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Tips For Parents

Finding the Best School for Your Child

From toddler to high school age students, finding the school that will provide the best program for your high potential child is a challenge for parents. Each child, each situation is unique. The combination of parent expectations, child needs, family circumstances, and geographic variables makes for an infinite number of possible combinations. Once you've made a choice, stay actively involved and supportive of the school its G/T program. Most of all, keep advocating for gifted education in your community and state. Here are some steps to follow when considering which schools are right for your child and family:

Start the Search Process
Learn some basics of gifted education law and the regulations covering your district and state. Parents are frequently surprised that there is no federal mandate for gifted education, meaning each state decides if, and how, its students will be identified as gifted and talented. Realize that GT services will vary greatly from location to location.

Determine Your Personal Expectations
Ask yourself a few questions about the experience you would like for your child: Do I want a school where my child will be happy and challenged? Or a school where achievement and scores exceed national norms? Am I looking for a program that includes high-level academics along with quality art, music, and athletic programs? Do I want a school where teachers have received more than superficial education to meet the needs of gifted students? 
List Learning Characteristics
Make a list of your child's characteristics as a learner to determine if the programming offered for gifted students match the needs of your child,. Just as gifted children differ in achievement, interests, and learning styles, there is no "best" program; however, knowing your child's individual needs will help you make the best choice for your child.

Find Out What Makes a Good Program
Understand program standards and guidelines to discover what an effective school should offer. NAGC has developed the NAGC "Gifted Education Programming Standards", which are K-12 program standards that contain guidelines on minimum and exemplary standards in many areas, including curriculum and instruction, program administration and management, and program design and evaluation.

Visit the School
Develop your own list of questions and then make an appointment to visit the school(s) you are considering. Sit in on several classes. Note the materials available and take note of what the students are doing in the classroom. Ask for written explanation of the school's programming options for high-ability students..

More Information

Read the December 1998 Parenting for High Potential article "Questions Parents Should Ask Schools ".

View the "Criteria for Choosing Quality Programs (in Private or Public Schools)" from the Minnesota Council for the Gifted & Talented.

United States Magnet Schools

© Copyright 2005 National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). All rights reserved. This page may be reproduced and distributed without prior written consent. Revised 8/05

NAGC is a nonprofit organization of parents, teachers, educators, community leaders who united to address the unique needs of all children and youth with demonstrated gifts and talents as well as those who may be able to develop their talent potential with appropriate educational experiences.