Would you send your child to a Gifted program?

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detroitbabu
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Would you send your child to a Gifted program?

Post by detroitbabu »

Update: 6/17/2020

Reviving this old thread to provide an update.

My daughter who was the topic of this thread graduated Summa cum Laude from high school today and will start college in the fall - CoVid permitting.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My younger daughter (age 9) has been accepted to the Gifted program in the school district.
She is only one 3 students from her school who was accepted.
However, she has flatly refused to go because none of her "best friends" are going with her to the new school as they were not accepted to the program.

Both schools (current and new) are in the same school district. Both schools have an excellent reputation and have been ranked in the Top 10 in the state.

My wife is of the opinion that we should let my daughter choose what she wants to do and not force her. I agree with my wife and do not want to force my daughter but I want her to go to the new school and see how the new school is and if she does not like it she can come back after one year.

More info:

* My daughter's teachers at the current school have always said that she is very motivated and challenges herself by creating new problems to solve.

* I work with my daughter everyday and have challenged her by giving her more difficult assignments beyond her normal grade level.

* When I talked to my parents about this, they reminded me about how I had the same opportunity in the 4th grade and flatly refused to change schools because I did not like the school.

* We have an appointment with the program director at the new school tomorrow in part because I want to show my daughter the new school and the new teachers and hopefully get her excited about the new school.

* My father who is a retired teacher thinks that kids learn better in an environment where there are kids of all levels and capabilities.

Any opinions from Bogleheads on whether it is worth to put a kid in a gifted program or does it not matter this early in a child's life? Any personal experiences and thoughts?

Thanks in advance to all who reply.
Last edited by detroitbabu on Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
xerty24
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Post by xerty24 »

If you think the gifted program is a good one, i would send her there. Congratulate her on getting in and tell her how proud you are. She'll make new friends there.
livesoft
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Post by livesoft »

I will say it is a tough call because one could have the same outcome either way.

My daughter didn't want to go to a 'magnet' high school because her friends were not going. Then it turned out all her friends had secretly applied and were going. It was fun to see her scramble to apply and get waitlisted. After 4 years of high school, there was no difference in outcomes between the magnet high school students and the local HS students: same percentage of National Merit Scholars, same percentage of Ivy League admittance, same percentage of scholarship money, same percentage going to Flagship State University, same average number of AP exams taken, same scores/stats on AP exams, etc.

The students were more a product of their parents demographics than anything else. However, the magnet school was 100% geared towards college prep while the other was not. So one could not falll through the cracks at the magnet school. However, that does not appear to be the case in the situation you described.

So if both schools rank in top 10 in the state, I don't think it matters.

As a postscript: I know 2 sets of twins where one sibling went to magnet HS and the other went to the fantastic, but not magnet HS. Guess what? No difference in outcomes. (But to be fair, I also know a set of twins where they both went to magnet HS, also with no difference in outcomes. :))
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marylandcrab
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Post by marylandcrab »

A topic near and dear to my heart.

I have two kids, one gifted, one not.

I disagree with it being better to have widely differing abilities in one classroom. My son has been mentor, tutor to other kids and slowed down most of his life. His contributions to discussions have many times been over the heads of his peers. He finished work so quickly and could have gone deeper into subject matters that his peers could not. I can see why others benefitted from him in the class, not so sure he reaped any rewards. However, at home he has always done his own thing, connected with other really bright kids and learned quite a bit on his own. He also attended the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth camps over the summers in middle school. I can mark his childhood by the projects that consumed him at home - starting with chemistry and the periodic table in 3rd grade, to nuclear energy to blacksmithing, to perpetual energy to rubiks cube of all things - trying to beat the world record with his eyes closed. Right now as an 11th grader he's teaching himself computer programming, with one of the benefits being hacking into his own xbox. He also is now obsessed with music and playing the guitar, writing his own riffs, etc. He has the drive to challenge himself outside of school and I'm glad he didn't have tons of homework or spend too much time learning things he wasn't interested in at school.

My daughter, being a bright, motivated child has been in with gifted kids and has felt intimated and not as worthy as those kids. It has been hard for her to see these kids get easy 100's as she struggles to get an 85. However, these kids have helped teach her how to study better and talked about things she honestly didn't think much about.

That being said.... it would depend on each school and what happens come middle school and high school. You know she'd make friends anywhere, but sometimes the change itself is so traumatic the benefit is lost. Not all gifted programs are alike. Unless they are moving at a faster pace and going further in depth in subjects it's pointless. Many times those pull out programs could really benefit all the kids, not just the few.

I stand by the thought that if you follow her interests, give her the tools outside of school to follow her passions, she'll be fine.
Elysium
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Post by Elysium »

If she got selected through merit and you think she can handle the accelerated work that is often quired in gifted programs, then there is absolutely no reason to hold her back. At age 9, friendships are still developing, chances are that she will make new friends quickly. Most importantly she will be at her peer level with other children of same caliber, and this will challenge and motivate her further.

Our son got into the gifted program and he is in same boat, having to change schools, and we are not thinking twice. In his case however he already has friends coming from his current school, and he is also friends with few other children in his new school. That helps. But in any case, we would have still wanted him to go.
icefr
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Post by icefr »

If it was me, I would not think twice about changing schools. If her "best friends" are anything like my "best friends" were in non-gifted classes, they really just wanted answers out of her. A gifted school would be a much better place to make friends with people who are at her intelligence level.

