Aren't All Children Gifted?

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Aren't All Children Gifted?

My son's preschool experience was his best school experience to date - and he's now in college. His preschool teacher was the perfect teacher, one who could address all the needs of all the children. Really. I saw it with my own eyes.

Every child was treated as an individual with his or her own unique needs. It was an ideal atmosphere for a gifted preschooler. My son's abilities were nurtured and encouraged and yet he was still allowed to be a little boy.

Sometimes people expect gifted kids to act older than they are simply because they can think like an older child. And other people think that gifted children need to play, not have their noses in a book all the time. My son's preschool allowed him to learn and to play and he was never expected to be anything other than he was -- a smart little boy who knew how to read and loved to learn.

This is not to say that the teacher's aids understood my son, but none of them criticized him or tried to make him something he wasn't. For example, one aid, after seeing how advanced my son's reading ability was, asked me how I "trained" him. I thought that was a rather odd question at the time since I hadn't done anything other than nurture an interest he had. But even so, the aid had no problem with my son and loved to play with him.

Since everything looked normal and natural to me, I was quite taken aback when Mrs. Marovich took me aside one day and said, "What are you going to do about school for your son?" Do?

I had no idea what she meant and said, "I'm going to send him to school." Her reply to me was my first introduction to the idea of giftedness. She said, "But he's gifted." My response to her was an indication of how naive I was. I said, "All children are gifted." (Yes, I really did say that.)

I know now that what I said is really a myth.

  And Michael Clay Thompson explains why not all children are gifted very eloquently. My heart was in the right place. I didn't believe that my son was any "better" than any other child and I believed all children had the same potential. Although I had disagreed with Mrs. Marovich, I did agree to investigate educational options for my son, and that innocent investigation changed my understanding of giftedness.

The first thing I did was to ask about what my local school had to offer for early readers in kindergarten. What I learned was that 1) it didn't matter because my son wouldn't be starting kindergarten when I thought he would and 2) it didn't matter because kids that young can't read. What? Yes. My son was four years old and had already reached the point of reading to learn rather than learning to read. I remember the night I discovered that my son no longer had to read out loud as he worked his way through the decoding of words. He was in bed reading, his usual pre-sleep routine. He called me in and said, "Look, Mom!

I can read in my head!" He then proceeded to read silently - as though I could tell he was actually reading without sounding anything out loud. It was pretty funny.

And yet, my son was going to have to wait an extra year before starting school. He would be six years and two months old by then. Surely, they made exceptions for early readers. Nope. I was told over and over that children younger than six or seven - the age most kids start learning to read - simply *can't* read. That was quite a big surprise to me since there was no doubt that my son was reading better than most seven year olds. I was beginning to understand why Mrs. Marovich asked me what I was planning to do about school for my son.

When were you first introduced to the idea of giftedness? Share your story with me on my Facebook page.

Read more about my experiences raising my son.

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