responsible action, but yeah, the focus always seems to default to the disability and not the strengths of the child. You have to wonder, why can’t they address both at the same time? No worries, you definitely are prepared and know exactly what you need to advocate for! Good for you! And I am happy this list will help you! Good luck and let us know how it goes next year, Juliette!

    • I agree completely with this article. Aren’t we as parents, the first teachers our kids have?

    • Only that this is so true and I feel I could have wrote this about my child’s experience in public schools. My child just becomes so frustrated he just shuts down and does not care. In fact he got sent to AER one day for the whole day I was so worried he would have a melt down. When I picked him up he was all happy and had a great day being able to sit alone and do his work. In fact he has begged for in school suspension to be able to sit alone and do his work instead of going to his class with his teacher. She sees him as just a bad kid that needs to shape up. She will admit he is very very advanced but not that he is gifted and she thinks she can REFORM him. I am at my wits end I have talked with her and her reply is always the same, he needs to do it they wont care if he is gifted . She has said that more then once while my child sits with tears running down his face begging to just be left alone to do his work.. I have decided to home school and I have promised him I will never make him go back to a public school again. I get nothing done at home any more as I spend my days researching all I can

  4. I must say how thankful I am for the full-time gifted program that my 9 y/o daughter is in. It breaks my heart to hear the horror stories from so many parents about how terribly their children are treated, gifted or not, kids need to be treated with the same respect that is expected of them. I too am having trouble with my gifted teenage son getting poor grades in school and am at my wits end with what to do about it, especially since he thinks he knows everything he needs to know

    • Oh, Dawn-Marie, I hear you about the gifted teenage son stuff! Yes ma’am, I get that 😉 Yes, our educational system, on different levels, seems to be failing all children; gifted programs are seen as fluff and get cut first. Thanks for your comments, Dawn-Marie!

  5. Thank you so much for writing this! I am a classroom teacher, currently staying home to homeschool our 9 year old–whom I have finally realized this summer truly is gifted. I shouldn’t be surprised–since her dad was identified as such when he was young, but I have to admit it sort of blind-sided me anyway when I finally realized it! In all of my teacher training, I do not remember ever being given instruction on how to teach gifted children–so am trying to read and learn as much as I can this summer! Thank you for this list–it helps confirm several things for me, and also helps me know that the things I am seeing really ARE there–and I’m not crazy! (O.K., so I may be crazy–but they ARE there nonetheless!)

    • Susan, I was in your same situation about two years ago – I was so blindsided, too! Thankfully, there are SO many good websites with lots of resources to help you learn and understand gifted children! Good luck on your journey raising and educating your gifted child! Thanks for leaving your kind words! So appreciated!

  6. Thank you so much for this – my son Payton is gifted. I love him to the ends of the earth and he is the most amazing boy I have ever met, but every day is a challenge. (#9 made me sob – people just don’t realize. I am constantly exhausted – constantly worried about the next thing to pop up. He doesn’t have babysitters – they cause him too much anxiety. Dad works a lot, it is mostly just him and me.)

    He isn’t just smart. He feels everything with such intensity that he is constantly in a state of frenzy – one minute crying, one minute hysterically laughing. He understands too much about the world but is immature emotionally so everything causes him anxiety. He can’t sleep because his brain is constantly going and processing and in need of stimulation. Other kids (and parents) don’t understand his intensity and label him weird. I have “friends” who tell me “something is wrong with him” and others who wonder snidely how I “got” him in the gifted program. Thank you for making me feel a bit less alone 🙂 –

    • Monica, you are absolutely not alone! I understand and can relate to all that you said about your son. The more I write this blog and the more readers respond, the more I feel there are so many of us who have suffered in silence – afraid others won’t understand. We need to keep advocating for our gifted kids – keep talking, sharing, reading and advocating. Hopefully, we can start changing others’ opinions that gifted kids are just smart and have it made! They need to understand that they are so much more, and the more is not so easy! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  7. I read your list and started to cry. I have been struggling with our school system to help our 2E daughter. The director of the “gifted” program asked me why my daughter couldn’t get “all 4s” for grades if she was truly gifted. Two different neuropsych evals confirm gifted and mild adhd but she can’t get into the “gifted” program with her 3.0-4.0 grades. But what breaks my heart is the social awkwardness which prevents a child with such an empathetic heart from making close friends. Thank you so much for validating what we have been experiencing. I am going to use this information in my advocacy for getting my daughter the education and resources she deserves. Thank you!

    • Laurie, it breaks my heart over and over to hear stories just like yours – same story with nearly identical details. I am so sorry, but please know that you are not alone! I’m so happy the information on this blog is helpful to you. Also, read the many comments on my blog of parents who share their stories – stories just like yours. Those stories/comments may be of help to you, also.

      Having been a teacher, I hesitate to criticize my fellow teachers, but yes, too many teachers just don’t understand giftedness! Grades DO NOT define giftedness. When will educators understand this? Ugh!

      Keep advocating! Your daughter is lucky to have a strong mom like you! Keep in touch!

  8. I work with students that struggle so I see that side of education, but like the other mom in Canada, my son’s first versions of his IEP were a complete joke. He already skipped a grade so it wasn’t so much a surprise when they finally coded him in grade three. Do you want to know what his goals were? To be more open minded in collaborative group settings, review his work more thoroughly, and be a leader. I asked where are the goals that address his academic challenge??? You know, giving him harder math etc. it took quite a bit to get that on there and it disappeared by gr 4. He got a new teacher and she was willing to try things with him but really, it was over her head to deal with him. Then his teacher came back. He was far to laid back for my son and I started getting the disruption notes. He’s bored out of his mind!!!!! You ask him to redo math facts which he mastered in gr 2 over and over again until he gets 100% and he maybe got one wrong because he did the wrong function in that minute! which was very clear by the way. No wonder he was reading an average of 75-90 minutes a day at school.not to mention these two years, there were over 30 kids in his class with some high behavioral kids. So this year, after the classes ballooned to over 35 kids, they finally hired another teacher. My friend, the gal with years of experience teaching gifted kids!!!!! While he didn’t get all As, they don’t give out letter grades, and don’t specifically say they are above grade level etc, he was pushed by her to expand his writing skills (something he could care less about), while giving him harder math and other ISPs or challenge problems to work on when he has finished something else. He doesn’t seem to care how well he does, just wants to finish so he can get to something else, preferably something more desirable. She even wrote out a two page transition plan for his new teachers in middle school to help him before his file might get there. But this is my conundrum. I asked at the parents meeting at the middle school, do they cluster? Avoidance, then finally quoted some research about gifted kids, then never answered my question. So I’m not really getting the feeling that they are going to do much for him. I am being switched as a resource support staff to a new k-8 school with an awesome, science/math gung-ho principal, do I just switch him? At least that way, I could have more regular contact with the teacher, thus supporting his learning more….thoughts? We are barely two weeks into summer break and it’s always on my mind what to do. Getting that right teacher is so important to him. Ah, a book. My apologies. I’m glad you all understand how crazy and stressful it is to raise a gifted kid, or two!

    • Krista, no apologies for your book. Sharing our stories always helps all of us! We all do understand where you are, and probably have all been through this same general situation. There are no easy answers here. In my experience, I only know what the right decisions SHOULD have been in hindsight. Some decisions we made were so clear-cut to us, but then ended up not turning out as we had planned. One school we had switched our son to was the perfect fit the first year he was there. We thought we had found the holy grail. The next year at this paradise school, he had two teachers who were new to the school and paradise school turned into hell on wheels. Go with your gut, but know that sometimes things can change – for good or for worse. Good luck and keep in touch!

    • I would like to share with you the reply I got from my sons Teacher when I talked to her about him being gifted and his struggles. Here is her reply to my concerns = as if it can just be fixed by my son

      Yes, Jxxxx has some characteristics. However, regardless of a diagnosis, label, etc., what would we change at school? Probably not a thing. We are very clear about expectations, we provide structure, feedback, and many opportunities to make things right. Jxxx was provided a divided blue take-home folder and a student planner. He receives weekly parent notes. Jxxxx even has an adult one-on-one who helps check up on him to make sure he’s earning his points.
      > We have paved the way. Now Jxxx needs to decide to get moving along this road of opportunity.
      > I wish you the best,
      > Mrs. H
      > ________________________________________

      • Oh Cass, that reply sounds so familiar. When did school and teachers switch over from reaching our students at their level of need to a survival of the fittest philosophy?

        Yes, students need to learn to obey rules and follow directions, but what if a student is incapable, for whatever reason, of fulfilling the teacher’s expectations of him? There are gifted students who are very visual-spatial who can’t meet many typical expectations in the classroom. There are gifted students who have executive functioning weaknesses who are incapable of maintaining a planner. Many teachers do not know that gifted students can have learning disabilities and can struggle in school, but chalk their failures up to laziness or arrogance or defiance.

        “However, regardless of a diagnosis, label, etc.” is like saying, I don’t care what learning concerns or issues or disabilities your son has, he still needs to meet expectations. It angers me because it is presented as, “here are the rules, pass or fail. It is up to you” But this sentiment totally disregards any unknown trait or learning difference a child may have.

