Q. My 4-year-old son is getting ready to start kindergarten. He has problems in preschool with his social skills and I think it may be because he is bored. At age 2, he was talking extremely well for his age. By 3, he was telling detailed stories in words bigger than most young children even know. When he turned 4, he started writing words when I only expected him to write his name and they were right. Now at 4 and a half, he knows the real names for every type of bug, many dinosaurs, different species of monkeys and apes, etc. He also recalls how rockets work, what animals eat and where they live, all of the planets and details about dinosaurs and space. One day, he taught me about solar rings, and I have no clue where it came from. Is it possible that his social issues are due to him being gifted? Do you think I should get him checked?
A. Yes, it is possible that his social issues in school stem from being gifted. What are the preschool teachers telling you about your son?
I would probably begin by asking them for a parent teacher conference. Ask them about your son’s strengths and weaknesses. From your description, it does sound like he may have unique learning and social needs that will be best addressed individually. As he is just about to enter kindergarten, right now is a great time to begin looking into the types of educational programs that will best meet his needs. At your conference, ask the preschool teachers about ways you can help your son be successful as he moves into kindergarten. I would suggest encouraging his learning about his interests. If he loves the solar system, find books and visit websites online to learn more. If he loves dinosaurs, go to a museum to learn more.
Testing for giftedness
Most schools do not like to identify children as gifted before about third grade. Here in Colorado, for example, students identified as gifted are expected to score in the advanced range on CSAP. This can place a tremendous amount of pressure on young children. In addition, many children identified as gifted are strong in a particular area such as mathematics, but may not be strong in all academic subjects. If you are interested in having him tested, it is likely something you will need to do outside of the school system at this point.
I consulted with a colleague in the field of gifted education, Dr. Dennis Corash, for further recommendations. He recommended finding an experienced educational psychologist to test your son to provide baseline data as he enters kindergarten. This data can give you more information about what types of educational programs would best suit your son’s needs. If you decide to have your son tested, be sure to select someone with a background in working with gifted children. The testing process is complex and you need someone familiar with the specific testing issues related to gifted children in order to have an accurate picture of your son’s strengths and weaknesses.
Be an advocate for your child
As a parent, you will need to be an advocate for your son. You will need to read parent resources and find ways to connect with other parents around these issues. The truth is most schools do not do a lot for gifted students. You may find yourself having to look for schools which have resources in place to meet your son’s needs. Some school districts have gifted programming available only at a few schools. If this is true where you live, you will want to be sure to explore all of the options open to you to find a good educational placement for your child.
I would suggest that you initiate contact with his teachers to develop and maintain an ongoing dialogue about your son’s educational needs. You may want to request a parent teacher conference early in the school year in order to share any information you have about your son’s learning. This would be an appropriate time to share any additional information you have from his preschool teachers or from testing.
- Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page Found at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/, this popular site offers information for parents, educators and kids.
- National Association for Gifted Children Found at http://www.nagc.org/, the association provides resources and support for educators and parents.
Most of all, I encourage you to keep him engaged in learning by finding ways to follow his interests. Parenting him will certainly keep you on your toes.