7 Steps to Success
Whether or not a child has been formally identified as gifted and talented, parents in Connecticut need to become the primary advocates for their gifted and high-ability learners. With more and more gifted programs disappearing from schools, it often falls on parents’ shoulders to ensure that their children receive an appropriately structured education.
- Learn! – Read about giftedness so that you can answer the question “Is my child gifted?” and can understand the special needs of gifted children. There are many characteristics of gifted students schools may misinterpret, and specific behavioral patterns that may develop when gifted kids are not allowed to thrive in appropriate environments. Certain populations of children—including those from culturally diverse backgrounds or who show giftedness in one area and face learning challenges in another area—are often likely to be overlooked for their strengths and talents.
- Understand CT – We live in an “identify, non-serve” state where public schools are required to formally identify gifted and talented students but are not required to provide appropriate educational services, and there are no statewide guidelines for how identification is to be performed. It is crucial to understand this when talking with schools, but it is equally important for schools to recognize that they have an obligation to appropriately educate every child… including the gifted and talented.
- Form a Plan – Gifted children have life-long specialized needs, both academic and social/emotional. Don’t reinvent the wheel every school year. Work with school- and district-level administration, psychologists, counselors, etc., to map out multi-year strategies to help your child thrive.
- Advocate – When appropriate school resources are lacking, parents become their children’s first, best advocates. Working proactively and constructively with educators is often necessary to ensure children’s needs are being met. Seek out allies within the district who understand your child and can speak on his or her behalf. Be willing to talk to everyone in turn, from your child’s teacher, to the school principal, to even the superintendent and school board, if necessary.
- Utilize Resources – In today’s Internet age, resources don’t have to be local. The web has a wealth of information for gifted students’ families from online learning, enrichment, independent assessment, and educational options, to information on advocacy support, social/emotional concerns, and meeting the needs of special groups like twice exceptional, lower SES, and gifted underachievers.
- Enrichment – Gifted children are often stimulated by areas of learning not typically provided as part of the traditional school day. Look for areas of interest that might only be found outside of the school walls. Clubs, hobbies, museums and nature centers, after-school classes, competitions, and teams can all provide outlets for gifted kids’ intellect and creativity.
- Support Groups – More than anything, parents often feel like they’re advocating in a vacuum. Just as gifted kids benefit from interaction with like-minded peers, working with others in similar situations can help parents not feel so isolated and alone against the system. Collectively—and at times with the help of professional counselors, coaches, and psychologists—parents can affect meaningful change in their school districts, neighborhoods, and homes. Network!
As the nonprofit, Connecticut state affiliate of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), the Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG) is our state’s primary organization supporting the needs of gifted and talented students, their parents, and their teachers. For more information on all of the above and more, we encourage families and educators to explore the pages of our website, join the organization, and work with us to make Connecticut a better place for all our state's learners… one child at a time.