Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gifted and Talented

My school district has this great program that puts on workshops over the course of the year about things ranging from special education to healthy meals to how to "take the hassle out of homework." I've been to them before, but the other night I went to one about the district's gifted and talented program.

I wasn't sure that I really wanted to be in a room full of people who self-identified as parents of gifted and talented children, but who the hell am I to throw stones, because I was sitting in the front row.

I'm hoping not to push my kids too hard, but I have a feeling that some—or all—of them might be the smartest kids in the school district.

Mainly I wanted a general overview of the program so I know what to expect and what my kids' options are if they do well in school and want to go into one of the many programs my school district offers. We're pretty lucky in that sense.

But it was kinda funny.

Turns out that in Montgomery County, Maryland, it's not enough to be gifted and talented. There is an even better program for elementary school children: Highly Gifted.

I'm hoping that by the time Quinn gets to elementary school that they have a "My Kid Looks Down on Your Measly Highly Gifted Kid, Because My Kid Is Superlatively Gifted" program. Because Quinn will want to make friends with those kids so they can do his homework for him.

The program was actually really informative. Mostly I wanted to know in what grade these programs started. And what exactly is this IB program that my babysitters were part of that helped them get into such great colleges?

(Answers: All students are tested at the end of 2nd grade, and I'm still not quite sure, but here.)

I also wanted to know if my county had a "twice exceptional" program for special ed children, and what that might be, how many kids it involves, and if the district recognizes that there are very smart special education children out there.

When I asked, the guy started throwing acronyms at me, like GTLD.

I wish someone had told the district that those letters were already taken, because all I could think was why do gay, lesbian, and transgender children have their very own gifted and talented program. And did the guy misunderstand my question?

And then I realized it stood for "Gifted and Talented Learning Disabled." (I figured that out just now when I Googled the program.) In fact, there is a program.

My favorite part of the evening, however, came during the "Parental Support" slide on the power point. Along with such helpful suggestions such as following your children's interests and enter competitions, was: "Do Stuff."

That's totally the kind of specific advice I came to get.

I don't know if my kids will be "gifted and talented" (and I use those quotes completely consciously), but nonetheless, I think I'm going to do some stuff with them tomorrow.


  1. I think that soon, there will be so many of these programs out there that all children will essentially have an IEP. Both of our kids are pulled out for 'enrichment', as it's called here in WA county, and yeah, it makes me happy, but it's a pretty low-key thing. I try really, really hard not to live through my kids' accomplishments, and also not to take credit for them, and to remind myself to say 'I will tell them you said so' when someone compliments one of my kids to me. I think this is important, because I have seen some parents who take their children's lives and accomplishments WAY TOO SERIOUSLY and personally, and it's not pretty. Not at all. And I don't want to be like that.

    Your comment about talented gay kids programs cracked me up. You know there are GLB parents out there who would be ALL OVER THAT.

  2. Jack would probably do very well in a GT setting. Once Evan got there (self-conatined in this county) he stopped having behavior problems in school. So yes, you can be twice exceptional. I'm glad we've found a great setting for him (going on 3 years now, knock on wood). I think of it not as my kid is super smart, but rather what I just said before - a great setting for learning that mets his unique needs.

    Have fun doing suff with your kids (hee hee).

  3. The GT program for Ffx County is a thorn in my side at the moment. My son's two best friends both tested into the GT program, where they attend a local magnet school. My son didn't (I'm not heartbroken over this - I like his school and he's in a foreign language immersion program he would have had to abandon if he switched schools). However, it seems that, thanks to No Child Left Behind, the education level at the regular schools seems to lack a little bit. They don't teach multiplication tables until the end of 3rd grade (WTH?! When I was in school we learned them in the middle of 2nd). There is no longer a middle option between regular and GT; no class splitting based on individual ability or the ability to skip ahead if the child is advanced. My son is now convinced that he's stupid because his friends are in GT and he isn't. (I should note he had his 2nd grade testing 1 week post-surgery for a broken arm and in the middle of post-surgical complications, but he wasn't allowed to postpone or retest. I don't know if he would have made the cut anyway though, because he doesn't give school assignments his 100% and his teachers know that.)

    I agree that some kids do need more, but really, most don't... What they need is just a more advanced level of what they're currently getting. Lets get back to the class splitting and offering different challenge levels within a particular grade. No more of this "no one gets left behind, but no one can advance, either" bullshit.

    Woah, sorry for the comment essay!

