I have been reading Annemarie Roeper again, and I am always amazed at how wise she was. I was lucky to have gifted children in the era of the dawning of gifted education. Of course, there were people who would not discuss it with me because special programs for the gifted were elitist. I didn’t bother to talk with them. When my oldest was in second grade, he was diagnosed as gifted from a Woodcock-Johnson test when he scored at the fiftieth percentile in an achievement test (Iowa Test of Basic Skills). It seemed low at the time, but I had no idea my children were exceptional-learners. The teacher had him tested for an IQ and said that he qualified as a gifted student. I was discouraged from asking for his score, so I let it go. I still have mixed feelings about that. There was no gifted program in the school district at that time, so I went to a conference in Iowa and met Joan Smutny. She has been a hero to me. I recommend all of her books, and I hope you have the chance to hear her speak some day.
I began to read everything I could get my hands on. I have placed all of the books I would recommend on my Goodreads page at https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3192310-linda?shelf=exceptional-learners. Other parents formed a boosters club with me for academic achievers. We were able to convince the school to give “letters” for academic excellence as well as sports. We supplemented school weeks with “Super Saturdays” that accepted all children and taught skills that were fun and interesting. By the time my oldest was in fourth grade, there was a gifted program. In fifth grade, they were allowed to work at their own rate as long as they didn’t bother the teacher, which was progress.
In your effort to ensure your child is challenged, be prepared to be dismissed by administrators. Apparently there are a lot of parents out there who think their children are gifted. If I had known more, I would have kept records of all their testing. All three of my kids were to qualify for gifted education, from the Tuesday-Thursday model, to self-contained classroom (only the top 5% of students). I was fortunate to move to a school district that had good gifted programs, although they would do nothing until records were received.
Be prepared to write lots of letters to legislators. Gifted funding is seldom given without a fight. Often the legislature will pass a bill approving of special education programs, but will offer no funding. Clicking on a Facebook link will have no effect. Write letters, make phone calls, introduce yourself to your legislators. They need to know we are here and we want what’s best for our children.
Find other parents who have gifted children. I think I went to every sports event for several year asking parents, “What do you do with a child who….” I was wasting my breath if I thought all parents would understand why my child was difficult to parent. Talking things out with another gifted parent may not make the difficult behavior go away, you may not understand it, but you will have someone else who will not condemn you for using the word gifted.
Take care of yourself. While no one is surprised to hear that parenting a disabled child can be exhausting, for some reason parents of gifted children are believed to have it easier. Don’t be deceived. From the higher level of activity when they are young, to higher sensitivity of feelings as they grow, to the difficulty of making life choices among many talents, gifted children need more attention and devotion, too. Eat healthy food, get enough sleep and exercise, and get counseling when needed. You’re the first mentor of your child and teach far more from your actions than from your words.