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Academic Advocacy for Gifted Children

Barbara Jackson Gilman of the Gifted Development Center wrote this book to assist parents who need assistance in advocating for their gifted children. Because Barbara has worked closely with gifted children and their families for over 15 years, and parented her own gifted children, she knows firsthand that highly intelligent kids need support just as any other children who are outside the norm. She has seen the damage that may be done when gifted kids are not challenged in school, and has worked with many brilliant kids who tune out or give up and drop out of school. This book also contains heartfelt essays written by Quinn O'Leary. Quinn shares his reflections on growing up as a precocious boy who didn't often find adequate challenge in school.

Academic Advocacy for Gifted Children-A Parent's Complete Guide is a complete handbook on advocacy, but also a useful resource for parents who are striving to understand their gifted children. Barbara explains that gifted children often experience the world differently, and devotes a generously sized chapter one to this topic. Chapter two is titled, “What Do We Mean By Gifted?” and it covers asynchrony, personality traits, levels of giftedness, and more. Chapter three will be tremendously helpful to those who are still considering testing or assessment, as well as those who are trying to determine what exactly, their child's test results mean. Sometimes it is important to choose the right instrument for testing. Gilman states, “The WPPSI-III can be given to six-year-olds, but the WISC-IV is usually a better choice when the child is likely gifted.” My son's score on the WPPSI taken at age six was in the gifted range, but nowhere near what we'd anticipated based upon his developmental milestones. I wish we'd known enough to request the WISC. School administrators tend to assess more kids who are at the lower end of the spectrum, and are not always familiar with how to do things with extremely bright children.

Chapter seven outlines varieties of gifted programs and educational options. Gilman is a proponent of homeschooling, especially for kids who are highly to profoundly gifted. She points out which school programs are more successful for gifted students, and which are not so successful. The further reading suggestions at the end of the chapter include some terrific books, articles, and websites related to gifted education.

The must-read chapter for parents who need help with school advocacy is chapter eight. The author carefully walks the reader through the steps necessary to get academic accommodations in place. She explains, “ Parents should trust themselves to assess the level and urgency of their child's needs, and they can wisely consider various alternatives. Sometimes the best choice is to work with the school and the current teacher to provide accommodations; sometimes it is to move to another classroom, grade, or an entirely different school; and sometimes it is best to remove a child form school altogether. There is no benefit to teaching a child to graciously accept being held back. “ If advocacy steps don't lead to an appropriate placement, she advises the reader on when to give up, how to look for a better school, and how to get started in homeschooling.

Gilman also interviewed several extraordinary teachers and talked to them at length about how they work with gifted students. These vignettes will be helpful if a parent is still wondering what it would be like to have their child in the care of a motivated teacher who actually enjoys working with bright students.

A great resource!

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