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Gifted, But Not in Everything
Q: My six-year-old is an excellent reader, but her math is pretty normal in her new grade level. Would the gifted program be appropriate?
A: Many gifted children exhibit a range of abilities, even though their overall performance may be at a high level. They may be stronger in one area, like reading, than in another. Programs for gifted students need not be "all or none" options. In her new book, Re-Forming Gifted Education: Matching the Program to the Child, intended primarily for parents, Karen Rogers of the University of St. Thomas argues that educational planning for gifted children is complex precisely because of their wide range of abilities and specific talents. Strategies and services need to be matched to the strengths and abilities of the child. A written educational plan ensures that the child receive instruction geared to her individual talents. Rather than focusing on whether a child is in a gifted program, parents and teachers need to think about modifying the curriculum to meet the needs of the students.
Children with advanced abilities in one or more areas may be regrouped for specific instruction, grouped in clusters with other children who have similar talents, grouped within classes by subject on the basis of ability, or pulled out of class for advanced work in a resource classroom setting. Such children may be in different groupings for subjects in which they are less advanced or may (if pulled out) return to the regular classrom for grade-level instruction.
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Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.