Dear Teacher, My Gifted Child is in Your Class

Dear Teacher,

Welcome back to school. My child is so happy to be in your class this year. We know you are a wonderful and dedicated teacher and you care so much about your students. I know the beginning of school is very busy, but I wanted to tell you a little bit about my child. Although he really loves to learn, he is somewhat anxious about being back in school again.

Please don’t think I am bragging, but my child is gifted and that has brought some unexpected challenges to my child and our family. I know to many people, being gifted means he will do very well in school, but that hasn’t always been true for my child. I’m sure you have seen that gifted students aren’t always smarter, better behaved or more mature than other students. I know my child isn’t. My child is just a kid who thinks way differently, maybe ahead a few grade levels in some subjects, is a bit intense, and he sometimes struggles in school. Last year, school wasn’t easy for my child for a few reasons.

He may be working a grade level or two or even three ahead of other students in some subjects, but not in all subjects. He just doesn’t excel in all areas all the time. And although he may seem older than his years, he doesn’t always behave like you would think he should. I’m sure you know how gifted children can be emotionally immature although they seem much older than their age–that is exactly my kid. He is just not that perfect little soldier some people expect him to be. Makes me feel like I’m parenting a child with the brain of an adult but the temperament of a toddler sometimes, lol. I hope you understand.

Also, he can be really intense in class when you are teaching one of his favorite topics. He may raise his hand often and incessantly talk about a subject he is passionate about. I’ll apologize in advance because he will also likely challenge you on information or facts he feels are not quite right especially when it’s a topic he is hooked on. He is not being snotty or a show-off, he is really just very excited to be learning about a subject he feels strongly about. He can be really intense which is one of those common behaviors for gifted kids. I just wanted to let you know this about his intensity so you wouldn’t think he was just being a know-it-all or trying to show off. It is just that he is in his happy place when learning something he enjoys. He just gets carried away!

And speaking of looking like a know-it-all, he was teased about that last year in school by some of his classmates. I know he may seem older than his age and looks like he could handle the teasing, but it hurts him A LOT. He is extremely sensitive like a lot of gifted kids and being teased is part of his fear of going back to school. His anxiety is through the roof at home because he fears being called a show-off at school and he feels like he doesn’t fit in. Last year, his teacher said he often kept to himself and chose to work alone. I know as a teacher, you are incredibly busy, but could you keep an eye out for anyone teasing him or if he seems to be keeping to himself too much?

Lastly, his therapist mentioned that because of the teasing and maybe because he was bored (gosh, I hate using that word) last year in school, he is showing signs of becoming an underachiever. Please let me know if his grades start slipping. Underachievement is also common in gifted kids, especially when they are not happy or not learning challenging new things in school. That is what his therapist said. I don’t think it will be because my child is lazy–he used to LOVE to learn. Ugh! Who would have ever thought that gifted children were not the perfect students most everyone thinks they are?

Thank you for taking the time to read and understand about my child and his gifted quirks. Don’t hesitate to call or email me if there are any problems with my child at school. Believe me, we know very well how sensitive, emotional and intense he can be 🙂

I hope you have a wonderful school year!

Sincerely,

Mom of a Gifted Child

116 Comments on “Dear Teacher, My Gifted Child is in Your Class

  1. This is the best article I have read, why does it take a parent point out the misconceptions of gifted children. Shouldn’t teachers be educated about gifted children and trained, yet they are not. As a teacher of the gifted for years, I have treated each child as an individual and did everything in my power to meet their academic and social emotional needs. After having my son and realizing he was gifted, I wasn’t so excited. I dreaded him going to school and dealing with these misconceptions. All I thought is “he will have teachers like me who will see his gifts and nurture him as a whole.” Well I know that is not the case. I have become very passionate about advocating for gifted children because public and private schools don’t seem to truly understand their needs. I am a major public school supporter as I work for one, but when it comes to gifted education , we are failing these children. I now see why parents are homeschooling their children. There is little money put in gifted education and providing them with necessary services. My dream is to revamp gifted education in public schools and provide them with all the services they need just like public schools do for the learning disabled children. Thank you for writing this article. You have ignited my passion even more .
    Mindy Leonard

    • Roar on, Mama!

      I’m using the words “roar on, Mama” because after my very first blog post which I thought nobody was reading, another mom of a gifted child left those encouraging words to me as a comment on my post–those words have kept me going. I hope they will do the same for you!

      We desperately need more advocates like you to bring understanding to the needs of our gifted kids, and to work so our gifted children will stop falling through the cracks!

      THANK YOU, Mindy! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you!!

  2. HELLO!!!
    my daughter is top of his class when she was in grade school though it is public school, she even graduated as valedictorian or with high honours. but now that she is in junior high grade 7, i noticed that she cant even get into one of the top ten students or a grade of 90 in some subjects and they are decreasing. I am so worried with her. what could have been her problem? Is it because i enrolled her in a private and expensive school in our town and that the curriculum are different. Or is she having a hard time adjusting to her classmates because most of them have money that is why she could not participate well in the class.
    I also wanted to send a letter to her teacher because i don’t want to go there nagging in front of her classmates. But i am afraid that the teacher might misunderstood my intentions. pls help me enlightened my mind on what to do.

    thank you very much..

    • Anita,

      Go with your gut and have a conference with your daughter’s teacher. Hopefully, both of you can find answers to help your daughter succeed in school again. And make sure you continue to schedule follow-up conferences with your daughter’s teacher to make sure any solutions you both agreed upon are being carried out and helping your daughter.

      Best of luck!

  3. Hello. I am a single mom from the Philippines. I have a 7 year old son who is too lazy to study but excels in academics. But the problem is, he does not want to participate in class activities. That was why his grades are extremes. Too high and too low (as affected by not participating). He easily gets distracted and has terrible mood swings so you really need to test the waters with him as he’s so sensitive. Does amazing objects with legos especially guns which are complete with every parts imaginable. And really shoots. Excellent in geography even if they are not yet tackling that in school. He also has violent tendencies. He doesn’t really interact well with classmates and other people except when he’s in the mood to play. He’s snobbish as hell. I don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Sandy,

      I would urge you to seek counseling for your son–there may be more to his behavior than giftedness and/or boredom in school. Also, join in on the many Facebook groups for parents of gifted children–you can find advice, support and information.

      All the best to you and your son! <3

      • After 3 assessment, a development pediatrician finally diagnosed my son with Aspergers (HFA). I am not really sure if I am ready to accept that just yet as he doesn’t seem to fit the description (about 90%). He doesn’t have developmental delays, no problem with eye contact, no problem when we call his name, conversations were always two-way, doesn’t have sensitivity to sounds, light, or anything (although he has this thing that he doesn’t want to use used glass for drinking), did not tip-toe when walking. I don’t remember marking any YES on the questionnaire but I have one or two qualifications that is very situational. His intelligence was measured as that of a 5th grade except on the social communication skill where he mostly refused to answer situational questions. But when I asked him the same questions at home, he readily answers all without batting an eyelash. I am definitely seeking a 2nd opinion.

        • Sandy,

          I was diagnosed last year as gifted and HFA. Just wanted to throw out a few things about autism, since the last year for me has largely been learning about both autism and giftedness in an attempt to better understand myself. An autistic person is not merely autistic. Many characteristics go into making a people who they are. In my case, high IQ and an interest in how other people think hide a lot of what people tend to think of as stereotypical autistic traits. Also, almost every time, people that are “severely autistic” have other disabilities as well.

          I largely view autism through its tendency to enhance things. If interest were a faucet, an autistic faucet would very easily go from off to all the way on. I wouldn’t say that it’s a greater force than a normal faucet, but it reaches the highest point a lot more easily. This could lead to a person consumed with interest about a favorite subject, or tantrums caused by a seeming minor issue that a child has turned into their whole world. It’s like viewing life through a giant magnifying glass, difficult to move around, but providing quite a view.

          Anyways, it’s certainly possible that your child has been misdiagnosed and you are certainly the expert on your own kid. However, autism is something not many understand, so figured I’d share my two cents.

  4. Would the letter work just as well if it omitted the word gifted but included the fact that the student was reading several grades above grade level? A simple heads-up is conceivably more useful than a label.

    • I’d agree if the student was simply in need of acceleration. Being gifted means one has different brain wiring–they think differently, have more intense emotions and sensitivities, and don’t always do well in school–i.e. reading several grades above grade level. Giftedness is a psychological package of intelligence, social struggles, emotions, and even physical sensitivities, in a way somewhat similar to autism, that transcends how one performs in school. Also, gifted children can have learning disabilities–many gifted children are autistic.

      Most of us have love/hate relationships with labels, but when a child is in public school and is need of any sort of remediation, acceleration or modification in his learning, labels are often used so educators know what to do, what to expect, and how to adjust their teaching. Also, for medical, psychological and legal reasons, labels such as gifted are used.

      Gifted is not simply synonymous with above-average school performance, and our perceptions of what giftedness is unfortunately tied to education. Gifted is not just an educational label.

      When I first began teaching, I thought gifted was just a smarter, more accelerated student until I had gifted children of my own. I think many of us have a problem with the gifted label because of its association with better than or smarter than, but I know a lot of gifted kids who would love the label, “average” or “normal.” If teachers could only be given the autonomy to teach their students as they feel is necessary by reaching and teaching every student at each student’s optimal level, maybe we wouldn’t need some labels.

      I do understand your question and I sincerely wish gifted just meant a higher achieving student, then we could just say, “this student is need of acceleration or differentiation.”

      I hope that answers your question, but if not, please let me know if you have further concerns. Thanks for your question!

      • The letter does a remarkable job of delineating the concerns associated with the problems faced by gifted children. It includes specific recommendations from the child’s therapist. Re-reading the letter, I do not see anything to suggest that acceleration would be a substitute for kindness and understanding, although, as you say, that is a danger raised by using the term gifted.

        • You make valid points, Marcus. The letter is really an “in general” letter which can’t really speak for all gifted kids because gifted kids are as different from each other as all kids are. And you are right, acceleration or any accommodation is not a good substitute for kindness and understanding.

          Thanks again, Marcus!

