Key Questions to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Gifted Student (2023)

Home » Key Questions to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Gifted Student

Is your child regularly coming home from school lacking the desire to return the next day? Have you noticed your child’s love for learning diminishing? If your child deems that “real” work and “real” learning is more routinely done separate from the school’s curricular requirements, then it may be time to determine whether your child’s school is the most appropriate learning environment for your student. In some cases, the situation can be resolved by conferencing with the teacher or the school’s administrators to communicate your concerns and develop a plan to work toward interventions that work for your student. They may include accelerating your child to the next grade level, participating in enrichment programs, or compacting the curriculum. However, what works for one gifted student may not work for another, and it is okay to consider that the current school system is no longer the best match for your gifted student’s learning needs.

Finding the right school can be daunting and requires asking key questions that go beyond what the internet can answer. Below are key questions to consider when choosing a school that best fits the learning needs of your gifted child.1

Start your inquiry by asking questions that target identification policies and programming guidelines:

  • Does the state require the school in question to identify and provide services for G/T students at various grade levels?
  • What percentage of their students are performing according to top state or national levels?
  • For secondary students, ask about advanced graduation programs, the number of national merit scholars, and the GPA of top students.
  • What G/T identification process is followed by the school?
  • How many students at the school are identified as gifted/talented, and how are they serviced?
  • How does the school identify ethnically diverse G/T students and how do they monitor equitable practices?
  • How does the school identify and serve twice-exceptional gifted students2?
  • For schooling options outside of public institutions, inquire about tuition fees. How much is tuition, and what does it include?

Next, dig further into G/T programs offered by talking with school personnel such as G/T coordinators, administration personnel, and teachers:

  • How does the school handle varied levels of readiness among students?3
  • How does the school monitor the academic progress (growth) of students4, and how often is growth measured?
  • What opportunities are provided for students to excel in his or her area of interest/strength?
  • Does the G/T program incorporate independent or small group research investigations as part of curricula requirements?
  • Is there a continuum of skills for students to create innovative, advanced products, and performances in their area of interest and strength?
  • How are teachers and counselors educated or trained to specifically work with gifted students?
  • How are academic mentors or professional type internships used to facilitate student research or enhance the learning experience?
  • What opportunities do students have to participate in academic competitions?
  • Does the school assist parents in applying for summer, afternoon, or weekend programs designed for gifted and high-ability students?

You will also want to address more nuanced details that target students’ experiences in the classroom:

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  • What is the typical class size (student-to-teacher ratio per class)?
  • Are students offered individualized learning and differentiated instruction? Ask teachers and administrators to describe what this looks like at their school.5
  • Is flexibility provided within existing curricula and homework assignments that incorporate students’ interests and account for the achievement levels of gifted children?
  • Are critical and creative thinking skills taught in the classroom? Ask for examples of how this is done.
  • How is technology integrated into the curriculum and classroom, and how often are students given opportunity to access technology?
  • Ask to visit a classroom for a “walk through” experience. Notice the teacher climate. Is there a positive work environment?

Choosing a program that fits the needs of your gifted student can be a daunting, overwhelming task. However, asking the right questions can be helpful in making a decision. Finding an appropriate learning environment where your gifted student is appreciated for his or her uniqueness is a huge benefit in the academic and affective development of your child. In closing, here are some words of wisdom and encouragement.

Work to build alliances within the school by focusing on the problem, not a person. For example, discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses by describing learning environments or interventions where your child has been successful as well as those in which he or she has struggled. Work together to help your gifted child capitalize on his or her strengths while also providing support for his or her weaknesses. There is wisdom in joining efforts with your child’s teacher and school personnel to work together as a team. Optimizing learning experiences for your child is a shared goal with the school; therefore, there are endless possibilities to reaching it when done in a spirit of unity.

Remember, the perfect school does not exist. Even after finding the school you believe is best suited for your child, there will still be aspects of his or her educational experience that you may not like or agree with. Parents, this is normal, and can often introduce valuable learning experiences for your child. Just as a child learns how to work toward his or her goals from inspiring teachers, advanced curricula, and excellent technology tools; it is through life’s challenges that he or she learns crucial and necessary coping skills. Keep in mind…a school that is a good fit will have more successes than struggles, but both types of experiences will be valuable for your child.

Congratulations for taking the first step to ensure your child does not slip between the cracks of any educational system. Parenting a gifted child is indeed a tough, but very rewarding experience. Stay the course, and your efforts will pay off!

Footnotes

1. This list is not comprehensive, but questions have been selected to provide initial guidance and direction. Children are unique, and every situation is different. Select questions and sub questions that address the needs of your child and situation.

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2. Most schools do not have policies in place for twice exceptional (2E) students but may provide resources for parents.

