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Insights for Parents

Social Connections

Parents of gifted children, especially those that are highly/profoundly gifted and/or twice-exceptional, are often concerned with the social development and needs of their children. However, just because children are in a gifted program, it doesn't mean that the children in that program share the same interests or temperament. Finding friends and meeting the social/emotional needs of your child is just, if not more, important than meeting their academic needs. It helps to widen your child's circle of friends from different groups: Interest friends (friends who share the same interests), IQ mates (children who have similar abilities), Age mates (children who are the same chronological age), Online friends (friends they meet from gifted social opportunities) and Emotional mates (those children who experience the world on the same emotional level).

We have listed some ways for your child to connect socially with others. But there are also ways for you, as parents, to create more social/emotional opportunities. While you may be introverted, and feel uncomfortable starting some of these things, remember that what we can not do for ourselves, we will often do for our children! Taking the first social step is ALWAYS appreciated and respected by others in the same situation.

As a parent you can:

The most important thing that you can do to help your child find some true peers is to provide opportunities for him or her to meet and spend time with other gifted individuals. This is where the importance of assessments and testing occurs because most programs that provide these social opportunities will require specific ability and achievement testing as part of the application process. Many of the programs we list in our resources section provide social opportunities, such as field trips, summer programs, secure online bulletin boards and chat rooms, online threaded discussions, and even informal local gatherings organized by participating families throughout the year. Once your child has applied and been accepted into a program for gifted individuals, you become connected to a network of gifted families and professionals who can offer support and friendship.

Here are a few ideas that don't involve participation in a formally structured organization:

Get involved in your school's GATE community.

Start a book club, math club, or other interest group for your child.

Create a summer field trip program with other families where the gifted children can experience opportunties such as art, history, or science with people who can get excited about it in the same way they can.

Ask other parents about what their children do. They may have a resource that your child will love, even if your children are not friends.

Important School Terms to Understand:

Clustering/flexible ability grouping: non permanent groupings of students based on ability or interest.

Compacting: students receive reduced instructions/lessons in areas/chapters as a result of pre-assessments allowing extra time to be used for advanced work or enrichment.

Concurrent/dual enrollment: student takes a higher level course than current grade level and receives credit for the course at both the current grades level and at the level of the course.

Differentiation: teachers provide different work to different students in the same classroom based on ability or interest.

Distance learning: students participates in computer-delivered educational instruction and assessment provided by private companies or universities.

Early entrance program: a program that accepts high ability gifted students into college before they have completed high school. (See list of programs on the college tab.)

Full grade acceleration: student skips an entire grade or grades, either at the beginning of the year or during.

Homeschooling: student participates in home-based educational instruction. Some schools offer services to homeschoolers. Some areas may have homeschool co-ops or support groups.

Hybrid schooling: A combination of educational methods, such as when a student attends a physical school for some subjects and completes the remaining subjects via a distance learning program.

Independent study program: student works independently in one or more subjects using either schol supplied curriculum or alternative curriculum that the school has approved for independent study subject credit.

Pull-out program: gifted students leave for part of regular classroom instruction and attend gifted classes or enrichment programs.

Single subject/partial acceleration: student either physically attends higher grade level for one or a few subjects or remains in current classroom and uses curriculum and materials from higher grade level.

Telescoping: students are taught the regular grade-based curriculum in less time allowing advancement to the next grade level more quickly.