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  • 11/17/2021 10:59 AM | Anonymous

    How do I advocate with my local school board for gifted funding and services?

    Blog post by Pamela Shaw, IAGC President-Elect

    To understand how to effectively advocate with your local school district’s board of education, it is important to understand the powers and limitations of the school board as a governing body. First and foremost, the board of education operates at the policy and governance level. Generally speaking, that means that the board is responsible for what districts will prioritize on a broad level, while the superintendent is responsible for determining how to implement policies and priorities set by the board. The board of education hires and oversees one employee only: the superintendent.

    This means that the board of education is not the place to go with concerns about individual students, staff members, or specific issues that arise at the building or classroom level. For those issues, it is important to follow the chain of command that is typical for most districts. The board of education not only does not get involved with school-specific problems, but if they are approached about these concerns, they are expected to refer you back to the teacher, principal, or upper-level administrator, as appropriate. Also keep in mind that board members have no individual authority; their only authority is as a group of seven voting at a public meeting. In addition, the Open Meetings Act means that board members cannot discuss as a group or decide on issues outside of this public forum.

    However, the school board IS where you can advocate broadly for the needs of gifted and advanced learners in your district. You can suggest policies, programs, and services that you would like to see, either in emails to your board or by publicly commenting at a board meeting. While you as an individual advocate can bring these issues to the attention of the board, your voice will be even more effective when amplified by those of others with similar perspectives. You can certainly share stories about your individual child, as that can put a human face on what may come across as a theoretical issue, but be sure to advocate for all children with similar needs in your district, not just your own.

    There are two specific areas that boards deal with that have a direct impact on programs and services for high-potential learners: policies and funding. To guide their policies, most districts in Illinois follow the Policy Reference Manual published by the Illinois Association of School Boards. Most districts publish their policy manual online, but if not, it can be viewed at the district office.

    There are two policies you should look for in your district’s board policy manual in Section 6 - Instruction:

    • 6:130 Program for the Gifted - While not required by law, this policy is the basis for the district’s programs or services for gifted students. If it is not present, you can ask that it be included. This policy aligns with Section 14-A of the Illinois School Code.

    • 6:135 Accelerated Placement Program - This policy is required by state law, as is most of the content of the policy. If you are hearing that your district does not accelerate students, this is the policy to reference. This policy is aligned with the Accelerated Placement Act.

    Finally, while there is no dedicated grant funding for gifted services in Illinois, several provisions in the laws that govern education allow funds to be used by schools for that purpose. The  Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act, which determines the majority of the state education funding that districts receive, allows for “Gifted investments” and specifically notes that professional development funds may be used to train teachers in instructional strategies for gifted learners. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act includes provisions for gifted and talented students, including in the use of Title I funds for student programs and Title II funds for professional development. Because the board of education approves the annual budget, it is appropriate to ask how much is currently being spent on gifted services and request that monies from these resources be utilized to help meet the needs of high-potential learners in your district.

    Because the board of education operates at a broad policy level, they may not know much about what is being done for gifted and advanced students in your local district. Your advocacy can highlight this group of students and draw the board’s attention towards actions they can take to ensure that the needs of all students, including those with advanced learning needs, are being met equitably in your local schools. IAGC has many resources to help! See our website for the IAGC Model Acceleration Policy, Parent Resources, Educator Resources, and Advocacy Information. The National Association for Gifted Children also has a free ebook available for download, Starting & Sustaining a Parent Group to Support Gifted Children.

  • 10/28/2021 3:22 PM | Anonymous

    My Child Says That She is "Bored" in School. How Should I Raise This Concern With My Child's Teacher at Our Upcoming Parent-Teacher Conference?

