Dilemmas facing non-pushy parents of the gifted

16th August 1996 at 01:00
My four-year-old daughter will be starting school in September and like most parents I felt apprehensive about meeting the headteacher. The worries were not about school routines and discipline, but about what I should say about my daughter's exceptional abilities.

Should I tell the head about her advanced literacy skills or her drawing. After talking to family and close friends and also contacting a national education advice line, the opinion, without exception, was that I definitely should not.

To be labelled as "pushy" with unrealistically high expectations is a damaging experience for parent and child alike, and many parents are anxious not to jeopardise their child's position even further, especially if they feel they are not believed in the first place.

But, by not drawing attention to my child's abilities, I am left wondering whether the school will correctly identify her needs in her early years, and if not, I will eventually look back and feel that I, too, have let her down.

I welcome Labour's draft proposal on gifted children (TES, August 2), which I hope will bring an end to the awful dilemmas faced by parents of talented children. The emphasis needs to be placed on schools to seek out their gifted children and to nurture their skills from reception class onwards.

My daughter is already disadvantaged because as a single parent on a low income, there is no possibility of arranging private tuition to supplement her state education, and I try not to think about the cost of the good quality art paper and materials she may need in the future.

I would be greatly reassured if my daughter's school had a written policy on gifted children and a co-ordinator to implement it, who I could contact without fear of prejudice or distrust.

Teachers need to understand the unique pressures placed on parents of gifted children and work positively with them to bring out the best in our children, otherwise another generation of skills will go to waste. Labour's proposals are a move in the right direction.

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