Enrichment programs for the Gifted
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Our now 7 year old son (1st grade) was given certain
subtests of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (basic
reading, spelling, and reading comprehension) when he was 5
because he had been reading since he was 3 and we wanted to
assess his reading level before he started kindergarten. His
performance placed him at a level better than 99.9% of his
group peers. He also completed 2 of the intelligence
subtests (vocabulary and block design). His scores on those
tests placed him in the very superior range. What does "very
superior" mean? Does this equate to an IQ number? Does it
indicate he may be gifted?
We certainly feel that he's pretty smart (we're his
parents!) and he does well in school, always exceeding the
grade level expectations. We live in a somewhat affluent
suburb of Boston and the schools are good but recent budget
cuts are definitely making things worse - larger classes,
special programs cut, etc.
He is very happy and loves school and learning. However, we
sometimes think that he could be challenged more. Should we
let him be or should we be looking into private schools
and/or outside enrichment programs? Thank you.
A: I assume that he was not
given the full test (probably as he was quite young, test
age starts from 4 years old onwards) and you mentioned only
certain subtests; therefore, it is hard to determine his IQ
range. Having said that, a 99.9 percentile definitely places
him in the superior level for the items he was tested upon.
Again, since this is not a full test, it is not possible to
equate an IQ score or determine giftedness based on current
The best thing to do here is not to focus too much on
whether he may be gifted or not, but instead find programs
that would best help him feel at ease with his talents as of
now and to encourage him to foster his talents. If you feel
that he is above average, you need to nurture that potential
to greater heights regardless of whether the school is
catering for his needs.
If he is happy at school, this is a positive sign. Challenge
him, but be wary not to over-schedule him with too many
activities thinking that he needs them. He would probably do
what you expect of him, but in the process, he may burn out.
Free time to allow children to explore and grow on their own
is essential, especially for gifted children.
If you can
afford a private school that you feel may benefit him,
especially if his current school seems to be lacking in the
educational attention he deserves, by all means, go for it.
Do your homework really well as private schools may not
necessarily be better that where he is in currently, though
the probably have smaller groups of students. Especially, if
he does not want to change schools and is comfortable with
his environment, you may need to evaluate the pros and cons.
It would be a good idea to speak to the school authorities
on plans to cater needs for such students and if you feel
that it is not very appropriate, only then consider other
options, as in private schools.
If he remains in the current school, enrichment activities
outside school hours can be very beneficial. Enrichment
usually entails adding breadth and depth. Be sure to speak
with him on what he enjoys and what interests him so that
you can be sure of not over-challenging him with activities
that he may not enjoy very much. Best wishes to you!