    Parent-teacher conferences are an excellent forum for addressing questions and concerns about student progress.  Yet, when face to face with a child’s teacher, a concern such as “I think that my child is bored in school,” can be difficult to articulate. Here are a few suggestions for parents with concerns about insufficient challenge:

    • Be specific: Children’s academic strengths can vary with respect to subject area. If you feel that your child is insufficiently challenged, is there a certain subject, such as reading or math, that is of concern? Is there a particular topic such as spelling or multiplication that your child feels is too easy? If available, bring examples of your child’s work in these areas. The more specific your concern, the better able the teacher will be to address it.
    • Focus on Growth: We want children to be challenged because every child deserves to grow academically and be engaged in school. With respect to growth, here are a few questions to ask your child’s teacher: What are my child’s areas of strength and/or extra focus? How can I provide support at home? How are areas of growth/strength communicated to my child at school? What improvement has been observed in my child’s work since the beginning of the school year?
    • Share What You Know: If you have them, bring in samples of stories, writing, or projects that your child creates at home. This can provide the teacher with valuable information about your child’s interests and academic potential.
    • Avoid “Side-Stepping”: A child’s complaint about “boredom” may sometimes indicate struggle with the less “glitzy,” but important aspects of learning such as proofreading, revising, computation practice, or even problem-solving. It is true that “skill practice” needs to be balanced with opportunities for exploration, creativity, and fun. Yet, attention to detail, perseverance, and accuracy are important for success in school and beyond. When advocating for your high-ability child at conferences, do not sidestep these “challenges” — ask your child’s teacher about ways to support and encourage your child in these areas at home.
    • Keep Your Child Accountable for Behavior: For parents and teachers of high ability children, behavior issues in the classroom can be a “red flag” indicating that the child needs more challenge. In light of this, it may be tempting to empathize with your child’s feelings of frustration and look away from negative behaviors. But this response undermines learning and can even encourage underachievement.  Addressing behavior issues associated with insufficient challenge takes a “two-pronged” approach. Hold your child accountable for behavior, but don’t stop there; teach your child how to advocate for challenge in a positive way. Does your child have a story to write or a topic of interest that she could to explore if class work is finished early? Are there meaningful ways to improve his or her work? If possible, consider a follow up meeting with your child and the teacher to discuss ways to access more challenge in the classroom, as well as to “start over” and make positive behavior choices. A child who can confidently and respectfully communicate to a teacher, "I feel ready for some additional challenge, what would you suggest?" takes an important first step toward ownership of learning. 
    • Ask what resources/opportunities are available for differentiation in the classroom for high ability students: Schools have different approaches to meeting the needs of high ability students. Ask about what kinds of opportunities are available in the classroom and are/may be used to meet your child’s needs for challenge.
    • Investigate Opportunities for Acceleration: If insufficient challenge is an ongoing issue for your child, the teacher or the principal may be able to provide information about other academic options, such as acceleration.* Are there opportunities for grade-level and/or content acceleration at your school? Is this an appropriate option for your child?

    Although our children need to learn to be effective self-advocates, they also need our support. Parents and teachers who communicate and engage in a positive partnership to support student learning bring positive results for students. Sharing and discussing concerns about "boredom" with your child's teacher may not be easy, but is an important part of advocating for your child and can lead to new, engaging paths for learning.

    -Patricia Steinmeyer

    *adapted from Just Learning: Journeys in Education. pslearns.com: Patricia Steinmeyer, My Child Is “Bored” In School: Suggestions for Productive Parent-Teacher Conferences )11/21/15. 

    To learn more about the benefits of acceleration visit the Acceleration Institute, Belin-Blank Center, College of Education, The University of Iowa

  • 08/31/2021 11:47 AM | Anonymous

    My child is capable, but struggling to get organized as this school year begins! How can I provide support?

    As the new school year begins, it can be concerning to parents when “missing homework” notices are already accumulating, forgotten lunches are already growing fuzzy mold, and crumpled, unsigned parent permission slips line the bottom of our children’s backpacks. Also, it can be both frustrating and perplexing to observe that our academically capable, talented children struggle with the simple day-to-day tasks of keeping organized.

    Despite their strengths, for a wide variety of reasons, many gifted and advanced learners can also struggle with executive functioning. Some children may be twice-exceptional, others may be distracted by their own interests or learning agenda. Sometimes, these struggles surface when children experience a major change in routine, such as returning to school from remote learning, or taking on new extracurricular or academic commitments and challenges. Children may feel overwhelmed upon discovering that they can no longer “coast” with the same routines and habits that once worked for them in less rigorous and/or more familiar settings.