Your daughter is very lucky to be able to switch to a gifted school at age 9. We didn't have that option in my school district.
GammaPoint
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Post by GammaPoint »

I was given the same option both in elementary school, and then again in high school to attend a 'Math and Science' high school elsewhere in the state. Both times I refused going because I didn't want to leave home and my friends for a new environment. I do know 2 people who did go, and we were later all accepted into the same physics PhD program at a top-ranked institution so there seemed to be little difference in final outcome. I would say that I feel more well-rounded than they seem to be, but perhaps they feel the same...
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Post by texasdiver »

Do you let your 9 year old daughter choose her bedtime, her diet, her TV viewing habits, and all the other things that 9 year olds do?

Thought not.

You are the parent. She is nine. She lives for the moment. She has absolutely no idea how the choices that she makes will affect her down the road. Kids that age don't think like that. And most kids don't like change.

Do your own research and make the decision for her. If you are uncertain about the choice then talk to her current teacher and talk to the teachers at the gifted program. At that age you do not even need to be asking her opinion unless you are prepared to act on it. When she is 17 it will be different.

At 9 she will quickly adapt to whatever situation you put her in. Kids don't like change but they do adapt quickly. Unless you are currently at a very tiny school she will be with new kids next year anyway. I don't know of any elementary schools that keeps the same classes of students together year after year. Chances are most of her friends will be scattered to other classes anyway.
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Post by texasdiver »

<i>* My father who is a retired teacher thinks that kids learn better in an environment where there are kids of all levels and capabilities</i>

I don't know so much about elementary education but that is a ridiculous proposition to put forward at the HS level. I teach HS science at a large suburban public school. I'm currently teaching general physics to juniors. All juniors at my school must take physics but can chose between general physics, pre-AP physics or AP Physics B. About 65% of the juniors choose general physics, about 35% choose pre-AP physics, and about 5% choose to take AP Physics B.

I have a broad mix of students in my classes. Special ed kids , kids with a wide variety of learning and behavior disorders, kids with limited English proficiency at one end of the spectrum. And at the other end I have some extremely bright kids who don't have much business being in my class except that they want an easy A and chose not to take the more difficult pre-AP or AP physics class.

I do what I can but there is no way that the bright kids in my class are learning anywhere near as much as they would have been in a more challenging class. I simply cannot move at a pace or cover material in as much depth as the more difficult classes without leaving half my students behind. I'm constantly cycling back to reteach basic concepts like algebra to the kids who didn't get it the first time around in their math classes.

I frankly can't imagine that it is really all that much different at the elementary level. I have one daughter in the 2nd grade who is quite gifted and involved in my districts gifted program. I have another daughter in 7th grade who is very middle of the road academically. My 2nd grader can do most of my 7th grader's without much effort. Mainstreaming her in general classrooms certainly makes the teacher's job easier as it is one less kid who requires special attention but I'm not sure it really challenges her all that much.
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Post by biasion »

Gifted is better for learning, but not life lessons.

Gifted limits their world view in the short term, but growing up as being more intelligent than just about anyone else, I can tell you it sucked to be in the company of the those less fortunate because it stunted my own academic growth to be in their presence.

Long term being in contact with the less fortunate gave me more perspective.

Put it this way, if you have even a slight level of intelligence, I am not saying "gifted", but say you are somewhat smarter than functionally illiterate, you can breeze through any school or college basically in a coma. As long as you don't forget to breathe in and avoid dying from not breathing, you can get close to straight "A's". That's not really good for learning.

On the other hand, breezing your way through class because your parents gave you every opportunity and you inherited their intelligence and seeing other people studying hours and hours and getting D's because they are single mom... that is another education in and of itself. Makes you feel very fortunate.
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Post by livesoft »

Another anecdote, a couple kids around here did not want to be bothered with taking AP-level courses in high school, so they didn't. But that does not mean you cannot take the AP tests. So they bought a few AP-test study guides and read them, then took and aced those AP tests.

Conclusion: Teachers and gifted program did not matter at all.
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Post by fredflinstone »

Ask your daughter to tell you what 7 times 6 is.

If she doesn't know, her current school is not pushing her hard enough.

Now go the gifted kids' school and ask a few random third-graders what 7 times 6 is.

If they don't know, the gifted kids' school is no better than your daughter's current school.
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texasdiver
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Post by texasdiver »

livesoft wrote:Another anecdote, a couple kids around here did not want to be bothered with taking AP-level courses in high school, so they didn't. But that does not mean you cannot take the AP tests. So they bought a few AP-test study guides and read them, then took and aced those AP tests.

Conclusion: Teachers and gifted program did not matter at all.
No, it means either: (1) you are talking about some extremely bright kids who are good test takers. The average kid would have no chance at pulling that sort of thing off, especially in the sciences, or (2) the non-AP classes at your district are being taught at close to the AP level which is possible but unlikely.

You are correct to the extent that some kids are so bright they will succeed and ace nearly any test with a minimum of effort. But you are not correct in your assumption that this means that teachers and gifted programs do not matter for the vast majority of more ordinary kids.
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Post by marylandcrab »

I'll throw in another anecdote. My kids currently attend a private prep school that went pre-k - 12. Over the past few years I've noticed it really going downhill. My son, in 11th has taken all the classes possible, there just aren't enough kids to take the next level class. I'm concerned more for my daughter who would have to take latin as a level 2,3,4 & 5 during one class, and algebra 2 with 9,10,11th graders of wide abilities, forced to take an ap us history to give her a little more challenge, and to get away from the lower academic standards.

