Learning While Black and Gifted

Learning While Black and Gifted

This article highlights segments from a personal account given by a parent educator. 

 

On the S-Team conference day, we meet with the principal, psychologist, counselor, and teachers. We sat down, and our son’s teacher enthusiastically spoke with us. Our son’s first-grade school teacher recommended a formal promotion above his fellow students. We had provided independent test results that proved he was performing middle school-wise. The school had already tested him and found he was extremely advanced. An IEP for giftedness was issued, and a plan was put into place.

However, the counselor suggested that our son was just too young and that he could not be provided the advanced placement services for gifted children, because it was ‘too late in the year’.

It was October.

School began in August. We requested the S-Team evaluation for giftedness earlier in the summer.

The only reason we met in the fall vs. summer was that it took 60 days to schedule the official testing date, then another two weeks to sit for the test and wait for results. The S-Team decided to promote him one grade up to second grade, though his tests were on a middle school level, according to the psychologist. (I found out later that this happens to many parents; either they are outright refused their petition to have a gifted test, or they are heavily discouraged or delayed to exhaustion)

Here is a good thing; They did follow federal rules and provided an IEP for giftedness and constructed an experimental advanced program. The experimental program was not as successful as we hoped, as our son came home increasingly miserable and demotivated. We visited the school to shadow his day and discovered the problem; Their answer to an advanced or gifted student was to shift him around from class to class with older peers. He was 6 years old. This was in 2016.

We did not blame the school, as they probably believed they were providing the best they could with their resources. It just was not a good fit for us.

We finished out the fall and transferred to another school in the spring. They believed in teaching two to three grade levels ahead while customizing the curriculum to core groups. That was a great concept! Jackpot, we thought.

One exception; our son likes to interact, and very little talking was allowed. At the end of the year, he was the only one in his class that did not receive a class award for good behavior-though he consistently had the highest test scores in the class. We did not receive any noted demerits for persistent or open defiance, violence, or other delinquent behaviors. Our son protested the strict environment by putting a fictitious name at the top of his papers.

My husband and I reasoned that our son would not be the standard of the smart student the school district considered him to be. Rather than ping-pong back and forth between school scenarios, we decided to make the transition to homeschool to protect his academic ambitions while still honoring the social-emotional needs of his childhood.

As our son begins high school and pre-college academics at age 11, we’re concerned about his potential to face these challenges again.

  • Will he be able to move forward without tarnishing his record with a behavioral issue?
  • Will my child be excluded from scholarly programs because his impressionable nature may cause him to make immature and irreparable decisions?
  • Will my gifted son be the recipient of perpetual bias, or can we break free from these limitations?

Believe it or not, Black students are more likely to be suspended and expelled from school, even though they often excel in academics. Boys in general, of any race, also have a higher probability of leaving high school with a delinquent record.

This disparity is due in part to racial and gender bias in schools and an “epidemic” of zero-tolerance policies. Therefore, it is important for parents to be engaged with their son’s academic development. There is no such thing as ‘too much’ involvement, especially during the early stages.

Here are some helpful guides for parents and teachers to consider when educating gifted students of underrepresented ethnicities.

How to Identify Giftedness in Students of All Ethnicities

Identifying giftedness in black students is not as simple as it may seem. While there are general characteristics that are common to all gifted students, the definition of “gifted” can vary depending on which experts you ask. Additionally, many black students who are considered gifted by one measure may not be identified as such by another. Furthermore, the cultural expectations may not fit societal norms. This may not translate to some assessments that still have cultural biases included in the testing language.

Include Wholistic Key Indicators of Giftedness

For this reason, it is important for educators and parents to have a broad understanding of what constitutes giftedness before attempting to identify it in a student. Some key indicators of potential giftedness in black students include high IQs, superior academic performance, and creativity.

Recognize Cultural Bias in Gifted Testing

Black students also have a cultural bias to overcome in gifted testing, which also makes it difficult to identify. The assessment of giftedness also differs by age. In pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, the focus is on identifying students who will achieve high academic levels as they grow into a more traditional school system. Many parents of black children may not have access to talent identification programs in their pre-K or kindergarten programs. This leaves many at a disparity, even before beginning traditional school programs. However, social-interactive or Montessori style learning is likely to be engaged through black populations, which does not always translate to traditional standardized gifted assessments in the early years.

Reconsider a Learning Disability as “Unidentified Giftedness”

Another problem is that Black American children are more likely to be identified by teachers as having learning disabilities. Rather than viewing academic challenges as unidentified giftedness, some research has suggested that black students may be more often placed in special education classes than their white counterparts.

This happened to our son. Though we are educators, we did not start a formal program for reading, writing, and math until kindergarten. He was considered ‘behind’ because he did not recognize letters and numbers, so the teachers placed him with the ‘special needs’ children (those on the spectrum). However, our son rose to become the first student to master all sight words among other core competencies. He finished all of his Kindergarten benchmarks and was more than halfway done with 1st-grade benchmarks by February of his kindergarten year.

At the end of the school year, his progress impressed the librarian so much that she hunted me down in the carpool lane and told me he was one of the top 10 best readers in the entire 600+ student school (to include the 4th graders).