        You will need to learn all that you can about giftedness in children, print out articles to take with you when you go to advocate for your son and be persistent. Follow your gut!

        • Oh thank you the struggles have been endless. I had him tested and he is very gifted but what she is saying is so what. he becomes very bored with the small stuff, he gets in trouble for starting his work before the Teacher has given instruction. He is so bright and he is going right down the tube in public schools and her reply says why to me. Make things right? How can he? And she is on him because she refuses to help him. To be gifted and struggle is not some thing we brag about its not special when they have to struggle because it goes so un noticed. She even had the nerve to say maybe behavioral therapy would help him. He gets so bored and so frustrated he shuts down and then refuses to do his work at all. I plan on home schooling my bright child for sure. Oh he keeps his planner up but they do noting to stimulate him., to motivate him. To help him.He does the hard math but cant grasp the simple so in her eyes hes just lazy . He does try until he reaches a certain point if feeling like he can’t do any thing right because she is going to show him he will do it her way. And I am sorry but he does not fit into that little box and he is smart enough and sensitive enough to know she is not treating him fair. He was bullied by the same boy 3 different times she did nothing but on the 3rd time he had a sub that’s when the kid finally got a suspension , When the Teacher came back she was mad and took it out on my son as if he deserved it and the other child did not have to be in control of his actions. There is something wrong when a gifted child cries to just go to time out and be left alone to do his work at school in fact one day in the principles office he cried and said I just want to be left alone!!

        • Yes I mean she has stated more then once they don’t care. I don’t want him to receive special treatment I want him to fit where he is best suited To her its almost like a power struggle its her way or the highway while a gifted child sits in her class and hurts and fails. I would never say the G word to her because I was afraid to in the past. But one day I get a note he was sitting at his desk with his face in his hands tapping his foot. I replied back well ok he is some what gifted trying not to be to direct, And I said from my experience when I see him put his face in his hands I know he is becoming bored and frustrated with the work oh boy look out!!! Not in her class!!

        • was provided a divided blue take-home folder and a student planner. He receives weekly parent notes. Jxxxx even has an adult one-on-one who helps check up on him to make sure he’s earning his points.
          > We have paved the way. Now Jxxx needs to decide to get moving along this road of opportunity.. This still cracks me up- he was provided a blue take home folder and was given a planners and notes home to his parent and from that they feel they have paved the way for this gifted child?????? Every time I re read this I can do nothing but shake my head. Ceil I think you should write a book of all these blogs from parents then take it to legislature and demand every School have a few Teachers that are trained in gifted children, Schools are required to have Special Ed Teachers. Exactly as you said every story is the same. Not only the child’s struggles but the response a parent gets when they reach out for help.

          • Cass, it is unfortunate that so many of us, when our child is struggling at school, get the blame placed on the parents or the child. Although many claim every school, every teacher and every school system is uncaring and refuses to bend, teachers and schools are under pressure from above like never before. It is no excuse for disrespectful or ignorant responses to parents who are trying to advocate for their child though.

            You are right about trained teachers. Absolutely right. Teacher training is easy and cost-efficient. Having all teachers better understand our gifted children would go a long way in preventing the damage caused to our children when they are mistreated, misdiagnosed and miseducated.

            Cass, thanks for all of your comments. The more we all share and talk and discuss, even if we disagree, the sooner we can fix the problems in our education system, especially for our gifted children.

          • No Thank You and yes I know teacher are under pressure from above thats why I said its one way any more Its not like it use to be.

          • It is not like it used to be, you are right. Sad but true.

            Oh and yes, I knew you understood the “teacher under pressure” thing, just agreeing with you 🙂

      • As if she is just talking about any other student- she is refusing to see the real problem

      • How does a parent handle the social issues. My daughter who has a big heart struggles with making strong friendship bonds. She has a lot of aquaintenances. I thought things would change in high school but she will be a jr this year.

        • Jane, I’ve been through the same thing. What worked for us was working to find groups, clubs, teams, volunteer opportunities and/or classes that focus on interests and passions of your child. For me, it took persistence and time to locate these groups, but paid off in the end. You might also want to consider activities and opportunities with different age ranges, even those offered for adults (providing it is appropriate for your daughter).

          Also, you can always post your concerns to the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page and get support and answers from others.

          I’m so hoping this will help! Thanks, Jane! 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for posting this list! If I were king of the world, it would be mandatory reading for everyone working in K-12 education. I can’t tell you how many teacher conferences and meetings with the principal (ahem) we’ve endured – and how frequently we (the parents) have to educate the professionals about giftedness. My son will be a sophomore this year, and I wish I could say it’s gotten easier, but it hasn’t. What *has* gotten easier is our willingness to jump in early and speak up. Also, it helps to know that other kids & families have the same issues we do, and that there are a range of solutions to consider. We are not “stuck” if we do not choose to be. Thanks again.

    • Judy, you are so right, “we are not stuck if we do not choose to be”, but we all need to continue to advocate for those gifted children whose parents who don’t quite understand yet what giftedness really means, and have yet to figure out all the ropes of advocating for their gifted child. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Judy!

      P.S. I sure wish you were king of the world, and you’d get this gifted education dilemma fixed once and for all! 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for this list, and to everyone for sharing your stories! I have a four-year-old son who is highly gifted, so I am just beginning my advocacy journey. Ah, the joy of asynchronous development and the ongoing challenges of educating educators about the ‘other’ side of giftedness…

    • Meryl, Good luck on your journey! There are many of us who have gone down this path before you and we are here to offer support! Just remember to enjoy the ride, too 🙂

  11. Thankyou so much for this checklist. My son has recently been identified as gifted after much searching to the cause of his extreme behaviour issues. This really helps me as a parent to understand him and how what he is feeling day to day and why a little better.

  12. Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for speaking up for gifted kids so well! I’m a mama now (and suspect my child is gifted) but I was that gifted child… Smart but socially backwards, emotionally intense and easily frustrated. There were entire years in which I didn’t feel like I learned much of anything in school and suffered so much teasing that it all seemed pointless. I did well without even trying and I was so used to it that in college I chose my majors based on what I could do well in without having to try too hard (history and biology). Once I got to medical school and had to really work, it was something of a shock; at the same time, it was the first time in my life I really felt challenged and stimulated in that way.

    I would love to see every gifted child identified and challenged… I can’t even imagine how much potential we are losing!

    • Robin, hearing the experiences from a gifted adult who was unchallenged in school is the best testament we can have for the need for change in our educational system for gifted students – to have “every gifted child identified and challenged”! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

      “I can’t even imagine how much potential we are losing!”, is so true, and on a deeper level, I have also seen how much these gifted children are losing personally, emotionally and socially. We all lose, sadly.

      And yes, if you were gifted, it is very likely your child is gifted also. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree 🙂

      It is great to see that your story has a happy ending! It gives all parents of gifted children who are struggling the hope they need!

      Thank you, Robin!

  13. Celi, these have been some great articles! I would suggest editing this page to have each of the headers link to the article on that subject. I look forward to more articles by you!

  14. hello,

    I am so overwhelmed and broken down that I may just blurt things out so i want to apologize beforehand. I just need to talk to someone who can truly understand what I’m trying to say. Truth is I don’t know for sure if my son is gifted. I believe he is, he meets all the characteristics of a gifted child. When he talks to strangers I invariably get told “how old is he? he is very smart”. Some people comment how he makes their brain hurt. He got some testing done (not giftedness or IQ) he was 4 years and 10 month old at the time and his language skills were equivalent to a 6 year 7 month old. The person who tested him told me that she never met a child who was able to answer some of the questions he did. he did not know how to read at that particular time but he learned that in about 5 months after the testing. He is in Kindergarten now and he can do one digit mental math he can read chapter books. He has a never ending stream of challenging questions and by the end of the day I am mentally drained and I feel stupid because I am not sure if I was able to correctly answer all his questions. the problem is that he is stubborn, and he wants things to always go his way, and he is stubborn (again). if he is bored with a subject he just flat out refuses to give an answer. sometimes he has his own logic for things and if you ask he will tell you what it is but since its not the right way it is seen as “wrong”. he can ask a million questions and you can see the wheels turning making connections but then he refuses to make his knowledge known. so when I tell his teacher that he is a little above average she tells me he is just a typical child. when I called for a meeting she showed me what he did not accomplish as proof that he is not “above average”. for example she said he knew only 5 of 10 shapes, however the night prior he was telling me how scientists should to cure Ebola. Or he wants to know how poison works in out bodies. He is fascinated by volcanoes and he tells me about tectonic plates over lunch. So honestly he really does not care about hexagons and cones and cubes. Another example they asked him to draw a picture of a person, and at the bottom of the picture I see boxes and check marks for arms, neck, eyes mouth etc. the people he drew have red lines all over, he tells me “those are veins mama, they carry blood, Oh and this pink thing is a brain in this persons head” he is 5. Is this normal? because if he is not gifted it is ok. I still will do what I’m doing but nobody seems to understand what I’m struggling with. Sometimes I think i may think too highly of my son. Maybe he is not gifted his is just a quirky kid and maybe I overreact. and then he does something or says something and I ask myself do every 5 year old do this?
    they told me at the school they do not do any form of testing for kindergarten they even refused to tell me what grade level he is reading. The teacher still tells me he is typical so he gets in trouble because he is bored and he is “not listening”. I asked him tonight if he ever read to his teacher and he said “no she never asked me to”. A month after our meeting she never watched or heard him read.
    I am so tired, I don’t know if i’m helping or hindering. I don’t know where to go, what to do. I wanted to get him tested but we didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars so we waited until he started school but of course now I feel the school is failing him too. I was afraid this was going to happen, I was afraid teachers would not look past his temperament, and not see the jewel that he hides.
    I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but every time I try to convince myself that he is in fact not gifted I feel like something is punching me in the gut and it goes against every instinct.
    I still have so much to say but i should stop. if you do know of a resource or idea please let me know. Thank you for listening to my rant

    • Dona, trust your instincts as a mother, I think you know in your heart what you need to do. Your child only has you to advocate for him, so don’t give up. You may want to try to keep pushing for his school system to test him for both giftedness and learning disabilities if there are any. Unfortunately, too many teachers believe the children who excel in school are the children who are gifted. A child who is bored out of his mind or who may have a learning disability along with his giftedness may not do well in school–he may not fill out worksheets or do mundane school work to a teacher’s expectations. Gifted children do not always excel in school, some even underachieve and drop out of school when they can.