We're "making" them switch schools. My son can't wait - he can take the next level classes including ap calc 2, ap physics b, a mat lab class taught by engineers at the local navy air base, honors philosophy, etc. My daughter will have more structure in the classroom and have options for higher level classes.

Trust me, my 9th grader is very apprehensive about leaving her friends, even though she's very outgoing and will make new friends. It's been a torturous decision process, because she's been at her school for 10 years. It's how we met most of our friends, where I volunteered, all the kids activities, etc. However, when I really think about it, I'd do her a huge disservice to let her not be educated well and learn how to study during high school. I can't let my emotions get in the way of her well being. In the end, as her parent I had to do what was in her overall best interest.

It's not easy, but the decision really can't be left to a 9 yo who doesn't understand all the ramifications. I bet kids can succeed in every environment possible, however don't you want the journey as good as possible for her?
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Post by livesoft »

texasdiver wrote:You are correct to the extent that some kids are so bright they will succeed and ace nearly any test with a minimum of effort. But you are not correct in your assumption that this means that teachers and gifted programs do not matter for the vast majority of more ordinary kids.
Did you mean more ordinary gifted kids? :)


And back on topic: Often a magnet or gifted curriculum will have leads into internship programs for the HS kids that the non-gifted programs don't have. So a student in a gifted program merely has to say, "I would like to sign up for the summer internship program" and they get an internship whereas the gifted student not in a gifted program has to hustle up an internship on their own.
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Post by RadAudit »

It's been a few years but I remember a gifted and talented program that was offered when my boy was in elementary school. The problem was that some of the kids knew they were gifted and talented. (Others, of course, were just as nice as could be.) See if the elementary school she wants to go to has accelerated programs, etc or other learning enrichment activities. And get her in to those. In junior and senior high (7th - 8th grade through 12th), I'd try to get them to take the most challenging courses they could do well in. (My girl was tracked in to a less than accelerated program going in to junior high - until we discussed it with the administration. She learned good study skills and kept up.) Elementary school seems a little too young to get really in to all of this stuff - unless there is no chance at all to re-enter the process a little farther down the road.
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Post by downshiftme »

My father who is a retired teacher thinks that kids learn better in an environment where there are kids of all levels and capabilities
It takes a truly exceptional teacher to make that a reality in a classroom with such a wide range of abilities. I've only seen it once in all the classrooms my own kids had, and never in my own childhood. More often I've seen the advanced kids skate by with no study skills at all (a shock they eventually receive in college) or be used as unpaid tutors to raise the minimum score on standardized tests used to rate schools. Schools are usually measured on percent of students below a threshold, not on achievements of top students.

My suggestion is to move as quickly as possible to the gifted school. Your daughter will be making new friends every year and the sooner she starts there, the sooner this becomes a non-issue. My own daughter kept all her old friends and made plenty of new ones. She has a lot more in common and spends a lot more time with the new (gifted) ones. The old friends stay in touch somewhat, but those she is closest to, turn out to be in gifted programs of their own. Not surprisingly, those that are more kindred spirits are those that look at the world through similar abilities.

When you get to Junior High and High School, gifted and talented kids in regular education can be targets. They can also be subject to significant pressure to adopt the prevailing "learning is not cool and is copping out to adults" socialization that is all too common. Gifted schools on the other hand tend to have cultures where it is not only cool, but actually admired to be good at math, science, music, history or other academic pursuits. Athletes are still admired, but much less so the the exclusion or even denigration of all other accomplishments. Social pressure gets much more important in Middle and High Schools, and generally gifted programs are much more likely to provide positive role models and attitudes.

Lastly, many kids have tendencies to self adjust. They like to be top of the group, or middle of the group, or just enough to get by, or whatever. In a gifted setting the norms are adjusted to fit the group and those kids learn more in absolute terms, even as they self adjust to about the same in relative terms. A few kids (my son was one) really blossom in gifted programs and go from being too bored to function well, to being engaged and accomplished. If you have such an opportunity available to you and assuming the program is a good one, you should seriously consider it.

We were very cautious about enrolling my son, because the gifted program people were rather off putting and a lot of their program sounded pretentious. If we had had any other viable options, we would NOT have enrolled him. Turns out the new peer group was absolutely wonderful for him. He had some dud teachers and some great ones, but being enrolled in a group of other gifted kids made a world of difference for him. Having peers he could reasonably talk to and a large group from which to find kids with similar interests AND abilities was a huge improvement in his schooling and almost certainly could not have occurred outside of the gifted program.
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Post by sscritic »

If you moved to another city, would you leave your child behind because all her friends were still in the old city?

Your role as parent is to make the best decisions you can for your child. You make the decisions, not your child.

When my wife got a job in another city, we decided to live apart for a year and the children stayed with me. At the same time, we switched my daughter from one school to another. The next year we moved temporarily to where my wife was so we could be together as a family. My children were 15-16 and 11-12 during those years. We talked to them, but they didn't make any of the decisions. Previously, when she was in elementary school, we decided not to put her in a gifted school. Again, we made the decision based on what we thought was best for all of us.

The gifted program could be great for your child or totally wrong for her, but that is your decision.

