Some parents recently brought up the subject of their gifted children, socialization and school. They have been told by school folks that gifted children, especially in elementary school, need to be around age-peers to learn socialization skills so they make friends and get along with people. I asked the parents what they thought about that belief. All the parents disagreed. They all said their children have little in common with their age-peers and need the mental and emotional stimulation that ability-peers provide. The parents said their children interact better with children and adults with whom they can talk on the same level and pursue interests at their level of understanding, rather than the simple tasks of the elementary classroom and interests of age-peers. Even with asynchronous development, these parents said their children need ability-peers more than age-peers, yet, each parent said their child had peers of all ages.
These parents are struggling to make decisions regarding their children’s education. Many see their children as needing grade or subject acceleration but they receive push-back from their school for a variety of reasons, the most common being the myth of the need for socialization exclusively with age-peers. Some of the parents are considering home schooling their child, others are considering open enrollment for a classroom or virtual school in another district, and others are working on a plan to get their child’s needs met within their school district. These are difficult decisions for parents. Every parent wants their child’s needs met, and they become frustrated when those needs continue to go unmet. Some school districts work hard to provide appropriate services for gifted children and they do a good job. It is unfortunate that these appropriate services depend upon where the family lives.
Parents and schools can work together to meet the needs of these children and do so appropriately and effectively. Below are a few articles with information that may be helpful for both parents and school employees. There are many more resources on the Internet on the topic of socialization and gifted children so do your own search to find what applies to your family.
Tips for Parents: Socialization and the Highly Gifted Child
Academic Acceleration: Is It Right for My Child?
Life in the Fast Lane: Effects of Early Grade Acceleration on High School and College Outcomes
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