      If I were you I would do two things: 1. request for your son to be evaluated 2. read all you can get your hands on about gifted children. Like they say, knowledge is power!

      There are many great online resources such as: Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, SENG, Gifted Development Center and Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page where you can find all the information you need.

      Be strong and keep in touch! Let us know how everything is going! You can do this! <3

      • Thank you so much for your response. After I posted I started following the organisations you suggested on fb. I really appreciate your comment, as I feel quite alone in this journey. best of luck with your children as well. Thank you again

        • You are welcome, Dona! And please don’t hesitate to reach out for help; there are many of us on this journey that can offer you help! Thank you, Dona!

      • Did your child ever get tested by the school? If not, look up your state’s laws and the school districts policies on this. If not, where are you located (state, school district)?

    • I believe your son does display gifted characteristics and if you have the means, look into having him evaluated by the education department or psychology department of a nearby university. There are certainly tests and evaluations that exist that examine the intelligence and aptitude of young children– my local school district ran them on my four year old son and used his high-level results to deny him funding for speech therapy.

      Look into neighboring school districts to see if any do recognize gifted education for young children. The school district we are in, I am grateful they provide pull-out gifted programming as young as kindergarten (although I believe my children and others who work with the G&T specialist would do better emotionally and psychologically if they could be in a full-time gifted class, our district doesn’t offer that). I find that the regular classroom teachers in our district, while they recognize children’s abilities and refer them to the specialist, they often seem to resent the disruption of having the G&T children come and go from their class and when the kids return, they have to catch up on the regular lessons and do receive some social push back from their peers. I attended a couple of years of pull-out gifted education as an elementary student and the difference in my learning and my social/peer experience was a revelation, so I do know to some extent what my children are dealing with and what they are missing out on.

  15. Thank you so very much for this article! You have described our 8 year old son to the T. At this moment I am struggling with how to get him the help he needs and trying to find the resources in out area that he can benefit from. As a mother it is heart breaking to watch him struggle with sooooo much and not know how to help. I don’t think he is getting the help he needs at school but I find myself talking to “professionals” that think he should be a genius since he’s gifted and have no trouble flying through the standardized requirements. I keep praying for this to get easier. ;-(

    • Felicia,

      It is heartbreaking and I am so sorry you and your son are enduring this. Unfortunately, way too many “professionals” are looking for high scores and perfect classroom behavior out of our gifted children. When they don’t find it, they look for learning disabilities. Read and learn all that you can about gifted and keep advocating for your son. Don’t hesitate to print out articles that you find appropriate and give them to the “professionals.” With gifted children, the mountains are higher, but the valleys are lower. Stay strong <3

  16. I started crying as I read this. I have two gifted girls 17 months apart. My 9 year old is a sponge, would read or draw (she’s amazing at sketching freehand) for hours, is extremely emotional and apt to shut down if you tell her she needs to switch gears. She and her 2nd grade teacher despised each other. This year in 4th grade her teachers and school councelors are wonderful, recognize her strengths and weaknesses and are coming up with a plan.

    My 7.5 year old lives to be teachers pet. School and the rigid structure of it is what she thrives on. We are starting to believe she has a photographic memory. “Mommy, I see files in my head. I can pull them out when I need to read them.”

    We love and support them both but it has been the most emotionally draining, hardest time of our lives. They can’t barely be in the same room together. Oil & water. It strains the whole family because my 9 year old won’t lift a finger to do Anytning, especially homework, regardless of consequences. Punishment means nothing to her and she gets in trouble at school quite often. My youngest has an explosive temper. They are both VERY emotionally intense kids. We’re trying to work through it as best we can but it is exhausting.

    • Carrie-Lee,

      wouldn’t it be nice if more people could just understand a little how mentally draining it is to raise gifted kids? And because we feel we can’t talk about our children’s giftedness with others (it’s seen as bragging, right?), the feeling that you are the ONLY family in the world who must be going through this, but thankfully you are not! We are all here and it sure helps to talk about our trials and tribulations with raising our gifted children with others who understand. Thank you for sharing about your girls; it shows us how different gifted siblings can be. Enjoy your journey 🙂

    • My daughter has said the same about having a file system she visualizes in her head!

      My son is a treasure trove of information and enjoys sharing, though most kids his age don`t hold the same keen interests.

      We recently had to pull our eldest son (11) and daughter referenced above (9) because they were being bullied and the school counselor did not believe them. I strongly believe she pathologized my daughter’s introversion (dd is an ambivert) and was very biased towards the children involved in the relational aggression. She basically stated my child was not assertive and insinuated that was the real problem. However we had documented many instances where my child had asserted herself and the behavior continued and in some instances, escalated. When bullies know there are no real consequences they have no incentive to stop bullying.

      I know I am considered gifted. I want a different childhood for my children than what I experienced. I have home schooled them in the past but I really needed a break and private school was going great until this second year.

      I am currently researching our public school option but I already know it may not fit the bill.

      I would write so much more but my 1yo is using me as a jungle gym and I need to finish here;)

      I really need encouragement that energizes me. It has been tough.

  17. Gifted children have special learning needs, which if not met, can lead to frustration, a loss of self-esteem, boredom, laziness and underachievement (Crocker, 2004; after Knight & Becker (2000)). If the gifted child is not recognized, he or she quickly becomes bored and disinterested with the content taught. Diezmann and Watters (2006:3)
    Once the gifted child has been identified and placed into a higher streaming class, there emerges the problem of the gifted learners self-esteem and self-concept. Yeung, Chow, Chow and Liu (2005:1) report that: “…gifted students and high achievers will experience an enhanced school self-concept due to the BFLP (big fish, little pond) effect through a comparison with their average-ability peers, their school self-concept will be lowered due to an assimilation effect when they affiliate themselves with their less able peers.”In other words, gifted students consciously place themselves at a higher level than their non-gifted peers, whilst simultaneously realizing the difference between the two. Diezmann, Watters and Fox (2001:3) claim that gifted children experience: “socio-emotional problems that include difficulty with social relationships, isolation from peers, pressures to conform, resistance towards authority, refusal to complete routine and repetitious work, and frustration with every day life (after Davis & Rimm, 1998).

  18. thank u for this – i will be printing it out to take to the next school meeting… maybe i will be heard – my emails full of resources go unacknowledged and their concerns are appreciated but very, very misplaced. not only have we dealt with public humiliation by his teacher but her defensive stance over her abilities has taken a real toll. why is it that some teacher’s refuse to acknowledge the feelings these kids have and in turn make them feel like there is something wrong with them? so so frustrating. hang in there parents! xo

    • We went through the very same thing and were given that attitude–“leave it to us, we are the professionals.” And I was a former public school teacher to boot!

      But, teachers have been under pressure and unfair scrutiny and criticism since No Child Left Behind was enacted and their performance tied standardized testing. It is no excuse for your child’s teacher’s attitude and actions, but may have something to do with her credibility or authority challenged?

      It is tough going, though. You are right, “hang in there, parents!”

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      • possibly – although there has been no challenge from my end at this point… only a repetitive dialogue of ‘let’s work together’ and ‘please stay in contact and use me as a resource whenever you need me’.

        resources like seng would be so helpful if teachers would be open to some extra reading… instead of trying to push the idea of adhd (which as it turns out and as i already knew has no relevance in our case).

        she has also admitted that she doesn’t know what to do but will not respond to my input into these well known characteristics of gifted children… input that’s been asked for.

        the one who suffers is my son – it makes me crazy that some teachers lack the insight or understanding about why it is not okay to confront children in public and force them to explain why they’re crying ‘over nothing’ in front of their peers.

        advocacy is something i am working on… i have realized recently that this is now the new norm.

        thank you for your quick reply.

        • I had to sigh because your story sounds so much like mine–an absolute refusal by the school to even try to understand. I know. I get it. I got the same run around.

