Families with gifted kids

I don’t know if there’s any family who can give us some advice here, but I’m kinda frustrated so I’ll try anyway.
Our oldest son, who’s 5, was tested and diagnosed as gifted (IQ over 130) a few weeks ago. We have been noticing things since he was really young and he had always learn differently and faster than the other kids.
At school they had been really helpful. Communication has been excellent and his teachers have been really understanding, but the solution that they offer is for him to skip a grade. He has just ended Pre K and they want him to start first grade next year. Also they consider that the plan to follow is skipping 3 grades, one now, another one in 4th/5th and the last one in 8th/9th.
I don’t want this for my kid. I feel like his social life and skills would be really damaged, as he won’t be with kids his age at any point of his student life. But I don’t want him bored at school, like he’s right now. Seeing him don’t wanting to go to school because “I already know the things that we are learning” is heartbreaking. I have read about how some alternative pedagogies can be really helpful for gifted kids. We have considered Waldorf-Steiner education. Is there any parent who has an experience with this type of education, specially with gifted kids?
Im also worried for my other kids. Our youngest, who’s 24 months, has showed some behaviors and signs similar to her brothers ones at her age, but our 3 yo hasn’t showed any signs of it. What if all of our kids but one are gifted?Will rivalry appear between them because of this?
Any opinions and tips are really, really appreciated. Thank you!

[name_f]My[/name_f] friend’s kids (my nieces) are advanced as well. Their mom didn’t want to loose the social aspect, so kept them in with kids their age.

Also, a solution that may work would be to have them take advanced classes, and then have them go up a grade or two for classes in specific subjects. For example, we had a kid who went to school with us who was advanced at all subjects, but math and science were his strong suits. For math, he joined a class in a higher grade level for that subject only. In a grades 5-8 school, he was in 6th or 7th grade math in 5th grade, and progressed along accordingly as we moved through each grade level. When in 7th &/or 8th grade, he moved to the local high school for math first thing in the morning before coming back to the middle school for all of his other classes.

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i don’t think it’s worth skipping a grade, but especially not 3. no matter how academically advanced he is, there’s no way a 13 year old can form proper friendships with 16 year olds (for example). i’d suggest you reinforce the idea that school is for socialisation if he dislikes going. i obviously don’t know how his school works, but maybe you could send in a reading book or two for him when he completes tasks early? i know some schools also give kids extra work if they’re bored, so that might be an option.

(fwiw, i don’t think labelling kids as gifted is very helpful in the long run either as it can make them feel pressured which in turn leads to burnout, but that’s just my two cents)

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From experience with friends who tested gifted growing up, it made the most sense to do advanced classes but not skip grades (like a previous poster said). One of the biggest markers of success in life is socialization, and skipping grades can really cause serious issues in that area.

For what it’s worth in terms of sibling comparison, my older sister tested gifted and I did not; I fall short in math and science. Looking back, she has described how for so long she never had to study or try and everything came easy. But once she hit university, it all came crashing down because she never really learned how to teach herself things and how to properly study. In contrast, I’ve always had to grind a bit and it’s served me well, I’ve never shied away from obstacles in learning. I also never felt bad about myself, since I found I had certain creative talents that made me feel special in my own way. I think that’s a good way to nurture a kid that does not get labelled as “gifted”. Which, by the way, that label should really be rebranded.

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I’m not a parent, so I can understand if you don’t want my advice. I’m an academically gifted student and my parents had a lot of concerns. What worked best for me was to have me in the same class as my peers but to be given advanced work. Maybe you could give that a try?

as for the being labelled thing, I don’t really mind but I can understand why people might not like it.

Really hope this helps!
:slight_smile:

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[name_f]My[/name_f] daughter hasn’t been tested, but she’s incredibly bright and I’ve suspected a photographic memory for some time. She is currently halfway through her first year of school (Australia, we start in January) and I’m very curious to meet with her teacher again.

First term was AWFUL. I didn’t bring up the fact that I considered her advanced as I didn’t want to be “that” parent. She was SO bored. Getting her to school every morning was awful, she didn’t want to go, said she already knew everything and she was bored and hated it. We had a meeting with the teacher toward the end. First term was used to get to know everyone and their abilities. They didn’t test for reading level until the end, and she was ahead of everyone else. I asked about more advanced work and the teacher said there would be more student-paced work in the following term.

Second term started and things have gone much more smoothly. She was moved to a new reading group in the other Prep class. Her home reader every week went from “I like the red car” to much more advanced 3-4 sentence pages. She gets sight words every week and they’re tested every week, if they get them all they move on to the next level type thing – she missed one week (due to us, really, it was a busy week at home) but has gotten there’s first try and she just reached a milestone with them and is the only one on that level and is super proud of her achievements.