    As parents, we want to support our children through these challenges. Yet, by taking responsibility upon ourselves, we may be enabling continued reliance rather than empowering our children to take ownership. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:

    • Let your child create his or her own system for organizing. To provide “buy in” and ownership, challenge your child to design and use his or her own systems to keep organized. Suggestions such as placing post-it notes on the desk, keeping colored folders, or stacking homework on the kitchen counter the night before school may be helpful. But rather than insist that your child adopt your system, let your child create a plan to complete and turn in assignments. Ask your child to explain this plan to you and help your child to create a “checklist” to self-assess whether her daily plan is fulfilled.
    • Include your child’s classroom teacher. Depending upon your child’s needs, age, and grade level, encourage your child to discuss his/her organization plan with his or her teacher. Talking through the plan can help your child to internalize it and to take ownership. Moreover, your child’s teacher may have suggestions to help align the plan with your child’s classroom needs and learning goals. Note that although you may wish to help your child arrange a meeting with the teacher and/or participate, encourage your child to communicate the plan and initiate the conversation to the extent possible.
    • Start small. Organizational habits take time to develop. If your child is struggling with executive functioning in several areas or course subjects, choose one place to start. Build on success by expanding “what works” for your child to different subjects and areas as the year continues.
    • Make, share, and discuss calendars. With a variety of new activities and commitments that come with a new school year, it can be challenging for both adults and children to visualize when they will have time to “fit in” all responsibilities. A household calendar that is visible to all family members can help everyone to communicate and stay aware of one another’s commitments. You may also wish to help your child keep and share a weekly calendar that includes personal plans, extracurricular activities and school work.
    • Limit activities and commitments. Sometimes a child’s organizational struggles may signal that he or she is overwhelmed with too many commitments. Once your child’s calendar is made, review activities together. How much time does your child have each day to complete homework, socialize with friends, enjoy family time, sleep, and/or have the opportunity to recharge or devote to individual interests and activities? If an overwhelming schedule suggests that activity “pruning” is needed, discuss this with your child, listen carefully, and help your child to prioritize and choose a few activities that are most meaningful to him or her.
    • Set goals and make a plan to check in on progress. When creating an organizational plan, set dates to “check in” on success. At first, you may wish to check progress every day or two. As your child adjusts, a weekly or bi-weekly check in may be established. A simple goal-setting chart that defines what the teacher, parent, and child can do to help a child succeed is also a useful tool for clarifying responsibilities and checking in on progress as the weeks go by.
    • Reflect daily and celebrate incremental progress. Is your child’s organization system working? Are there changes/adjustments in scheduling that need to be made? Be sure to take time to touch base with your child daily, celebrate success, and help your child “problem solve” when necessary.

    Helping your child develop executive functioning skills and manage time, assignments, and responsibilities can be challenging and require patience. Although it may seem easier to take the helm when things get rough, supporting our child in a way that empowers them to take charge may help to set a course for a smoother voyage in the long run.

    Additional reading:

    Cash, Richard M. (2016). Self-Regulation in the Classroom. Golden Valley, MN: Free Spirit Press.

    Dawson, P. & Guare, D. (2009). Smart But Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    Kaleel, M. & Kircher-Morris, E. “Gifted Learners and Executive Functioning,” NAGC Website.

  • 07/25/2021 1:21 PM | Anonymous

    How can music instruction support my child with advanced learning needs?

    Are you looking for enrichment opportunities to support growth and development for a child with advanced learning needs? If your school or community offers music instruction and your child is interested in learning a musical instrument, here are 10 reasons why music instruction may be an opportunity of “special note”:

    1. Music has been associated with cognitive benefits. Learning an instrument is associated with positive cognitive benefits and learning dispositions at different stages of a child’s development. Some of these include memory, language skills, and focus (Collins, A., 2021).

    2. Learning a musical instrument helps children to recognize the connection between effort, practice and success. As with learning athletics or any artistic skill, music requires practice and repetition. A measure of music may need to be practiced slowly at first to master the notes, and then gradually be played at faster tempos and/or with dynamics to blossom into music. Practicing is one way that children can recognize that growth and mastery results from continued effort, and celebrate the results as their playing incrementally improves.

    3. Learning music helps children to develop focus. Practicing music and listening carefully to music requires attention and focus. Young children may begin learning an instrument with the ability to focus for only a few minutes. As time progresses, teachers and parents can encourage children to practice/listen for a more sustained period of time. So, music becomes a medium through which children learn to pay attention for sustained periods. 