          The very first time I hesitantly verbalized the word “gifted”, one of my son’s teachers immediately snapped back, “Thirty percent of our students are gifted!” Which meant, we have a lot of gifted students, so we know gifted, so don’t tell me your son’s issues or concerns have anything to do with giftedness.

          We brought SENG articles, knew what we are talking about, and even hired a therapist who specialized in gifted children to advocate for us and we kept hitting a wall. The school’s principal said, “your son challenges the teacher, uses too much sarcasm and that is why his teachers refuse to respond to him.” Yup, let’s ignore the 13 year old because his behavior rubs us the wrong way.

          I wish you much luck and good thoughts with your advocacy efforts. I know it is not easy! My heart goes out to you!

          • LOL Here is the sarcasm part. I was always afraid to say the G word to my sons Teacher also so when I finally had enough I did and of course got a reply much like the one you got.

            Very bright children can be unusually strong willed, negotiate like lawyers, or use sarcasm to make a point. Sometimes, gifted children are disruptive in classrooms because they don’t want to do what they consider busywork. (Of course, this can all be true of any kid – it’s just more so for some gifted children.)

            About 30 percent of gifted children perform academically below their potential as measured by intelligence tests.

          • Yes, if only teachers were trained to recognize the common behaviors of gifted children (not high-achievers because I think teachers understand them), but real gifted children, our kids would not have so many of the same bad experiences with schools and teachers.

          • Oh my sons Teacher told me she has worked with many gifted children but how can that be true when she does not even have a clue

          • Oh, I’ve heard that one too!! My son’s last principal told me that the teacher my son was being bullied by understood gifted students because her toddler was gifted. “Oh, yeah, that makes her an expert!”

          • To me it is so hurtful to watch your bright child have to go through this. It breaks my heart every day I have to drop mine off at school. I sit all day and wonder what it will be like for him that day and pray for the best but the best never comes.

          • Yes, Cass, I understand. I remember crying all the way back home after I dropped my son off. Do you find yourself checking your cell phone just in case the school called and you missed the call? Or when your phone rings, you right away panic that it might be the school calling?

          • Oh yes, I check my email all day and yes wait for the phone to ring and all this for a child that is gifted? There is something very wrong about this picture.

          • Yes, there is and that is why I am committed to trying to spread the word about this. It never stops amazing me how nearly identical all of our stories are. No, we are not alone but that doesn’t stop the preventable neglect of our gifted children in public school.

          • I really have decided to home school, look at how much a child learns by the age of five, kids learn a lot when left alone . Yes I also have the problem with my son n his peers. he relates to older kids just fine but kids his age he thinks he is helping but comes across as being bossy. Have you ever checked out Sudbury Valley school? I love the way they teach,they teach by play even in the high school My child taught his self to read and also taught his self all the big words with explanations. I just feel after 4 years public schools are not his fit. i wish they were but there comes a time when you have to know they are not.

    • Oh thank you sparks, its so good to hear others comments to find out your not alone . I have been through these very things with my sons teacher over n over and over again and its like they don’t hear you I always have to shake my headand say what don’t they see and how can they not see it!!!!

    • Oh spar4ks I have shown my sons Teacher so many things and said things like I just was reading this and it sounds so much like my Josh what is your opinion what do you think? I get the well yes it does sound a lot like him “BUT” what would we do different-probably nothing we have “given him a folder and a planner and we have paved the way for him to make things right. For him to make things right????How?He is not in the right kind of class room he does not fit in that box its not the way his brain works and in the end he becomes more and more frustrated in trying so he shuts down. I know what he is capable of so does she- if a gifted child is not just As all the way then in a teachers mind no matter what you show her they are just a problem.’. I am planning on home school for my son I can’t stand watching him struggle and want to learn. I have found that a lot of gifted children fall through the cracks when they are being forced to learn at a pace that is far to slow for them. They then become confused and very frustrated . My son will never fit in that typical 4th grade class room – does any one care?. My sons Teacher even knows he has been tested and is gifted she still refuses to acknowledge it. Its been 4 years of struggles he starts the year out all happy and doing well n then it all goes down hill.I take him to therapy . He is a really good kid at home he loves to learn but in his own way. His 3rd grade Teacher told me oh he gets things I knew that the minute he walked in my class room. But he gets frustrated with the other kids because he does not understand why they don’t > So this Teacher knew he was smart but what was done for him ? NOTHING. He had to try to learn at the pace of the other kids thats when school became some place he hated to be. I wish you luck sparks I know 1st hand the heart break.

      • i hear you – “shut down”, “anxiety”, “negative”, and “uncomfortable” have been just a few of many buzzwords for this year, grade 1.

        we too start the new school year with excitement (myself with some trepidation… what will this year bring? will his new teacher work WITH me? are we going to go backwards again?) and it then goes downhill. it is reassuring to hear your son enjoys learning after all you’ve been through – my son too is a sponge, an endless (ENDLESS;) string of questions fill our days, like you we do not have any of these issues at home – i have lost almost all faith in the public school system – i have strongly considered homeschooling – a more hands on, real world, immersive approach. the right approach is everything – i like to think of it as a playground for the imagination… a new idea, and another new idea!!! and then this!!! and the connections just keep going and going and going… he needs to explore all of these ideas and connections, follow them, see where they go. i think you will be able to relate to this – of course it causes frustrations when they are sitting in a lock-step environment without being able to relate to anyone… not the teachers, not the kids – of course it causes some discomfort.

        we are discussing placement options for next year at our next meeting – a self-contained classroom at a new school… would be interested to hear feedback from any of you regarding this route… they seem to be much more in sync with these characteristics and work at a slightly faster pace to accommodate IEP’s. of course the school he’s in now also needs to agree with this as the best placement option going forward.

        fingers crossed.

  19. Just got home from a parent/teacher conference with my son’s (sophmore level) Biology teacher. My son is not doing well, essay questions on tests, lab reports, writing, writing, writing. He has 8 weeks to pull up a D to at least a C, I think he can do it. When they start doing poorly, they begin to loose confidence. Asking for help means I’m different, don’t want to bring attention to that. I threw out to the teacher that part of the problem was that my son was a visual spatial learner, he sees pictures, not words. There was that look again. It amazes me that teaches just don’t understand what you’re talking about. The teacher didn’t really acknowledge the question. I used to meet with my son’s teachers at the beginning of each new school year, more of the same, they just aren’t interested or read as “more work”. It’s so frustrating, had to vent, thanks. Anyway, does anyone have a good resource for essay writing?

    • Sorry to hear this, Val. Ugh, I know so well the invisible eye-roll and the silent dismissal of what you are trying to tell the teachers. I keep hearing that parents should approach teachers with the attitude that we will work with them as a team, but my experience is when it comes to gifted kids with school issues, teachers are not interested in teamwork.

      And as a former classroom teacher, I have to wonder why there is so much writing in Biology. Science, by its very nature, should be hands-on as much as possible. I know there would also be reading and understanding science terminology, but lots of writing in Biology is, well, unless this is part of the Common Core stuff.

      Visual-spatials can struggle mightily with writing. Can you get accommodations for his VS ability/disability (whichever way you look at it)? I know visual-spatial learners can get extra time on standardized tests.

      Good luck to you and your son!

    • It seems any more Teachers have one set way of Teaching and can not or do not wish to go outside that box. Education has changed a lot. Its do it this way or nothing. Its black and white gone are the days or bright colors when it really mattered and Teachers really did care about each child. Common core did not help things either. Iknow I have always tried hard to work with my sons Teachers but its always a dead end. I tell them what his therapist says they don’t care and the funny thing is I would not even have to take him to therapy if not for the issues in school. I think parents need to take back their children We know our child better then any one but schools today have a way of trying to make you believe you don’t know your child. I hope no parent ever believes that- and trust me they try it. Its almost as if they TRY to break you down to doing what you know in your heart is not best for your child. All I can say is don’t give up the fight. LOL the every child is different days has gone out the window. Thats why they make them all take the same test…

      • i have definitely dealt with these feelings myself – i take reassurance from this – thank u!

  20. I think it should be mandatory that every school has at least 3 or 4 Teachers that have been trained to understand gifted children and are trained to help them They have special ed teachers.

    • Yes, EVERY teacher should have training on understanding gifted children and being able to recognize the many traits that are so often misunderstood and misdiagnosed!

  21. Great article! I saved the link to show my son’s teacher in the fall as he is so misunderstood. As far as asynchrnous development, they also physically develop asynchronously. For example, my son, who is visually-spatially gifted has fine motor issues and still has trouble holding his pencil and writing.

    • You are right, Jennifer, asynchronous development includes both mental and physical development. Asynchronous development is unfortunately a little-known trait of giftedness. Seeing a kindergartener who can read chapter books, but struggles with toileting skills is difficult for some to understand, especially when a gifted child is seen as excelling in all areas–which they don’t.

      Thank you, Jennifer!

      • Thank YOU! I love reading your blog – it’s nice to have a place to go where the challenge of raising a gifted child is understood, and where I can see that my husband and I are not alone in the struggles we face. However, despite the challenges and struggles, I wouldn’t change him for anything! I believe that he and other’s like him will change the world someday!

        • “I believe that he and other’s like him will change the world someday!” Yes they will. They absolutely will!

