Gifted Programs, Gifted-Talented Programs and Gifted Education FAQs
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Below are abbreviated excerpts from Parents Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education which answer some common questions parents have when considering GATE testing and gifted programs for their child.
"A great help to our family. Thanks to Parents' Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education and a consultation with Dr. Palmer, our bright and talented daughter is now back on track. Based on Dr. Palmer's recommendations, we were able to map out a better educational path, identify enrichment programs for her and find ways to connect with other gifted children. A year later, she has regained her love of learning. I highly recommend this book to any parent who suspects their child is gifted and who wants to make sure their child is getting the best education possible."
Mary Pitzer, Parent
My child qualified for the GATE program at her school, but she likes her current class and her friends there, so Im not sure if I want her to be in the GATE program. What do you recommend?
How do gifted programs differ from a general education program?
What teaching methods do gifted education teachers use?
Will being involved in a gifted program help my child when he gets to high school or applies for college?
Q: My child qualified for the GATE program at her school, but she likes her current class and her friends there, so Im not sure if I want her to be in the GATE program. What do you recommend?
A: Sometimes the decision to place a child in a gifted education program is a simple one. And sometimes, it's not so easy. Maybe your child will need to be moved to a different classroom, or to a totally different school. Or maybe you've heard things from other parents that aren't exactly strong endorsements of the program you are considering. If you're struggling with making a decision, you are not alone. One place to begin is by asking yourself what you want your child to get out of school.
Most parents want their children to:
Have access to great teachers and a supportive school staff
Be motivated to do their best
Have the opportunity to reach their full potential
And have friends
If enrollment in a gifted program can help your child with these goals, then it's probably a good move. If she's already succeeding in these ways, then the choice is not so critical.
Chapter Three in Parents Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education offers some specific questions to consider if you're deciding on whether a gifted program is right for your child.
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Q: How do gifted programs differ from a general education program?
A: It depends. The type of program your child has a chance to participate in will be limited by what the district or school has to offer. Some districts offer only one option, while others offer a choice. Some let individual schools run their own programs; others centralize all programs at one or two sites an approach which often requires that children be transported to a school outside their neighborhood.
Is one type of program better than the others? Not necessarily. The worth of any program will depend on the teacher involved, the support she is given, and the needs of the child. Those who are doing well in a general education classroom and are able to make social connections there may do better in a pull-out program where they are spending only a portion of their time with a group of other identified kids. Those who are totally out of place, socially and academically, in a regular class might do better in a self-contained gifted education room where they spend more time in a modified curriculum around other kids with similar interests and abilities.
Making educational choices is really a matter of seeing what's available to you, and then making the best decision you can with the information you have at the time. Also keep in mind that your child is a developing, evolving creature whose needs may well change over time. What works one year, may not the next. Be flexible, expect change, and go with the flow.
See Chapter Three in Parents Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education for a thorough review of the types of gifted education program options offered by most districts.
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Q: What teaching methods do gifted education teachers use?
A: Gifted program teachers tend to use techniques that allow for more independence, self pacing, and cooperative learning experiences. A focus on higher order critical thinking skills and the use of thematic instruction is also common.
Chapter Three in Parents Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education explores these and other teaching techniques used in GATE or TAG programs. Chapter Three also looks at alternatives to public school gifted programs such as home schooling, private schools, magnet schools, and summer enrichment programs.
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Q: Will being involved in a gifted program help my child when he gets to high school or applies for college?
A: Being identified as gifted may allow your child to have access to special programs or more advanced-level classes in middle school, junior high, or high school. But, because it is easier to meet all children's learning needs with more schedule choices at the secondary level, separate gifted programs such as resource rooms or self-contained classes that may have been available at the elementary level may not be offered in many secondary schools. Formal gifted programs may be replaced by honors or advanced placement classes, and enrollment in these programs may be more dependent on the student's performance (grades, test scores, teacher recommendations) than on whether they've qualified for a gifted program in the past. Many secondary schools combine high-achieving students with identified gifted students in these classes, and then base continued enrollment on the student's performance, whether or not the student has been identified as gifted.
As far as college application is concerned, being identified as gifted can work both ways. Some college admissions officers may give special consideration to applicants who have been served in a gifted program. Others might set higher standards for students who identify themselves as "gifted" on their college applications - or they may be turned off if they feel the student is displaying an elitist attitude by flaunting their gifted label.
Colleges are more likely to be interested in what the student has accomplished - the academic rigor of courses taken, college entrance exam achievement scores, performance in scholastic or extracurricular activities - than in whether the child has participated in a gifted education program.
Still, if participation in a gifted program in secondary school helps keep your child engaged and interested in her studies, allows her access to advanced placement classes, and consequently enhances her grades, test scores, and college resume, then there is certainly a benefit.
Check with someone knowledgeable within your own district about the benefits of having your child participate in a gifted program at the secondary level. A junior or senior high school counselor may be a place to start. A knowledgeable high school guidance counselor can also give you some insight into how participation in a gifted program might influence a college application screener at a specific college your child is considering.
Chapter Three in Parents Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education offers more information on how to tell if a gifted program is right for your child.
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