3. Use caution with schools who claim the curriculum is challenging for all students. Be careful to note if more work is assigned for G/T students as opposed to differentiating curriculum and instruction based on rigor and appropriateness. “More” work to resolve a child’s boredom is often perceived as a punishment by the child.

4. Be cautious of schools using only end of course, end of semester, and end of year exams.

5. A website that may be helpful for parents to better understand differentiation of instruction is the following: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/differentiation-tips-parents

Additional Resources

Foucault, A. (n. d.). Differentiation tips for parents. Reading Rockets. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/differentiation-tips-parents

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Hassel, B., & Hassel, E. (2005). Choosing the right school for your gifted child. Digest of Gifted Research, 6(1). Retrieved from http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10511

National Association for Gifted Children. (2009). Myths about gifted students. Retrieved from http://www.nagc.org/myths-about-gifted-students

Perelstein, L. (2015). How to choose a school for your gifted child. Noodle. Retrieved from https://www.noodle.com/articles/how-to-choose-a-school-for-your-gifted-child

Top 12 questions to ask private schools. (n.d.). Our Kids: The Trusted Source. Retrieved from http://www.ourkids.net/blog/questions-to-ask-when-looking-into-a-private-school-17505

Priscilla Lurz, M.Ed. has dedicated thirty-five years as an educator in Maryland and Texas working as a G/T education teacher and a district program administrator. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented (TAGT) and is currently the immediate past President of TAGT. Now retired, Priscilla remains active in the field as a consultant for G/T education services.

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FAQs

What kind of school is best for a gifted child? ›

Montessori and Waldorf schools are the two most common types of chain schools parents choose to meet their gifted chid's educational needs. Not only do chain schools offer good programs for gifted schools, they're available almost everywhere.

What are five characteristics of gifted students? ›

Common Characteristics of Gifted Children:
  • Ability to comprehend material several grade levels above their age peers.
  • Surprising emotional depth and sensitivity at a young age.
  • Strong sense of curiosity.
  • Enthusiastic about unique interests and topics.
  • Quirky or mature sense of humor.

How can you accommodate students who are gifted? ›

6 Ways to Differentiate Instruction for Gifted Students
  1. Create Tiered Assignments. ...
  2. Allow Gifted Students to Work at Their Own Pace. ...
  3. Offer Open-Ended or Self-Directed Assignments & Activities. ...
  4. Compact the Curriculum. ...
  5. Deliver Project-Based Learning. ...
  6. Pair Gifted Students Up.
3 May 2022

Should I put my kid in the gifted program? ›

Although being identified as gifted can lead to unrealistic expectations, it can also help a student reach their potential. Evidence suggests that gifted programs help students with academic achievement, socialization, and future success.

Is Montessori School good for a gifted child? ›

Montessori is the ideal learning environment for gifted children. Research supports that an environment that meets the needs of each child, academically and emotionally, is the most effective. The Montessori approach is effective due to its focus on developing intrinsic motivation.

Which is the most common profile of gifted learners? ›

Early and rapid learning ​- One of the most common characteristics of gifted students is their ability to learn things early and rapidly.

What are cognitive characteristics of gifted students? ›

Among the most typical cognitive characteristics are “retention of large quantities of information, advanced comprehension, varied interests and high curiosity, and a high level of language development and verbal ability” (Clark, 2002 as cited in Reis & Sullivan [3], p.

How do I know if my child is gifted or just smart? ›

Keen observation, curiosity and tendency to ask questions. Ability to think abstractly, while showing signs of creativity and inventiveness. Early development of motor skills (e.g., balance, coordination and movement). Finds joy in discovering new interests or grasping new concepts.

What are 5 things teachers can do to support gifted and talented students? ›

[Classroom Strategies] Teaching Gifted Students
  • Treat students as individuals. ...
  • Let students explore their passions. ...
  • Infuse enrichment into activities. ...
  • Build in time for flexible learning groups. ...
  • Embrace creative questioning. ...
  • Encourage self-directed learning with your students.
9 May 2022

What three characteristics do gifted students usually exhibit? ›

Characteristics of Gifted Children
  • High level of intensity. ...
  • Enjoys learning; rapid learner. ...
  • Depth of perception. ...
  • Keen sense of observation and extraordinary memory. ...
  • Sophisticated language and thought process. ...
  • Ability to recognize more options. ...
  • Dislikes repeating or practicing something they already know. ...
  • Perfectionist.

How would you recommend a child for special education services? ›

Teachers often refer children to school counselors or psychologists to be evaluated for possible disabilities. When this happens, parents must be notified to give their consent. Concerned parents can also refer their children directly to professionals.

How can teachers support gifted students? ›

Five Ways to Support Gifted Students in Your Classroom
  • Learn how gifted students think. ...
  • Created tiered assignments for students. ...
  • Include a variety of levels in your classroom library. ...
  • Utilize their talents and interests. ...
  • Explore real-word application.