          Thank you for your sweet words, Jennifer <3

  22. An excellent summary of what it is like with a gifted, underachieving student! I am so afraid she is going to be pushed down to regular classes each year instead of staying in advanced because her grades are awful. Who am I kidding, I am afraid she is going to get left back from year to year. She is going into 7th grade a a small charter school, which I find to give her a far better education that the public schools, however, she still struggles. Many teachers just don’t know how to deal with her, her emotional intensities, and her lack of performance – at least on paper. The other gifted students ARE high achievers; she is not motivated by grades. I have wished more than once that I could home school her to avoid the social issues but I work full time, a second part-time job, and volunteer as a scout leader (to keep her socialization in smaller groups settings doing things she WANTS to do). We have a wonderful online program in the state too so I thought of virtual school but she would never get her lessons done while I was at work. We would end up fighting every evening. So we really have no choice other than to hope that she gets some amazing teachers this year that will motivate her. I will keep trying to find programs outside the school that interest her (acting, anime, cosplay – all of which allow her to express her creative side), and likely keep wondering if we are doing the right thing by her.

    • Karin, I’m so sorry you and your daughter are in this situation. This is exactly why I spend so much of my time advocating for gifted children. NO child should have to suffer through school–an inappropriate education–because they are gifted. It truly breaks my heart for you and your daughter.

      Your daughter is so lucky to have you advocating for her and being her champion! Thanks, Karin, for sharing your experience here.

  23. Ty for this! As a mother of a 14 year old gifted son, I have struggled with him, especially in point 2!! Any pointers on how to handle it???
    Any help is so appreciated!!!

    • Oh Pam, I know exactly what you mean, I have a 15 year old gifted son. I just keep reminding myself that “this too shall pass”. What I try to do is not get drawn in to the emotions because I feel at least one person needs to remain calm. I try to remember to first validate his feelings because although I am not emotional about something doesn’t mean his emotions are not valid. I usually say something like, “I know this is upsetting you and I’m sorry.” A hug helps here too sometimes. When I can pull this off, and I don’t always, it seems to defuse the situation somewhat. And maybe this article can help: Anxiety in Gifted Children: 3 Simple Steps Parents and Educators Can Take.

      Be strong, Pam, be strong. Parenting gifted children is not for the faint-hearted! 🙂

  24. You might add to that list that gifted children are not always gifted in all academic areas. They might be average in reading but mathmatically gifted.

    • Debbie,

      You are absolutely right. And I am going to add that because it is a misunderstanding about gifted children that they excel in all areas.

      Thank you, Debbie, for pointing that out!

  25. Hi Celi and all, I am new to your blog but have been reading your posts via Pinterest for the last couple months–THANK YOU!! I live in Texas and have three gifted kids, all very different but all with heightened “everything;” my husband and I were both considered gifted as well. We have all kinds of fun around our house (ha!) with lots of issues that I never understood until we really started researching giftedness with our second child. He became part of the Duke TIP program this spring, and they have great resources on their website. As soon as we all started talking about the characteristics of giftedness, it’s like a light bulb went on (or in our cases, a megawatt spotlight — haha!)

    We gave up trying to help our public schools understand our kids, and have intentionally given the kids extra learning opportunities at home and wherever possible. Frankly, I was continually embarrassed to explain to teachers/coaches/Boy Scout leaders that it’s because he’s gifted and wired differently that he has these meltdowns and behavior problems — they would always look at me with that incredulous blank stare. I would feel so ashamed.

    I don’t think they cared to get it.

    They don’t have time to get it. They have other kids to tend to, and an agenda of their own. My kid is just an inconvenience.

    That’s our experience. The hardest part for me is the isolation. When my son was invited to Duke University for their Grand Recognition ceremony for his SAT scores, I desperately wanted to find someone else in my area who knew anything about this, or at least to connect (insert crickets chirping here). I very cautiously asked people if they knew anything about it or anyone who had done it — I was so afraid to ask. His school didn’t help much — the principal had only been there four years and never knew any other students to be part of it.

    I really have to give a big shout out to Duke University — they have been wonderful.

    What I love about your blog (besides the great resources, which are awesome) is that promotes a gifted “community” (is that an oxymoron? Haha). We need it! I need it! We’re not alone! Hooray!

    • Hi Ginger!

      We do have a wonderful little community here, and I hope everyone feels free to post their experiences and opinions about giftedness.

      Hey, we had that lightbulb moment in our family, too, but it wasn’t until our youngest son showed many more quirks than his older brothers and we all had a crash course in giftedness resulting in many “aha” moments! Can’t believe two gifted adults, two gifted near-adults and it takes the youngest to throw us over the edge 😉

      I hear you about the isolation and the difficulty with explaining your child to those who you feel need to know. Ugh! The blank stare and you just know what is going through their head.

      Duke TIP, Johns Hopkins CTY, and many others are such a welcome opportunity for our gifted kids! Back when we were feeling confused and so very isolated, it was Vanderbilt’s gifted program who came to our rescue!

      Well we are all glad you are here, Ginger! And thank you for sharing your experience with us!

  26. Hello Celi! I’m so glad that you wrote an article like this and reading tons of the comments, looks like you are a warm person that listens and gives soothing advice to everyone that needs it. Im here because I have a child who many people suspect as a gifted one. He is just 4 yrs and 5 mos. He started reading single words before 3 but he was able to read full sentences before he turned 4.He learned to write before 4 and can spell and write various words. As of now, his reading comprehension is building up. He can now solve double-digit addition/subtraction and can solve basic math word problems. I tutor him when I need to or when he needs me to, but there are times that he learns things by himself from materials, from tv. As of this moment some of traits are starting to show up. His recent dev pedia evaluation showed that his visuospatial skills is for 7y/o.His interest in art and music just startes to emerge. His art level is now between pre-schema and schematic stage.and he is using it as a form of communication as he cannot express very well. English is not his native tounge.but he chose that language. He is currently learning his native language. That is my dilemma why I cannot accept the idea of him being gifted. One common trait of being gifted is being verbally fluent. In his case, he cannot express himself very well that is why I had to send him to speech therapy once a week and occupational therapy for his behavior.He does not ask question ‘why’. Most of the time, he is introverted and sometimes act like a baby. He always talks about academics. Whatever that interests him.numbers.math.shapes.colors.land forms.parts of plants.trees.etc..He can undertand basic written instructions in his exams in school that is why he oftenly finishes in lesser time.he can answer 30 worksheets in 2hrs as I remember.he can finish answering the whole workbook as long as it interests him .All the remarkable things that happened (miletones) are in span of 6mos since he started his therapy. He is now in kindergarten for 4mos and seating-in the preparatory class to manage his behavior. He always had tantrums in kinder for more than one month but when I suggested the seat-in scheme, his behavior improved. I hope you can tell me something about my dilemma.thanks so much!

    • Hi Maureen,

      I understand your dilemma. Looking at giftedness, we understand that not all gifted children are the same–they are different as all people are different. Also, being gifted does not always mean that a gifted child will behave or develop in a certain manner. Gifted children, like all children, can have learning disabilities or other conditions which exist alongside the giftedness. Asynchronous development is also a huge factor in the developmental lives of gifted children.

      That said, if your son’s behavior and development concerns you, if I were you, I would dig deeper. Read all you can about giftedness and how it relates to your son, and then ask all the questions you need to of his doctors or other professionals who care for him. Remember too, to trust your own instincts. As knowledgeable and caring as his doctors can be, they don’t know your child as well as you do.

      Become very informed and ask all the questions you need to in order to feel more secure about the education and development of your son.

      Good luck and keep us posted how everything is going!

      • Hi Celi! Thanks for the prompt feedback. I do really appreciate your kindness. You were right about reading and researching about his case as it is not very common. Or it is possible that his case is dominant in some countries but not many parents are aware of it or in denial. Or there are more possible reasons why the informations are limited. I have already raised this concern to his dev ped during his evaluation 5mos ago and he just mentioned about hyperlexia since most of the milestones have not emerged yet that time.Aside from his academic advancement, I got nothing big to discuss. It was like I have nothing to be excited or surprised about. You were right that only us parents know truly what our children need and can possibly achieve with those special skills. In our country, not many kids can read, spell and write foreign language at a very young age. But many kids though can speak it as young as 2 or earlier. In my son’s case, he was able to read first before he was able to use the language to communicate. I had to write the sentence on a flash card so he can say “give me milk please” at age of 2. There were times that I blame myself that we forced him to speak the foreign language instead of his native tounge. You see, it is a trend in our country to teach their children the english language so that they can be globally competitive. Now my son is having hard time communicating with other kids who are very well versed in our native language. The more alarming issue is that there is only one school in our country that handles cases like this. That if the parent thinks that their child is very advance and no other school can handle them, there is only one school that can help them. If the child cae from very far province (like us), imagine how agonizing it is for them to move in or trael for long hours just to send the child to that school.
        And the problems won’t end in an instant because I had to collaborate with the teacher how to handle my son, how to deal with his tantrums and stubborness and uncompliance. Some teachers don’t seem to have a proper background or training how to spot potentially gifted children and how to handle them. Since he is just 4, IQ test is not yet recommended. I don’t see any difference it will make though as per feedbacks from parents of gifted children that were tested. Aside from being expensive. Because in our country, there is no association that handles this case. That’s the worst part. No govt or independent institution that can help us. So possibly, most gifted children were left unidentified, unsupported and uneducated. Worst, some gifted children were often diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, and other developmental disorders. So we resort to therapies to cope with our children’s needs. At least we’re doing something about it. I was just glad that my son was not labelled by the dev ped with any disorder. He just adviced me to continue the therapies to address his behavioral and language issues. I’m open though to possibilities of disorder. Whatever it is, I will not stop supporting my son. I’m also thankful that there are parents in his school who read a lot about different cases, about giftedness and are very well informed how to spot children who are above average. For now I consider my son as an intellectually superior kid (not gifted), home taught and academically advance. I will feedback to you again after 6mos or whenever there is a very remarkable improvement to him.As of yesterday, I downloaded a piano app in my phone because he keeps harping on buying him a violin. He said he wanted to learn to play. I was hesistant because he’s just 4 and might not understand the mechanics of music. So I gave him option. I gave him 2 chord sets of popular nursery rhymes that he knows. In less than 30mins he was able to memorize the chords and do the fingering on the piano app. He enjoyed it. So I’ll see where his interest in music will go. It is very expensive though. But nevertheless I was glad to discover his interests, strengths and weaknessess and his potential talents.

