Challenges of Educating a Gifted Child

Educating a Gifted Child, Boy or Girl, is Always a Challenge

My 10 year old daughter is gifted. There, I said it, and not without much trepidation.

You see, its o.k. for a parent to rave about little Billy hitting a home run in little league, or little Sally scoring the winning soccer goal, but when a parent says their child is gifted, they are generally looked at as either (A) boasting or (B) saying you child isn’t smart or (C) both.

We didn’t know she was gifted, but when her teacher told me she was reading at age 4 I didn’t believe her – I said that it had to be that she’d memorized the books her dad read to her every night. But her teacher was firm and it turns out she was right.

Since then, I’ve had to have the conversation every September with her new teacher that she is extremely bright and needs to be constantly challenged or she will become bored and not try. Usually the teacher doesn’t believe me – I come across as ‘one of those parents’ who believes their child is just so amazing. However once they’ve taught her for a few weeks they come to the same realization and usually ask for a second meeting to adjust their methods and work with both her and us.

Educating a gifted child, boy or girl, is always a challenge. It falls into the realm of special education and usually special ed funds and resources are stretched to the limit already. Sometimes you hit on a great teacher who is willing to go the extra mile but sometimes not.

A gifted girl is even tougher. Once girls get to a certain age range, right around grade 7, they start losing interest in math and science, often due to peer influence, but even sometimes from attitudes of teachers and their own parents (oh, girls don’t do math or science). We have been lucky to have our daughter in a great supportive Montessori environment, however this year we need to make some decisions with regard of where to go from here.

A smaller girls’ only school is one option, especially to nurture the math and science areas, but a smaller school offers less in the way of socialization which becomes so important once in the pre-teen and teen years. A larger school that is geared towards gifted students is another option in which most of the students have the same learning goals but admittance is more competitive.

We didn’t start out with the plan to be in the private school system. We were only going to be at Montessori until grade 1. But it was so successful and exciting that we stayed and now we’re hooked. And with a younger brother and sister who seem to be similarly gifted, I guess we’re in it for the long haul. I have no easy answers; in fact, the research usually just leads to more questions and stress.

I do know that I want to continue to encourage her love of learning as opposed to having it ‘home-worked’ out of her as well as expose her to many different areas of education and life in general. I never want her to feel that math or science or any other subject ‘isn’t for girls’! I want to raise a strong and powerful girl who has the world at her fingertips and feels that she can try anything.

Education is the key to this, and hopefully she’ll continue on her course.

Jennifer Scott worked in the film and television industry on some of the country’s most well-known and critically lauded shows until the birth of her first child. Going from taking care of actors and directors to looking after her own kids became a full time job for her so she left the ‘glamourous’ television life to become a stay at home mom to eventually three children.

Her kids, Avalon, Ridley and Trinity are all in Montessori school and Jennifer has spent the past 5 years researching where to go after Montessori and becoming somewhat of an unofficial expert in the field of gifted programs, schools and education. Now that the youngest is in school full time, Jennifer is trying to figure out what to do for herself.