Retrieved April 27, 2011 from http://www.itsamomsworld.com/baby_developer_gifted.html
In this video, registered psychologist Veronica Dixon does a good job of answering these questions. She also makes it very clear why you might want to put your gifted child into a special program. Dixon says there are two main benefits:
1. To prevent the child developing boredom and low motivation.
2. To enable the child to reach their capacity
Gifted children may downplay or deny their abilities in order to fit in with other kids. This can lead to disinterest in academic pursuits and low self-esteem. The gifted child will not be adequately challenged in the mainstream educational program and may eventually drop out of school.
Here's the video:
I used to wonder if placing a child in a gifted program was really the best idea. I wondered if segregation of any kind is ever a good idea. Would a child be picked on for being different? The term 'gifted' kind of turns me off. It refers to academic skill and suggests that others are less gifted. High IQ, or academic prowess, is just one measure of intelligence, so I have some trouble with the label. If we talk about gifts in general, meaning a child's unique exceptional talents, skills or interests, then I can better appreciate the recommendation to provide specialized training to enhance these skills.
If it's true that we all are on our own path and will be happiest when we are developing our unique talents, then specialized support makes sense. Dixon said that denying these talents leads to low self-esteem and higher drop-out rates. It's not hard to imagine how a life can spiral out of control from there.
Yesterday, I talked about Tom Shadyac's new documentary I AM (see I Choose Community, not Competition) and his view that "If you don't do what your heart wants you to do and follow your passion, it will destroy you." Tom Shadyac discovered this late in life. It was a near death experience that opened his eyes and inspired him to radically change his life. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all follow our interests right from the beginning.
As a parent it makes sense to help our child to understand her unique gifts and to support her learning in those areas. As far as being picked on for her unique talents, well that's probably going to happen anyway. Childhood, and the teasing that sometimes goes along with it, only lasts so long - the negative effects of denying a gift or interest may last a lifetime. We can help our children to deal with any teasing or bullying by reminding them that the world is a more beautiful place because of the variety within it. We can also help them to make smart choices about friendships with kids that 'get' them and support their interests.
''Doing your own thing'' is a generous act. Being gifted creates obligations, which means you owe the world your best effort at the work you love. You too are a natural resource.
If you have a child in the public school system, testing may be available to place your child in an appropriate program. Talk to the administrator at your child's school. Children outside of the school system can be assessed by a psychologist in private practice. See your local listings.