  5. Pingback: Should You Tell the Teacher Your Child is Gifted?

  6. Reading this felt just like reading something that I wrote. Every part of it was so applicable to my child that it hurt. As we gear up for a new school year I have recently contacted my dr to have him put me on Anti-anxiety medication. No because I suffer from Anxiety but because when I get in those meetings with the school and they sit there telling me they think my son has Opposition Defiant Disorder or ADHD or is on the spectrum or ANY number of things that they feel is wrong with my child.. I start crying, and as soon as I start crying my words no longer mean anything. They completely lose all credibility and instead of being the well researched advocate for my son, I become the over emotional mom who thinks she knows more than the teachers. Being able to control my emotions with the help of this anti-anxiety medication could mean the difference from my son getting the help he needs to being ignored by the public school system. This has become such a difficult thing that my husband and I have discussed my staying home to home school our son, which without my income every month would create an financial hardship. Knowing how many others are experiencing the exact same problems feels me with a overwhelming feel of kinship with these parents and rage that any of us or our children ever have to experience this. Thank you so much for writing your articles, they are a source of encouragement for me.

    • Oh my gosh, Frankie, I was just like you! I would cry so easily and conferences didn’t go well because I was either crying or about to cry so I rushed the meeting. I hope the medication helps, but also being armed with information will help you, too. Yes, I have been in your shoes and I feel your pain–many of us have!

      I just wish teachers understood giftedness better and would not jump so quickly to misdiagnoses like ADHD or Opposition Defiant Disorder. 🙁

      Well, please know you are not alone and you have lots of us here to support you. Join the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page as well as the Raising Poppies Facebook group. Lots of moms in your shoes sharing their ups and downs, advice and support!

      Check out my resources page, also! Let us know how everything is going! All the best to you, Frankie!

      • Thank you so much for that article,reading it was like a “deja vue”
        You have said it all and expressed it all on the behalf of every parent of a gifted child.
        Somehow its a relief when you finally find someone that you dont need to tell “you don’t understand ” because you do!
        Sleepless nights, anxiety, heartache… and much more!

        God bless you.

    • I have decided to approach this school year with much less anxiety, more prayer, and politics. I watched my child experience the worst school year in 7th grade, marked by faculty who expected the worse at every turn. I saw a child eagerly engaged in school activities, but looked down upon by school personnel because of being “different.” When I discussed this with my child I was informed “Mom, I just want to get through this year… in one piece. I do not plan to let them win, but it is difficult.” My heart ached for this experience. I felt like I had failed my child somehow. I wanted to wrap my child in my arms far from the enemy, the school. It is awful to think of the school as the enemy. I looked around and came to the realization that only those parents who were not engaged in school activities were experiencing these problems with their children. Those children whose parents had the financial resources to not only pay tuition, but to be available at every beck and call seemed happier, less stressed, and saw their children’s differences as accepted. Then the ah hah moment happened for me. It is not what the child does or does not do. It is not merely the presence of gifted abilities or lack there of. It is the parents who are receiving the grade. It is the parents behavior which is being voted for or against. I thought that I could simply bring my extremely gifted, talented, beautiful, athletic child to school, pay tuition, participate in what was asked of me, communicate with teachers related to academic questions/ concerns, encourage and support my child to complete needed assignments and prepare for examinations, provide a socially moral upbringing, etc., and I was done. At least where the school was concerned. I have learned that there is much more needed. I need to run for political office! Well at least not anything like mayor, governor, or president. I simply need to operate like a person running for office. Thus, I will need to smile broadly, volunteer for committees, kiss babies, and spend money. Did I mention spend money? I see now that it is these parents who appear to be void of the kinds of drama my child experienced in the last two years.
      This year my child will be attending a new school. I plan on taking the hard lessons that the previous school has taught me about education, or at least about the politics of education.

    • I barely know what to say. This is exactly what we are going through – I CAN NOT believe that nobody in my child’s school knows or seems interested in what it might mean to be a gifted child and instead call him ‘spectrumy’. I even took my boy to be assessed by a top NYC child psychologist who wrote a report stating that he confidently believes that any suggestion my child is on the spectrum is ‘off-base’ I still have the school pychologist going ‘hmmm’ and clearly not believing it. She never responded after I sent her the child psychologist’s report, I have his new teacher reassuring me that her child is also brilliant but spectrumy! On his IEP the school psychologist wrote my child does not engage in imaginative play. He is 7 years old and barely comes out of his imagination – he is constantly going off to outer space or building a research station in the Antarctic!!! The level of unprofessionalism, incompetancy and flat-out willful misdiagnoses Is completely hair-pulling and has possibly given me the most anxiety I have ever experienced on a prolonged basis. It would be so difficult for us to homeschool. It is terrifying to find no options for our child. He is intensely visual spatial and, as of half way through fist grade, refuses to write. His IQ is borderline profoundly gifted. THANK YOU for this website and for the comments section – hearing such similar stories, although so painful, is also so helpful. Thank you again.

  7. I read this article (and another about being gifted sucks) to my gifted 7 year old and she kept making noises of agreement throughout each article. Thank you for understanding what it is like to parent and nurture a gifted child and all that comes with it. I do wish that the label ‘gifted’ would be changed as it certainly isn’t a gift and perhaps the stigma will be taken away and the help our darlings desperately need in school might begin to occur. One can dream…

    • Yes, Tameka, we can dream. 🙂

      It is an uphill battle trying to parent and advocate for our gifted children because they are so misunderstood. I place the blame on the gross misunderstanding of our children on how traditional schools most often administer their gifted programs–sending out acceptance letters into GT programs as though they were awards, expecting those in the gifted programs to be high achievers, and generally handling GT programs as a special, elitist program. Thus, schools contribute to the reputation of gifted children as those “blessed” with advanced intelligence, maturity, good behavior and inevitable success.

      Oh man, it is so hard to not get on that soap box!

      All the best to you and your daughter, Tameka! And thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  8. This made my day. My son is 5 and is in his second year of a 5 Day full-day pre-K program at a private Christian school. We’ve known he was gifted from a very young age. He reads at a 2nd grade level and knows his 1st grade math facts. He’s OBSESSED with space and knows more about the universe than anyone I know. He is also socially awkward with high anxiety and symptoms of ADHD. He is also especially sensitive to loud noises. We had him tested for ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and ADHD about a year ago when we noticed how he was always alone and not participating in class. By the way, we noticed this through pictures posted on this Class Dojo, not though correspondence from his teacher. When we brought it up with our pediatrician we got a referral for a child psychologist. This was a very difficult and emotional process. It turns out, being 4 at the time, my son was not diagnosed with ASD or Asperger’s, which was such a relief. Instead, we were told he has “symptoms of ADHD” and high anxiety. But the psychologist was hopeful in that our son would pretty much grow out of it within a few years. Anyway, also in the screening my son was found to have a 125 IQ. So a lot of the pieces are starting to make a bigger picture. Through therapy we have learned how to address my son and how to help him. Things were looking up, though it has been a slow progression. His teacher, same as last year due to it being a multiage classroom, was out for the first half of the year on maternity leave, and out son was thriving with the long-term sub. She was amazing and found ways to engage him at every turn. He would ready to his classmates, be the weather man for the day, and be teacher’s helper. Fast forward to three four weeks ago. His regular teacher is back. His behavior is becoming inconsistent, the photos showing isolation are back, and he’s been having higher anxiety (including accidents, which haven’t happened in a long time). His teacher has recommended getting noise canceling headphones for school assemblies. Essentially, he went from being gifted to being special needs and socially disconnected. My wife and I are currently gathering data from what we see, the class photos, and opinions of his therapist, and we’ve been planning out how to approach his teacher. You’re letter will be our inspiration. You see, my wife and I are both educators, me in elementary school and my wife in high school, so we know how parents claiming, “He’s not a bad kid. He’s just bored,” can sound like nails on a chalkboard. But also being educators, we know what steps can be made for gifted students. We know how to engage them. And we know when a teacher just doesn’t want to deal with it. Unfortunately, our local public school district does not offer a full day pre-K or kindergarten program, so our son will have to stay in that school another year and a half until 1st grade. Anyway, thank you for the letter. It was worded perfectly and will help us craft our own response when the time comes.

    • Well, you are so welcome! And thank you for telling your story–it helps all parents of gifted children see they are not alone on this sometimes rocky journey.

      Good luck speaking with your child’s teacher. You know that no none knows your child better than you do, so go with your gut and don’t back down.

      Let us know how it goes!

  9. My daughter has just shown me an email she intends to send to her school head master highlighting her greivences (with references to school policies) with her education. It includes responses to a questionnaire she made based on school policies, from students of a range of different year groups, all to highlight the school weaknesses in hope of a positive change. I’m a little worried about how school will take her constructive criticism, but at the same time incredibly impressed by her thorough research and proactive approach to her school related problems! No ordinary child would do this! I couldn’t help but beam with pride for her when I read it, But I think I may have to write an email a bit like this letter before hers lands in the head masters inbox!

    • Hey Michelle,

      Good for your daughter. One of the best skills she can learn is to stand up for herself and advocate for herself!. I know you must be proud. You have to let us know how this goes! Fingers crossed!

      Thanks for sharing this with us!

  10. In NYC there’s a huge economic incentive to have kids placed in the gifted and talented schools–these are often considered the only good public schools. If the kids don’t place into G&T, many parents feel they must pay for private school which can be financially crippling, or move out of the city and endure a long commute and spend less time with their children. So it’s not as simple as pure vanity, although that does play into it.

    • Ashly,

      The NYC gifted program issue is complex and unlike any other that I know of. I just can’t wrap my head around an identified gifted child not receiving the education he needs and deserves because he wasn’t one of the lucky ones “chosen” to be placed in the gifted program. To me, it’s like a child with a hearing deficiency not getting accommodations because he was not one of the lucky ones picked to receive the help he needed to hear better.

  11. Hey, hoping you go back to these. I know it’s been a while since you posted this. Only recently got into the whole world of giftedness. It’s been very enlightening and I only wish my family could have come across it earlier. I had been going through plenty of troubles with very supporting but frustrated parents bouncing towards and away from the idea that maybe I had a disability (And I probably do! Most likely ADHD inattentive. I’m wired to worry.). When my mom came across the Gifted Development Center’s website… I’d been in a cycle of underachievement ever since failing my first year of college (a military institute and a bad fit). Reading about this new concept, seeing so many similarities, it was as if for the past three years I had been wandering around a cave, occasionally feeling the slightest breeze, yet never escaping the nagging fear that time was running out. And finally, finally, there seemed to be a light.

