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updated: 11/5/2010 2:32 PM

Don't hold back gifted students

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In the recent article, "A College Freshman at 14," DePaul University Professor Joseph Ferrari is quoted as warning parents of highly gifted children against "push(ing) kids too early" into college.

Professor Ferrari's comments, while well-intentioned, perpetuate the myth that somehow parents of highly gifted children "push" or force their children into situations that are perhaps inappropriate and potentially harmful. The literature in gifted education confirms what those of us who work with gifted children know gifted children are typically the ones asking for educational change.

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Highly capable children are bored to tears in the regular school setting and are begging their parents for the opportunity to learn new things and engage with intellectual peers.

Whole grade acceleration, including skipping multiple grades or bypassing educational structures (skipping middle school or high school) is a sound practice that is well supported by longitudinal research. Of course, each acceleration decision is one that should involve a comprehensive assessment of the child's needs academic, social, developmental and emotional and appropriateness for acceleration.

It is important to remember that failing to accelerate a child who is appropriate for grade skipping and wishes to be accelerated is tantamount to holding back, that student. When they are permitted to go to school with their intellectual peers, they often find friends and social acceptance for the first time in their lives.

The world is a multi-age place where we adults usually can choose our peer group and friends. School is the artificial structure which has created a rigid age-based system of grouping students. School systems and society need to be flexible and accommodate the differing learning needs of all children, including the highly gifted.

Kim Freitag

Elgin

Gifted program coordinator

Carol Stream Dist. 93

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