The Teacher-Parent Connection: Tips for Working with the Parents of a Gifted Student
Educators Guild Newsletter
Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Fall 2004, Vol. 1, Issue 3

This article offers advice to teachers for working with the parents of a gifted student. It's important to remember: "if parents trust that you have their child's best interest at heart, they are more likely to work with you. Check in with them often. Let them feel welcome in your office or classroom. Prepare yourself, and always remember to ask their opinion. As a team, you can be more effective in the education of bright students."

Because they seem so self-sufficient, gifted students often get lost in the shuffle at school. And consequently, some of those great minds go to waste. Successful schools have flexible teachers and administrators who take the educational problems of these students seriously and create solutions. Once a plan is in place, it's essential to develop a partnership with the gifted child's parents.

Parents provide valuable information about a child's abilities and needs, and should be consulted in planning any educational programs. No matter what the intervention plan is for the gifted students (i.e. subject acceleration, grade acceleration, pull-out program, independent study, curriculum compacting) educators and parents together must evaluate if it's the appropriate intervention.

Parents need understanding. They are raising an exceptional child. While having a gifted child may seem like a good problem to have, it's still a problem. Providing for that child's needs can be stressful and exhausting. Be patient, offer support when possible, and realize that you're all in this together.

For educators working with gifted students and their parents:

  • Be willing to consider activities that you've never tried before to meet the student's needs.
  • Work closely with parents to develop a plan for learning. Maintain contact with parents to make sure it's working.
  • Invite parents to get involved with their child's education. Think of ways they can expand on the child's learning at home.
  • Become educated about availabe options for the child (i.e. acceleration, etc.). Some parents may see grade-skipping as a bad thing. Bring their attention to the research on the subject; refer them to the recent report on acceleration: NationDeceived.org. Inform them about the Iowa Acceleration Scale as a tool to help parents and teachers to evaluate if acceleration is a good choice. Click here for more information.
  • Offer support to parents of accelerated students. Make sure they're aware about what to expect. Monitor the students progress and update the parent on a regular basis.
  • Parents usually have a closer relationship with, and get most help from, teachers trained or specializing in gifted education. Consider receiving this training.
  • Learn about other programs that work. See the Educator's section of the Genius Denied website: www.GeniusDenied.com
  • Encourage parents to talk with other parents of gifted kids, and to create a support network.

If parents trust that you have their child's best interest at heart, they are more likely to work with you. Check in with them often. Let them feel welcome in your office or classroom. Prepare yourself, and always remember to ask their opinion. As a team, you can be more effective in the education of bright students.



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Comments

Contributed by: DITD Team Member on 1/13/2005
This article discusses some important tips to consider when a teacher or administrator is working with a parent of a gifted student. I would recommend this article to educators, administrators, parents, and anyone who has to work with parents of gifted students.

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