    I do have one question about this letter. As I see it, the problem with the word “gifted” is it’s multiple meanings. Over and over I’m reading people saying that it’s not really the best word, but used for lack of another. Is there a better way to tell a teacher this, a way that does not immediately make them think of pushy hot housing parents? In the letter, giftedness is explained afterwards and quite well, but people tend to pull up defenses the moment they suspect something is off. This concept of giftedness is something amazing to me, something I’d love to share and discuss with others. It’s a strange feeling that every time someone asks me about these books I’m reading, I need to dial down my excitement about it so I can work out a non-threatening explanation.

    Honestly, after reading several of your blog posts, a number of them seem like they could give bad impressions just from the title. I agree with most everything you write, but it seems geared towards readers that already have experience with giftedness. Yes, these are the most likely people to read your work, but there’s got to be a way to explain it without inciting ridicule, envy, or fear.

    • Sky,

      I understand completely where you are coming from about the use of the term gifted. For many years, I denied my sons’ giftedness because of the stigma attached to the word, the “condition” of giftedness. I still vacillate between wanting to avoid saying the word in order not to attract envy, resentment or ridicule. Then I get angry, and wonder why I have to avoid the word gifted because it is no one’s fault my sons’ were born with highly-advanced intelligence. What other inherent “condition” or talent or disability exists in which one feels the need to avoid using the psychological, medical and educational term for that condition? Most often, I beat around the bush and just use the behaviors to explain my sons–highly intelligent, advanced verbal skills, born with the brain of an adult, too smart for his own good–I’ve used so many explanations to avoid the envy, the shunning and the ridicule the use of the word gifted attracts.

      I don’t have an answer for you about the use of the word because gifted is the term that has been used in medical journals, research studies, in teacher education textbooks and in psychology when testing and treating gifted individuals. It is the only word there is.

      The reality is that the resentment, the ridicule and the envy stem from the perception that someone who is more intelligent than you is better than you, and that is not a good feeling, so negative emotional responses ensue. Many agree that even if the word gifted were changed, no matter which word takes its place, it will still represent someone who has advanced intelligence and the ridicule, envy and resentment will still likely be present.

      I wish there could be a magic bullet for this dilemma. It is a real paradox. But, be strong and accept your giftedness. Embrace it. You will find the best way to deal with it all on a daily basis.

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts here, Sky, and wish you all the best!

  12. Hi everyone, i have only been teaching for 4 years and i love it, but this year its challeging for me cus i have a gifted kid and it gets hard sometimes specially when he doesn´t want to be in the class and to make up a quiz for him, my principal asked me to do it different for him since he is 11 but has a mind of a 5year old, any websites to help me out with this ? i have learn alot by reading all your comments. thanks

  13. I am so glad to see this because I can so identify with most, almost all of what you have mentioned. My boy is just turning 4, and he has been having difficulty in school – the teacher has given us feedback for the past year that he can be so intense in the topic he likes that he can rattle on and on and often goes out of topic / does not answer their questions directly. He cannot sit still in class, likes to fidget and at the age of 3 going to 4, is only just learning to play with his peers. For the longest time, he has been the class loner, preferring to talk to adults more than his own classmates. Now that he is starting to interact, he is having difficulty playing with the peers. Often, he comes back to tell me how his classmates label him as “naughty”, “doesn’t follow instructions” and he quotes instances of how a certain classmate likes to laugh at him. I honestly don’t think these 4 yos have the true intention of labelling him or teasing, but feel that my son is somewhat a tad too sensitive.

    His principal had just initiated a conversation with me today. She feels that my boy is gifted and he has special needs as a gifted child. She actually told me that I need to pay more attention to him. I am actually more worried about his social development but she sounded like she was more concerned about how he keeps going off topic and is unable to sustain attention in tasks.

    Am really not sure how I should take things from here upon getting such a feedback because part of me feel that 3 going on 4 is still too young to put a conclusion on my boy being gifted and thereby having special needs. Nevertheless, I am gald to chance upon your post here because it really makes me feel less alone in this parenting journey.

    • Chelsea,

      The best thing you can do is to read, read, read and become informed as you can about giftedness. I’ve written many articles that can help, but there are also many resources to look to for research-based information.

      Schools are concerned with inattentiveness because it disrupts the class. Often, gifted children do act up when they are not being taught something engaging or new or challenging. It is common for gifted children to be misdiagnosed with ADHD when it is really the curriculum at school that is so uninteresting to them, and then they don’t know how to occupy their minds and bodies. How many of us have fallen asleep or daydreamed during boring class lectures? Imagine a 3 year old having to do the same! And just my opinion here–expecting a 3 year old to “sit still” is a bit unreasonable. Gifted children are not often passive learners.

      Here are some organizations and links to where you can find resources to learn more about giftedness:

      Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

      Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page

      National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

      SENG–Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

      Gifted children do have special needs and some of these needs, because they are unique, seem to mimic learning issues when those needs are not met. Gifted children are very much misunderstood in schools, so what is perfectly normal for a gifted child seems abnormal to many. It is kind of like expecting a high-performance race car to have superior performance when you are only putting in low-grade fuel.

      Good luck, Chelsea, and keep us updated on how everything is going! <3

    • What Celi wrote is perfect! How brave of you to start asking the questions.
      Most people, in hindsight, see the labels could have been applied early. Read, read, read.
      And start a notebook, and take notes and log all conversations and parent meetings etc. I also added the doc visits so we could coordinate.

      I will say 2 things about the behavior things, well 3.
      1] from my prof/mentor: the child “they” describe should never NOT sound like your child. So if they say, “He loves anything blue” you should be able to say “duh.” Or, He really likes to play alone, or anything..they should be obvious.
      2] Read about ADHD too so you are sure: my favorite definition is “too much or too little attention to a given task.”
      3] In my experience some of these kids must learn the social stuff intellectually as it does not come naturally. “The rule is you must share at school” ” The rule is that when you play with other kids, you take turns.” Practice parallel play first; playing next to each other. The child who likes your child most, do a supervised bowling, or just ice cream and a short walk, come and make cookies etc AND then it is done and successful. That can be built on.
      fyi my gifted AND ADHD child could not learn some of the rules until he had meds; he could not slow down and focus enough to learn them: I was however, quite strict on many behaviors. He had to say “hello, name.” [hellos are cheap and easy] I do not care what the reason he could not hit [ and maybe I was too tough on this].

      On the other hand when a girl that had known him for YEARS, I happen to see her PURPOSELY walk into him and then he turned and hit her. First to him I said, “You may not hit.” Then to her I said, “How long have you known that A does not really like being touched?” [5 years] So, doing it on purpose, [she grins at this point] is really provoking and not very kind.” Now, You will BOTH apologize to each other! A great learning moment for both. Although, the following month she started kicking him in the shins every morning, and wanted to know when I was bringing more banana bread for the class [yes, we all know this was “I like you” but we had to stop it to save his shins! 🙂 ]

      Keep Learning and Keep asking questions. YOU CAN DO IT!

  14. I came upon this as I was looking for a way to introduce my gifted son to his kindergarten teacher. Thank you so much.

  15. Just random thoughts on the many varieties of giftedness:
    I am past retirement age, gifted myself; and both of my gifted sons are now in their 40s. Ms. Trepanier is quite wise.
    There was no recognition of giftedness as such when I went to school. The problem of different children learning at different rates was solved by placing students into groups. In first grade, a couple of other children and I were in the “first group.” Almost every one else was in “group two” and there were a few in group three. The teacher would give group one an assignment, to be pretty much done on our own, and then she would turn her attention to group two. After some good instruction, they would also be left to work on their assignments. Group three? I’m not sure what happened to them, other than one child (repeating first grade) who received a paddling almost every day, from the same teacher he’d had the year before.
    I third grade, I think I suffered what I now recognize as a bout of depression.
    By fifth grade, the third group had disappeared into a small classroom of their own.
    In the regular fifth grade classroom, I was literally sitting on my hands to remind myself to not answer all the teacher’s questions.
    In high school, I jumped at the chance to take a new class in technical electronics at a different high school.
    My kids? IEP’s and such had been invented by then. First son’s early teachers seemed to enjoy having him in class, and were kind of amused that he understood just how thick-headed the principal was. Third or 4th grade, he began being bused a couple of days a week to a nearby school with special classes for gifted kids. So, he got 3 days in the regular classroom, where was able to keep up with, or stay ahead of everybody else; and two days of fun classes that stretched him. It worked well for him.
    In seventh grade, he took the SAT, and outscored most college-bound students. In eight grade, he began taking some night classes at the local university, and we learned that a college calculus course would not count as a junior high math credit because his body did not spend quite enough minutes in the class room. Fortunately, his eighth grade math teacher understood, and let him do his college homework while in her classroom. All she asked was that he take the same tests as the other students. He really thought she was cool, unlike the English teacher that wanted him to write an answer to every last stupid question in the book.
    Second son? Well, while definitely gifted, he was also “learning disabled” because of dyslexia. He never did quite fit in anywhere. He couldn’t be handed a book and be expected to learn on his own, despite his big brother having that talent. The special school for gifted kids did not fit, but neither did the regular school. When I went to his fifth grade parent-teacher conference, I discovered that the teacher did not even know he was gifted, or dyslexic! The reason given by the administration? “We don’t want to prejudice the teachers about the students.”
    I had paid for extra tutoring after school until I lost my job due to illness. Then, he flunked 7th grade. Finally, finally, the school admitted he needed some special classes, and he began doing a little better, but by that time, the damage had been done. He skipped classes as often as he could, and soon the truant officer was visiting our home.
    Once he escaped school (barely graduating) he got jobs at a supermarket, where he ended up supervising nearly every department, because he understood people, even if he couldn’t read very well. He could never become a shift or store manager though, because of the paper work involved. And, he could not handle the cash register because of needing to read coupons. He also worked part time for a friend that owned an auto repair shop. Then, he discovered a school that trained truck mechanics with video and hands-on experience. He found his calling. He now repairs big-rigs, and as a supervisor, has his own secretary to take care of the reading and writing chores.
    I had attended some meetings of a newly formed group for parents of gifted and talented children. The leader said she had gone to a nearby county to talk to their Superintendent of Schools about forming a group there. She was told there were no gifted kids in that whole county.
    I worked with an adult literacy group for the last ten years before I retired. All students made some improvement in their literacy level when provided one hour a week of one-on-one instruction by an amateur tutor with 12 hours of training. (Maybe first grade reading is so important that herds of education students, or volunteers, or such could do some similar tutoring in first grade classrooms, under the supervision of a teacher? Individualize the experience, and make sure everyone gets a really good start on reading, as soon as possible.)
    Some adults only improved one or two grade levels, but those were precious grade levels that meant a lot while navigating everyday life. Most improved several grade levels, and a few went from reading level 0 to college.
    Some actually were gifted! They just did not fit well in the classroom.
    Most of our adult literacy students were strong tactile-kinesthetic learners. Sitting still and being quiet in a conventional classroom for hours on end was torture for them. That they would voluntarily come back for one more try at learning to read was amazing.
    Teachers, I don’t envy your job! Every child deserves your full attention, and there is just so much of you to spread around. Still, please try not to let any child get too lost in your classroom, and don’t assume the gifted can take care of themselves. Sometimes, they really can’t.