    4. Music provides an opportunity for children to develop performance skills. When children become accustomed to performing in front of audiences and have positive experiences doing so, they become more comfortable with performing in front of others. This confidence can carry over to public speaking, participating in class, and/or drama. (In order to help students gain this confidence by introducing performance as a fun, but not a stressful experience, teachers should ensure that they have thoroughly mastered the music they are performing and have the opportunity to perform before a supportive audience.)

    5. Music teaches that mistakes are a part of learning, and that perfection is not needed for a successful performance. Though musicians strive for excellence, the essence of practice requires addressing mistakes and perfecting skills that may feel “rusty” at first. Moreover, there is no perfect performance. When a mistake is made, musicians learn that the “show must go on” and though it may not be perfect, can still be enjoyed for its beauty. In order to produce a beautiful performance, music requires persistence and grit.

    6. Music provides a creative outlet. Music provides a creative outlet. Students can express a range of emotions, artistry, and technique through music, which opens doors and encourages creativity. 

    7. Music is collaborative and teaches listening and cooperation skills. Successfully performing in a band, orchestra, choir or ensemble requires actively listening to other musicians, watching the conductor, and collaborating meaningfully with others. When playing in a group, musicians need to help one another, blend with one another’s sound and volume, and build on each others’ strengths, and share a common vision. Accordingly, music instruction strengthens collaboration skills.

    8. Music is a window through which children can experience the beauty of diverse cultures. When children are exposed to music that represents different cultures, eras, and styles, they have an opportunity to develop appreciation, not only music from their own cultures, but from those of others as well. Music is a universal language through which children can recognize, enjoy and share diverse talents, gifts that reflect diverse cultures, experiences, and perspectives. 

    9.Playing music provides an outlet for relaxation, stress relief, and joy. When faced with academic challenges, struggles, and life’s daily struggles, pulling out an instrument and playing a favorite song can provide comfort and joy.

    10. Music allows children to experience the joy of sharing their talents with others. By sharing the gift of music, children can see the smiles that it brings. It teaches that using one's gifts and talents to bring joy to others is one of the most wonderful gifts of all.

    Although "one size enrichment does not fit all," music offers tremendous benefits for those children who embrace it. If music "strikes a chord" with your advanced learner, it may be time to give it a try!

    -Patricia Steinmeyer

  • 06/27/2021 7:15 PM | Anonymous

    Should I have My Child Tested for "Giftedness"?

    A frequent question asked by parents of primary school children is, “Should I have my child tested for giftedness?” 

    Parents are a child’s first teachers, and often the first to recognize signs of advanced ability such as early literacy, creative approaches to mathematical problem solving, or sophisticated vocabulary. It is natural that these parents may wonder if they are nurturing a child with outstanding talent or abilities. They may ask, "What additional parent responsibilities, opportunities, or concerns may be on the horizon when raising a child with advanced abilities or unusual talents?" In order to find out what needs a child may have, a test may seem like a natural first step.

    However, when considering whether to assess a child for “giftedness” outside of school or through a district-sponsored assessment process, it is important to recognize that no single assessment exists to determine this. Multiple measures beyond standardized testing, including subjective data such as interviews and observations may provide valuable information to determine a child’s abilities and talents. 

     Moreover, there are many definitions of “giftedness,” and whether a child is considered “gifted” likely depends upon the school, district, or organization who set identification criteria to determine eligibility for advanced or enriched educational programs. If a determination of “giftedness” is needed to place a child in a given program through which he or she may benefit, then testing a child for “giftedness” pursuant to those criteria makes sense.

    For parents considering testing their child for giftedness outside of their child’s school/district, the following questions may be helpful:

    • What different enrichment activities or learning experiences would I provide for my child should he/she be found to be “gifted?” Would they differ from the kinds of enrichment activities that I provide based upon my child’s current interest, readiness, and preferences?

    • Does my child show emotional/academic readiness to engage in the assessment process? 

    • Is my child engaged in learning, happy, and motivated in school and/or home learning activities?

    • Are there concerns about special needs or learning disabilities that an assessment would help to identify and/or address?

