Talking to Teachers and School Personnel

These points may be useful for parents and children who need to negotiate recognition of a child's giftedness and extension in the school curriculum.

  1. Involve the child in discussions at home about the issues of concern. If you are concerned for the child's intellectual and emotional wellbeing, seek a meeting at the school. (You could offer to meet at your home - could get an interesting reaction!) Make sure the child is OK with this procedure. Usually the child need NOT be present, but this is best decided individually.
  2. Make an appointment and give notice of what you want to discuss. Make sure all involved know who will be present. If you are concerned that your meeting will not be well-received, don't allow any more people to be present than you can deal with, ie if there are two school staff present, make sure there are two parent/friends present.
  3. Consider meeting with other parents of bright children and perhaps taking them to a meeting with you. In any school there are 2-3-4 potentially gifted children in each classroom and most are not being challenges or extended.
  4. Be clear about what you want and be prepared to help. Be prepared by knowing what extension and challenge you are seeking. Know the 'myths' and have answers ready. (We're too busy… we can't single out one child… his handwriting's messy…) Listen carefully and you can tell if the speaker has a good attitude and knows anything about giftedness.
  5. Be diplomatic, tactful and flexible and expect the same in return. Focus on educational need not blame and don't mention the 'b'word (boring). As well, stick to your guns. School personnel are trained professionals who are paid to educate the children in their care according to each child's need and appropriate to each child's style and pace of learning. This is all we ask!
  6. Keep a strong sense of humour, particularly if you hear the old hoary statements we have to endure year after year. If necessary retreat with a smile and regroup. If the child is present, retreat hastily if negotiations deteriorate. Seek support elsewhere. There's support around if you search.

Author: Judith Hewton

Direct your queries to office [at] qagtc [dot] org [dot] au (a voluntary community service)

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