Will advanced first grader be challenged?

Our daughter has just started first grade. We know that she is highly gifted, because she scored in the 99.9 percentile on the Stanford Binet test. She easily reads and comprehends books at the eighth grade level. I am very worried that the teacher will have no idea how to challenge her. What can I do?

Question:

This certainly sounds like an exceptional student. For a child to read so well and score so highly on the Stanford Binet at such an early age it surely is quite an achievement. I can understand your concern for her in school, but I do have some suggestions as to how to handle this situation.

Start the school year with a blank slate. Try not to prejudge the teacher's ability to challenge your child. Simply be there for all of the parent meetings and be sure to make contact with the teacher when appropriate. If you can fit it into your schedule, you may even want to volunteer in the classroom so that you can see how your daughter fits in. This will give you a very good idea of how things are going and whether or not your daughter's needs are being met.

If your daughter is as exceptional as the test scores indicate, the teacher will recognize this immediately. Schools vary in the way in which they handle students such as your daughter. They may ask your permission for additional testing, or may even suggest that she attend another school within the district. They may also feel that their programs aren't suitable for your daughter and recommend a placement outside of the district. Give them a chance to get to know her first and then see where things go.

Once the school year is under way and you can see how her education is being handled by her teacher, you will be able to decide on the next course of action. Keep in mind that your daughter's intelligence is academic and is not commensurate with her chronological age. This can pose a problem for exceptional children because she does need to be with her peers in order to develop the appropriate social skills necessary for success and happiness in life. Hopefully she will end up in a program where she can be with peers who are similar in age and ability. If that is not occurring at her current school, you may want to do some research on possible alternatives, which could include other public schools in the area, private schools, charter schools, or homeschooling.

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