    The National Association for Gifted Children’sTip Sheet, “Assessments,” by Kathy Nilles offers additional guidance for parents who are considering whether to assess their child for giftedness. (Ms. Nilles will be a presenter at the Illinois Association for Gifted Children’s Parent Saturday Forum, which will be held virtually on October 16, 2021.)

    Assessments play a role to support parents of children on this journey when they help to match programming to children’s advanced learning needs. However, regardless of whether a child is identified as "gifted, parents should seek enrichment experiences through school, community, and online channels to develop their child’s unique skills and talents. 

  • 05/27/2021 8:03 AM | Anonymous

    Our last IAGC Parent Round Table Discussion focused on “Summer Fun and Learning: Ways to Keep High Ability Kids Busy this Summer.” We have compiled a list of Resources to Explore to help you have a fun, engaging summer with your curious children! Included are Chicago-area and Illinois attractions, with links to activities and resources you can access at home; Illinois gifted resources; links to other online and summer resources; and ideas for activities you can enjoy with your children both outdoors and at home. If you have great ideas to share, please send them to pamela@iagcgifted.org so that we can keep this list updated and growing!

    -Pamela Shaw, IAGC Board Member

  • 04/26/2021 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    How Can Educators and Parents Support Advanced Learners in Early Childhood/Elementary School?

    Early childhood and primary school are years filled with incredible learning and growth for young learners --each developing as a unique individual at his or her own pace. But what should parents and educators do when they notice that a child seems to develop reading, language or mathematics capabilities earlier than usual, asks questions that indicate deep curiosity, or exhibit outstanding talent with respect to certain interests? 

    The National Association for Gifted Children has several resources that may be helpful to parents of young advanced learners. For example, the NAGC webpage, Nurturing Early Interests and Strengths suggests providing a wide variety of activities, such as using developmentally appropriate activities, pretend play, hands-on activities, and reading together. The article also advises, "Be careful not to extend expectations based on your child’s performance in any one activity to all activities." The NAGC 2016 Early Childhood TIP Sheet by Dr. Nancy Hertzog and Joan Franklin Smutny also provides several ideas and suggestions for parents.

    Many important questions that parents may have about how to support children during the early childhood years were addressed at the Illinois Association for Gifted Children's recent online Panel Discussion. Time for Elementary School: What Parents Should know About Early Entrance, Acceleration, and Advanced Learning. Expert panelists included Dr. Nancy Hertzog, Professor or Learning Sciences and Development at the University of Washington, Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Administrator, Acceleration Institute and Research at the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center, and Dr. Randy Lange, Talent Development Coordinator, District 102in La Grange, Illinois. To access a recording, visit the Illinois Association for Gifted Children Home Page.

  • 03/18/2021 3:12 PM | Anonymous

    Why Do Advanced Learners Grapple With Underachievement and What Can We Do About It?  

    -Patricia Steinmeyer


    Often we think of gifted and advanced learners as those who are successful in school, embrace learning opportunities, and are highly motivated. However, this is not always the case. Some highly capable students do not excel in school and may even resist learning. For parents and educators of children with exceptional abilities and potential, it can be heartbreaking and frustrating when a child's performance in school does not match his or her capabilities. 

    Because of the diversity of talents and strengths exhibited by individuals, there is no set definition for underachieving gifted and talented learners. However, it is generally understood that underachievement refers to a difference between expected achievement and ability (Reis, 2000).It is also difficult to characterize underachievers because individuals may underachieve in certain areas and not others.

    Underachievement can manifest itself in a lack of motivation, which may be reflected in a variety of behaviors such as apparent laziness, defiance, disengagement, procrastination, and/or passive aggressiveness (Whitney & Hirsch, 2007, pp. 37-38). 

    There are also different types of underachievers. Richard Cash, Ed. D. identifies two types of underachievers, “nonproducers” who perform well on tests, but do not complete daily assignments and homework, and “selective producers” who know that they are capable, but only complete work that they are interested in doing (Cash 2017). 

    As a teacher, I observed that underachievement on the part of advanced learners was sometimes driven by a lack of appropriate challenge or interest in the class work. This is not surprising because advanced learners may begin the school year having mastered 40-50 percent of the material (Heacox & Cash, p. 139). Also, many gifted and advanced learners have intense interests that they do not have the opportunity to explore in school due to inflexibility in the curriculum and/or lack of differentiation. 

