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School Is Secretive About Gifted Program

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My son's school seems to be very secretive about their gifted and talented program. My son is in third grade. I asked about the program last year and was told it did not begin until third grade. I asked about it this year and was told his second grade teacher did not recommend him for the program, so he was not eligible. I am unsure if I should push the topic. What makes me think he might be a candidate for the program? He has gotten straight A's (or A+'s) for three years in a row. He is very curious and his hobbies are reading, watching the learning channel on TV, and using the encyclopedia on the computer to look up facts about marine life. He blows through The Autobiography of President Lincoln (an adult book) in three or four days.

However, unlike the description of the gifted child, my son really appears emotionless in most situations. I know, as his mother, that he internalizes a lot of emotions. I have to talk at length with him about emotional situations to get him to "feel" (for example, the death of his grandfather this year).

A: Just as there are all kinds of kids, there are all kinds of gifted kids. Just because your son does not express his feelings easily does not mean he isn't gifted. His lack of expressed emotion may also be the reason he did not attract the attention of the teacher assessing for the gifted program. There is some truth to the old saying about "squeaky wheels" getting the grease, and this can also be true in a busy classroom.

Someone in your school district is in charge of the gifted program. I recommend that you contact the school district office and ask who that person is. There should also be a printed description in your school district office outlining the criteria for entering into the gifted program. Do not feel that you are "pushing," you are only seeking what is essentially public information about an educational program. I suggest you move quickly on this, as most placement decisions are made in the spring term for the following school year. If intelligence testing is required, due to time constraints, you may have to pay for outside-of-school testing.

Regarding the emotionality issue, your son may be more amenable to discussing other people's emotions rather than his own. Try this approach: Since your little guy admires Lincoln, you could bring up how sad Lincoln must have been when he lost his young son Tad. Also, does your son's father easily discuss his feelings? A male role model who shows it's okay to be expressive does wonders for a young boy.

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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.


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