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Gifted, but Wants to Stay with Her Friends
Q: My fifth-grade daughter has so many strengths: curiosity, leadership, empathy, the ability to synthesize information. She gets straight A's and tests in the top half percent on standardized tests. Her teachers have marvelled at her abilities and say she's gifted.
My daughter is in an advanced class for certain subjects. She qualified for the gifted program at another school, but this may not be an option -- my daughter loves her friends and the school she is in. What should we do to learn more about raising talented daughters (our second daughter is in seventh grade)?
A: I am concerned that your daughter is rejecting the gifted program at the other school for social reasons. As you already know from your seventh-grader, the classes (and friends) are about to be reshuffled anyway in the middle-school years. A student who scores in the "top half percent on standardized tests" is best challenged in a gifted program. The friends she makes there will be with her in any honors or advanced placement classes in the high school. I hope you will reconsider the school placement decision.
Your daughters are at a critical period in their education. A decline in the achievement of very bright female students is often noted to begin in the middle grades. Why? Lack of acceptance by peers, the increasing need to be popular, and, unfortunately, harassment by male students often keeps bright girls out of top classes and academic activities.
Along with challenging coursework, girls need a blend of both social and academic extracurricular activities. Can her current teacher offer activities like science fair, independent study, and creative writing to keep your daughter involved beyond getting A's in the classroom? Don't forget the value of sports for girls, too. It has also been found that parent/mentor support of daughters is very helpful to their overall achievement. For reference, I very much recommend the book Smart Girls: A New Psychology of Girls, Women & Giftedness by Barbara A. Kerr. Thanks for getting in touch.
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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.