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Written by Raie Lyth, Parent Perspective.  Updated April 2004.

It is my view that parents of gifted children need to choose a school for their child with regard to school policy towards gifted children, and the implementation of such policy.  If parents are comfortable with the school environment, then it is likely the child will be also. 

Refer to the Australian Senate Review (2001) for current attitudes and policies towards gifted children and their education.

All schools in Victoria have a policy that says they support a differentiated curriculum to suit the needs of all children.  Gifted children come under this umbrella.  But does each school really appreciate the needs of this very special group?

There is a common perception in the community that gifted children have it made, and will breeze through school without any troubles at all, and in fact have an unfair advantage over other students.  This is far from reality.

The gifted child, by definition, has an IQ above 130, which is 2 standard deviations above the norm.  Development intellectually is at a very rapid rate.  This is in contrast to physical, social and emotional skill development, which may be at any level at all, either above or below the age-expected level.

With this asynchronous development there is a mis-match within the child, and with cultural age-related expectations of that child.  This can cause issues with relating to both teachers and same-aged children.  They do not respond as expected to direction, and have ideas way beyond their physical capacity to act.  For example, the prep boy with a fascinating, detailed story of adventure may become very frustrated at his inability to form legible letters in his writing.  He may become disheartened and give up on writing as a tool, producing nothing rather than something less than his perfect vision.   This is a challenge for both teacher and parent to address.

It is well worth finding a school with a real commitment to gifted children and their education.  These schools have a written policy that acknowledges the particular traits of this group.  They understand where issues may arise, and have strategies in place to deal with them.  The curriculum is differentiated and high personal endeavour, at all levels, is expected and rewarded.  This type of approach comes from the principal, staff and school community for effective operation.  It is not sustainable by a single, interested teacher. Check the School Charter for an idea of relevance of this issue to the particular school in question.

There are a number of theories of education.  These will be referred to in the research section of this website at a later date.

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