What are some modifications for gifted students? ›

In the classroom, curricular modifications for gifted students include acceleration, enrichment, grouping, cluster grouping, problem-based learning, curriculum compacting, tiered lessons, independent study, and the use of specific curriculum models.

Why do gifted students need differentiation? ›

By differentiating in the classroom, gifted students are able to go beyond what is being taught and challenge themselves by working on something that is more at their learning level. It allows the learning to be more customized to the student.

Should gifted students be in separate classrooms? ›

Separate Gifted Programs Are Largely Ineffective

Furthermore, several recent studies, specifically examining elementary school gifted programs, have found that separating gifted students does not help their academic achievement.

What challenges do gifted and talented learners face? ›

Types of Challenges Gifted Students Face
  • Sensitivities and Overexcitabilities.
  • Social Skills.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Self-Concept.
6 Oct 2021

Do gifted students become successful? ›

When researchers compared a control group of gifted students who didn't skip a grade to those who did, the grade-skippers were 60% more likely to earn patents and doctorates and more than twice as likely to get a Ph. D. in a field related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).

Are Montessori schools good for ADHD? ›

For a child with ADHD, the Montessori environment can be a relief. With fewer distractions, your child is free to concentrate on the task at hand.

Who Is Montessori good for? ›

Montessori education is good for young children. This self-directed learning style allows them to gain a sense of independence and self-confidence quickly. However, it is not clear whether this learning method for students is better than regular schools.

How do gifted students think? ›

Ability to see things from a variety of perspectives – Gifted students often find unique ways to view a situation or problem. They use their creativity and abstract thinking skills to find unique perspectives and solutions to problems, even when there is an easier way to go about solving.

How do you know if your child is bright? ›

Signs your kid may be gifted

Early ability to read, learn and understand things quickly. Can become intensely engrossed in topics of interest while being oblivious to surrounding events. Keen observation, curiosity and tendency to ask questions.

Are there schools for gifted children in the UK? ›

If you are searching for the best schools for gifted students, then King's InterHigh may be worth considering alongside a traditional school, or on its own. King's InterHigh is the UK's leading online secondary school and sixth form.

Are there gifted programs in the UK? ›

With that in mind, the board of British Mensa appointed a gifted child consultant and established the Mensa Gifted and Talented Support Programmes, to assist educators in their work with gifted young people and to support young members and their families. British Mensa has about 1,700 members under the age of 18.

What do gifted kids struggle with? ›

Sensitivities and Overexcitabilities

Because of these unique characteristics, gifted children may have adverse reactions to intense stimuli, which can look like problem behavior on the surface. For example, a perceptive child may see something on the news that frightens them and refuse to sleep alone at night.

Why do gifted students struggle in school? ›

Attention and Organization Issues

Many gifted children struggle with attention problems and organization skills because they can be abstract thinkers and get bored easily. Education experts have found that it's more common for boys to be disorganized and distracted.

What three characteristics do gifted students usually exhibit? ›

Characteristics of Gifted Children
  • High level of intensity. ...
  • Enjoys learning; rapid learner. ...
  • Depth of perception. ...
  • Keen sense of observation and extraordinary memory. ...
  • Sophisticated language and thought process. ...
  • Ability to recognize more options. ...
  • Dislikes repeating or practicing something they already know. ...
  • Perfectionist.

Does giftedness run in families? ›

Giftedness tends to run in families, so many of the traits that indicate giftedness are common among extended family members. Parents may see a sign of giftedness and consider it perfectly normal, average behavior if several family members have the same trait.

What are signs of high IQ? ›

Some signs that often appear in children include:
  • Intense need for mental stimulation and engagement.
  • Ability to learn new topics quickly.
  • Ability to process new and complex information rapidly.
  • Desire to explore specific topics in great depth.
  • Insatiable curiosity, often demonstrated by many questions.
7 Jun 2022

What is Einstein Syndrome? ›

Einstein syndrome is a condition where a child experiences late onset of language, or a late language emergence, but demonstrates giftedness in other areas of analytical thinking. A child with Einstein syndrome eventually speaks with no issues, but remains ahead of the curve in other areas.

Do gifted students need special education? ›

Gifted students do not receive special education services unless they are "twice exceptional" and specifically need them.

What is gifted and talented now called? ›

Gifted education (also known as gifted and talented education (GATE), talented and gifted programs (TAG), or G/T education) is a broad group of special practices, procedures, and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented.

Is homeschooling good for gifted children? ›

Homeschooling works for gifted kids because their needs can be met in ways that are as unique as they are. The hardest part of homeschooling your gifted kids, for you, will be getting out of the way and letting them explore freely and learn rapidly. Once you do, be prepared to watch them soar!

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