Is the Palm Beach Gifted Program-Class Right for My Child?

By Jim Forgan, Ph.D.

A parent in the Palm Beach area recently asked me, “Is the Palm Beach gifted program right for my child?”  By asking this question I immediately recognized this parent wanted an honest answer to her question.  She did not just want some person giving her child scores to get into the program if that was not the right educational fit for her child.  This mom was genuinely concerned about the best placement for her child’s education.  I respected her question and answered based on my professional perspective an using my parent perspective since one of my children went through the Palm Beach (Jupiter) area gifted class program.

It’s my opinion that the gifted program can be a wonderful experience for your child if he or she is emotionally mature as well as truly intellectually advanced.  Remember the gifted IQ and gifted achievement scores are one piece of the gifted class picture.  The other part of the gifted picture is not assessed formally by psychologists and it is the social-emotional side of your child.  When considering your child, where is your child emotionally?  Is she or he emotionally immature or mature?  If you place your child in a gifted class, you want your child to feel good about him or herself and have the confidence to succeed even they are not the ‘smartest’ kid in the gifted class.

When making the decision about placing your child in a gifted class, ask yourself questions such as:

Is my child a self-starter?
Does my child love learning?
Is my child’s self-esteem solid?
Can my child handle the additional pressure of an advance academic curriculum?
Does my child have strong critical thinking skills?
How does my child perform when placed under the pressure of being ‘gifted?’
Are my child’s gifts in reading and math or just one area?
Is my child gifted in the arts or other areas besides academics?
Would I rather have my child be viewed as the smartest kid in the regular class or the slowest kid in the gifted class?

In addition to the social-emotional well being of this child, consider your other children.  If you have other children that are not gifted, ask yourself, “How will the gifted label make my other kids feel?”  Will the gifted label create conflict in my home?  Will the gifted child hold his or her intelligence over the heads of my other children?

You have a lot to consider when deciding if the gifted program is right for your child because, assuming they qualify, their future rests on this pivot point.  A thorough evaluation, the psychologist’s perspective from interacting with your child, and your insight will ultimately help you make the right choice for your child and family.

Use the contact form above if you’d like to schedule gifted testing for your child.  I also offer a Parent Support Systems Gifted Parent Preparation Program so you know exactly how to prepare your child for testing.

Dr. Jim Forgan is a licensed School Psychologist in Jupiter, Florida which is in Palm Beach County, Florida.  He is a Diplomate of the American Board of School Neuropsychology and a Barton certified dyslexia testing specialist.