P.S. How many of your maladjusted friends and relatives went through gifted programs? It's not just about the formal education. Of course, they could have ended up just as maladjusted if they had stayed in normal schools.
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Post by Steelersfan »

Three kids. One was in the gifted program (although it was integrated into the regular school so it didn't affect her friends). Two were not.

All got accepted into comparable colleges, all did comparably well while there, and all three have had comparable (although very different) jobs and life experiences.

I don't think in the end it matters much.
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Post by LynnC »

texasdiver wrote:<i>* My father who is a retired teacher thinks that kids learn better in an environment where there are kids of all levels and capabilities</i>

I don't know so much about elementary education but that is a ridiculous proposition to put forward at the HS level. I teach HS science at a large suburban public school. I'm currently teaching general physics to juniors. All juniors at my school must take physics but can chose between general physics, pre-AP physics or AP Physics B. About 65% of the juniors choose general physics, about 35% choose pre-AP physics, and about 5% choose to take AP Physics B.

I have a broad mix of students in my classes. Special ed kids , kids with a wide variety of learning and behavior disorders, kids with limited English proficiency at one end of the spectrum. And at the other end I have some extremely bright kids who don't have much business being in my class except that they want an easy A and chose not to take the more difficult pre-AP or AP physics class.

I do what I can but there is no way that the bright kids in my class are learning anywhere near as much as they would have been in a more challenging class. I simply cannot move at a pace or cover material in as much depth as the more difficult classes without leaving half my students behind. I'm constantly cycling back to reteach basic concepts like algebra to the kids who didn't get it the first time around in their math classes.

I frankly can't imagine that it is really all that much different at the elementary level. I have one daughter in the 2nd grade who is quite gifted and involved in my districts gifted program. I have another daughter in 7th grade who is very middle of the road academically. My 2nd grader can do most of my 7th grader's without much effort. Mainstreaming her in general classrooms certainly makes the teacher's job easier as it is one less kid who requires special attention but I'm not sure it really challenges her all that much.
As a teacher, you know that your bright students need qualitatively different instruction, while teaching and reteaching your other students. No one ever said that teaching well was easy.

I'm guessing you have a very large group of students and it is difficult trying to reach them all with large group instruction. In elementary school it might be easier as class sizes usually range between 36-38.

At 9 years old, the OP's daughter should know 7x6, as it is a rote skill taught early. The OP sounds like he is an involved parent and I go along with his Dad, FOR NOW.

If it were me, I would go sit in the 3rd grade classroom of each school and do a personal observation of each classroom and the level of instruction offered.

LynnC
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muddyglass
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Post by muddyglass »

yes, absolutely.

gifted children need to be challenged to reach their true potential.
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Post by btenny »

I skipped two grades in my K-8 education because I was gifted or just learned fast. I attended three different schools over 6 years before I went to high school early where I then took advanced classes. By being 1-2 years younger than all my peers in high school and college I was always competing to out perform everyone. This made me very competitive versus my peers and served me well in my working career. I learned to work hard while I was young (way before college) and this carried over for most of my life. I had a pretty successful career. Because of this head start and work ethic I was able to retire at 52.

Now the down side. I was always the young guy so that limited my sports playing and girl chasing in school. It took me well into my 20s to realize I could do things athletically that were fun and I was good at. Same for some social skills. I never learned as much socially as many kids do in high school because I was always doing the "book or tutur other kids thing".

So net net it was a mixed bag but I am glad I learned to compete early. Your daughter needs the same opportunity. She will benefit greatly by learning to compete for grades at a young age. Ask her to go for a year or so and see how she does. Unless there are really lots of brilliant advanced kids she will like it IMO. But beware that she will have to learn to compete with other kids for the first time and it may be a shock.

Good luck
Bill

PS. Remember also that many smart kids with great high school grades struggle in college because they have to compete for the first time with other smart kids. Sometimes they do not learn to study in grade school or high school as they are smart enough to just coast at those levels. Then they go to college and have to study a lot......
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Post by epilnk »

Depends on the child - it's not a slam-dunk. For my elder son, absolutely not. For my younger son, definitely yes.

My elder son tested right smack on the cutoff line. Kids like that get over the line in private testing and parents in our academically oriented town often choose that route, but we didn't even consider it. Nor would we have moved him to GATE had he tested in the first time. He is thriving at his school - an A student who excels at everything, beloved by teachers and classmates alike. He could handle a little more challenging work, but he's progressing nicely and I see no need to force the issue. He has everything he needs to be successful, and I have little doubt that he will be highly successful in life if things stay on track. I don't want him in a GATE program, he was born to be in the mainstream and show off to his best advantage there.

My younger son is quite clearly gifted, but he is not thriving in the same school. Nobody is entirely sure why. But he is the kind of quirky kid for whom alternative education is designed. I worry about him much more than his brother.

Please keep in mind what gifted programs are intended for - to provide an alternative to the standard classroom for those children who will benefit from something different. High achievers come from both types of programs. But the one thing that will derail a successful child is social misery. The biggest long term threats to the smart kid are bullying, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, and the underacheivement that stems from unhappiness. Middle school to Jr High is a sensitive period where some kids slip away. GATE programs can move smart kids out of failing schools, or can provide a better peer group for nerds and dorks, but if your daughter doesn't fall into those categories the social change may not be a positive. And disrupting existing peer groups can have a huge negative impact on some kids. Maybe your daughter does belong in GATE, but please don't underestimate the value of keeping her where she is when you weigh the pros and cons.
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Post by texasdiver »

LynnC wrote:
texasdiver wrote:<i>* My father who is a retired teacher thinks that kids learn better in an environment where there are kids of all levels and capabilities</i>

I don't know so much about elementary education but that is a ridiculous proposition to put forward at the HS level. I teach HS science at a large suburban public school. I'm currently teaching general physics to juniors. All juniors at my school must take physics but can chose between general physics, pre-AP physics or AP Physics B. About 65% of the juniors choose general physics, about 35% choose pre-AP physics, and about 5% choose to take AP Physics B.

