Published On: Sunday, December 31, 2017|Categories: Learning Environment, Learning Strategies, Parents, Student Health, Tenney Subscribers|
Mom and gifted and talented daughter attending parent teacher conference at high school

You know your child is bright, and they have been identified as gifted and talented. So why are they struggling in school?

Despite being intellectually advanced, gifted children can still face many challenges in the classroom. For parents of these children, it’s incredibly frustrating to know your child is exceptional but see them continue to struggle in school. You might be confused and anxious about their academic future, and even upset to see your son or daughter not meeting their potential. While it might feel as if the situation is out of your control, parents can use several different strategies to help their children overcome scholastic hurdles.

Meet with your child’s teachers to discuss the situation.

Have a frank yet constructive conversation about your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as other patterns observed in the classroom. A thoughtful teacher will address issues and provide alternative methods and opportunities for your child to succeed. This might include modified lesson plans and assignments, or even recommendations for specialized learning programs. If your concerns range beyond the classroom or teacher’s scope, consider creating a “Student Study Team (SST)” to advocate for your child, which would include other administrators and guidance counselors. Meet frequently over the course of the school year to ensure that plans are working and that everyone is still engaged in your child’s success.

Meet with your child.

Communication is key, and you need to determine if there are any social or emotional hurdles your child tries to navigate at the cost of their academic success. Be an active listener and encourage your child to open up. You might assume your eighth-grader is oblivious or indifferent to his failing grades, but he might actually be equally frustrated and confused, or even grappling with a stressful social environment that distracts him from his work. If a student is reluctant to open up to their parents, a guidance counselor might make more headway. Don’t underestimate your child’s input as you assess their emotional needs in conjunction with their academic improvement.

Consider testing.

If you’ve already addressed concerns with your child and their teachers but your son or daughter still struggles in the classroom, you might have an academically gifted student with a learning disability (also known as “twice exceptional”). If that’s the case, you must ensure that the school has the resources to support your child’s needs and the time to help you navigate the complexities of remedial programs and specialized learning. Your child might be eligible for an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, which will make provisions for your twice-exceptional child in the classroom. However, be forewarned that obtaining an IEP is frequently a difficult and time-consuming process.

Consider the school.

How is your child’s learning environment affecting his success? Even with an IEP and SST, can you be sure your student’s needs are being met? If your gifted and talented child has a unique learning style, the traditional classroom model might not serve them well. Higher student-teacher ratios and lecture-based instruction in the conventional classroom make it challenging for instructors to work with individual learning styles and needs. If your child is a visual or kinesthetic learner, for example, they might benefit from a more tailored education in a less structured setting.

You want the best for your gifted and talented child, and you know they have the tools to succeed. Hold their school to the same standards that you hold for yourself, and ensure that it is equally invested in your son or daughter’s well-being and academic success. If you feel that there’s any room for improvement, contact the Tenney School today to discuss how we can best provide your gifted child with the customized, one-on-one care they rightfully deserve.

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