    • Mary,

      Sharing your story and experiences with giftedness has given us so many critical facts and some history about education.

      I can relate to your years in school, because that is how I was taught in early elementary–groups within the classroom. Teachers were respected and given the autonomy to use their skills, training and instincts to reach and teach every child where they were and meet their individual needs. Then bureaucracy stepped in more, and we had more rules, standards, constraints, labels and everything seemed to become compartmentalized and standardized. If a child didn’t fit into one of those compartments, we looked for problems with the child, not back at the system. And he was likely the one to eventually fall through the cracks. And this went for gifted children also.

      Gifted people are all different, just as all people are different, but many in society and in schools assume gifted children are ALL destined to succeed because they are blessed with more intelligence than most. Again, even gifted children are expected to fit into the “gifted” box of “most likely to succeed on their own.” Your story proves that and I see that with my own three gifted sons.

      Over and over, we say gifted does not mean better or more advantaged, especially not in our public school system that underserves and miseducates our gifted students. Even the healthiest of plants will not grow and eventually die if starved of the water and sunlight it needs.

      Thank you, thank you, Mary, for sharing your story. It gives us all so much incredible insight into education and giftedness!

  16. Dear Tiffany, could you please come and take over education where I live!

    The ‘answer’ we have been given so far is around an hour a week of extension work and the other 29 hours doing work that is a couple of years below grade level at best. We have a good individual teacher who makes an effort in that classroom, but I have a bored child. We need Tiffany in Australia!

  17. As a teacher of gifted students, these all great points to give a general ed teacher. My advice is to find a place where the gifted student is with like-minded peers. We find at our school that when kids get to a school or a program that understand their needs (we have individual IEPs for each and every student in every subject), they finally find their “people”. They are happy, no one bullies them, and they can be accelerated in the subjects they need and at grade levels (or below in some cases) in some areas. Good luck!

    • Tiffany,

      If you tell us at which school you teach and give us the directions there, I’m pretty sure we will all be there within the next week or so! 😉

      But seriously, your school is doing it right, the optimal approach to education all schools should take. What the vast majority of parents of gifted children face is the reality that a school that is doing education right is an extremely rare situation. Most often, there are no other traditional school choices where their gifted child can fit in, and so we keep advocating for all gifted children and sending “Dear Teacher” letters to the regular ed. teachers who may not understand giftedness.

      I am in awe of your school–an IEP for each and every student is exceptional. And I can only imagine how happy and thriving the students are! This is the way education should be!

      Thank you for sharing and showing us that education can be done right!

  18. Gifted students still need a teacher. My child may seem like she already knows the curriculum and she may know a lot of it but she still needs instruction, direction, and someone to answer questions or help her with a concept she isn t understanding.

    • Yes, so true! Gifted children do need a teacher who understands that gifted learners are not fine on their own, don’t have all the answers, and do have emotional and social needs that need consideration.

      Thank you, Guadalupe!

  19. Gifted students still need a teacher. My child may seem like she already knows the curriculum and she may know a lot of it but she still needs instruction, direction, and someone to answer questions or help her with a concept she isn t understanding.

  20. I’m keeping this for when my son goes to school (if I dont homeschool). I think its really a good idea and a great way of explaining to a teacher that your child is not trying to be difficult. Thanks for this!

  21. What surprised me at first was the absolute venom directed towards gifted kids and their parents. I am not entirely sure why this is. Maybe seeking help for giftedness is seen as somehow boasting? I know that navigating the school, teacher and other parent conversations can be hazardous, and I find myself downplaying or staying quiet a lot… but that doesn’t help my child.

    On the positive side, the people who are accepting can be a great support. One of the most helpful people on our school journey has been the mum of a special needs child with autism, whose asynchronous development is as fascinating as my own child’s. She has been generous with contacts and information about the requirements of schools in our area.

    My child’s teacher this year has an adult gifted child herself. She told me that her answer to the system’s failings was to home school for a few years. I think the teacher’s biggest strength is to ask my daughter to aim higher than the expected grade level. If she does something that is lower than her capabilities, she is asked if she can make it better, give more detail, research more etc.

    The teacher gives as much freedom to extend as she can get away with, but it is not enough. In practice, there is still a child who comfortably reads Harry Potter independently, who spends 6.5 hours a day in an environment where she has to sound out cat-rat-mat.

    Policy in schools here is not to assess children until they are 8.

    They say that a child may be damaged socially by grade skipping. I wonder what they think it does to a child socially and emotionally to have them endure years of work they already knew long ago?

    • “They say that a child may be damaged socially by grade skipping. I wonder what they think it does to a child socially and emotionally to have them endure years of work they already knew long ago?” That’s a good question, a very good question. Here is the most recent study on acceleration by the Belin-Blank Center–a highly regarded study. The study found little to no evidence that acceleration does any social damage.

      We all know, or should I say, we all should know by now that giftedness is inborn, inherited from our parents. Given that, why do so many schools not test sooner? What happens to that child in kindergarten when he already knows how to add and subtract, or in 1st grade when he is reading middle school level chapter books?

      As one reader commented, so many genres are research based–medicine, science and psychology, but education seems to ignore the research and use strategies that contradict the research such as not accelerating a gifted child. My guess would be some sort of fear that it would upset the apple cart. And there are educators who do not know the real research-based facts about giftedness and they believe the myths and embrace the stereotype of the gifted child and their pushy parent.

      Advocacy, advocacy, advocacy in any way, shape or form–we all need to advocate in any way we feel comfortable!

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments and questions!

    • By law, if you request an evaluation they must do it, from birth to age 21. They do not have to like it. They can try to discourage you, but it is against the law to refuse to do it.

      • That’s not always the case. For learning ‘disabilities’ they have to assess. Giftedness is not included in federal law, so each state has its own rules. In CA, so long as your child isn’t “struggling” – ie below average – they don’t have to do anything. In WA, giftedness doesn’t exist; high ability does, but they don’t assess for it, they just have a few special programs dotted here and there around the state. In CA, my daughter was so far ‘above average’ that, despite a huge gap in subtest scores, the school told us they could not do anything for her and we should keep homeschooling. In WA, a full and extensive IEP assessment for my son never looked at giftedness; it was ignored regardless of where or how it appeared.

  22. Thank you for posting this letter. I’ve never heard someone describe my daughter so completely. Someone else “gets it”. Sometimes I feel as if she doesn’t fit in, even with the other “gifted” children in her grade. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone in the world!

    Thank you.

  23. This is a beautifully written letter. What an excellent way to kick off the year with clear and open lines of communication. Thank you for sharing this!

  24. I am so tearful as I read this post, and the comments below. I have advocated and educated and worked so hard for my 4 year-old little boy. He is frighteningly brilliant, but struggles so much with the social and emotional development. Everyone wonders why he can’t inhibit undesired behaviors, when he can go on a 10-minute explanation of what those behaviors are, what behaviors would better replace them, why the behaviors are undesired, etc. Both the giftedness and the social stuff, as well as sensory sensitivities, have been evident since infancy. In his last preschool/daycare, they eventually reduced his hours because they “couldn’t control him.” And I say this despite the fact that I felt as if they truly tried to work with me to help him to have a successful experience. But without specialized training and knowledge, they just, I think, felt out of their depth.
    We have just moved across the country for a job, and he has started in a new private school. (There are no specialty schools for gifted children in my area, and no programs for gifted children until 1st grade.) The behaviors are still present, but at least the teachers have already recognized that when he is engaged, his behavior is much, much better. My fear is that they won’t stick with it, or it will be too much for them, or there will be damage. He has to be somewhere – I have to work – and I can’t bear the thought of him in the sensory overload and cognitive deprivation that characterizes daycare in my area. It is not that I am a snob about it, just that I know it would feel like torture for him. And no matter how much I read, or study, or advocate, or love him, there is still that little voice in my head wondering if I am doing the right thing, or if I have done something to cause his problematic behaviors. It’s lonely sometimes being the parent of a gifted kid who doesn’t fit in, especially as it’s not seen as a “learning disability.” So thanks everyone, for helping me feel a little less lonely in this.

    • Jocelyn,

      There are so many things I want to say because I understand and know so well what you are going through. One of my readers described giftedness as a disability/special needs but without the sympathy. It is extremely difficult to ask for help, support and understanding for an inborn trait that is truly a special need, so misunderstood, but also envied.

      Feeling alone on this parenting journey is common, but there is much support online. On Facebook, search for gifted parenting groups and moms of gifted children groups. There are many, and they have lots of supportive, experienced parents of gifted children who can help.

      I would also look for gifted parent support groups. On the SENG website here, they list support groups. Hopefully there is one in your area.

      Keep plugging away, Jocelyn. Focus on your child’s strengths, interests and passions. If you need any help or have questions, post here or to the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page.

      Hugs to you!

    • THIS time I can help. I am a parent and special educator, and always feel that gifted students also have special needs.

      First, sensory sensitivity also known as tactile defensiveness, can actually be treated and improved upon! A special part of OT is called Sensory Integration, and your pediatrician can give a prescription for this, as well as be provided for by your school system after an evaluation. A parent can request an evaluation and they must follow up, even while the child is at a private school. This can help many things. And you are correct to realize that the noise/touching can actually hurt! Good Job Momma!