So for us, more advanced work is working. The difference between last term and this term is astounding. It sounds like she’s also being given extra responsibilities in the classroom. I have also had lots of chats to her about trying to help her classmates with their learning, and about how her brain is wired to finding academics easy and that sometimes her peers might need a bit more help and they likely have strengths she doesn’t. (We had a few “So-and-so is only on level X for sight words, and I’m so much higher” and I am NOT raising a kid with an inflated head).

I agree with you about skipping grades. I think it’s a very personal decision, but I don’t think it’s the right one for my kid. Socially, I think she would really struggle. With the plan you’ve laid out, that puts him graduating at what, 15? That’s a massive difference. He’s going to go through puberty later than his peers, creating a potential social gap. When he goes to college he’s going to have to send permission slips home to you to sign (legit what some 17-year-olds had to do my first year of uni!). By the time he’s ready for a career, will employers hesitate to hire him if they realize he’s young?

If you decide on skipping a grade or two, I don’t criticise – this is just all stuff that has gone through my head if we are ever asked!

I hope you’re able to find a solution that’s right for you. Hopefully others with more experience can comment too. We’re really only just starting the school journey.

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[name_f]My[/name_f] brother and I were both ‘those kids’ and my parents refused to let us skip a grade, and I think they did the right thing. Instead, they let us take extra classes outside of school and just generally took us to educational places/events (zoos, aquariums, museums, public lectures etc). Also, if your child skipped 3 grades, surely they would be 15/16 when they graduated. I doubt many universities/colleges would be ok with someone that young starting further education straight away, at least in part due to the age gap between them and other students making them vulnerable.

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[name_f]My[/name_f] oldest son is a gifted child. He turned 6 last month. He’s starting elementary school in [name_u]September[/name_u], and his teachers had given us the option to let him skip first grade and go straight to second grade, because they were afraid he’d get bored otherwise.

We’re still figuring things out ourselves, so I’m not sure I can give you any useful advice. We have however decided to let our son start in first grade in [name_u]September[/name_u] and see how it goes. We made this decision because we had the same concerns as you do: we want him to have friends his own age. We’ve already noticed this can be difficult for him, because he sometimes gets annoyed with children who “can’t keep up” or don’t follow his logic. I don’t have any experience with Steiner-Waldorf. At his school he’ll be taking some extra classes for gifted children, we hope this well be challenging enough for him. [name_f]My[/name_f] twin brother (who lives with us) and I were probably gifted children, but we were never officially tested), and my SO had some characteristics of a gifted child as well but was also never tested. We’re hoping that among the three of us we’ll be able to give my son what he needs, and we’re planning to take him to museums, the library etc. He knows he can always come to us with any questions.

I have three younger sons, the youngest two (twins) are too young to say anything about it, but my second son is showing no signs of being a gifted child like my oldest (but he’s still very young as well).

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I completely agree with you in the social and inflated head thing. We haven’t told him that he’s “gifted” and we’re thinking about how or if we are going to tell him. We don’t want him to feel weird or superior to the others. He’s actually really extroverted and loves making friends, but I know that he would have a hard time making friends in 1st grade. Also, if we followed the schools plan (we have already decided that he’s not going to follow the plan), he would start 1st grade and be with his class for 4 years, and then switching again and then again. We are going to talk with the school, the advanced work thing might be perfect. There’s also a school close enough that has a “gifted” program that we have just discovered, but we would prefer to keep him at his school because of his friends. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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As a parent of a gifted child and someone who has worked in the public school system I agree with the not skipping grades plan, most gifted kids are still socially at their age level. And to me it seems 3 grade levels would be a huge age discrepancy, especially broken up like that, as he would make friends in whatever grade he’s in then when he jumped up a grade he would have a whole new peer group to get to know! (Not to mention an older & more mature peer group)

At our elementary we have a hybrid program where gifted kinder students can attend 1st grade 1/2 day for math and English/reading and then attend kinder for all of their specials (like PE, library, music etc) I would ask the school if maybe your son could attend a higher level class for the areas he needs enrichment in, but stay in his grade for more social parts of the day. [name_u]Or[/name_u] some school districts have ‘gifted’ programs where the student is pulled out of class to attend enrichment type classes with other gifted students. It might be worth it to look and see what some neighboring school districts (or near by private/charter schools) offer with regards to gifted children.

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I agree about not skipping. Is there any form of “correspondence school” where you are? [name_f]My[/name_f] country has correspondence school available for children whose distance from a school, or health needs etc mean that they can’t attend a physical school, but my understanding is that ‘gifted’ children (with some hoops to jump through to ‘prove’ it) might also be able to access some correspondence school courses. So if the teachers really can’t manage to differentiate the work - which is disappointing, I’d be expecting that they COULD provide something at his level - then he could do other work but in the same physical class as his peers maybe. I’m not really sure how your school systems work in terms of different teachers for different subjects or whether they have topic inquiries etc.

This is such an interesting thread to read btw.

Hello…

Want to chip in with observations around alternative education.

