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Gifted Students: Finding The Right School

Gifted students require the right school setting. J&J Mom Rebekah writes about how she ensured that her gifted child, Andrew, was challenged and inspired in the classroom – and had opportunities for social development as well.
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When our son, Andrew, was in first grade, he lacked focus in the classroom and was becoming an outsider. I felt helpless and was worried about his future on the morning I left him with the psychologist for testing. I cannot put into words how grateful I was when the evaluator told me he was “truly a gift” since he was “gifted” and we needed to understand how to nurture this gift moving forward.

Is a gifted child truly a gift? Yes! But they are high functioning and can be very demanding. Gifted students know what they want and they are many times unwilling to compromise. They set high expectations for themselves and for those around them. They follow the rules and expect others to do the same. With a gifted child, you must strive to understand their makeup and to find the ideal environment for their growth and development.

That is where our family’s story begins. We searched high and low to find the right school that would give Andrew the best opportunities to develop, both academically and socially. Unfortunately, we had to wait one full school year to get him admitted.

The next year proved to be the most challenging year of our lives. Andrew returned to his old school and the bullying began. He was bullied for his rule-following, artistic abilities, and high academic achievements. He was not invited to birthday parties and was ridiculed by his peers, and he would cry every morning on his way to school. Because he did not excel on the sports field or playground, this made things worse. I spent many sleepless nights wondering how parents and the school could allow such actions against another child. I soon became a vocal parent fighting for my child’s well being.

We finally moved Andrew to his new school in 5th grade, and everything changed. He has blossomed academically and socially. This fall he will enter 10th grade. Andrew is the first to stand up to those bullying others and he is vocal on issues of right and wrong. Kids who have been bullied can make a difference if they choose to stand up for others. We are also grateful our outgoing younger son, Zachary, has been there to stand up and tell a joke when times were tough for his brother – another gift!

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If you have a gifted student and are looking to find the right school environment, here are some factors to consider:

  • Find a professional to help you navigate your path. As a parent, you want what is best for your child. Find someone with the knowledge and experience you trust.
  • Always listen to your child. Ask many questions. Get them to open up and confide in you. They are usually willing to share.
  • Monitor their current environment. Schedule meetings with teachers and the administration if you need more help – and don’t give up. You are your child’s best advocate.
  • If their current school environment is not optimal – put the time into investigating other options. Look for academics, overall environment, extra-curricular activities and the prevalence of students with a high desire to succeed.
  • Never give up. Your gifted child will communicate like an adult but is still a child. Again, you are their greatest advocate!

All children are gifts. As parents, we must provide stability in their lives and always strive to appreciate their gifts and understand how to develop them – just as we must strive to develop our employees and ourselves. We’ve been fortunate that Johnson & Johnson offers many resources to aid in our personal and professional development – resources that can also be utilized in our daily lives to aid in the development of our top priority – our family.

Rebekah is the JBI SE Region Business Director. She and her husband Doug are the proud parents of Andrew and Zachary.

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