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Should I have my child tested for the gifted program?

By Dr. Michelle Alvarez, Consulting Educator


My daughter is in first grade but is working above grade level in everything except spelling. She reads at a third-grade level, and her math is at a second-grade level.

Her teacher will not give her extra work or work at higher levels. She suggested that I test her for the gifted program, which is at another school in the district. If my daughter doesn't test in the 95% for the gifted test, the teacher said there is nothing she can or will do. My daughter always loved school. Now she is coming home saying that it was boring and she hates school. I believe in creating a love of learning, and I am afraid my daughter is not going in this direction. I have already gone to the principal, but as she is a good friend of the teacher she does not see a problem. Do you have any suggestions?


Within a classroom there are students working at different academic levels. In most cases the teacher fosters growth in each of her students by challenging them with class work. It appears that you have done everything you can to approach the teacher about providing your daughter with more challenging work.

Although not the option you were hoping for, one possibility would be to see if the teacher would allow your daughter to work on additional school work after she has completed the work required for that class. I used to send in workbooks that I bought at a local educational store with my daughter. As soon as she finished her work in a subject area, she would pull out the supplemental workbook and complete pages in that book. She would bring the book home and I would be responsible for reviewing it with her. This challenged her more during school hours but did not put the expectation on the teacher that she/he would grade the additional work. Another option is to approach the school counselor or school psychologist about ideas for challenging your daughter. Finally, you might want to seek activities before, during or after school that challenge your daughter. You could even offer to sponsor an activity and bring in a community agency such as Toastmasters to teach a skill. Each year will be a new situation and when your daughter is in second grade you may get a teacher that is more flexible. Having your child tested for the gifted program is another topic. If the teacher suggested you have your child tested, then she probably thinks she might qualify. A gifted program is a great way to supplement what your daughter is doing in the classroom with activities that challenge her. Qualifying for a gifted program is different in every state/school district. There is no harm in having her tested for the gifted program. If she qualifies, then you can make the decision about sending her to the other school. If she doesn't qualify, try the suggestions mentioned above.

Dr. Michelle Alvarez is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Indiana and project director of Safe Schools/Healthy Students for the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation. A former school social worker in Pinellas County, Florida, she is co-editor of School Social Work: Theory to Practice and chair of the National Association of Social Workers, School Social Work Section. She is also the parent of a special needs child.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.