I have a broad mix of students in my classes. Special ed kids , kids with a wide variety of learning and behavior disorders, kids with limited English proficiency at one end of the spectrum. And at the other end I have some extremely bright kids who don't have much business being in my class except that they want an easy A and chose not to take the more difficult pre-AP or AP physics class.

I do what I can but there is no way that the bright kids in my class are learning anywhere near as much as they would have been in a more challenging class. I simply cannot move at a pace or cover material in as much depth as the more difficult classes without leaving half my students behind. I'm constantly cycling back to reteach basic concepts like algebra to the kids who didn't get it the first time around in their math classes.

I frankly can't imagine that it is really all that much different at the elementary level. I have one daughter in the 2nd grade who is quite gifted and involved in my districts gifted program. I have another daughter in 7th grade who is very middle of the road academically. My 2nd grader can do most of my 7th grader's without much effort. Mainstreaming her in general classrooms certainly makes the teacher's job easier as it is one less kid who requires special attention but I'm not sure it really challenges her all that much.
As a teacher, you know that your bright students need qualitatively different instruction, while teaching and reteaching your other students. No one ever said that teaching well was easy.

I'm guessing you have a very large group of students and it is difficult trying to reach them all with large group instruction. In elementary school it might be easier as class sizes usually range between 36-38.

LynnC
Differentiated instruction is a common buzzword in education but it's not always possible or practical. At my HS the normal load would be 6 classes/day of 25-28 students so the typical teacher is seeing 125-140 students/day. The scope and sequence of each core curriculum class (English, math, history, and science) is rigidly imposed at the state level and further constrained by administrators at the district level. While you certainly have flexibility as to HOW you teach the material, everyone is working with the same labs, tests, textbooks, and other materials. I can't really take the few really bright kids I have in my classes and push them onto a different track. We already have a different track for them--the more advanced classes that for whatever reason they chose not to take. When I encounter a really bright kid at the beginning of the year I mention to them and their parents that they may find a more advanced science class more challenging. But they often have valid reasons whey they don't want to do that. One of my brightest students, for example, is a very accomplished musician who is also taking a lot of challenging AP classes in the humanities and languages. Science is not her interest and she just doesn't have room in her schedule for another challenging class. My class is her easy class and she effortlessly gets 100s without any apparent need to study. She knows what she wants to do in life and working complicated AP physics problems every night as homework is not a part of it.
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Post by beyou »

I would check out the other school, with and without your child.

If it fosters creativity and push kids to truly explore individually
and with peers, I would send her. If it's just a test prep school
or accelerated school maybe not. I know of one local gifted school,
where they finish HS courses in JHS. Then kids graduate and go
to public HS where they offer the same thing again. What is the point ?

Having a son who went to public school normal hours and a private
gifted program on Saturdays, I can say it is amazing what you can do
with kids if they are ability grouped. I see nothing wrong with that.

As far as the concern about friends, it's hard for kids to go through change,
but if they meet kids bright and inquisitive like themselves, the transition will be wonderful.
Recovered day trader.
LynnC
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Post by LynnC »

texasdiver wrote:
LynnC wrote:
texasdiver wrote:<i>* My father who is a retired teacher thinks that kids learn better in an environment where there are kids of all levels and capabilities</i>

I don't know so much about elementary education but that is a ridiculous proposition to put forward at the HS level. I teach HS science at a large suburban public school. I'm currently teaching general physics to juniors. All juniors at my school must take physics but can chose between general physics, pre-AP physics or AP Physics B. About 65% of the juniors choose general physics, about 35% choose pre-AP physics, and about 5% choose to take AP Physics B.

I have a broad mix of students in my classes. Special ed kids , kids with a wide variety of learning and behavior disorders, kids with limited English proficiency at one end of the spectrum. And at the other end I have some extremely bright kids who don't have much business being in my class except that they want an easy A and chose not to take the more difficult pre-AP or AP physics class.

I do what I can but there is no way that the bright kids in my class are learning anywhere near as much as they would have been in a more challenging class. I simply cannot move at a pace or cover material in as much depth as the more difficult classes without leaving half my students behind. I'm constantly cycling back to reteach basic concepts like algebra to the kids who didn't get it the first time around in their math classes.

I frankly can't imagine that it is really all that much different at the elementary level. I have one daughter in the 2nd grade who is quite gifted and involved in my districts gifted program. I have another daughter in 7th grade who is very middle of the road academically. My 2nd grader can do most of my 7th grader's without much effort. Mainstreaming her in general classrooms certainly makes the teacher's job easier as it is one less kid who requires special attention but I'm not sure it really challenges her all that much.
As a teacher, you know that your bright students need qualitatively different instruction, while teaching and reteaching your other students. No one ever said that teaching well was easy.

I'm guessing you have a very large group of students and it is difficult trying to reach them all with large group instruction. In elementary school it might be easier as class sizes usually range between 36-38.