    In addition to the lack of appropriate challenge and/or engaging learning experiences, other potential factors that may contribute to underachievement include the following:

    • Family struggles/life changes
    • Perfectionism
    • Lack of culturally responsive curriculum and instruction that creates a sense of relevance and belonging for students from diverse backgrounds and cultures
    • Peer influences
    • Fixed mindset (as opposed to a growth mindset that accepts mistakes and struggle as a part of learning, resulting in resilience, perseverance and grit)
    • A sense of lack of control over circumstances
    • Negative perceptions of one’s own abilities/poor self-concept
    • Unclear Expectations
    • Test anxiety
    • A sense that work is irrelevant/unimportant for achieving personal goals
    • Lack of clear and meaningful feedback
    • (For perceived underachievement) Undiagnosed learning disability, illness, or health concern

    As human beings, all of us underachieve at times. But what can parents do when they observe a pattern or consistent underachievement? Here are a few suggestions:

    Check in with the child’s teacher and extracurricular coaches/instructors.

    • Ask teachers to share their observations and perspectives with respect to any changes in your child’s attitudes or performance. This can help you to get a complete picture of your child’s daily experience.
    • If you speak with teachers in classes/activities in which your child is motivated and successful, ask about any strategies or suggestions they may have that may help to motivate your child.
    • Find out whether the curriculum relevant to your child’s experience and inclusive of your child through its acknowledgement of his/her culture and heritage. 
    • Gain awareness of the type of feedback your child receives in school. Positive, specific feedback from the teacher can be highly motivating when it acknowledges individual effort, provides clear, constructive suggestions for improvement, and underscores the meaningfulness of the assignment. Help your child to review and reflect on this feedback when provided.
    • Ask about whether there are opportunities for choice when projects are assigned. Having choice may provide a sense of autonomy that can increase motivation.
    • Ask your child’s teacher for any suggestions about what you can do as a parent to support your child’s continued learning and growth in the classroom.

    Check in with your child's physician to rule out potential health concerns.

    • Sometimes a child's underachievement, especially when there is a change in behavior, may reflect an underlying physical or emotional health issue. 

    Talk with your child. Some helpful questions to start a conversation may be:

    • How are things going in school? What do you think is going well? In what classes/subjects are you struggling?
    • Are there things that your teacher, parent, and/or you can do to help?
    • How do you feel about school days? When are you feeling the best about school and your work?
    • If you could create the most interesting assignment or learning experience for yourself, what would it be?
    • What are your goals for yourself and/or what would you like to do when you grow up? How do you think school will help you with your goals?
    • What school subjects and classes interest you the most? Why? What about those classes/subjects that do not interest you? How could they be improved? Is there anything you think you could do differently to help yourself in those subjects?

    Encourage or support your child’s passions and interests if these interests are physically and emotionally healthy and align with your values. 

    • Your child’s sense of excitement and curiosity can positively impact a sense of joy in learning, a positive self-concept, a sense of control, and self-efficacy. 
    • Participating in activities with peers and/or mentors that have similar interests may inspire and/or motivate your child.

    Accept that your child may have unique strengths and talents in some areas but not others.

    • Often children excel in some areas, but not in others. Educators and parents should maintain high expectations for children and encourage children to put forth effort and embrace challenges. However, it is also important to keep expectations realistic.

    Help your child to set realistic and measurable short term and long term goals.

    • Set goals that are within your child’s control such as “I will practice 5 math problems per day,” or “I will write a paragraph in my journal every Thursday.” Once your child gains confidence by fulfilling short term goals, extend goals gradually.
    • Help your child to be accountable by following up routinely, reflecting on progress, and celebrating incremental progress.
    • For more information on goal setting, review theIAGC January 2021 Question of the Month Blog: How Can I Help My Advanced Learner Set and Achieve Goals?

    Always let your child know that they are loved and valued for who they are, not what they achieve.

    As engaged, informed, and positive advocates, parents can provide invaluable support for reversing underachievement among advanced learners. Although the road may be challenging, we can help our children overcome this struggle through respectful listening, creativity, understanding and love.