        There were instances that I was discouraged by some parents with regular kids, that is why it is very hard to find friends that I can discuss my sentiments and raves without getting bashed behind my back. Because they will not understand you unless they are in the same boat as you are. All you can get is an impression that you are bragging or very proud of your child. Who wouldn’t be? Thanks again Ms. Celi for the words of encouragement. I never thought my reply would be this long, it can be longer because I’ve been keeping this for more than a year. And I’m glad that there’s a place in internet where I can share the hardships that I’m facing that other parents out there from my country are possibly facing too. More power to your blog!

        • Maureen,
          I’m so happy you found a place to talk and share your concerns. You can also ask to join the “Celebrating Tall Poppies” closed Facebook group I started so we can all talk about giftedness and our gifted children with others who understand. Just request to join if you are one Facebook!

        • Maureen, I’m so glad you wrote–please know that we understand–we have kids like yours, and we know both the frustration and isolation. I have a middle-schooler who still has occasional meltdowns at school, although they are thankfully becoming more and more rare. He has been recognized numerous times with awards and academic honors, but he is the most intense, tightly wound person I’ve ever met (even as a baby I considered him my “explosive son”) and he has very few friends. Your son sounds like a delightful handful and I feel for you. It is very hard, and no one seems to understand–yes, they think you are bragging when you are actually sincerely crying out! I love his interest in music and languages and showing such clear interests at such a young age–I would promote it wholeheartedly! (Also, as a former music teacher, he sounds like he can definitely master violin or any other music he is interested in at his age. I wonder if you put his story out on the Internet, someone would donate a used instrument to him? Maybe on a crowdfunding site or even facebook and ask people to share it with anyone they may know who can send it to you?)

          Hang in there! It is an emotional ride that won’t stop anytime soon! But encourage him and build him up, no matter what anyone else says. Try to enjoy him for the treasure chest that he is. Give him belief in himself and he will have a very, very rich life! Thanks for helping us, too, by sharing your story.

          • Dear Ms.Celi,
            Hello!it’s been a while since i shared my story about my child here…i was about to give updates months ago but we were so busy last summer..now that i have extra time i think it’s time to write again a looong response..
            Hi Ginger thanks for the words of encouragement..i do appreciate it a lot.ive read it as soon as you posted and i so badly wanted to reply soon but i told myself i will respond before 2016 ends.. 🙂

            Ok i dont know where to start..last christmas we went into a vacation in a foreign country and ive discovered more about my child..we just wanted to unwind since there were lot of pressures and issues on his behavior in his kinder class.so when he arrived in the airport he immediately got interested with the airport map.. he likes maps so much!he likes world map, vicinity map, theme park map..name it..he was able to read the map and plan his own itinerary in Disneyland..like he wanted to go to Space Mountain first, (his verbal skills improved after 6mos of therapy and he can talk alot, express alot..) then they went (i lost him with his dad inside the park!) :)) to fantasy land and so on..aside from it he was able to memorize the name of the station where we alighted to go to Children’s park..we were amazed that even us adults cant remember even how to pronounce it (it’s in Chinese) due to numerous transfers..ok..that doesnt make him a gifted child i believe..maybe a special one.but not one with a case.he has memorized lot of country names and its capitals and even the flags.his obssession went for about 4mos until i did something to divert his attention..lot of things happened..he was able to 3-digit addition/subtraction and begin to study multiplication but I was worried that it might bombard his mind..he was too young (4yo) to study those..

            I woke up one day that i believed that he’s a regular kid but due to our situation (isolated home) he wasnt able to get what he needed to grow and develop as a regular kid..my instinct was right when i had him assessed by other school (traditional). I was somehow provoked by my kid’s kinder teacher when the teacher said that my son wasnt interacting with other kids and maybe he needs more hours of therapy. I was a little furious..how come he needed more ot hours if the therapist herself said (and i also noticed) that he has minor problem as of that time and all they did was do a one-on-one tutorial in different subjects which i also regularly do at home..so im just wasting time and money..so i stopped all the therapies and do DIY to him..ok so my son passed the assessment to the regular school so i was very happy for him..ok, moving up ceremony came in his old school and i was frustrated that he did not climb the stage..so i have decided that he really needs a different approach..i also had that theory when i observed the behavior of other students in his old school..then i made a tally of their conditions and situations like they were only child..lives in condo wherein playmates are really scarce..so i made a drastic decision because i dont want my son to grow up like them..like they cannot be enrolled in regular school because of their unsual behavior at age of 7 so they were stuck in an expensive special school…then summer came and we moved in to a place where there are lot of people, children and every day there are kids playing on the street…at first my son found it hard to adjust.took him weeks to mingle with children..i was sad at first but i did not give up..i joined the other children and played with them to model/show my son that it is ok to play with them..then after few weeks of waiting i was amazed that he already knows all the name of the children playing in the street and then i felt relieved to see him playing with them..after 2 months he’s doing fine and other neighbors were so happy too to see him improve alot..He just turned 5 and as of now my son has no major behavioral issue in school.All preliminary observations during the assessment (short attention span, incompliance to teachers..etc) were gone after 3mos of exposing him to socialization..it helped alot that all his classmates are regular kids (no offense to special kids).i always thought and hypothesize that one of the reasons why he was behaving odd in his old school because most of his classmates are special and he was mimicking their behavior thinking that that is the norm.. so now aside from being extremely shy though i was able to talk him out and was able to comply..my only worry now is his stage fright and i am hoping that the teachers will help me overcome his weakness..the teachers in his new school are so cooperative with me and they encourage my son to go to front of the class and express himself to overcome his shyness..there are times that my sons tells me what they did in the classroom that can prove that the teachers are addressing his shyness..like he will tell me that he told about our “family tree” then will recite to me what he said in front of the class..aside from this, he really performs well in academics..he bagged lots of academic awards from his old school, he was the only one in kinder class who bagged it all and now i dont want to expect but his exam results are great..most of the time he gets perfect scores in most of the subjects…what important to me now is that i can see that he has improved a lot.he matured a little.he got lot of friends in school now.and also i discovered one of his talents in drawing.he also attempted to learn chinese but i discouraged him because he cant use it in our country.and as for the music, he wanted to pursue piano lesson but due to limited time and budget i told him he can learn it next summer..i wanted him to focus more on improving his social skills because for me that is the most important foundation any person should develop..academic intelligence is nothing if a child doesnt know how to make friends..thinking back and having done lot of readings..i was enlighten that some of his traits before qualifies for autism or ASD..i was glad that my eyes were opened and God maybe guided me what to do to help me help my son..i cannot say that he is perfectly regular now..it’s been 4mos since we moved in and there were times that he doesnt want to go outside and play and all he wanted is to draw despite of me pushing him outside.but when i succeeded on pushing and kicking him, he never regrets it and enjoys bigtime playing outside and i was like dragging him inside the house so he can take a rest..as for his drawing skills i was amazed that it has progressed a lot after 2mos of practicing, seeing it transitioned from schematic stage into slightly dawning realism..im not hoping that he will be a great artist one day,it’s not in my blood, not in my husband’s either (but in my sister’s blood though), im just happy that he is enjoying it a lot..it’s like playing a tablet game to him though we dont have that gadget and i dont want to give him one…it keeps him occupied when he’s bored. as for his reading skills, it has improved and he has now reading conprehension and it was big relief to me.. 🙂

            Sorry to bombard your blog with this very long input and thank you for giving me space to your blog. More power to you Ms. Celi! I will definitely buy one of your books if it’s available in Asia. 🙂

          • Maureen,

            So happy to hear from you again and no apologies necessary for your long post. I keep saying, when we share our experiences with each other, it helps all of us. Thank you for your update and sharing your story!

  27. Oops small child hit my screen before I could finish typing!

    I was trying to state that my son enjoys inventing new written languages… that function more like cyphers from our current language… he gets a lot of joy out of the different ways he can derive meanings from changing the cyphers.

