If your child has been identified as “gifted” --perhaps to qualify for advanced programs in school or outside enrichment programs -- summer is a great time to explore your school, community, and the Internet to learn more about the academic and social-emotional needs of gifted children. The Illinois Association for Gifted Children website page “I Just Learned My Child is Gifted” includes several helpful resources about meeting the needs of gifted learners. Also, the National Association for Gifted Children website offers a wealth of resources related to meeting the needs of gifted learners, including a page related to potential Social and Emotional needs.
Summer also offers an opportunity to explore your community for resources (e.g. museums, music programs, libraries, weekend enrichment/summer programs) that offer enrichment experiences and/or learning opportunities for your child. You may consider attending conferences such as the Northwestern Center for Talent Development’s Annual Family Conference that will take place on the Northwestern University Evanston campus on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Also, mark your long term 2019-20 calendar for the 2020 IAGC Sliver Conference to take place February 6-8, 2020.
If your child has not yet entered kindergarten, take some time to learn about programs for high ability students in your school district. In addition to your school or district website, the Illinois School Report Card site is one place where you can find out about your child’s academic programs and enrichment opportunities for high ability students. (For the 2018-2019 school year and after, the Illinois Report Card Act requires schools to report information about gifted programming, the number of students served, the percent of teachers with gifted training, and growth data for high achieving students.)
Acceleration is one intervention you may wish to discuss with your child’s teacher or your school principal. “Acceleration” is when a student moves through the academic curriculum at a younger age or a faster rate than typical students. Evidence shows that acceleration is an intervention that benefits high ability learners. (The University of Iowa’s Acceleration Institute website includes a variety of resources and information about acceleration and its benefits.)
Under the Illinois Acceleration Act, districts must have policies for early entrance to kindergarten and first grade, grade level acceleration, and acceleration in individual subjects. Your child’s school district should have information available about its acceleration policy and identification procedures for placement. The decision about whether acceleration is best for your child must involve parents and be based upon a variety of factors--not just a single test. Also, school districts need to notify parents of any accelerated placement decision with respect to their child.
Finally, when school begins this fall, make an appointment with your child’s classroom teacher to discuss your child’s learning needs. Your child’s teacher should be able to explain what types of differentiation and enrichment are available in the classroom, as well as provide information about what programs the school has to meet the needs of gifted learners. It may be helpful to ask-- “What programming/curriculum best meets my child’s needs?” Students may be gifted in different areas, so the best program may be different for each child. Your child’s teacher may also offer guidance about extracurricular and enrichment opportunities at the school designed to meet the needs of gifted/high ability learners.
As a parent, you are your child’s most influential teacher, and play a vital role in supporting your gifted child on his or her personal and academic journey. We hope that you will discover resources, build networks, and make friendships through the IAGC to help you along the way!
-Patricia Steinmeyer (IAGC Education Committee, Co-Chair)