    • Cash, R. Understanding Underachievement in Gifted Learners. Free Spirit Publishing Blog. August 17, 2017. https://freespiritpublishingblog.com/2017/08/17/understanding-underachievement-in-gifted-learners/
    • Heacox, D. (2020).Differentiation for gifted learners: Going beyond the basics. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing.
    • Reis, S. M., & McCoach, D. B. (2000). The underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go?Gifted Child Quarterly,44(3), 152-170. Retrieved from:https://www.davidsongifted.org/search-database/entry/a10094
    • Whitney, C. S., & Hirsch, G. (2007).A Love for Learning: Motivation and the Gifted Child. Great Potential Press, pp. 37-38.

    Additional Resources:

    • Cash, R. Understanding Underachievement in Gifted Learners. Free Spirit Publishing Blog. August 17, 2017. https://freespiritpublishingblog.com/2017/08/17/understanding-underachievement-in-gifted-learners/
    • Delisle, J. R. (2018). Doing poorly on purpose: Strategies to reverse underachievement and respect student dignity. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    • Whitney, C. S., & Hirsch, G. (2007). A Love for Learning: Motivation and the Gifted Child. Great Potential Press
    • NAGC Webpage - Underachievement(Includes an additional list of resources.)
    • Summer Institute for the Gifted: Underachievement in Gifted Students: Reversal is Possible.


  • 02/22/2021 6:16 AM | Anonymous

    Should My Child Skip a Grade in School?

    When a child seems to have already mastered curriculum material in mathematics and/or language arts, parents and educators may wonder if that child would feel happier and appropriately challenged in a more advanced grade level. At the same time, we may hesitate to explore grade skipping, otherwise known as grade level acceleration, for reasons such as the following:

    • What if my child misses her friends or has difficulty meeting new friends?

    • What if the more advanced grade level is too hard? 

    • What if my child is physically less mature than other children; will he/she be able to play sports?

    • How will my child feel if she enters middle school/high-school/college early? Will he/she be emotionally ready?

    There are many misconceptions surrounding the potential negative impacts of grade level acceleration including that it has negative consequences for children academically. On the contrary, an abundance of research shows that when appropriately implemented, acceleration has positive academic and social outcomes for children with advanced learning needs. A summary of this research can be found in A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students (2015) edited by Susan G. Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce VanTassel-Baska, and Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik. This resource can be downloaded at no charge from the Acceleration Institute. 

    Despite its potential advantages, grade level acceleration is not the most appropriate option for every child with advanced learning needs. A variety of factors such as academic need, social-emotional readiness, age and grade of siblings, and program alternatives, should be considered when deciding whether grade level acceleration is the best option. One tool often used by professional educators and administrators, theIowa Acceleration Scale, takes a variety of factors into account to provide guidance about whether accelerated placement is appropriate for meeting a child’s needs.

    For some children who show readiness, the easiest time to accelerate can be in the early grades, such as when a child is ready to enter Kindergarten or First Grade. For more information about early entrance as well as other options to meet the needs of young learners, please join the Illinois Association for Gifted Children a special virtual expert panel discussion on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, from 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM: Time for Elementary School: What Parents Need to Know About Early Entrance to Kindergarten/First Grade, Acceleration, and Advanced Learning.

    Finally, although “acceleration” is often associated with “grade skipping,” there are several different kinds of acceleration that support advanced learning needs, but do not require skipping a grade. Individual subject acceleration, independent studies, curriculum compacting within the grade level classroom, or distance learning courses. A Nation Empowered describes twenty different types of acceleration.

    -Patricia Steinmeyer, Executive Director, IAGC

    For more information:

    Academic Acceleration: Information for Parents, Illinois Association for Gifted Children website. 

  • 01/25/2021 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    How Can I Help My Advanced Learner Set and Achieve Goals?

    With January “New Year’s Resolutions,” we set goals for the coming year. As we do so, we think about what relationships and personal characteristics that we would like to improve, make plans for meeting challenges, and develop long and short term objectives for self-improvement. Making and keeping resolutions is a great way to steer ourselves toward a productive year. 