LynnC
Differentiated instruction is a common buzzword in education but it's not always possible or practical. At my HS the normal load would be 6 classes/day of 25-28 students so the typical teacher is seeing 125-140 students/day. The scope and sequence of each core curriculum class (English, math, history, and science) is rigidly imposed at the state level and further constrained by administrators at the district level. While you certainly have flexibility as to HOW you teach the material, everyone is working with the same labs, tests, textbooks, and other materials. I can't really take the few really bright kids I have in my classes and push them onto a different track. We already have a different track for them--the more advanced classes that for whatever reason they chose not to take. When I encounter a really bright kid at the beginning of the year I mention to them and their parents that they may find a more advanced science class more challenging. But they often have valid reasons whey they don't want to do that. One of my brightest students, for example, is a very accomplished musician who is also taking a lot of challenging AP classes in the humanities and languages. Science is not her interest and she just doesn't have room in her schedule for another challenging class. My class is her easy class and she effortlessly gets 100s without any apparent need to study. She knows what she wants to do in life and working complicated AP physics problems every night as homework is not a part of it.
Trust me, I know. I walked among you for a very long time, but retired 10 years ago with that huge pension you keep reading about. :-) Hate ending in a prepositiion.

Keep up the good work. Good teaching is an art.

LynnC
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verbose
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Post by verbose »

The words "gifted program" still give me the shivers. I was in my school's gifted program, and it was a nightmare.

But, maybe it was just me, and maybe gifted programs have changed?

I had the audacity to teach myself to read before I was supposed to learn it. This stumped my teachers, who had to put me in a reading group by myself. By second grade, the teacher declared she had nothing to teach me, and I moved to third grade after two months in second grade. The third graders weren't happy to have me in their class. I wasn't just a new kid, I was that kid who skipped second grade.

The gifted program was another level of torture. I had language arts in the gifted program with the other gifted kids. I was trapped for years with the same small group of snotty girls who made it their mission to exclude and ridicule me.

In addition, the gifted program itself was a bit of a joke. We didn't have textbooks or regular lessons. Instead, the teacher made the blanket assumption that gifted students were naturals at project management. Everything was a creative project. I admit, I thought most of the projects were contrived and stupid, and I made a habit of doing the absolute least amount of work possible on them. I learned very little in that class.

It never occurred to me that I could ask to leave the gifted program. I didn't think that children had that sort of choice. I also lacked the adult insight to see how ludicrous the whole thing was.

By 8th grade, I was beginning to realize that I could ask to leave, but that was the last year I had to do it. My 8th grade gifted teacher admitted to me that the other girls in my class were, I quote: "the meanest little bitches I've ever had to teach", but did nothing to stop the torment.

Back to OP's daughter:

- Nine-year-olds may be able to make new friends, or not, you really don't have any way to know. Gifted programs are small, and the same group of kids are together for years.

- Figure out what the gifted program consists of. How are they teaching gifted kids? Possible teaching methods consist of projects, accelerated lessons, and self-directed learning. Is the teaching customized to how the child learns best?
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social aspects

Post by asamir »

I met my future wife at the age of 10 in an after school program for gifted children. She didn't like me: she thought I was a nerd. 15 years later, she decided she liked nerds, and we were married. 16 years later, we remain happily married. Our son has taught himself basic reading and writing at the age of two. If he is truly gifted, and not just precocious, I will not think twice about placing him in a gifted program.

Anthony
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ram
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Post by ram »

Both my children went to gifted programs in elementary school and I strongly believe that they benefitted from it. My older was the state AP scholar and a week ago finished her freshman year of biomedical engineering with a 4.0 GPA.
The younger is a high school junior and was a member of the ocean science bowl team that won the nationals two weeks ago. A few weeks ago the 5 member team sat around our dining table from 5pm - 11 pm and wrote the final draft of their vision of what laws should be for marine conservation. These opinions of the top high school teams have been forwarded to the US congress. I doubt that my son would have done this unless he was surrounded with highly intelligent peers.
Because of my job changes my kids changed school several times but adapted without much difficulty. We avoided moving once they were in high school.
I teach medical students and it is difficult to teach when the group has students with different abilities.
Ram
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Post by maxinout »

Please keep in mind what gifted programs are intended for - to provide an alternative to the standard classroom for those children who will benefit from something different. High achievers come from both types of programs. But the one thing that will derail a successful child is social misery. The biggest long term threats to the smart kid are bullying, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, and the underacheivement that stems from unhappiness. Middle school to Jr High is a sensitive period where some kids slip away. GATE programs can move smart kids out of failing schools, or can provide a better peer group for nerds and dorks, but if your daughter doesn't fall into those categories the social change may not be a positive. And disrupting existing peer groups can have a huge negative impact on some kids. Maybe your daughter does belong in GATE, but please don't underestimate the value of keeping her where she is when you weigh the pros and cons.
I think this is a fantastic response.
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detroitbabu
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Post by detroitbabu »

Thanks to all those who replied. I have a lot to chew on.

I will post more details about the program after our meeting with the program director tonight.

Please feel free to continue with your comments.
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Post by praxis »

Our second son graduated last Sat with honors in our public school gifted program. He asked us to go that route back in 7th grade because his friends were in it and he qualified. He had to take a bus 30 minutes to the gifted school instead of a two block walk to the regular middle school. That didn't matter at all to him.

We sent his smart older brother to private school 10 years earlier and his adjustment was more complicated. He resisted anything that smacked of excelling academically. I believe the smart kids were not a group he wanted to belong to.

