Sampras asks:

Early Admission of a Gifted Child

Public schools in our state mandate completion of 5 years to start kindergarten. My daughter was 4 years & 9 months old, and because she had already completed an year of montesoori preschool and was able to read and write, we sent her to a Chartered school.  She will be completing her 2nd grade soon.  Her trimester score cards since KG have varied from A+ to B and is always rated overall A. She is good in Math, reading and making her own stories. She fairs very well in social skills, art, craft, and music. She is learning music and dance, and reads music notations very well. She has given some performances for large audiences as well.  But I have some concerns; (a) her attention span is little low - when 20+ problems are given, she invariably makes 2-3 mistakes although problems are similar. (b) with comprehesion she misses basic points, while being right on complex ones; (c) if 2 or 3 problems or questions have a pattern, she assumes the rest have the same pattern; (d) seem to have trouble with phonix -  at times: I find her writing words like Kan, probebly,thousend for Can, probably, thousand respectively. Recently she gave a test for 3rd grade gifted program, where she was assessed at 97 percentile in non-verbal, 85 in quantitative, and 63 in verbal categories. I am wondering if I should have her repeat 2nd grade and retake gifted test next year. I know it may be boring, but would repetition help her with attention span, phonix and overall emotional skills? Please advise.
In Topics: Kindergarten readiness, My gifted child
> 60 days ago



Jun 12, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Sounds like you have a very special girl on your hands! I noticed that you posted this question some time ago, so you may have already made some decisions, but I thought that I would add my two cents, as well.

I do not believe that your daughter should be retained a year. As you think about grade retention for your daughter, there are a number of issues to keep in mind. First, you should learn all that you can about research examining the short- and long-term effects of grade retention. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has published a position statement (which means that prominent members of the NASP got together, reviewed the evidence, and determined their official "position" on the issue) on grade retention. Dr. Jimerson at UCSB has also conducted a great deal of research in this area, and he has suggested that more comprehensive interventions should be considered rather than simply retaining a child. Overall, the research indicates that students who are held back/retained have worse outcomes academically and emotionally than their peers who were also candidates for retention, but who were promoted. For more on this, see links below.

It is not uncommon for children to have uneven development in their cognitive abilities and skills, and I suspect that your daughter could greatly benefit from some additional enrichment activities, inside or outside, of school. Perhaps over the summer, the two of you could spend some time on activities to help build up her decoding and phonics skills. For more on gifted children, please see:

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist
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Additional Answers (2)

browniescout writes:
Sounds like she may need supplemental rather than remedial program. Last thing you want to do is bore a gifted child whose attention span is low.

I would consult first with the reading teacher in your school or school district.  This is a professional with advanced training; usually a former classroom teacher, who does assessments and advises teaching staff and parents with regard to the needs of specific children.  

You might also speak to the school's guidance counselor who can help you determine whether your child needs a psychological assessment for learning possible learning disability (like  dyslexia), which are not at all uncommon in gifted children.

The school counselor can also help you decide whether or not your child would benefit from an Individualized Education Program.  If so, the counselor would arrange a meeting in which all pertinent school staff would work with you to determine your child's specific needs and devise whatever means are appropriate to meet those needs.

(Do ask how any such assessment or individualized program  would affect your child's educational record. Some people have concerns about having their child being "labeled" for the rest of their educational career and thus create problems with class placement and even preconception of the child's abilities in future years. This has indeed been a problem for families in some situations; However, an IEP generally tends to work to the advantage of gifted children.

Some of the "fringe" benefits of the taking these steps include; 1) the long-term relationships and communication flow that you establish with the people who are involved in your child's education: 2) additional educational opportunities that you may become aware of as a result of such relationships; and 3) your own opportunity to develop skills that will help you help your child learn in the ways most appropriate to her learning style.

Others will offer you additional suggestions. I'm sure you, a conscientious parent, will find the right combination of steps to take on your child's behalf. Good for you.
> 60 days ago

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readingserv... writes:
Please don't be concerned about the phonics errors your child is making, especially at her age.  The mistakes that she is making are evidence that SHE DOES have good phonemic awareness skills, as the letters that she is using (although not standard English spellings) accurately represent the sounds in the words.

I too have a gifted child who is not yet ready for Kindergarten (won't qualify until Fall 2011), and he is reading at a 4th grade level.  I have concerns about placing him in his appropriate grade because of his advanced skills, but am equally worried about the social disadvantages of pushing him ahead (especially since he is very small for his age as it is!).  I am curious about what you decide to do and how it works out.
> 60 days ago

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