If your child has not yet been tested for learning style, it would be wise to pursue an evaluation. If your child is a global or gestalt thinker, he or she will likely not do well in a classroom that uses linear, sequential teaching methods. Linear or analytic thinkers, on the other hand, will do poorly in classes that lean heavily toward right brain activities. Each learning style requires different teaching methods and activities. A student may be seriously discouraged and fail academically in spite of their giftedness if their learning style is not identified.
Know your student’s primary gift
Oftentimes, a parent is already aware of their student’s primary gift. You may already know that you have a budding scientist or a talented musician, but if you don’t know, seek out the feedback and observations of their teachers. It is not uncommon for gifted students to be accomplished in many areas or multiple disciplines that complement one another. A student who has a natural affinity for music may also excel at math. A student who is an exceptional writer may also shine in the area of languages. Identifying their primary gifts will provide opportunities for the teaching team to enrich and round-out the gifted child’s learning experience.
Know your student’s social preferences
Not all gifted students want to hang out with other gifted students all the time. Don’t force your child into social groups where they are not comfortable. Although some kids may actually want to spend all their time with the other Talented and Gifted (TAG) kids, your gifted student may want to be out throwing a football or hiking or biking or climbing trees with friends that are not in the TAG program at school. Gifted children sometimes have social anxiety or may feel singled out as being different; having a group of friends where they fit will be most helpful to alleviate some of their social awkwardness.
Advocate for your gifted student
Meet the teaching team for your school’s gifted and talented program. If you can’t meet them all at once, arrange to meet them separately. A group meeting may give you the opportunity to discern philosophical differences among the team members along with other areas of tension or concern.
Come to the meeting with a written list of questions and concerns. If you have a concern about your student, state the concern, then ask members of the team to comment on your concern. Find out if there are mentor programs and additional resources in the community that can supplement and enrich your child’s education.
Be proactive in reaching out to local universities to find mentors and enrichment classes. Work with the TAG teachers to get help for your gifted student who may be struggling in areas of weakness or deficits. Talented and gifted students need advocates. Parents can be strong advocates for their child, but don’t hesitate to ask a trusted friend, counselor, or adviser to advocate for your child as well. Avail yourself of the resources offered by organizations such as The National Society for the Gifted and Talented and The National Association for Gifted Children.