We send our 4 year old to a Montessori school which is fabulous for gifted children in my opinion, as the classes are mixed ages and the curriculum is really student driven. Our son is very advanced with languages, sciences etc, and he’s been able to do coursework that is more advanced without it being at all noticeable in the class because everyone is on their own trajectory. But he still socialises with children his own age (and older; cycle 1 is 3 to 6, for example). This avoids the skipping years issues of a traditional school but still lets every day at school be stimulating (rather than needing to rely on advanced classes which I think tends to also create a stigma around some kids that they don’t always cope well with socially).

It might be worth investigating to see if this would work for you and your family.

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That’s what I’ve heard. We’re actually going to visit some schools nearby in the next few days, all of them with strong and comprehensive programs for gifted children. Some of them are alternative and I’m starting to consider that option more seriously, as the emotional part also agrees with the ideas that we try to follow at home. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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I have not had an experience with this as a parent but I can tell you about my experience as an academically advanced student. I was never tested for a high IQ, but I learned how to read in pre-k, learned how to multiply on my own in kindergarten, was in honors classes from middle school on, and ended up graduating a year early from high school.

I HATED school with a passion. Like your son, I was bored a lot because I already knew what we were learning. [name_f]My[/name_f] favorite year was 1st grade, because I had a really fantastic teacher who would give me advanced work. For example, I had spelling words like “character” instead of “cat”, and got a separate spelling test from my peers. If every teacher would’ve been like this I would have loved school. After her though, I never really had a teacher push me to learn, which I understand is because it’s an extra time commitment that not every teacher has the ability to do. I really wanted to be homeschooled from about 2nd grade on, and while I get that’s not an option for everyone (including for my family) I definitely think that’s the way to go. I know I would’ve learned more at home than I did at school because I was constantly craving more and more information, whereas in public school after a few years I kind of shut down to learning because I didn’t have to try to get good grades. And while this wasn’t the case for me, it is possible your son may develop behavioral issues if he gets too bored at school.

If homeschool is not an option, I would recommend you either try to send your child to a school with a program specifically for gifted children or have your child skip one grade as soon as possible. One grade isn’t going to make too much of a developmental difference, in fact, if he’s like I was he’ll probably feel more at home with kids a little older and wiser than the kids his age. And that way he will be able to develop relationships with the new group of children at an earlier age when socialization is a little easier. Since I combined my junior and senior year, I felt like I lost out on the last year of school with my friends that I had grown up with and spent 11 years of my life with, whereas if I would’ve skipped a grade earlier on I could’ve had 9 or 10 years to build relationships with the people I actually graduated with.

If neither of those are options for you I would try to communicate with the teacher and see if they can provide your child with more challenging work or point you in the direction of some resources that you can use to provide that challenge at home.

As far as the social aspect of being gifted, that’s definitely something to watch. I feel like I’m pretty well adjusted and able to make friends but I definitely am lacking in some areas of socialization and I had to learn a lot of those skills when I went to college. I think part of the lack of social skills was because being advanced made me feel different from everyone else so I didn’t relate to the other kids as easily, but I think it was more that I spent most of my younger years worried about soaking up all knowledge I could instead of relaxing that part of my brain and just being able to play and talk with my friends. That was just how I was wired though, I don’t think that was forced on me at all. Maybe challenging your child at home with some higher-level worksheets or projects would allow him to have that chance to soak in the extra knowledge his brain craves. And once that need is met, maybe he would then be able to relax a bit at school and worry more about socialization with friends instead of constantly craving new knowledge that he isn’t getting.

I work with kids and there are some advanced children in my class who are so smart and switched on, I don’t know if they are gifted or not but they certainly get bored quickly with the set tasks.

I would say that giving them lots of enrichment at home would be a great thing and to give them your time and energy as they may not be getting it at school. Sadly, teachers and support staff can’t guarantee that children who are more advanced are going to get the extra attention they deserve. We wish we could but it’s not always possible. There are a few kids in my class who finish set tasks super quick (my students are between 4 and 6) and are bored so that’s always an issue.

Talk to your child’s teacher and ask what support they can offer. I would recommend against skipping years/grades because a child needs to socialise with peers of their own age and their social and emotional development is just as important.

Best of luck.

I myself skipped a grade when I was really young, I think in the US it would be Kindergarten? I never noticed the difference because I always had been in classes with kids one year older than me. The school offered for me to skip another grade, which my parents refused, as I’d have been too young in their eyes when I would start High School.

The school’s solution for me not skipping a second grade was to give me extra work. I’d do more difficult work and I also attended a gifted kids program once a week, which was run by my city. I loved that program so much and it was the first time in my life I met people who were like me. I was heartbroken when I got too old for the program because I truly was understood there for the first time.

[name_f]My[/name_f] brother is also a gifted kid, but he went from grade 5 to grade 7, which was a much bigger change for him. I’d recommend letting your child skip a grade now than later.

If you are able to offer your child access to a gifted kid program, do it! I can pretty much guarantee he will love it there.