    Ugh….hope I am making sense.

  28. I am crying as I read this article. This is so my 13-year-old son, who is extremely smart but is having the most difficult time adjusting to being a middle schooler. We ended up changing schools this year and unfortunately, the change hasn’t helped. The kids just don’t get him and have started bullying him. The school seems to act like they think he is bringing it on himself because he doesn’t get the other kids teasing and gets mad in return. Because he reacts, it’s his fault. It just breaks my heart. I’m so at a loss for what to do next. I hate to change schools again and homeschooling doesn’t offer the social piece I think he needs. Wish there were more opportunities in my area for kids like him. Thank you for this article.

    • We had the exact situation happen with one of our sons–not fitting in and the bullying. We changed schools 3 times in under 2 years, but the emotional damage took its toll. In our area at that time, the homeschooling community was very large and highly organized, and our son had much more opportunity for enriching social situations with multiple ages. Not all areas are like this, but you might want to look into the homeschooling community in your area.

      I also wrote this article for Fractus Learning that may help you: http://www.fractuslearning.com/2016/02/24/things-remember-gifted-child/

      There are many Facebook groups for parents of gifted children where you can find support and advice.

      My heart truly goes out to you because I have been through the exact same thing–I know how you feel. Be strong and all the best! <3

  29. I have very little hope that any conventional school can offer anything positive to a Gifted child. They are simply not the right environment. If we chose to have children, both my wife and I would homeschool them from day one, even if if killed us.

  30. It’s on your me again!

    I read this post and become bitter at all my teachers who failed me. After early elementary school, I gave up on teachers ever providing an understanding and academically challenging environment. I’m very emotionally intense (I don’t see a breakdown of Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities on your site, but I’d like to) but not particularly demonstrative on the outside, so it was easier for me to avoid disrupting classes. Thus I was seen as a merely high-achieving kid instead of a gifted one, until teachers looked at the interest I had in their subjects (I loved literally everything except algebra and the terribly structured writing they taught in elementary school) and realized I was fundamentally unusual. However, by the time I was 8, I realized school would not appreciate my talking about moral concerns or existential worries, so I never brought such things up to teachers except in high school, when I had a few teachers who I sensed understood me. I now felt that if I asked teachers about these non-academic concerns, the ones who wouldn’t have belittled me would have tried to help me. But young me didn’t think teachers cared about anything but making sure everyone hit the academic standards, and so I never considered them a resource.

    I cannot understate the emotional destruction this repression caused: I spent the majority of 3rd-9th grade depressed, lonely, resentful, and fearful of inauthenticity. It didn’t help that I had few friends (although my mother squashed my tendency to correct people’s information when I was 7, so that wasn’t a barrier to socialization) who understood my concerns. They all knew I valued learning for learning’s sake and cried when trees were cut down, but only one friend could meet me at my level. Then he moved and I rarely saw him again.

    Your posts mainly address the gifted kids who are failing school when they would, if happy and nurtured, be wiping the floor with the other kids in their areas of academic giftedness. By “failing” you seem to mainly refer to external success which enables entrance to challenging colleges and social acceptance and the like–good grades/test scores/teacher approval. I want to show the flip side because teachers assume if a student is achieving well, (s)he must not need any accommodations. Nothing was further from the truth in my case. It’s the teachers who realized I was gifted who began to turn around my emotional repression.

    • Hi Archana,

      Yes, I do write often about the neglect and the educational mistreatment of gifted children in traditional schools. I’m so glad you pointed out that despite excelling in school, a gifted child can still have other unmet educational, emotional and social needs. One of my own children always did very well in school and when it seemed school was too easy for him, I asked his teacher if he could be accelerated a bit. The teacher’s response was, “He’s making all A’s. What more could you want?”

      There’s often a ceiling, a cap, in public schools for gifted children–if they are achieving well, they are forgotten and the teacher’s attention turns to those students who need more help. But we all know most gifted children are capable of learning more, going deeper, achieving further and progressing faster than their age-designated grade level. Once they meet that cap, the grade level ceiling, they sit and languish in their classrooms–waiting, bored and disenfranchised.

      There are many ways gifted children are miseducated and misunderstood–the grade-level ceiling is just one of them, unfortunately.

      I’m glad you brought that situation up for others to read and understand. When a gifted child is achieving well in school, this does not necessarily mean his educational, emotional and social needs are being met.

      Thank you so much for your input, Archana!

  31. I’ve just today found this blog and have been reading non-stop for the last couple of hours! I love all the responses and advice everyone is so helpful – so I’d like to ask advice for my 15-year-old underachieving son who was identified as gifted in kindergarten.

    All was well at public school until grade 2 when the principal suggested we find a more challenging program for him. We were lucky enough to be offered financial support and enrolled him at the ‘best’ private school in the city, where he was learning alongside smart, high-achieving classmates. But in this school his grades were ‘only’ average and comments from the teachers were always the same: he is capable of so much more, he has so much potential, he rushes through his work, must put more effort…. and I agreed with them so I pushed him to do better: more time spent on homework, less on social activities. We struggled to motivate him straight into high school, to no avail. At the beginning of every school year he would have good intentions to do better but from mid-year to the end we would argue often about his lack of interest in school and grades.

    After a while I began to wonder if it could be the school that wasn’t the right fit for him. My son is highly creative and they were very rigid, churning out corporate types, potential lawyers and doctors. They never valued his creativity and he’s gotten in trouble on occasion for expressing it. I’d go so far as to say the school crushed his spirit to some degree.

    If he was willing I would move him to another school that would embrace and nurture his creativity so that at least he could have two good years in high school. But he does not want to leave the familiarity and friends and it would be too cruel to force him at this point.

    Grade 10 is a critical year and he must do well if he hopes to get into the college/university of his choice. What should I be doing to help him? Back off and let him drive himself these last two years? Or double up my efforts to keep him on track and working hard. Sadly, left to his own devices I fear he would allow himself to coast or worse. His present school does not use the term ‘gifted’ they told me this last year when I tried to advocate for him.

    Thank you for listening – I feel better just venting and if I do receive any helpful comments I will appreciate it!

    • Ann,

      I hear you and I know EXACTLY what you are going through. I’ve struggled with pushing my child for the good grades to get into a good university versus letting him just make his own decisions–we went back and forth year after year.

      In the end, it really depends on your child. This one son is creative and a visual-spatial learner which flies in the face of traditional education. So for us, it was best to back off and let him be, but he was homeschooled and we had that opportunity. He started taking college classes at a local community college at 15 years old and now is taking a gap year before entering university. We’ve learned that his unconventional education is just that, unconventional, but every bit as valid and just what he needed. Every child is different and you as his parent knows what is best for him–trust you gut!

      Keep in touch, Ann! Good luck!

  32. Good Morning.
    Please help!
    My son is in Grade 1, his teacher is constantly complaining that he does not sit still in class and disturb the other kids in his class. She said that she thinks he has ADHD. I took him to a neurologist in June and he did a couple of test on him. The result is that our son is a lateral thinker??? and does not have ADHD, but he needs to use Concerta to help him concentrate more in class. He also saw a psychologist that tested is IQ and she said his IQ is 120, but he is emotionally average. He has been on the medication for 4 months and no change except that the teacher is complaining that he ask to many questions and always want to reason with her. Even when she explains maths on the board he will come with a different solution, but still same answer. We have spoken to him and he says that he finds the work boring and would rather do other things. He gets high marks in school with little effort and are very good in Rugby. He enjoys building Lego for age 14 and up and hardly looks at the instruction books and prefer to build from the picture. He is a perfectionist and does not like to be corrected, he prefers to find the answers/solutions himself.
    I have now read every story about gifted children and to me it seems that my son is gifted and need to be placed in a school where he can get more stimulation.

    Please help…..do you think my son is gifted or am i over reacting?

    • Hi Angelique,

      Two things: 1.When testing a child’s IQ, if the child has a learning disability or learning difference along with being gifted, this can lower their real IQ score and mask their giftedness.
      2.Start reading about visual-spatial ability in children. Do the traits of children with visual-spatial abilities align with your son?

      You know your child best and if the answers you have gotten don’t seem right and have not helped your son, then get other opinions. Find another psychologist who specializes in gifted children or at least has experience with them. I don’t think you are over-reacting–sometimes professionals don’t always get everything right and you, as the parent, need to continue to dig deeper. Trust your gut instincts.

      I have a few articles on my website here about visual-spatial abilities. You can also google the term visual spatial and find what you need.

      Good luck and please keep in touch and let us know how your son is doing!

  33. I have a child who’s IQ is 135, and she is an unusually good reader. She started at 4 and by six, had read Harry Potter and most middle school books. Now, at 10, she is reading Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice (not the kid’s version!). Still, I have had trouble believing she is gifted. This article was extremely helpful. Thank you!

    • Hi, I really need help. My daughter is in 3rd grade, and is really bright, but I’m just not sure she’s gifted. Her IQ is 140, and she started reading Harry Potter at five, The Hobbit at six and Lord of the Rings at seven. Now, she reads Jane Eyre and some Jane Austen books. So is she just good at reading, or gifted all around? She doesn’t necessarily meet all the traits on the gifted checklist, but I’m just not sure. At school, she is always bored and knows all the material. However, her teacher has not stopped me and told me my daughter is smarter than the class. I need help from someone who has experience with this kind of stuff. Thank you for all your help!