  4. Honestly - I have some misgivings about my kids being in a G&T (and not the good kind that includes a slice of lime) program. There is so much pressure in school already. I think they can worry about that kind of competition when AP classes are an option. My mother pulled me out of a G&T (or whatever they were calling it back then) program when I was in Kindergarten. She said that it was creating too much anxiety for me and she didn't think I needed to be dealing with that at age five. How courageous of her?!? I'm sure the school administrators (or my Kindergarten teacher - or whatever) were completely nonplussed as to why a parent wouldn't want her child to be "the best." Bottom line - she just wanted to me to be happy - and HELLO, five.

    Since my three kids are are still under the age of four, I haven't had to worry about this - but I almost think it would be easier if they were all just "average" with great personalities. They'd probably have just as happy and successful (if not more so) lives.

  5. Gifted kids do exist -the biggest problem being that they can learn something in one repitition, whilst other kids need 3 or 4 or more - so you get boredom and turning-off. There's no easy answer, but G&T programs are a good start.

  6. I guess it is a mixed blessing to live in a county that has so many options. Ack. How to choose? ("Do stuff" I can manage though.)

    In my county, it's easy. All the meetings are about "Why the superintendent quit." "Why our superintendent got indicted." "Why no one out there wants to be our superintendent." "We're thinking of disbanding the school board. Again."

    Not mentioning where this is, of course, but I think many of you could guess :-)

  7. Also? If you're kids are too successful, they will get into really awesome colleges. Have you seen the price tag on really awesome lately? Community college is looking better and better to me these days.

  8. Do stuff.


    We're going to the farm today! Whoo-hoo! That's stuff, right?

  9. I do lots of stuff with my kids: laundry, dishes, yard work.

    They ain't getting any smarter.

    xoxo, SG

    PS: Jake goes to a Ffx cty GT center and it is totally not 'all that'. And it's a fricken haul and a half.

  10. At the end of our meeting on Wednesday, Joey's teacher mentioned that she thought he was doing so well because we "do stuff." It must be a technical term in the school faculty circles.

  11. The Today Show had a segment on gifted children, recently. The biggest insight I got out of it was that kids who are truly gifted already know they're different so don't panic so much about the label.

    And I remember thinking about all these ridiculous people who sent in questions mistakingly thinking their kids fell into the category. Unlike me, who unmistakingly knows her child does.

  12. Oh my. When Andy was in 8th grade he tested as a sophomore in college academically. His grades were something we never ever worried about. But socially - he was SO far behind. Special ed back then wasn't very specialized - so with his grades sometimes it was hard. People would say "But he's so smart - why do you think something is wrong with him??" The professionals knew, but some people just don't want to see it. It's weird.
    Okay, this is the 2nd blog tonight that I've just kind of rambled on. Sorry. And goodnite. I think it's my bedtime. :)

  13. Do stuff?

    *slaps head*

    That is what I am doing wrong. I was doing 'stuff all'

  14. Completely spit out what I was drinking all over the keyboard when I got to the GTLD/GLTG business...too funny.

  15. Interesting. We don't have a gifted and talented learning disabled, but we do have a gifted program. My daughter gets both gifted education and special education. She's labeled 'emotional impaired' to get the special ed services. The school psychologist at her 3 yr IEP wanted to make sure she gets set up to take college courses in highschool...

  16. "...all I could think was why do gay, lesbian, and transgender children have their very own gifted and talented program."


    You crack me up.

  17. The first thing I thought when I read "GTLD" was, "Is MoCo talking about a school like the one Chicago wants to open?"!!

  18. When I read about what is offered in other cities and states it makes me realize even more coherently how wretched my own public school system is.

    Good for your system that they have a program from the 2e Child! There are so many of these children out there and they are AWESOME!!

  19. LOL at the GTLD sentence too. But not at this: in Montgomery County, Maryland, it's not enough to be gifted and talented. There is an even better program for elementary school children: Highly Gifted.

    As with autism, there is a continuum, or spectrum, of giftedness. Gifted--highly gifted---profoundly gifted. The higher up you go on the IQ scale, the quirkier the kids get. I have my personal theories about a fuzzy area between profoundly gifted PG and high functioning Apserger child. A PG child is not going to process things in the same way as a "normal" child likely has sensory issues and other "intensities" in addition to appearing a bit different socially from same age-peers.

    Gifted kids are wired differently and have unique social-emotional and education needs.

    If you looked at a bell curve HG kids are as far from gifted kids, as gifted kids are from kids of average academic abilties. So yeah, if they can get a special school, it's probably a good and healthy thing for those kids. and are great resources for more info on giftedness. And, at the risk of sounding spammy, I hosted a program this evening on the topic, which one of my friends liveblogged.


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