This is the BVGT “Gifted & Talented Questions & Answers” column. We invite you to submit your questions related to gifted and talented to be answered by a Board Member of Boulder Valley Gifted and Talented. We’ll include as many Q&A’s as possible here and in our BVGT email newsletter. We may edit your question for space, content or clarity.
Got a Q? We’ve got an A! Email your question to [email protected]
Q: We are considering grade skipping our second grade son. What are some factors we need to consider to determine if this is best for our son? Will being the shortest in his class, for example, be harmful? – C.T. from Superior, CO
BVGT A: There are many factors that go into decisions about grade skipping. The conversation is usually initiated because of academic concerns (mastery of content, lack of engagement, boredom), but you are right in noting that there are a lot of other factors that also play a part and need to be considered. BVSD, which has a strong history of grade skipping advanced students when warranted, has created an inventory which is included in their policies and regulations, IKE-R-E2, Informal Nonpromotion or Acceleration Inventory for K-8 Students to help in the decision-making process. Parents and teachers are encouraged to use this survey and, if desired, the Iowa Acceleration Scale, to ensure that all factors in addition to academics are being considered. Grade skipping should take place collaboratively with parents, educators and students (as appropriate) deciding together what strategy will be best for the student at that time. Grade skipping is not indicated for all gifted students, but it can be a positive and rewarding programming strategy for some gifted students.
It is important to be aware that rarely, if ever, do all indicators clearly suggest grade skipping is indicated or not indicated for a particular student. Not grade skipping a student can have just as large an impact as grade skipping. Neither decision is neutral in its impact on an academically advanced student who shows readiness for working at a higher grade. By looking at the entire body of evidence, i.e. academic, social, emotional, familial, motivational, class dynamic and physical, a picture of what is right for the student at that time should emerge. And finally, the student clearly needs support strategies in place whether grade accelerated or not.
For additional information about various forms of acceleration and the research behind them, go to A Nation Deceived.
– answer provided by Becky Whittenburg, BVGT Board Member at Large
Q:Might I already be seeing gifted traits in my 3-year-old? – V.B. from Boulder, CO
BVGT A: Parents notice gifted traits when the child is very young. The more advanced the giftedness, the more the child will appear different from other toddlers or young children his age. For example, some parents have reported that their infant had a longer attention span, had intense eye contact, did not want to sleep as often or as long as other infants, got bored easily and demanded personal interaction and visual stimulation when only a few months old. Gifted characteristics are displayed intellectually, emotionally, physically, ethically/morally and socially depending on the unique characteristics of the child. The personality and temperament of a gifted child might also appear particularly sensitive, intense, emotional, creative and reflective. A partial list of gifted traits in young children might include: keen observation; early speech and expressive language; questioning; being insightful and perceptive; having a good memory; insatiable curiosity; creative thinking; displaying a sense of humor; one’s motor ability being out of sync with intellectual capacity; expressing enthusiasm and excitability; a need for precision or perfection; displaying resolve and determination; compassion and empathy for living things including people, plants and animals; expressing concern for equality and fairness, and having a gentle while demanding spirit.
Observing your child in and out of the home, noticing what he gravitates towards and away from, and deeply listening with your eyes, ears, and heart will give you the information you need to lovingly respond. Giftedness creates differences in both inner experience and outer expression. From when quite young and while interacting with age peers, his wants, interests, and behaviors might not be mirrored by others his age. A noticeable characteristic of a child who is gifted is asynchronous development. This means he may express a conglomerate of different “ages” across various activities. For example, a three year old child might have similar mental abilities, hobbies and interest in play similar to a six year old. Simultaneously, he may lag behind in manual dexterity or coordination. Similarly, depending on the personality and temperament of the child, although three years physically, she may display a degree of sensitivity and caring toward others similar to a ten year old child. Some adults mistake a child who is highly emotional, prone to cry easily or who reacts emotionally to situations, as being an immature child. In actuality, it might be a keen sense of awareness, sensitivity, and caring nature that result in an intense emotional reaction. Socially, she might prefer to play alone, observe others without joining in, or play with only one other child or adult (introvert), or she may thoroughly enjoy being in groups and interacting with numerous other children or adults (extrovert). Both are equally healthy and fine. At age three or four, he might truly care about abandoned or hurt animals, or recycling, or not want the family to use excessive water or electricity, seeming more like a twelve year old in introspection and environmental awareness. So, while physically only three, your child might seem like a six, or ten or even twelve year old at certain moments and in specific situations, and then the next minute want to crawl up in your lap and cuddle. Being a package of different ages intellectually, emotionally, physically, ethically and socially, and thereby being “out of sync” with age peers, can be very confusing to a parent or adult family member. Additionally, the higher the intellectual ability of the child, the more divergent the “ages” expressed across the five domains. We may wonder who we are talking to at any given moment, and thereby feel unsure how to adequately nurture and support the complexity within our child.
– answer provided by Patricia Gatto-Walden, BVGT Board Member at Large