I recently read an article by a college professor who stated that the best thing you could do for a gifted child is to never 'label' them as such. He made a few salient points about the labeling process, but overlooked many valid points for identifying academically talented youth.
School districts seem to fall all over themselves trying to decide how to address gifted students and provide services. Some administrators embrace their gifted program and some abhor the entire idea of servicing these students at all.
If you think you child may qualify for the gifted program in your district, insist that they be tested early. Do your homework and learn about the identification process. Inclusion in a gifted track can be highly subjective in many parts of the country. Politics and personal involvement by your school board often influences the process.
Why is this important at all? Many people think that the gifted will rise to the top and therefore do not need the districts' scarce resources allotted to them. In an era of educators asking "what's gone wrong with America's educational system", it seems pretty short-sighted that we ignore the best and the brightest.
I like to use the analogy of a school's sports team. Everyone who wants to play may make the team, but not everyone is going to be in the starting line-up. Coaches, booster clubs, and school boards want a winning team and few would ever consider playing the bench just to boost those players' self-esteem. It's not fair to the players who sit on the bench, but few in our culture would sacrifice a win and change the system.
So why is it okay to do this to those who are intellectually talented? These kids are often ignored by the system and bullied by their peers. Parents of gifted students more often than naught have to fight for the right to an appropriate education. Studies revealed in the report, A Nation Deceived, warned of the consequences of not challenging gifted students and providing opportunities for them outside the traditional curriculum.
As I said in an earlier post, you should never rely on your school district to provide your child's entire education if they are identified. The most advantageous scenario comes when parents organize and work 'with' their schools to educate administrators and teachers about the importance of gifted education and the benefits it can offer to the district.
Identification is key when it comes to gifted education. Once a program is established, you will want your child to participate when opportunities are presented. Involvement by parents can make all the difference. It is a choice that often requires parents to sacrifice time and effort to inspire their child to become the best they can be.