This choice certainly contains many layers. An unhappy child is not as effective in school. How can a parent hold up learning as a value and make it stick? We thought we spent lots of effort with both kids on this value as they grew up, but apparently with different results.

Most of our friends chose private school for their kids because they could. We have have been so impressed with the teachers in the gifted program in public school. The clincher has been our son's explanations of the kids in his classes, and how they participate and inspire him to do well. He took some regular classes and really saw how boring the classes were when the students were unmotivated and disruptive. He hated that atmosphere compared to a challenge. I wish there was a way to tailor education to each student's needs. There are so many variables that can't be revealed using tests and interviews. Good luck with your choice.
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Post by binary13 »

I just wanted to echo what a few others have said about students who coast through school and get a shock when they actually have to study in college. That was me. I never really had to study in high school, and graduated with a 4.+ GPA. I went to a college with a lot of other smart students, and got a 1.9 my first semester because I didn't know how to study. I was put on academic probation, lost a scholarship, and ended up switching majors halfway through the second semester.

Of course, that's just my personal experience. AP classes were just coming about when I was in high school, and I didn't take any, but I did take classes at the local community college my Junior and Senior years. Unfortunately, they also didn't adequately prepare me for my undergrad experience.
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Post by btenny »

MIT has a whole program to help really smart kids learn how to study and adjust to the work load. I guess they have a severe problem with smart kids who never had much competition at the lower levels hitting MIT and then almost failing and getting depressed. So yes I think it is very important that kids have competitive classes at a young age so they learn to apply themselves.

Bill
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Post by tbradnc »

I have to confess this thread really churned up some not-so-pleasant memories for me...

I was kicked up in the 7th grade and here was me, a fat kid from a poor family, now spending his entire school day with a bunch of jocks and other assorted rich kids. Looking back on it, I'm not even sure how I survived - this was back in the day before all the sensitivity about bullying... Unfortunately for me, my parents were of no help.

But, 2 of my 3 kids attended a magnet school and were in the gifted program and they thrived (my daughter was invited to visit and tour Duke when she was in the 11th grade).
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Re: Would you send your child to a Gifted program?

Post by smackboy1 »

detroitbabu wrote:Any opinions from Bogleheads on whether it is worth to put a kid in a gifted program or does it not matter this early in a child's life? Any personal experiences and thoughts?
My children are similar to yours, currently attending public school. My wife and I debate this issue constantly.

So far these 3 books have influenced me the most in this area:

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - The story about Canadian NHL players and how they are selected to be in the elite junior programs when they were little kids was fascinating. I don't even like watching hockey.

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle - Being smart/talented alone is insufficient. World class talent = 10,000 hours x (deep practice + ignition + master coaching). My kids are unlikely to be world class in anything (unless Nintendo counts) but the basic formula for success seems to make a lot of sense.

The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris - The biggest influence on children's development is not genetics or their parents. It's their peer group i.e. the kids they hang out with all the time.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
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Post by xystici »

epilnk wrote:Please keep in mind what gifted programs are intended for - to provide an alternative to the standard classroom for those children who will benefit from something different. High achievers come from both types of programs. But the one thing that will derail a successful child is social misery. The biggest long term threats to the smart kid are bullying, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, and the underacheivement that stems from unhappiness.
Excellent. Well said.
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Post by tbradnc »

jenny345 wrote:
But the one thing that will derail a successful child is social misery.
I agree that is very important. When I was in grade school most of the kids in the gifted program were the rich kids in the in crowd. When I got to middle school the gifted program wasn't at a separate school. It was just the AP classes at the regular middle school and the classes were mandatory. So I was put in class with the in crowd there and that was torture enough. It was a tough mix being a poor kid with Kmart clothes. At least in middle school since it wasn't a gifted only school there were other kids from my same social caste for friendship.
Sounds like we went to the same school. :)
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Post by Harold »

Sounds like this may be a group that can answer a question I've wondered about for a while:

Though I didn't realize it at the time, I went to a good high school (or at least a high school with good students). Seems like we all went to elite colleges -- and virtually any elite college someone could name was attended by a classmate of mine. As far as I know, there were no AP classes (this was the 80s). As seniors, we took Advanced classes (physics, chemistry, english, calculus, etc.).

I regularly hear now of sophomores who are taking nothing but AP classes. I also regularly hear college faculty lamenting how poorly prepared incoming students are.

What's the disconnect? Are today's high school students vastly smarter than those of us who effortlessly went into elite colleges? Were we just more challenged in "regular" classes? Is there something else? What's the story?
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Post by livesoft »

I think professors in the 70's and 80's also lamented about how poorly prepared the students were. :)

In the 70's, I took a few AP classes and went to a private elite university. I started in sophomore-level classes since otherwise I would've just repeated what I learned in high school. I am sure I was well-prepared because I did well enough to have a prof send me a letter saying I had the highest grade of everyone who took any of his organic chem courses that year. I got equally good grades in my other AP subjects. It's been all downhill for me ever since.

I also have a few high school interns working for me each year. They are invariably National Merit Finalists or Commended and AP scholars. They are incredibly book smart, but have no real world experiences. Nevertheless, this is no fault of theirs. It is just the way it is.

They've spent so much time studying and doing extracurricular school activities (band, orchestra, Olympic figure skating, many other sports) that they are completely clueless about what is going on in the world. They don't know that Osama Bin Laden has been killed; they don't know what's going on in Libya; Etc.

