Wondering what to look for in a gifted program? At this time of year, it’s a good idea to check in with your child’s gifted programs to verify that your child is receiving necessary services. It’s also a good time to look ahead to next year in case you are planning to make a change in your child’s school or educational services. Some part-time programs involve grouping or pullout options, while other programs are full time, including grade acceleration or homogeneously grouped classrooms. Regardless, you should expect to find appropriate management, planning, and implementation of the program, however it is designed, to be a worthwhile experience for gifted students. While gifted and talented programs can be complex and organic, the following four components should be in place.
The existence of talent and achievement and the potential for such should be sought in a wide range of areas. Teachers should be trained to identify characteristics of giftedness and test data should include, not exclude, students from entering programs.
Options could include curriculum alternatives, grouping options, continuous progress/acceleration, out-of-school and online programs, mentorships, and other options that may be available in the school. Counselors should be available and trained to deal with gifted students, both emotionally and academically.
This training should include identification, what works with gifted students, awareness of emotional and social concerns, and individualized assessment procedures.
Students should be grouped homogeneously for rigorous curriculum at least part of every day. The curriculum should be enriched and accelerated, incorporate complex and creative thinking skills, and include individualized topics of study. Finally, the curriculum should include opportunity for real or authentic application through the creation of products appropriate to professionals in the particular field of study.
These four points hit on a brief but broad overview in the examination of gifted and talented programs.
Many other criteria could be added as well, including ways that the program engages in evaluation for program improvement, but this short list provides direction for an initial review.
If you do not have these basic points in place, be sure to ask questions for further information, discuss with the appropriate school personnel, and suggest next steps. If you have additional points you think should be in the top four areas, be sure to share with us so that we can all do our best to ensure that our gifted children have what they need to be successful and happy.
The Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) offers summer gifted and talented programs for students ages 5-17 at locations throughout the United States. Residential and day programs are available. Choose from hundreds of courses in STEAM, humanities and fitness.