    • You are welcome, Mary! I had trouble believing my youngest son, whose gifted traits were the most obvious of my 3 sons, was gifted. It wasn’t until he was in 6th grade that I accepted it. For me, it was because of the false premise most of society adheres to that gifted children will always excel in school and intelligence is an enviable trait.

      But, our kids are gifted and it takes our parenting to a different level.

      Thank you for stopping by, Mary!

  34. Hi, my 10 year old daughter is reading at college level, and its just really hard for her to cope when, in her class, they are just starting things like Charlottes Web and Harry Potter, which she started at five. I have been considering homeschooling her, but she is my first daughter and I don’t know how to even start homeschooling her! I am a single mom and have to work all day, the reason why she is in public school. I hope you can help me.

    • Hi Angelina!

      You will find a multitude of resources at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum website. Check out their page featuring books published by GHF Press. Several books, inexpensive and quick reads, can help answer your questions.

      Check your state laws on homeschooling. Many states have very organized homeschool groups with co-ops where your daughter can attend classes. Iowa, for example, allows friends, family or neighbors homeschool children other than their own–of course, certain criteria must be met. But, look into your state’s laws and homeschool groups–you may find all the answers to your questions there.

      Join gifted and homeschool Facebook groups where parents likely have similar situations as yourself.

      Check back here if you still need more information, Angelina!

  35. I truly love and appreciate this article. My child is in the AIM class and I see traits of her in everyone of the points on your list. I had s conversation with her teacher this morning about how my child seems sad or disengaged in class and it broke my heart because I know that is not who she is. She’s a very quiet speaker, does not have a high level of confidence and is quite shy. She also has a hard time staying focused in her regular classes, and this in turn, labels her as lazy, unfocused and not engaging with others. They called me to get help on how to help my child in class.
    I would definitely appreciate any direction or advice you can give. She has no issues with content, it’s just getting the work done. I love my kid dearly and want her to be confident and a success in everything she does. I welcome anything you can share with me.

    • Hi Amy,

      It’s encouraging to hear that the school called you asking you how they can help your child. We don’t always hear about schools being willing to help understand gifted children. That is terrific!

      My suggestion, given that every situation is different, is to do some research on the traits of gifted children and hopefully find a few articles which speak to you about your child. Print them out or send links for your child’s teachers. Then set up an appointment to discuss your child’s needs and your concerns.

      Also, gifted children who spend time in regular classrooms being taught information they may already know are notorious for disengaging and losing interest in school across the board. They are bored and then tune out school as a whole. Find some articles on this topic as well.

      Unfortunately, schools/teachers seem to sometimes adhere to the stereotype of gifted children being high achievers, and when they don’t excel in school, educators seem to look first for what is wrong with the child when in fact it is the curriculum. Logically, we feel if the school work is easy, then our child should be making all A’s. But, day after day after day of being fed information they grasp quickly and are ready to move on, or they know the information already–that is just too difficult to tolerate every school day for weeks on end. We can imagine how a 6th grader would feel if he were expected to excel when he was put back in 3rd or 4th grade for an entire school year.

      Here are some resources and articles to sift through:

      Yes, My Gifted Child is a Know-It_All. A Case for Acceleration

      Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

      Gifted Challenges (a site by a psychologist who specializes in gifted children)

      Let me know if you need more help and check back in to let us know how everything is going!

  36. Hi. I am the mother of a 6 year old who we believe is highly intelligent and on that level the teachers have agreed . Her vocabulary and logic and reading and understanding are way beyond her age. The teachers say she is the first to grasp new concepts and shows a depth of reasoning that puts her in a level of her own.
    But we are having MAJOR problems with her which we shared with her school. She is apathetic, lazy and careless, shows no respect for her own property and no respect for authority. She doesn’t seem to have interests beyond playing and watching TV. I had started teaching her piano at 5 years of age and I was amazed at how quickly she was learning it and she also seemed to enjoy it but now whenever I mention teaching her piano she refuses. She wants to do things her way or none at all.
    Where it comes to doing her homework which should only take a few minutes( and we know that she s well capable of doing ) it’s taking 2 or 3 hours with threats and punishments. It is a horrible experience and we are at a loss with how to deal with her. She is the eldest of our 3 kids and the most strong willed and selfish. She also has a very sharp tongue ( and very argumentative go the point that you feel like hitting your head against a brick wall …not funny )
    She has no respect for authority. She will spit out I hate you as easily as anything if she doesn’t get her way and says horrible things that deliberately hurt…which you don’t expect from a 5 year old.

    We are at our wits ends in dealing with her. It got to a stage that she has more time in time out than to do anything else and its not getting us anywhere.

    Her self care abilities are hopeless, when she eats she makes more mess than her one year old sister. She literally slouches on the chair with her hair in her plate and it doesn’t bother her ! She doesn’t put on her own clothes and her toilet hygiene is doubtful at best.

    Please please help!

    • Hi Juanita,

      First off, I’m not a therapist, counselor or a psychologist. I would recommend that you seek out the help of a professional for the concerns you have. I can only offer suggestions that I have seen work with other gifted children including my own, but what I offer is for informational purposes only and is not professional advice.

      I have seen many gifted children whose boredom with school and learning was seemingly rooted in a lack of intellectual stimulation–think of a 25-year old adult who was forced to go back to high school and expected to be engaged, conscientious and happy every day of every week of every month. I have seen this lack of intellectual stimulation cause behavioral problems in gifted children. Think about it as your child would– the adults in charge of you don’t understand your intellectual and emotional needs, and instead, keep insisting you do and complete tasks, commands, classwork and homework which you feel are in opposition to what you know, what you understand, how you feel and what you are capable of. It can result in anger, disengagement from school and other behavioral problems.

      If you or your child’s teacher feel your child’s behavior needs addressing, I would suggest looking for a therapist who knows and understands gifted children. Advanced intelligence does not necessarily equate into good grades and good behavior especially if the child is lacking intellectual stimulation and a real understanding of their distinct needs.

      Let me know if you need any resources!

  37. I know this is an older article but I loved reading it. I am a mother to a gifted child and no, it is not easy. He is in 3rd grade.He is in a gifted program twice a week at school but only for the mornings. I love his gifted teacher because she understands the quirks that come with the children but it seems a lot of normal teachers do not understand. Everyday, we have a note from his regular teacher that says he was disturbing class, that he wouldn’t stop talking to students. She said she would try to talk to him but he would talk over her. There are times where she has said he argues with her. She tries to move him around the class but that doesn’t work because he will talk to whoever is there. It is exhausting because I keep trying my best to explain to her that he can’t help it. He has been that way since he was 1. I’ve tried rewards for good week of behavior and that is a hit or miss. Taking things away doesn’t help. All I can say is that I am proud of him and I try my best to help him control his talking.

    • OH Amanda, I know exactly what you are going through. My youngest was the exuberant and enthusiastic talker. I got the same notes home from his teachers. I tried to help him curb his talking with rewards and consequences to no avail. His teachers tried all the strategies to keep him from talking. You are right, he can’t help it!

      Has your son’s gifted teacher met with his regular teacher to discuss how to best meet the needs of your son? If not, your son’s gifted teacher could offer some insight and hints into how to engage your son so he doesn’t feel the need to talk about all the exciting things he knows and wants to share.

      When I went through this, my main concern was to maintain my son’s exuberance for all that exciting information without making him feel ashamed for vocally sharing it all.

      But, you are right, it’s hard for our spirited talkers to curb their talking, and you have every reason to be proud of your son’s enthusiasm for social and intellectual interaction.

      Your son is very lucky to have you as his advocate!

  38. Hello, I am the mum of two gifted boys in the UK, now both grown up (ages 27 and 24). Your blog is fantastic, but I am reading it with sadness – you see I went through all this twenty one years ago – the lack of understanding, the labelling as a neurotic parent, the exclusion in the village I lived in because my child was seen as ‘different.’ He had emotional outbursts because his needs were not met and at 6 he was mentally more like a child of 14, but emotionally he was just a 6 year old little boy. We are all super sensitive in our household, so at times this just did not help us.

    I am just so sad to see through this blog that things have not really changed that much. There still isn’t enough information in teacher training on this subject – I know this because my daughter in law is a fairly newly qualified teacher. It was only by chance that I learnt about my son’s ‘giftedness.’ I saw a programme on the television and had him seen straight away privately by a psychologist who tested him as being in the top 1%. She helped me too as I had blamed myself for my son’s behaviour. The unfair treatment we received from the teachers and the school is still with me, even to this day. Please keep up the good work you are doing to spread the awareness, it is time that these children were treated with the love, respect and understanding they deserve by people who should by now know better.

    • Thank you, Angie, for your kind words of encouragement. I feel your regret because I also have 20-something boys and I never knew they were gifted until my youngest came along 11 years later.

      We all need to advocate for gifted kids because they really are getting the short end of the stick educationally, socially and emotionally!

      Thanks, Angie!

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