    One valuable “new year’s resolution” that educators and parents should consider is to transfer this power of “goal setting” to our children. All children, including advanced learners, face challenges in school and in life, so they need tools to forge ahead and overcome obstacles. One way to provide direction for success and to empower our children is to teach them how to set goals for themselves. Here are five tips for parents to help your child to set and achieve goals in school this year:

    1). Help your child to reflect and take ownership of his or her goals.

    It may be easy for teachers and parents to see where children are struggling in school and could benefit from goal setting. It is often clear to adults to recognize when children need to focus on areas such as organization, building friendships, or mastering certain academic subject areas. Yet, however we may be tempted, we must be careful not to set goals for our children, but with our children. 

    Take time to reflect with your child about the status quo, and help your child to recognize what goals may be appropriate, understand why they are important, and care about their goals. The following questions may help:

    • What are some areas in school that are going well? Why do you think they are going well?
    • What is not going so well that you might want to improve?
    • What kinds of help might you need to make things better?
    • What are one or two things you think you might be able to do to make things better?

    Sometimes, children can identify where they are struggling, but may not know what to do. At that point, brainstorming a list of potential solutions (no matter how far-fetched), is a great way to start. Then, you can discuss this list with your child and choose a couple practical ideas. If strategies are still not available, you can look for resources together or consult with your child’s teacher to help gain some ideas. 

    2). Start small.

    Even with the best intentions and for experienced goal-setters, it can be difficult to stick with long-range goals. In fact, research shows that most people give up their New Year’s resolutions by February. Try setting a goal for the day, such as learning three vocabulary words, practicing an instrument for 15 minutes, or remembering one’s backpack without a reminder. Then, after short term successes are reached, move to longer time frames and larger goals.

    3). Help your child set goals that are within your child’s control.

    Your child may be tempted to set goals such as “Getting an A” in mathematics or “being captain of the soccer team.” While these may be well-deserved, and even likely results of hard work, such goals are often not immediately within your child’s control. 

    For children, especially those who are new to goal setting, try focusing on learning or mastery goals such as: “I will remember to turn in my homework”; or “I will ask the teacher when I have a question,” or “I will check my work to and mark where I explain each step of my reasoning before I turn it in,” or “I will practice my soccer drills for 15-minutes per day.” These types of goals are measurable, and progress can be easily tracked and celebrated.

    4). Set a time to revisit goals.

    As a teacher, one of my favorite “goal setting” forms for elementary students read as follows:

    My goal: ___________________

    What my parent can do to help me reach my goal: __________

    What my teacher can do to help me reach my goal: ________________

    What I can do to help myself reach my goal: ___________________

    My parent/teacher will check in with me on: ________________

    When we will meet again to discuss my progress: __________________

    This form clearly states the responsibilities of all parties who have impact on success. Moreover, it set a time when goals will be reviewed. Setting a time to review is very important for a few reasons:

    • It maintains accountability for all parties to prevent goals from being abandoned.
    • It helps to prevent a sense of “nagging” because parents have set times to focus on the issue with children and children recognize at the outset that they will be accountable to discuss their progress at given time intervals.
    • It allows for reflection, adjustments and extra support/independence to be given as the child works toward his/her goal.

    5). Celebrate incremental success.

    It takes time to develop new habits, and sometimes goal mastery does not happen right away. Children may have a day when goals are not met, and/or when set-backs occur. Help keep your child motivated by celebrating incremental progress and success. Recognize when children make an independent effort to achieve their goals or make partial progress. 

    When we empower children to set their own, meaningful and realistic goals, we engage them as learners and help support skills that can help bring them success in the coming year. More importantly, it will provide them with an essential skill for seeing through their own resolutions and pursuing their dreams throughout their lifetimes.

    -Patricia Steinmeyer, Executive Director, IAGC

    For more information on goal setting, check out the following articles and resources:

    Cash, R.M. (January 4, 2018). Smart Goals for Gifted Children. Free Spirit Publishing Blog.

    Morin, A. (September 17, 2020). How to Set Goals for Your Child This School Year. VeryWell Family. 

    Siegle, D. and McCoach, B. Promoting a positive achievement attitude with gifted and talented students. Excerpted from: The social and emotional development of gifted children: What do we know?, pp. 6-7, 29-30. Prufrock Press. (retrieved from Davidson Institute Database)

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