      Also, gifted can still have learning disabilities. And sometimes it is the GAP… between different skills that many adults have trouble with. If he is verbal, reads, does math why can’t he do xyz too… it is because part of him is 8, but part of him is 3 [and yes, I know you said 4 year old.]

      Please keep a notebook. It is the best advice I can give. It will help you and others see patterns. Keep on top of the staff and keep communicating and helping your son find ways to cope. You are aware, so while you may feel alone, you are already doing a great job as a parent taking care of YOUR child. You spoke up here; that was wonderful!
      YOU CAN DO IT.

  25. I am the proud father of two gifted children. We experienced several of the challenges you mentioned over the years, and had a few of your recommended discussions with principals and teachers. Once my children reached high school, many of these issues went away. They found supportive groups of friends through band, quiz show team, and other activities. Since high school, in short, both my daughter and son earned full academic scholarships in STEM areas, as well as fully-funded graduate school opportunities. My daughter just earned her PhD, and son finished his engineering master’s and accepted his first job. Please tell other gifted parents to stick with it; it’s well worth the investment in their children.

    • Thanks, James, for your words of encouragement!

      I know many parents who are deep in the trenches of trying to fight schools to get an appropriate education for their gifted child appreciate it when they can read success stories because sometimes that mountain can be higher for some of us than for others.

      We all need to be reminded–persistence! Thank you!

    • Thank you, James! Your encouragement and the testimony of others on this page is exactly what I needed to hear today.

  26. At that lower primary age, I think what would help my child most would be… don’t make a child with a reading age of 12 sit and recite phonics/sound out words for hours! If there is a way to steal their love of learning, this is it. Let them do independent reading, or give them an atlas or encyclopedia and a challenge, or get them writing, let them have extra library time/books. As a kid, I was given extra library privileges, and I valued that greatly. My daughter loves to help the other kids to learn to read too, so if you have to check boxes, let them do the easy stuff with a purpose of helping other kids. Work with the parents, we really are not all crazy pushy lunatics. And, support the possibility of acceleration, because maybe that child is better not in your class but a couple of grades up – and your role may be vital in helping that transition work well. Ohh, and keep a stash of puzzle books.

    • Yes, yes, and yes! You know, any human being who is forced to sit and learn information they already know day after day would grow to hate learning. And we expect children to do this and when they react, we want to say they are misbehaving or there is a learning disability. EVERY child should be able to learn at his grade level, not his age level!

      Thank you for your comment–your thoughts and suggestions reflect the opinions of nearly every parent who has a gifted child who has been misunderstood and miseducated!

  27. As an educator I have to say, however well intentioned, that letters like this just prove how little parents know about education. Truly gifted children are not bored, ever. Their minds are always going, always reaching for that next level. There are kids who are smart, there are kids whose parents have told them they are gifted over and over again, and there are parents who have expensive tests done to “prove” their child is gifted. My experience has been that parents of gifted children don’t really have to advocate for them because they don’t have to prove their child’s abilities…they are just there. By the time these “gifted” children reach me in the 8th grade, while their ALP’s follow them forever, they are basically on grade level. If your child is gifted you should find out their interests and encourage them to read or work on a textbook. My sister taught herself Gaelic in elementary/middle school. She got a perfect score on her SAT’s and went to Harvard undergrad and then Harvard Law. She has some social issues, but so do many kids. Teach your child to advocate for themselves and keep learning. If you are smart you will always be smart, and there will always be people who aren’t as smart… there is no “gifted” in the workplace.

    • Elizabeth,

      I appreciate you feeling strongly enough to leave your thoughts, and I will try to say this in the nicest way possible, but every bit of information from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), SENG–Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted, research studies, professional educational journals, university teacher education textbooks and more contradict most of what you have said about gifted children.

      I respectfully ask and hope you will research and read more about gifted children, and get the facts.

    • It seems as if you’ve made this comment without reading more about Celi, and her amazing career as a highly regarded public school teacher. Giftedness is less about achievement and abilities and more about the psycho/social continuum of human existence. It is a neurological difference in human beings that creates an experience outside of the norm. Giftedness is who a person is, not what a person does. A person born gifted, is always gifted; at school and at work. To deny the need for a shift in approach towards these people is ignorant and insensitive.

    • Dear Elizabeth,

      I spent eight years teaching middle schoolers. I’m glad you shared your thoughts, for it gives me a chance to tell you what I’ve learned. Yes, there are parents who hang all over the word “gifted” and yes there are gifted children who function well and find their own challenges no matter what a teacher does. I’ve seen those parents and I’ve seen those children. Those parents and students are easy to spot.

      What takes more education, more courage, and more dedication to spot are the vast majority of gifted children and their parents. Teachers who enjoy open lines of communication learn quickly that many parents of gifted children do not rejoice in their child’s abilities; instead they cringe and cry and worry about the social and emotional damage that happens to their children when placed in classrooms of teachers who share beliefs similar to yours. Teachers who care deeply about each and every student learn quickly to how to focus on what’s going on in the child’s mind and heart, rather than on what’s going on in the classroom or the grade book.

      I’ve learned it’s unconscionable and damaging to require a child to sit through a lesson that the child already knows. It’s also unconscionable and damaging to make sweeping and dismissive generalizations about gifted children, their abilities, their parents, and their parents’ motivations. Real pain exists in the hearts and minds of gifted children, particularly when they are placed with teachers who share beliefs similar to yours.

      That said, I wish you the best as you learn more about what really happens to gifted children in ordinary classrooms. Please be sure to learn more about twice exceptionalities, too, and the bullying that happens to many children who are different from the norm. Your teaching will certainly be enriched if you open your mind further to the experiences of others.

      Sincerely,
      Wenda

    • Elizabeth, I think you are confusing gifted with high achieving. High achieving includes those kids who – gifted or not – do well in the particular educational setting in which they find themselves. Gifted kids are those whose brain is wired differently, and has only some overlap with the high achievers.

      I’d like to refer you to this: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/resources/parent-and-professional-resources/articles/are-all-children-gifted/ I think you’ll find a variety of different perspectives on this subject. Many are quite informative.

  28. This letter did speak to me as the grandparent/guardian of a newly identified “gifted child.” I would recommend anyone with a gifted elementary-age child request testing from their school so he or she can be appropriately placed, and have these types of unique challenges competently addressed. I’ve felt blessed by the teachers my grandson has had, and I’m sure many feel the same about thieir schools as well. What follows is the type of letter I would hope to receive back, if I had been the one who wrote the original “Dear Teacher” missive cited in this post. (It’s not meant as a put-down or dismissal of anyone’s concerns of perspectives. Just a slightly different take on the meaning of a well-rounded education with a strong component of student citizenship added to the mix):

    Dear Parent With a Gifted Child in My Class,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. Every student in my class has unique strengths and challenges when it comes to their school experience, but sadly, not every child has parents or guardians concerned enough to reach out the way you did in your letter. Let’s take a step back for a moment, though, and realize that from my perspective, while your child is special, he or she is, by necessity, no more or less special than any other child in my class. Does he struggle with certain subjects, and did he have difficulty meeting the expectations of his teachers in previous years? So do many of the kids in my class — teachers are human, and can make faulty assumptions about their students, whether it’s expecting too much from a “gifted” child, or too little from a child labeled as slow or below average, or encountering a child who is merely unique in some way that triggers a teacher’s unconscious bias.

    And yes, children can be cruel. Just as he’s fearful of teasing due to the excitement and intensity he feels for certain subjects, other children fear it for a variety of reasons. They might fear it because they struggle for the answers that seem to come so easily to their peers. They may be overweight, not dressed as well as their classmates, growing up in single-parent or non-traditional families, have poor social skills, or have a different ethnic/cultural/religious identity compared to the majority of students. I’m vigilant about protecting all the children under my care from this behavior, and sensitizing children who engage in it to realize there are real human consequences for their actions. If your child diminishes one of his peers with a deliberate put-down or a merely thoughtless act, I promise to give him the gift of accountability, and gently use that as an opportunity to teach the value of empathy, humility and kindness. I know I can count on your support in this should the need arise.

    Lastly, I will definitely keep you apprised of any significant changes in both his academic and social achievements. I am available to have as many parent-teacher conferences as you would like. Please understand though, that if he goes from a straight A student to an A- or even a B student, this may not represent any type of failure or setback in his development. In fact, it might mean he is finding greater social acceptance among his peers, which is clearly an area of concern you’ve expressed. Please don’t assume this means he is “dumbing down” to gain popularity. Rather, he may have new interests and priorities including athletics, the arts, peer relationships, or just a more relaxed and secure approach to his academics. Should they occur, I hope we can examine these types of changes together in a calm and rational assessment of his growth. After all, the ability to work well with others is crucial to life success, as is the realization that the world doesn’t change to accommodate us — it’s really up to us to change and grow to succeed in the world.

    Our shared goal is help your child become a more confident and capable person, one who is able to express himself freely without unnecessarily alienating others. I know your child can accomplish this, and we can help him do so.

    • You are right, early identification of giftedness is essential. I wish all schools would follow suit and test children who may be gifted earlier because many gifted children enter kindergarten already reading and have mastered most kindergarten skills and concepts. Most schools wait until around 3rd grade which is, in many cases, too late for a child who has been sitting in the classroom being taught what she already knows. By that time, way too many gifted children learn to hate school because they rarely are given the opportunity to learn something new.

      As far as the letter one would receive from the teacher, I’m sure most every parent of a gifted child who has struggles and issues at school would be thrilled to receive such a letter, Peter. But, that is rarely the case. And it is also rare that schools or school systems have comprehensive gifted education programs which allow gifted children to work at their grade level and not their age-level.

      Studies, test scores and educational data have consistently shown that our gifted children are being left behind and the consequences are dire. Standardized test scores have been shown that gifted children are making the least year to year progress academically. Other statistics also show that gifted children who have to sit in the regular classroom, being held back from progressing at a rate that is normal for them become bored, frustrated and angry. These statistics and the consequences for not educating our gifted children appropriately have been the topic of many, many recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Gifted children have an higher than average drop out rate, many fail in school, they have more instances of depression, and many end up in jail. (There is a higher than normal instance of giftedness among prisoners) But that is just the academic side of giftedness in children and their miseducation.