Unique Challenges Faced by Gifted Black Students

There are unique challenges faced by gifted black students, and educators must be aware of these in order to provide the best possible education for these students.

Some of the challenges include:

  • a lack of role models and mentors,
  • implicit bias against black students,
  • limited resources, and
  • the need for enrichment opportunities.

Educators can help combat these challenges by;

  1. creating a supportive environment,
  2. providing opportunities for enrichment, and
  3. encouraging black students to pursue interests outside of school.

How Educators Can Meet the Needs of Gifted Black Students

Schools can better meet the needs of gifted black students by identifying and providing enrichment opportunities for students in early grades when their potential for academic excellence is greatest. Studies from several research organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education showed that there are many factors that contribute to success for gifted black students, including access to quality enrichment programs in early grades. By providing these opportunities from an early stage, schools can help ensure that all gifted black students have the best chance for success.

Gifted black students have a lot to offer the world, and it is up to educators to help them reach their potential.

 

Authored by: Chris C, Contributor, Educational Advocate and Homeschool Parent based in TN.  The name is abbreviated for privacy. 

How To Help Your Gifted Child Learn for Lifetime Achievement

How To Help Your Gifted Child Learn for Lifetime Achievement

The Right Way To Help A Gifted Child Learn – How To Help

Some people value education because they want to gain more financial independence or they want to be well-rounded. Others value education because they feel it is important to increase their earning power, achieve socioeconomic status, or simply be a well-rounded person.

The first step in starting a gifted child’s learning process is to cultivate an attitude of achievement, growth, and eagerness.

If you want to make it easier for your children to be successful, there are some things you can do to help them.

Some of these include:

 

How to Set up Routine Habits

In order to achieve in the long term, it is crucial to create the habits that will set students up for success. It can take a little bit of time to instill, but the benefits will be long-lasting.

Look at all the successful professionals who follow a routine in their lives.

For example:

● Engineers are used to reading scientific discoveries and exploring the results.

● Bodybuilders go to the gym every day

● Firefighters put on their protective gear as quickly and safely as possible.

● Daily Logistics and patient care are two parts of a doctor’s job

● Police use the standard procedure when clearing a crime scene.

You can tell your gifted child that other professionals use a set of daily routines to perform their jobs. This will help them to understand the importance of routines.

Your gifted child needs to have a routine that includes a set time for social, academic, and intellectual development.

 

What are the typical educational routines?

 

Look at these routines:

  • Reading before school and Doing homework after school
  • Making a list of assigned house chores and homework tasks for each subject
  • Reviewing academic subjects with your student each day
  • Preparing and eating a healthy meal at the same time each day

 

Educational Check-In – How Does It Work?

As parents and guardians, we have our own busy lives to deal with, but it is important to keep in mind that our gifted children are also growing and learning. Parents and guardians need to find a balance between our time and theirs.

It is critical that parents take time each day to ask about learning progress and subject matters.

For example, some daily questions to ask could include:

● What are some exciting things that happened in class?

● Can you teach me 3 things that you learned about (name of the subject studied that day)

● How can we apply what you learned in…

● Tell me the most surprising thing that happened today…

● Will you share what you did with your scholar mates today?

For the younger students, having a more in-depth conversation related to their real-world experience is important.

 

How to Motivate with Healthy Rewards

Giving gifted children money to do well in school can be beneficial. Some parents give money to their gifted children for doing well in school, but you should be aware that this can be done in a responsible way.

The basic idea is to motivate scholars with external rewards, but then make it part of their internal reward system.

Some things that you can do to boost student motivation include;
– Set a routine for your scholars,
– Reward children who show they are willing to do the work,
– Encourage your child to get involved with sports or activities, and
– Help your scholar to achieve their academic goals.

 

A gifted child can achieve a lifetime of learning with healthy motivation, accountability, and routines.  Parents can guide their scholar through the process of learning through self-discovery and self-reliance.

Are Gifted Enrichment Programs Worth the Investment?

Are Gifted Enrichment Programs Worth the Investment?

When it comes to gifted children, there is a lot of discussion about whether or not they need enrichment programs.

No Universal Mandate of Gifted Assistance

On one hand, some people argue that gifted children are smart enough to thrive without any specialized assistance. On the other hand, others believe that gifted children require different and more challenging educational opportunities in order to reach their full potential.

So, what’s the truth? Are enrichment programs for gifted children worth the investment?

Science Points to Gifted Enrichment Programs

The answer to this question is yes!  Enrichment programs for gifted children are definitely worth the investment. The main reason for this is: gifted children experience trauma due to high intellect but low emotional experience.   Another reason stems from proof of academic sliding when they do not receive the customized assistance that they need. This can have a negative impact on their education, social development, and overall well-being.

Gifted Enrichment Addresses Unique Needs

Enrichment programs for gifted children can help to address some unique needs. They can provide gifted children with opportunities to learn in a more challenging and stimulating environment, which can help them to reach their full potential. In addition, enrichment programs can also help gifted children to build relationships with others who share their interests and passions, which can be very important for their social development.

So, if you are considering enrolling your gifted child in an enrichment program, rest assured that it is a wise investment. Do your research and participate if the program allows.  The benefits that your child will receive will be well worth the cost.