It dawns on us that we have a huge responsibility on our hands. Because you have enriched your child’s learning since birth, you understandably are anxious about placing him in a school setting where both his teachers and his peers might misunderstand his giftedness. Ideally, you want him to blossom and flourish in a formal school setting; however you don’t want limits placed on how fast he advances. If he decides to explore a particular subject in depth, you want him to be able to do that. If he is doing math several years ahead of his grade level, you want him to have an accelerated math program. You also want him to socialize in as normal a manner as possible. Learning how to fit in is paramount as he matures. Fortunately, you have several options available. Homeschooling, charter schools, talented and gifted programs run by your local school district, your local public school, and private schools are all possibilities into which you should look.
Start by looking for schools in the web. Ask friends and family for their recommendations. Once you have a short list of schools and programs to evaluate, call the schools. A brief telephone conversation will help you decide whether to pursue that particular school in greater depth. Don’t equivocate. Ask direct questions about teaching styles and what the school teaches. A teacher of gifted children needs support from the entire school structure. She cannot operate on her own. Has the school made that kind of commitment to teaching gifted children? Be very clear about your expectations. You know full well that if you don’t, your child will be unhappy.
Where you live and the programs available in your local public and private schools may limit your choices. Private schools for gifted children are typically highly specialized schools with well-qualified, experienced faculty who understand how to teach gifted children. Schools for gifted children usually base admissions on several criteria and tests, one of which is an IQ test with a minimum of 125-140 the norm. The schools will also want to interview you and your child to see if there is a good match between your needs and requirements and those of the school.
Here are some private schools which offer programs exclusively for gifted children. This list is by no means exhaustive. It should give you an idea of the variety of approaches to teaching your gifted child which are available.
As you delve into the world of differentiated instruction and all the other professional terms and definitions, don’t be intimidated. All that matters is that you know that you need to find the most appropriate educational setting for your gifted child. As you visit schools and listen to the professionals’ assessments of your child and weigh all the experts’ opinions about what your child needs, remember that you know your child best. Use the information you gather to affirm your initial good instincts about the proper course of study. Then proceed accordingly.