      Children are born gifted–it’s inherited. Chances are a gifted child also has one or both parents who are gifted. And parents are often the first to notice the traits and quirks of giftedness in their child–traits and quirks that have nothing to do with school or academics.

      Most describe giftedness as brain-wiring and along with above-average intelligence, gifted children most often have overexcitabilities (see Dabrowski), emotional intensity, extreme sensitivities and social issues. THESE traits are rarely understood by teachers who only believe that giftedness is a propensity by a child to do well in school. Hundreds of books, articles and even national organizations (see SENG) focus on and advocate for an understanding of the social and emotional needs of gifted children. Giftedness in children IS a special need. It is not about trying to be more special than typical kids, but psychologically, giftedness has needs that must be understood and met in school. The further away from the norm, the more likely there will be emotional and social needs that need to be understood and addressed. Sadly, these are not academic needs, so are too often ignored or pathologized in school.

      Yes, there are many children who are accepted into gifted programs who have no special emotional and social needs–maybe they are not so far from the norm, so giftedness manifests no struggles. But for children who are highly, exceptionally or profoundly gifted, they will likely have some emotional or social struggles. Too many teachers don’t often understand this. All gifted children and high-achievers are lumped into one student population which is as effective as lumping all students with an IEP into one student population.

      Giftedness is a significant cognitive difference–brain wiring–that transcends education. A child is gifted in school and out of school. Giftedness is so much more than a function of education.

      But in way too many schools across the U. S., when a parent of a gifted child steps out on a limb to ask for help for her gifted child, she is so often rebuffed for believing her child deserves more than any other child when in fact, her child has consistently gotten the least. All any parent of a gifted child is asking for is equity–that her child get an appropriate education like every other child. Parents of gifted children don’t believe their child is more special or more needy than any other child; they just want teachers to understand that giftedness is not an advantage but a cognitive difference, and they want their children’s education to stop being neglected. All the studies and data prove gifted children have been underserved and miseducated for decades.

      As a former public school teacher and the parent of three gifted sons, I’ve seen, read and experienced giftedness in the classroom and at home. I wish your letter from a teacher were the norm, but the facts show, over and over, that it would be the exception.

      Thanks, Peter, for leaving such a thoughtful comment and taking the time to write. I sincerely wish your grandchild a happy and prosperous school year!

  29. As a first grade teacher, I can appreciate your letter. It speaks to my heart and leaves me asking myself what I can do for high achievers and gifted students that may come to me. Meeting individual needs is, hands down, the most difficult and stressful aspect of my job. The one I lose the most sleep over. I could seriously have 25 IEPs in my classroom every year. I think about it almost constantly and yet I don’t know how to do this well. Given sufficient time to plan and prepare, I could excel with one on one time, but it truly is next to impossible. For the time being, I’m stuck with (large) small groups and learning stations. Perhaps I need some new teaching techniques or other ideas that may allow me to do a better job of this. Please parents, give me some specific suggestions. Give some specific examples of how public school teachers can better meet the needs of your gifted children. What would your ideal classroom experience be like?

    Thank you and blessings to all!

    • Thank you so much for graciously and sincerely asking for suggestions!

      As a parent, all I ever wanted was for my gifted child’s teacher to understand that there was more to my gifted child than his performance at school. We know from years of studies and anecdotal evidence that the higher the IQ of an individual, the more likely his emotional and social skills will be out of step with his age-mates. So, when my child exhibited atypical emotional and social behaviors, I hoped it was understood that it was not because he was arrogant, had ADHD, a show-off or coddled at home. Also, I hoped my child’s teacher understood that he would not always excel in school so expecting him to consistently make good grades is unreasonable. Giftedness is inborn and is not just about education.

      As a former public school teacher, I definitely understand the extreme time constraints teachers are under, and I see why those children who are struggling or failing are attended to first before those children who are mastering content and making good grades. But, the reality is, most gifted children are in a lock-step age-based classroom and are most always capable of learning more and moving ahead faster than what can be accomplished in the regular classroom, so essentially, they are being held back.

      The problem is not with teachers other than with those who don’t understand the critical emotional and social needs of gifted students. The problem stems from state and federal legislators and school board members and superintendents who don’t understand that gifted children NEED a different education than what can be accomplished in the regular classroom by a teacher who already has too much on her plate. Most who make the laws and hold the purse strings in education believe gifted education is optional–it is a expendable luxury. But, it is not!

      Teachers and parents need to work together to advocate for changes in our educational system for our gifted children because research is showing over and over that the neglect of our gifted children is having dire consequences for the child and our nation.

      I could just hug you for asking what you can do to help our gifted children in your class! Too many teachers are not willing to consider the real needs of gifted children–those needs that transcend beyond instruction and grades. Sadly, I just read one teacher’s response to this post/letter and he said this letter made him cringe because gifted children do not need anything special because they are not special–it is just their parents pushing to get more for their smart kids who are already privileged.

      One suggestion I have as a parent and former public school teacher: maybe the parents of gifted children would be willing to help more in the classroom, doing things that could free up some of your time. I know if I had been given the option of helping in the classroom, taking a teacher’s recess or lunchroom duty, or even doing things at home in order to help my child’s teacher to have more time for my gifted child’s needs, I would have in a heartbeat!

      I can’t thank you enough for your comment and your questions! <3

    • I’m so happy to see this comment. And I feel so much for teachers. Truly, you have the most important jobs, and it’s not hard to see that each year you are given a more impossible row to hoe.
      But to the question about what we parents would like to see….? Two things that stick out in my mind as “things the teacher really got right” for my 2E son:
      1) Project-based learning. Example: When the 2nd graders needed to learn about timelines, she integrated it with a biography project and an art project. The kids chose their own subjects, they worked with the school librarian to find books and resources appropriate to their own levels to help with research, they chose facts to represent on their timelines, and they chose how to best create a visual project to display their timelines. Then they had to present their work in written and oral form, however they wanted. So my music-obsessed kid did John Lennon, brought in his keyboard, dressed as John, and delivered a performance to the class complete with playing “Imagine.”
      These types of assignments ALWAYS work for my gifted kids, because they can work at their own level and show what they can do, and the other kids can do the same. Worksheets and fact drilling make them suffer…redundant homework stifles them…but give them an open-ended assignment with some parameters to follow, and they are engaged and happy beyond measure.
      2) Be a soft place for them, and let them know that. I asked my rising 3rd grader recently what he wanted to be sure to pass on to the 3rd grade teacher — what had he worked out with 2nd grade teacher that he thought really helped him at school? The number one thing that came to mind for him was “If I feel lonely or stressed out at recess, I could always come hang out with her and she would be my friend.” It turns out she made that explicit deal with him and while he rarely had to use it, just knowing that she understood what he was going through on some days made a big impression.
      3) Give them a default way to go deeper or broader, not just do more. When they’re bored or disengaged in the classroom and you’ve got to keep working the concepts because some of your other learners aren’t there yet, can they have a little box or folder or a corner to go to where there are materials for them to work on? Most, if not all, parents of gifted kids would happily work with you to provide things so you don’t have to do it all. But a box of books that are on topic, some higher-order assignment sheets, or some free form materials to create on-topic artwork/output of another nature could be really valuable for the gifted kids — they want to learn MORE about what you’re doing, usually, and explore the concept in their own ways. Even if there’s a corner of the classroom that’s the “research and exploration nook” that you keep stocked for all kids with tools, supplies and books at various levels, and kids can be empowered to go there and work on something of their own choosing when they’ve shown you mastery of a concept, that’s a powerful thing.

    • I wish you were the teacher my child had last year 🙂 I think the biggest things would be, believe him when he says he’s bored, and understand how painful that really is. He lives for knowledge and when he has to slog through material he mastered long ago, it really is difficult for him.

      Also, badger your district to get you a Reading A-Z license. There are lots of leveled readers and it makes it so easy to find more challenging material on a variety of topics. I have it at my job and I LOVE IT.

    • 1st Grade Teacher: Thank you for taking the time to read this post and learning all that you can in this area. You will some day make a big difference in the life of a child. From my perspective, the biggest things that I saw at this age were the following:
      1. She exceeded the reading level for the elementary school quickly (K-2) and they would not pull book beyond that level. Please ask for more resources, borrow from other grades / teachers / library or wherever.
      2. Know that the child usually only needs the lesson repeated 1-2 times and then get have it and are ready to move on whereas the rest of the class needs it repeated up to 8 times (this would be me). Make a deal with the student (or all students) that they can move ahead after showing mastery (Teaching the Gifted Child in the Regular Classroom covers how to do this well). Please allow the gifted child to perform an enrichment activity on the assignment, read quietly, draw, write or do something that is not distributive. This will keep the bad behavior at a minimum and keep the student balanced.

      My child saved her meltdowns for home. If the school would have allowed her to do these 2 things she would not have been so miserable at school and would not have had anger issues.

      Thank you again for taking the time to care. Most of all, please share your passion with your co-workers.

  30. I feel like you’ve met my little dude, Celi!
    I actually was thinking of approaching his new teacher in advance (we start next week) as his experience of mainstream education hasn’t been enjoyable for him and he wants to be home-schooled. Thank you for this resource!

    • Hi Dee,

      Oftentimes, I feel like I have met your little dude and all the other precious little gifted children who I try so hard to advocate for. We all have so much in common–our children and us as parents.

      I hope this letter can help pave the way for your little dude to have a great school year!

      Thank you, Dee! <3

  31. I love this letter. My son was one of the more challenging kids in his gifted class – many of the other kids had tutors and very overactive parents – the kids were provided with so many supported learning opportunities sometimes its hard to tell who is gifted and who is coached! We don’t believe in that – so our gifted son is not a model student but if you get to know him – you will love him!! He is highly sensitive and quick to anger when things are unfair – which in Junior High is practically always. I am thinking of sending this letter on to some of his former JHS teachers hoping it will help future students!

    • Hi Linda,

      It seems so difficult for many to understand that, yes, there are gifted students who struggle–emotionally, academically or socially. When giftedness is only viewed in the context of academics and future success, then giftedness is only seen as a prize and gifted programs at school are a reward for those who are smart enough to earn it–thus the overactive parents. This is what makes advocacy and true understanding so hard.

      Oh please, send the letter! The more educators we have who can understand that there are social and emotional facets to true giftedness, the better it will be for gifted children in school!

      Thank you, Linda!

