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Insider Tips for Parents to Advocate for Their Gifted Child

Part II conversation with Dr. Kahina Louis-Beasley.

(for Part I, click here)

Image courtesy of Dr. Kahina Beasley, Strengths and Solutions
Image courtesy of Dr. Kahina Beasley, Strengths and Solutions

Seeking Outside Testing

KB: If the budget allows, seek outside testing from a psychologist within the community who specializes in intelligence or gifted testing. The test takes one – 1-1/2 hours. In South Florida, that ranges from $400-$500. That can give the child the evaluation they need to speed through the process rather than go on the wait list.

ML: A parent can fill up their gas tank X number of times with that money, but when you’re looking at a minor and the potential for scholarships, college, prep school, a better career, or a first job that’s above entry level, and how far that child could excel in the future, the $400 seems so small.

KB: Some parents are dissatisfied with the public school and want private school. The gifted program is the closest thing you can get to private school experience within the public school system. The classes are smaller, so the individual attention is possible. They do things a little off from the standard curriculum. They expand learning in different ways. There’s a very particular curriculum for gifted. Weighing $400 versus however much private school tuition is. Another thing to know, typically the score for gifted is 130 or above. That places the child in about the top 2% of the population.

ML: Is that IQ score?

KB: Yes. That’s part one of gifted testing. The other part is the teacher filling out a questionnaire. In Miami-Dade and Broward County (Florida), they have a sub-score of 115 for students who need free or reduced lunch or ESL (English as a Second Language). That helps compensate for a child with limited financial resources or language barrier.

ML: That makes sense if a child needs a free or reduced lunch, they’re probably coming from a lower socio-economic environment, so they’re not exposed to some items on the test.

KB: You really have to have understanding of the English language to do well on the test. But if you’re not exposed to those words, it doesn’t make you less smart. Parents should check with their county for Plan B, which is what that’s called.

ML: That’s a good tip. Are there any more?

Preparing a Child for the Gifted Program Evaluation

KB: The IQ test is standardized. There’s no studying for that test. Make sure the child has a good sleep, and a good breakfast. Don’t do anything too much out of routine. You want your child tested in the morning when their brain is fresh. You don’t want the child tested at the end of the day, because their score won’t be as high. You don’t want anything throwing them off emotionally that day.

ML: For parents who are waiting for their child to be identified by the teacher, are there signs that the child is lacking the intellectual stimulation they need in school, and how might it show up in their behavior so the parent can be attuned to that need?

KB: A child might directly say they’re bored or they don’t want to go. They may appear very distracted inside the classroom. They get up from their seat a lot, talk to classmates, or doodle. They’re not engaged, or what might look like hyperactivity. It’s tricky because those same signs can be coming from something else. A teacher might look at a child who’s misbehaving and think there’s no way that child is gifted. They might not consider that possibility. A parent would want a better understanding of what the child is working on in the classroom versus what they’re doing at home. If a child is reading at a 3rd grade level, but the class is going over letters, the parent would notice a mismatch. That’s a sign of a possible gifted situation and not ADHD.

ML: If it does show up in behavior, but it turns out the child is not stimulated, what’s the empathetic response instead of punishment?

KB: One empathetic response would be, “I’m so sorry you’re not enjoying what’s going on in the classroom.” But even before that, “What’s going on in the classroom? How are you doing in class? How do you feel when the teacher is doing math or reading? How do you feel around the other kids?” The child may be annoyed being around the other kids. Find out what the child is actually thinking within class. “I heard that today you were interrupting the teacher while she was talking. What was going on in your thoughts?” The child may say she already knew the answer to the teacher's question, so she was excited to express that she got it. She wasn’t trying to be rude.

ML: Being careful with the questions, too. Knowing when to ask yes or no, closed-ended, or open-ended questions.

KB: Yes.

ML: Thank you so much for you time.

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