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Parent Wants to Move Stressed and Gifted Child to a New Class
Q: I am a fourth-grade teacher. The mother of a gifted child in my class wants to switch her child from my class to another. This parent is searching for a resolution to the problem of extreme stress being displayed by the child. I fear that an unusual move such as this would be more of a stressor. Do you know of any research that would be useful in helping our school decide if this is a good move for the student?
A: The question of whether to move a gifted child to a different class or even a different school is one that frequently comes up. To personally address this situation, I would need to know what you mean by "extreme stress." I do not typically endorse moving a gifted student unless the problem issue is first addressed. Otherwise the problem usually moves right along with the student.
If the stress is from the coursework, then perhaps the curriculum can be adjusted. See Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner (recently updated and in paperback). If the stress is being caused by peer relations, then an elementary guidance counselor could intervene with the kids to work on some peer skills. If the stress is from some internal source, then professional counseling is definitely recommended to help the child. If the problem is between the teacher and the student, I tend to state that it's more beneficial for the child, if at all possible, to adjust to the situation as they will always encounter "another Ms. Smith" somewhere down their educational road!
These are, of course, general guidelines, but I base them on lots of experience. I am not aware of specific research on classroom changes for gifted children. I hope you find this information helpful.
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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.