  32. The fact that you have to explain to a teacher is so exhausting. We are starting back soon and i know there’s no point writing this letter. The best thing is to take them out. By the time we can do that hopefully not too much damage will have been done. To hear a teacher say I’m doing my best but i do have 23 others and budget cuts, doesn’t mean it’s Ok to not teach my children to the best of their abilities. I think what ever country or state you live in if you can afford it pull them out and put them in a special school. If you can’t afford it homeschool them if you can.

    • Midi,

      It is exhausting, and even more so when you know you need to be diplomatic when educating the educators who don’t really understand giftedness.

      I’ve heard many times that teachers have many students and many demands on their time so they don’t have time to attend to all the needs of the gifted, and parents DO understand this, but our gifted children can’t because they are children. How can I tell my gifted 8 year old to wait and try to keep paying attention when the class is being taught stuff he already knows? And this happens nearly everyday?

      Then again, it is not solely the teachers’ faults, it is our educational system which puts too many unreasonable expectations on teachers and then expect them to work miracles. But, all of this still does not help the gifted child who is losing his love of learning and showing signs of hating school, underachievement and more serious emotional/psychological effects from being miseducated.

      Homeschooling. There is a reason why it is said that gifted children are the single, largest student population fueling the explosion in homeschooling today.

      And yes, when deciding on taking your child out of school, sooner is better than later if you see that your child is unhappy and hates to go to school.

      Good luck with the new school year, Midi!

  33. This simultaneously broke my heart and made it soar. This is the letter I wish my parents had sent to my own teachers, and I may very well change the “he” for “she” and send it to my daughter’s teacher 😉

    Thanks

    • Andrée-Anne,

      I am happy to know this resonated with you and that maybe it can help your daughter’s teacher understand her better! That is the intent of the letter/post–to help teachers understand gifted students better!

      Good luck, Andrée-Anne!

  34. This is indeed a spot on letter. As an educator I have had the privilege of working with students on all levels sometimes within the same class. Gifted children are unfortunately left behind sometimes. I would like to say, however, no matter how gifted a child is, they do not have the mind of an adult. Often people treat gifted children like little adults and this is in itself harmful, so watch for that. I would also like to comment on another posted comment…there is a very important place for pairing gifted kids or kids that have a strong grasp on something with a student who may be struggling. It not only teaches empathy, it teaches patience, as well as social and interpersonal lessons…some of which are difficult for gifted kids. As an educator I can tell if a student really understands something if they can teach someone else and can communicate. Deeper understanding is not always shown on a paper pencil assessment. Please don’t forget this as well. Our job as educators is not only to ensure all of our students prosper in academics but in life as people… Please don’t forget that as well. Please understand that while we recognize gifted children do have behavior “stuff” remember that there are 20+ other students in the room who’s needs must be addressed as well and all behavior challenges will be worked on. How will they know better unless shown. Please continue to advocate for your gifted children and work with the classroom teacher. Like I said they are often forgotten but also remember that there are things that a teacher might be doing that seems strange but have a bigger purpose.

    • Elizabeth, you make so many excellent, compelling points, and I want to address them all.

      First, which is way off topic: “Deeper understanding is not always shown on a paper pencil assessment” I so wish that legislators and school boards and any other entity making decisions from afar about what will happen in the classroom could understand this! ANY paper and pencil assessment can be flawed and often times very flawed, from many different factors. A teacher who spends so much time with the students in her class is much more apt to know if a child is grasping or has mastered a concept or topic just through observation and her interaction with a student. My opinion is that a teacher’s observation is a better indicator of mastery than most any standardized test. I really believe that if we gave teachers more freedom in the classroom, more trust & respect and more autonomy (and better salaries), we would see a drastic improvement in our educational system. Okay, I’ll get off that soapbox 🙂

      “no matter how gifted a child is, they do not have the mind of an adult” This is so true. They can have the knowledge base in a particular topic/subject area equal to many adults, but at the same time will have the emotional maturity of their chronological age, and maybe younger. Gifted children are children first, and they rarely have the wisdom or emotional maturity to handle some of the knowledge and understanding of the world that they have. This is such a difficult paradox which adds to the struggles gifted children can have.

      “Please understand that while we recognize gifted children do have behavior “stuff” remember that there are 20+ other students in the room who’s needs must be addressed as well and all behavior challenges will be worked on” This one is tough because there are so many factors affecting this situation and can change it for good or for bad. We all know, or I hope all should know, that teachers, now, more than ever, have more stress and expectations put on them which leaves little room for anything else like differentiation or being able to adequately attend to a gifted child who is struggling. On the other hand, the parent of that gifted child, gets their child home from school and the child releases all their pent-up anxiety and emotions from school, and the parent sees there is a huge problem. My own youngest son did this, but his teachers did not see the problem at school because he hid his feelings so well until he got home. But the problem is not with the parent, not with the child, nor with the teacher. The problem is higher up with those who determine what is to be taught, what is to be tested, how much will be taught and when it all needs to happen, and then underfund the whole process. Parents, children and teachers are caught in the middle. Parents and teachers should always try to work together–not all parents are “that” parent and not all teachers are uncaring and misinformed. Off the soapbox again 🙂

      Elizabeth, thank you for sharing the perspective of a teacher! And thank you for bringing up some important points we all need to understand and remember!

      • Thank you very much Celi, as always you are a great resource of knowledge, and I appreciate your kindness on bringing awareness on this subject. I did write a letter No. 1 to the principal at my son school, way before the year started. I did not know until months later when son was tested that he was profoundly gifted, but I was already concerned about it, because it is common knowledge that schools are not receptive to these children, and it was a matter of luck to “get the good teacher, or the bad teacher”. I also attached the 3 years of reports at his Montessori school. I poured my heart into this letter and hoping she would share it with the assigned teacher. The principal never acknowledged my letter with a response, she assigned him with a very rigid, strict teacher -and why would they have that for 1st graders, please?- and the teacher never got my letter or reports. I did try to “work with the teachers”, as I annoyingly hear it very often, for the first quarter of school year. My son was constantly teased, teacher complained about him “not following directions”, writing letters and numbers backwards, he cried and begged me no to send him to school. All out of character; never seen him this way. I knew damage was being done to a very social, articulate kid that until that point has been a joy, loved and praised by teachers and people who knew him. I tried with all “my mighty” to work with everyone, until first report, when teacher said he was at “grade level” on reading, and his “goal” for the end of the year was to advance 2 points up the DRA…2 points! A kid that was already reading and comprehending middle school books!. Even the 6th graders that work in reading with first graders were already making comments about that fact. At that point son hasn’t been tested but I realized this teacher didn’t know my son, and had no interest of knowing him better or advancing him in any way. Found PG, showing signs of anxiety by psychologist evaluation, and low self-esteem. We knew we had to pull him out from that place…moved to School for gifted with acceleration to 3rd -4th grade….weeks later, no more backward writing, soaring in every subject. Teachers telling me -he has 5- never met a such a well rounded kid….you have to believe me I’m not bragging. He is now in a very expensive school that we can barely afford with financial aid. But we make the sacrifice happily because it’s just not right to subject a kid to this painful situation. This is so unfortunate situation for our gifted children and way more needs to be done. And it is not true that gifted children get “some times” overlooked at schools, it is indeed VERY OFTEN.Teachers need to be educated on this subject. Enough with excuses. It can be done. I know very good teachers that have done it; of course when they have the commitment to study their population and are willing to leave their comfort zone.

        • Mamalan,

          My own personal experience with one of my gifted sons–long emails, conferences, evaluations, hired advocate–was the same as yours with the exception, we did not have a gifted school available, so we homeschooled. I know your frustration all too well–when PREVENTABLE psychological damage is being caused to a young child because the teacher and the school, for whatever reason, are not meeting his needs, it is always totally unacceptable. It is frustrating, heart-breaking and maddening. I get that and that is why I advocate so desperately for gifted children.

          Whether this miseducation and neglect of gifted students happens sometimes or often, it SHOULD NOT happen at all. The problem is that gifted education varies wildly across the U.S. and the world–the difference between a gifted child getting an appropriate education or being totally misunderstood and miseducated can vary state to state, school district to school district and even teacher to teacher in the same school. Some educational professionals (teachers, administrators, counselors, school board members and superintendents) truly understand gifted children and their unique needs, some teachers believe they understand gifted children but it is only the stereotype they know, and some teachers don’t get it at all. No one blanket judgement can easily be leveled–it is just that varied and complicated, sadly.

          What we need is for more parents and teachers who truly understand our gifted children to advocate for a better understanding and education for our gifted children. It needs to be a HUGE concerted effort from all involved. We need to maximize the use of the reach social media can give us for advocating. Twitter is an excellent platform, as is all the others. We need to email and tweet to legislators who are really the ones who control the purse strings and make the laws which schools need to operate within. We need to make sure teachers are trained to truly understand our gifted children, not just the stereotypes. It is a huge mountain to move, but we all need to be on board to make it move.

          Mamalan, I am truly so happy that your family has found a better education for your son! I can only imagine what a joy and relief it is to see him love learning again! Just as the miseducation of our gifted children happens often, finding an educational environment where your child can flourish is all too rare. We need to all join forces to advocate so that all gifted children have access to an appropriate education and no longer are left in classrooms where their love of learning and self-esteem is constantly chiseled away.

          Thank you for sharing your personal experience, Mamalan! It helps all of us to see what the reality is for gifted children!

        • What a relief that you were able to move your son to a much better environment with people who were capable of understanding him and educating him. Our solution has been to simply not send our 5 children to school to begin with. We cannot afford private school for 5 children, but both my husband and I are professional educators and I’m able to stay with them during the day. You’re right, this mis-education and damage of gifted children occurs QUITE OFTEN.

  35. Thank you for the letter. I wish I had done the same when my gifted sons were in school. Their teachers didn’t usually understand the special needs of gifted children.
    I teach in a College of Education at a local university. I’m going to use this letter when I talk to my students about their gifted students.
    Yes, please continue to write letters #2, #3 and on.

    • Carol,

      I guess I may have to write Letters #2, #3 and so on. But advocating for one’s gifted child at school unfortunately takes so much tact, delicacy and diplomacy–it is never easy.

