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Guide to Gifted Elementary Schools

Gifted Resources

Navigating the educational journey from kindergarten through fifth grade can be a transformative experience for both children and parents alike. During these years in elementary school, parents may notice distinct signs of giftedness in their children, ranging from advanced cognitive abilities to heightened emotional intensity.

Test Your Child’s Giftedness Early

Identifying giftedness in young children, particularly in elementary school, is crucial to nurture their unique abilities. One way to know for sure is to get your child tested. There are two main categories: group-administered tests and individually administered assessments.

Group-administered tests—such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT—are well-known for their widespread availability and affordability. However, they may not provide the in-depth information needed to fully understand a child’s learning profile.

Individually administered assessments, like the WISC V, offer a more comprehensive look at a child’s strengths and weaknesses, providing valuable insights for tailored educational strategies.
When it comes to seeking evaluation, we suggest reaching out to local schools and nearby professionals (i.e., licensed psychologists) as well as using online assessment tools.

Benefits to Early Testing

  • Early Intervention: Identifying giftedness early allows you to become an advocate for your child’s unique needs.
  • Opportunity for Advanced Learning: Being identified early gives gifted children access to advanced learning opportunities, enrichment programs, and resources to nurture their abilities.
  • Improved Self-Understanding: Gifted children can better understand their abilities and strengths, fostering more self-confidence.
  • Prevention of Underachievement: Early testing can help prevent underachievement by providing appropriate levels of challenge and support, reducing the risk of boredom in school.

Potential Challenges of Early Testing

  • Misidentification: Early testing may lead to misidentification of giftedness due to developmental variability, resulting in false positives or negatives.
  • Pressure and Expectations: Early identification may create pressure and high expectations for the child, leading to stress or anxiety.
  • Social and Emotional Development: Gifted children identified early may face stigma, misconceptions, or other challenges in social and emotional development, such as feeling different from peers or struggling to fit in.
  • Limited Assessment Tools: Limited availability of appropriate assessment tools for this age group may hinder accurate identification of giftedness.

What Comes After Testing?

Once you have confirmed your child’s giftedness, you have to find the right learning environment for them. Traditional schools often have a standardized curriculum that all students in a particular grade learn at the same pace; this often doesn’t help profoundly gifted individuals engage with the content, let alone give them the chance to shine. However, there are plenty of opportunities to connect your child with like-minded peers and lessons that relate to their interests with gifted programs for elementary school students.

Types of Gifted Education Available at Elementary School-Level

Identification difficulties—coupled with competing priorities for resources and teacher training—contribute to a lack of gifted programs for elementary school students. To help young profoundly gifted students and their families, there are a variety of programs to support their advanced learning needs, even while they’re in elementary school.

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Programs offer specialized instruction and support services tailored to meet the unique academic and intellectual needs of gifted students within schools, aiming to challenge and nurture their abilities beyond the standard curriculum.

STEM clubs enable gifted students to get hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects.

Young Scholars is a Davidson Institute program that serves young (ages 5-18) gifted students and their parents. Outside of accessing project opportunities and events, this truly is a way for people to connect, learn, and ask for advice from each other as part of the gifted community.

Seasonal programs, like Davidson Institute’s STARS Summer Camp, are unique opportunities for Young Scholars (children aged 8-11) to attend a five-day residential program during the summer that is focused on supporting their academic and social needs simultaneously.

Once they reach 6th grade, profoundly gifted students may still attend some of these programs—but they are also able to attend middle schools specifically tailored to their learning needs.

Learn more about gifted education options and the support available to gifted children.

How to Prepare for Middle School

Being a pre-teen is hard enough without feeling dejected from what they’re learning or struggling to build meaningful relationships with peers. When gifted students aren’t in the right learning environment, there can be pressure to hide their intelligence/abilities to fit in.

Luckily, there are academic institutions, like Davidson Academy and Davidson Academy Online, that are tailored to profoundly gifted students. Our institutions offer a personalized, faster-paced education that accommodates each student’s unique skills and interests. This empowers them to be wholeheartedly themselves while they get an education. Additionally, we group students by ability rather than age, allowing children to learn at their own pace and not be restricted simply because of how old they are.

Once your child has been tested, you’ll want to discuss with them if they would rather attend school in-person or online.

In-Person Schooling Benefits

Since we offer two styles of learning, let’s look at the benefits of attending Davidson Academy in-person first:

  • Opportunities for spontaneous interactions and discussions with peers and teachers, fostering collaborative learning and social development
  • Experiential learning in labs, group projects, and field trips
  • Access to a wider range of extracurricular activities
  • A set routine to help gifted students stay focused and organized while supporting academic success
  • Greater accountability for attendance, participation, and academic progress

With that said, online learning environments work better for some.

Online Schooling Benefits

Davidson Academy Online offers families greater flexibility and a more private learning environment for those who prefer it. Here are some benefits of online schooling:

  • Opportunities for self-directed learning and exploration of specialized topics
  • Ability to learn in a comfortable and personalized environment, free from distractions or social pressures
  • Enhanced technological literacy and digital skills development
  • Potential for greater independence and autonomy in managing learning goals and outcomes

Learn more about the value of getting a Davidson Academy or Davidson Academy Online education.


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Please note, the Davidson Institute is a non-profit serving families with highly gifted children. We will not post comments that are considered soliciting, mention illicit topics, or share highly personal information.

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