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How do I know if my child is gifted?

Why is raising a gifted child so challenging?

What is a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program?

How has the budget crisis affected funding for GATE?

How do I know if my school or district offers gifted programming?

How can I make sure that my child receives an appropriate education?

Can a gifted child have learning disabilities too? Where can I get information?

How and when do we start planning for our child's future?

Where can I get more information?

How do I know if my child is gifted?
Compared to their age peers, gifted children usually learn at a faster pace, use a large vocabulary, ask many questions, and need activities that are complex and challenging. They may also be highly sensitive, creative, and intense. These are only some of the characteristics of a gifted child.


Gifted children often exhibit unique social and emotional needs that may include a strong sense of justice, extreme idealism, moral intensity, perfectionism, hypersensitivity, and unreasonably high expectations for themselves and others. They can be emotionally hypersensitive, such as to criticism, and/or physically hypersensitive, such as to touch and smell. Some may appear to be perpetual motion machines, or show wide swings in mood and maturity. Their vast emotional range can make them appear contradictory – aggressive and timid, mature and immature, arrogant and compassionate – depending on the situation. They may push the limits of rules at home and school, challenge their parents and teachers with constant questioning and engage in risky behavior. The discrepancies between their physical, emotional, and intellectual development make parenting and teaching gifted children especially challenging. You may benefit from joining a support group for parents of gifted children as a way to meet others who share your concerns; if there are no groups in your area, consider starting one of your own. 

What is a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program?
Under current law in California, public schools may apply for educational funds to assist in providing appropriate learning opportunities for those students identified as gifted and talented. A basic gifted program will include: testing to identify gifted students; grouping of students within a class or for all or part of the school day by ability; curriculum that is challenging and allows continuous progress; development of social and emotional skills; training for teachers and administrators in the education of gifted learners; counseling and support for gifted students who are at-risk; and the involvement of parents in the planning and evaluation of GATE programs. A written plan defining how the district will meet the needs of gifted students as articulated in the state GATE standards must be submitted to the California Department of Education (CDE) for approval for one to three years. To obtain a copy of the GATE law and/or a copy of the standards, go to the CAG website (www.cagifted.org) link, California Department of Education-GATE, or call the CDE at 916-323-5505. In some districts, Article 3 School-Based Education Code may apply.

How has the budget crisis affected funding for GATE?

Local school districts have complete flexibility in allocating GATE funds. All laws, regulations, and funding restrictions have been suspended until 2013.

How do I know if my school or district offers gifted programming?
Call the district office and ask if there is a GATE program. If one exists, request a copy of the state-approved plan as well as your school’s site plan. If the district has not yet applied for GATE funds, offer to participate in developing a plan. Refer to CAG’s handbook, Advocacy in Action, for step-by-step assistance in getting other parents involved. Order forms may be obtained at the CAG Website (www.cagifted.org) or by calling the CAG Office at 916-988-3999.

How can I make sure that my child receives an appropriate education?
It is important that parents/guardians act as their child’s advocates. Learn as much as you can about gifted education and the needs of gifted children. Familiarize yourself with the terms and definitions used in the various educational programs offered at your school or in your district. Inform the school about your child’s special needs and then volunteer to help make sure those needs are met. Participate on your school’s and/or district’s GATE Advisory Committee or Site Council as a way to learn about and contribute to gifted education in your district. In addition, look for opportunities for your child to pursue special interests through community programs, summer classes or enrollment at the local community colleges.

Can a gifted child have learning disabilities too? Where can I get information?
Some gifted children have learning disabilities such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and visual or auditory processing difficulties. It is sometimes difficult to identify the special needs of these children because they often use their high abilities to mask or adapt to their learning disabilities. For more information, go to Resources, Special Needs of the Gifted on the CAG website (www.cagifted.org). Another website with valuable information on this is www.sengifted.org.

How and when do we start planning for our child's future?
Begin now by developing an atmosphere of positive expectations and help your child identify interests, talents, strengths, weaknesses. Together with your child, investigate possible careers that could provide personal growth and satisfaction and explore options for the future. Look into mentoring or job-shadowing opportunities. Request literature and visit college campuses when on vacation. Participate in summer programs and other activities sponsored by universities. If possible, begin a savings or investment plan to finance higher education or other experiences to support your child’s goals.

Where can I get more information?

In addition to exploring the resources on this CAG website, attend related events in your region. The annual CAG Conference is an excellent place to gather information and other resources you need. Check the CAG website for suggestions of books and articles on gifted children. For additional assistance, contact your CAG Regional Representatives. Names and contact information can be found in the Regional Support area of this website.

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