      I used to jokingly say I needed an owner’s manual for my gifted kids until it was no longer a joke–every time we had conferences at school or doctor’s appointments, I took this huge accordion file binder full of testing results, professional recommendations, proof of accomplishments, standardized test scores and preprinted copies of all the documents to hand out if needed, when I went. It weighed like 5 pounds and that became the owner’s manual.

      This letter #1 is like allowing only a drop of information to escape from a dam trying to hold back a river-full of critical information about my gifted child. Letters #2 and #3, would be more like a steady stream. It’s so difficult to avoid just going into a school conference and laying everything out on the table–let the dam break!

      I am thrilled that you will be sharing this letter with your students training to be teachers–that is exactly where we need to start dispelling the myths and correcting the misunderstandings about gifted children! Thank you!

      And thank you for your comment, Carol!

  36. I will add the positive. The BEST teacher was near retirement. My eldest also had a writing disability [motor speed] so to him writing was like asking him to run a two minute mile. That cartoon effect when the road stretches forever…that is what writing was for him. Anyway, this brilliant teacher, after I said, “you can expect no mistakes in 5th grade he may just not be able to do the quantity.” She made a deal with him. When he felt like he could not write one more thing, he was to just tell her. Sometimes, she might say, “Oh, could you just do #22, I really wanted to see your answer on that.” Sometimes, she had him do every other one. Sometimes she had him start from the bottom and go up. And, on leaving that school system, [job move] she put on his report card that he was working ABOVE GRADE LEVEL. I was concerned because in the early nineties, it was policy to say ALL kids were working AT GRADE LEVEL. She smiled, and told me she had been teaching for 27 years; let them try to fire me! She also said, it was not fair to an incoming school/teachers to say he was working AT grade level when he is clearly not!

    One pairing the 3rd grade teacher did, well for all, was did random groupings and then when they came back together asked how they chose who would do what. [teaching cooperative learning.] Well Susie did the writing because SHE has the best penmanship. Mine gave the info because he had the facts. AND Johnny made the picture because he was the best artist. [I am sure you all realize, Susie was probably the least bright kid in the class, but they all had strengths.]

    And sometimes, the right thing to do is to just leave the class. My eldest had an ADVANCED PLACEMENT math teacher on day one, in high school, say in front of the entire class, “how dare you be in an AP math class with an IEP?” He got up, walked out, saw his favorite math teacher doing honors next door, walked in and sat down. [YES, he still passed the AP exam] It is important to note why this teacher was my boys favorite honors math teacher. While she assigned math homework, she NEVER looked at it, graded it, or collected it. She said, “as long as you are getting A’s an B’s I don’t care how much of the HW you do. You are in Honors Math, and you will do as many problems as you need to, to understand what we are doing.” Don’t tell anyone, but with this attitude, I think my boys actually did more, not less HW.

    Now, my concern goes for the next generation…I can see it already at 4! 🙂

    • Abby, THANK YOU for sharing the positives! There are many excellent teachers who absolutely get our gifted kids and give them what they need. I loved hearing about the first two teachers, but I really appreciate the approach the Honors Math teacher took! I always say if you treat kids with respect, trust and freedom, they will behave accordingly and exceed your expectations–the Honors Math teacher understood that and that is why her students were so successful!

      I really can’t thank you enough for sharing your experiences with these three exceptional teachers! I wish all children could always have teachers like these–imagine how high they could all soar! Thank you, Abby!

  37. My heart just broke this morning ( we are living in Seitzerland). My daughter ( a highly gifted 5 year old) and I were playing school and in our play she said ( as role of teacher of course) ” mommy, I mean student, the key to being a good student is listening to the teacher.” After one week of school, I think we are making the extremely difficult decision to pull her. We have already had a conversation with the principal and I have discussed my daughter with the teacher at length. I can not allow her ( an amazing circle) to be forced into a square box.

    • Susan,

      Your daughter is so lucky to have parents who understand giftedness and who know when school becomes a box you do not want her in! So happy to hear you are making a decision sooner rather than later!

      Good luck, Susan! And thank you for sharing your experience with your daughter and school.

  38. This is my 5 year old little girl. Thank goodness she has not experienced bullying yet,however, I greatly appreciate you summing it up for me. After week one, we are struggling. We were told there is differentiated and individual learning and all we have seen is group work and dittos. My 5 year old has to “prove” her aptitude by completing particular workbook pages before they advance her. On top of it, she gets to sit with principal on Friday afternoon so she could more deeply invistigate and expand on what is being taught in the classroom. My husband ( highly gifted) and myself (gifted) have lost several nights of sleep. She is 5 on so many levels but can explain glycolysis perfectly yet she still writes her 4s backwards and is sounding out words but has the reading comprehension skills of a 4th grader ( at least).

    • The asynchronous development of our gifted children often flies in the face of the one-size-fits-all approach traditional schools take. Even if they do try to differentiate in the regular classroom, it is hardly ever enough to challenge and properly educate our gifted children.

      Susan, I think in your heart you know what your little girl needs!<3 Good luck!

  39. Celi, Fabulously crafted letter. So tactful, clear and concise. I hope that teachers can read it in the spirit for which it is intended. I know that you have not always encountered some who have listened in the past. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with other parents on this difficult journey.

    • Thanks, Gail!

      I wrote and rewrote this letter many times trying to put myself back into the life of a teacher. But, I’m still also a parent of gifted children who were misunderstood and miseducated in school because of a lack of understanding of gifted children. It is a difficult balancing act.

  40. I love this! Puts everything abut my son into words as well. Thank you for helping those if us who are not as gifted in our communication to others.

  41. I wish it also said please don’t punish him for his challenging behavior, but let us work together to find opportunities to engage him. Please don’t pair him with slower students to mentor, because this will increase the chances he will be hazed. Please help us find programs within your school and the community to help satisfy his learning needs, because this will take some the pressure off your class.

    And please, tell us, if you think this is not going to work in time to protect him from harm and move into a different situation.

    • Lissa,

      Yes, you are so right! I know exactly what you mean. Your suggestions come from your own experiences, right? I had the same experiences in school with my gifted sons especially being punished for challenging the teacher.

      I can especially relate to the “please, tell us, if you think this is not going to work in time to protect him from harm and move into a different situation.” Yes, I’ve seen the harm from not being moved out of a harmful educational environment and it is devastating.

      But, all of that will have to go into Letter #2. And many times, far too many times, there is a Letter #2 and #3 and #4 and …

      Thanks for your suggestions, Lissa. I know many of us can relate to those, sadly enough.

  42. Thanks so much for the letter, you described it so well and accurate – almost 100% fits to my son’s situation. How many teachers can really understand giftedness? We as parents are not trying to brag, but trying our best to explain and we actually need help!

    • So true, Jan! We are all just trying our best to ask for help while also trying not to look like we are bragging. It is a slippery slope for sure.

  43. That is an an outstanding letter. I wish I read it a few years ago. Thank you for the great example of how to approach a teacher.

    • Thank you and you are welcome! I’m sure it isn’t the best way to approach every teacher, but as parents, we have to advocate for our gifted children–they need us to.

      • As a special needs teacher, and mother of gifted children, I have always said, “Gifted kids have special needs too and they also need accommodations as well.”

        • Yes, gifted children do have special needs, but meeting those needs is too often seen as an option which is devastating for these children. As one reader said, “giftedness is like special needs but without the sympathy.” Thanks, Abby!

      • I have 3 wonderful, gifted children. They have all graduated from college and have wonderful, varied jobs. I worked very hard to help them to become well rounded, to fit in. Lots of sports helped them burn up some of that extra energy,which in turn helped with their behavior. It also filled their day because homework and reading isn’t everything. They all loved to be busy all the time because their minds were constantly going so fast. My son HAD to burn up lots of energy everyday. He ended up playing football at an Ivy League school and earned all Ivy (an academic and sport achievement). You can do this : ) It’s a lot of rewarding work for parents.

        • Yes, Stacey, it is a lot of work sometimes, but it is always so wonderful to hear the success stories like yours!

          Some parents of gifted children have more struggle more getting their gifted children what they need which depends on the school district they are in and if their child has a teacher who understands giftedness.

          Success stories are motivating and encouraging, and we all need that, but we also need to keep advocating for all gifted children because not all gifted children have parents who can devote the time it takes to get their children what they need to succeed!

          Thank you, Stacey, for sharing your success story and leaving us your encouraging words!

      • I have just found your letter and it feels as though you are speaking of my child. My concern is however; that the school does not treat my child as a gifted student. My child has been placed in the classroom setting with children who are not gifted (the school refers to it as a mixed class). The problem with this is that my child has begun to show signs of underachievement due to the erroneous belief of not being smart enough to fit into the advanced group. This is a child that excels in basketball, baseball, football, golf, drawing, and swimming. This is also a child who spent the summer making scientific experiments, building and programming robots with shipping boxes, Coke cartons, and discarded motors from old toys, and researching sports history. Additionally, this is a child who was born with exceptional critical thinking skills, has the ability to create elaborate fictional stories, and is a born defense attorney with a 100 percent success rate!
        What prevents my child from becoming a part of the “advanced group,” is comedic talent, being 5ft 7in at twelve years old, and a strong-willed personality.
        I had a similar experience years ago as a student when I was placed within a lower tracked group. After working hard to demonstrate my intelligence, students who were less interested in education were pushed ahead, while I remained in the lower track. Subsequently, I began to do what was required of me, and no more. The turn around did not occur until college when I met a professor who “understood me.”
        I fought against my child not having been placed in the advanced group last school year to the extent that it caused a tremendous amount of stress for my family. I wish the school could see my child as I do, and I wish my child felt the freedom to show them.

        • “I wish the school could see my child as I do, and I wish my child felt the freedom to show them.” Your last sentence, Yvonne, is so heartbreaking. No parent or child should ever be in a position to have to force a school or a teacher to see a child for who he really is. The way you, as his mom, sees him is who he really is. Your son’s school, seems to be like many schools, they are still sticking to the old gifted stereotype of the well-behaved, excel across the board smart kid.

          Advocating for your gifted child is difficult–I’ve been through it, too. And even having been a public school teacher myself, I’d come away from those conferences feeling as though we were discussing two completely different children. And I usually caved to the school and one of sons did start underachieving.

          No one knows your child better than you do, so keep fighting for him. He deserves to have an appropriate education which meets his needs!

          Take care, Yvonne. All the best!

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