Today's students are not vastly smarter than students of previous decades. Nor are they less smart. They may have other priorities though.
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Post by flowerbuyer »

My daughter attended her school district's gifted program, but it was only for elementary school, grades 3 through 6. She was bused to a different school two or three afternoons a week. It was wonderful for her, because it exposed her to subjects not covered in regular curriculum. Science and math became both challenging and fun, and her lifelong love of Shakespeare began with her 6th grade class's 3-day field trip to the Oregon Shakespear Festival.
Because she was with her friends the rest of the week, there wasn't any social issues. Her "Magic" class (the name of the gifted program) just had their 27th reunion, and she had a great time seeing her teachers and former classmates.

High school offered "advanced" classes and AP classes, some of which she took and some not.
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Post by Harold »

Yeah, the advanced classes I took were somewhat equivalent to the 101 classes in college. But I'm still wondering about sophomores taking AP Geography or whatever -- do they really have all the other high school fundamentals mastered?

Had I gone to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 6th grade, it might have changed my life too. That's a magical experience.
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Post by livesoft »

^ So a HS sophomore takes AP World History, then the AP exam and does well. When she gets to college, 3 years later, she will remember about as much of World History as the college senior remembers of the World History he took as a college freshman.

My daughter took AP computer science as a HS sophomore. She got a job that summer doing software support / programming for a local company. As is usual, she learned more valuable lessons on the job than she did in class.

I'm not sure what you mean by other HS fundamentals. They've done all the reading, writing, and 'rithmetic they need to do. Do you mean dating and going to the prom?
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Post by livelife »

The elementary school our kids went to had a number of gifted programs, but these programs were mainly environments where parents used their kids as pawns in their social pissing contests. The activities appeared to me to be simply busy work without any true value. IMO, a gifted program is where a parent talks with their kids about virtually every topic imaginable and gradually increases the complexity of the discussion.

The greatest problem to me is knowing the definition of a "gifted" child. I have interacted with many high school and college age students who have very high standardized test scores. However, by itself I do not think this is an indication of "gifted." IMO, a student's ability is demonstrated by the breath and depth of questions they ask.
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Post by Harold »

livesoft wrote:^ So a HS sophomore takes AP World History, then the AP exam and does well. When she gets to college, 3 years later, she will remember about as much of World History as the college senior remembers of the World History he took as a college freshman.

My daughter took AP computer science as a HS sophomore. She got a job that summer doing software support / programming for a local company. As is usual, she learned more valuable lessons on the job than she did in class.

I'm not sure what you mean by other HS fundamentals. They've done all the reading, writing, and 'rithmetic they need to do. Do you mean dating and going to the prom?
I suppose I do mean reading, writing, and 'rithmetic (and could probably think of a few other basic subjects). I've known plenty of "educated" people who feel they know such subjects very well -- and quite obviously don't.

Maybe every 10th grader in an AP World History class has mastery -- but that would really surprise me.
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Post by Don Robins »

Yes, we did, many years ago. He ended up a National Merit Finalist and the gifted program helped him achieve that.
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Post by marylandcrab »

Gifted by definition is an iq of 130 or above. Many school districts use it for high achievers. Gifted kids aren't always the ones getting the A's. Sometimes you might be surprised at who in the class is technically gifted and who is just motivated and organized. What gifted kids usually need is a faster paced environment and going deeper into subject matter. If the threshold is true that gifted is 130 and above, statistically speaking that will be 2% of the environment. However, you will see more gifted kids in communities of doctors and engineers than a low income population.

As for why you see kids in 10th grade public school taking ap classes - it's twofold. One is usually because it's the only tracking available. They are taking it to get away from the general population of under achievers. The regular track classes are not college prep, it's just for graduating and not going on to college. Also, a much larger percentage of kids are going to college these days - 30 years ago many of them would not have. I hear of college having to have remedial math and reading classes before kids can move on to english 101 or college level math. That tells me schools are lowering the bar.
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Post by jfromcanada »

I am a product of gifted education, entering the program at about grade 7. I was older and had friends but I'm glad my parents made me do it. I think it is definitely the way to go because of the peer group your daughter will be exposed to. It's not that she won't have good friends in the regular stream but it's probably more likely that her friends in the gifted program would be academically serious and have academically serious parents.
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Post by tbradnc »

.................
Last edited by tbradnc on Tue May 24, 2011 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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detroitbabu
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Post by detroitbabu »

Update:

We met with the director of the program last night. My daughter felt a lot better but she is still not saying she wants to go.

We have a meeting with the principal of the new school tomorrow who leads a lot of science and math activities for the gifted program.

Some posters have pointed out about not fitting in in the new school because of differing economic status. In this case most of the kids are in the same economic strata. So I do not think that would be a major problem for my daughter.

Some more relevant info.

* The program goes through 6th grade. After 6th grade, the students will be automatically placed in the next program (grades 7 and 8)

* The Program is project based. Students will do various projects throughout the year. Projects will be always done in teams of 3 or 4 students.

* The Program director told us that it typically takes children about 6 weeks to be at ease in the new school.

* Teachers for the gifted program have been doing this for more than 20 years.

To me it seems like a no brainer. My daughter will definitely benefit from the program and be challenged by her peers which I think is a huge benefit. We have a big decision to make in the next few days. I will provide an update after we make the decision.

Thanks to all for their input.
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