In April 2004, Simon & Schuster published Genius Denied, co-authored by Jan and Bob Davidson with Laura Vanderkam

Welcome back!  

We are seeing a trend toward more "gifted-friendly" attitudes in state and local policies that are trickling down to the classrooms. Of course, this is not happening as often or as quickly as all of us would like, but progress is being made! It is important that we all continue to "get the word out" about the neglect of our nation's brightest youth and their need for an education matched to their abilities.

When you learn of a victory for gifted students, share it with us and we'll broadcast the news to others.

Many thanks for your support,
Jan and Bob Davidson

Q. What can a parent do to encourage a public school system to meet the needs of his/her gifted child? If gifted programs do not begin until third grade and the state does not mandate that these children be serviced, what is a parent to do for his/her gifted child in kindergarten through second grade? The regular grade level curriculum is boring my child to the point of disliking school. We have talked to the teacher, as well as the principal, with no success. J.H. 

A. We have found that a group of parents working to advocate for an appropriate education for their children gets much better results than one parent advocating alone. Here are some suggestions on how to affect change through an advocacy group:
1) identify parents whose children have similar educational needs and arrange a meeting;
2) determine your general goals and the specific educational services your gifted children need (i.e. self-contained classrooms, dual enrollment of highly gifted middle school students in the high school); consider options that would be least expensive and easiest for the school to implement, such as dual enrollment, grade acceleration, and subject acceleration - ReForming Gifted Education by Karen Rogers is a good resource for options;
3) develop a strategy for how to approach the school or district by reading articles on educational advocacy (see side bar);
4) identify 3-5 representatives from the group to be the principal negotiators;
5) practice your pitch and responses to possible objections;
6) arrange a meeting and discuss viable solutions with the administrators;
7) follow up...stay actively involved to be sure that plans are implemented.

Any savvy school administrator will not ignore an organized, well-prepared, reasonable group of parents seeking an appropriate education for their children. We think you'll be pleased with the results. 

Remember, YOU are responsible for your child's education. And in the current public education environment, learning to be an effective educational advocate is a necessary part of parenting a gifted child.  It's important to remain positive, respectful and understanding of educators.

Here are some resources to help you use advocacy groups to accomplish your goals.

Q. My 9 year-old son is highly gifted but he is not competitive and does not really like to apply himself. He only does the bare minimum. For example, his teacher told him to work 2-5 pages of his math book weekly. My son will do 2 pages and then is done unless I force him to do more. How do I push/persuade my son to do more than the bare minimum requirement? J.E.

A. We've not found pushing or persuading to be effective strategies. Our recommendations are the following: 
1) Discuss your child's lack of interest in the academic work presented to him at school with your child's teacher; perhaps together you can come up with a way to pique his interest and desire to learn. This is a typical response of a bright child who is under-challenged in school. A more challenging educational program of greater interest is likely to capture his attention and increase his effort.
2) At home, take advantage of opportunities when your child is interested in a particular subject. Encourage and nurture his interest by providing him opportunities to learn more through books, museums, a mentor, a club or peers interested in the same subject. Don't despair, something will pique your bright son's curiosity. We know of another child in a similar situation who became interested in aeronautics from a Discovery Channel TV show. His parents nurtured that interest with books, model airplanes and eventually a mentor. It was the spark that ignited his passion for learning. And, with the school's willingness to match his educational program to his abilities, he is now a high achieving learner.

Here are some articles about dealing with underachievement and interest/talent development that may be helpful.

Q. My daughter is in kindergarten and already she is an underachiever. For instance, she pretends she does not know how to read, write or spell in order to be like everyone else. She says she wants to fit in and not to be asked for help all the time or laughed at for her vocabulary. Can you give me information on children "dumbing down" at such a young age so they do not feel different? K.L.

A. We asked Dr. Nancy Robinson about this since she has extensive clinical experience with young gifted children such as yours, and the following are her suggestions: 
1) Talk to her teacher. See if she can be offered opportunities when she can be excused from the lessons the other children need, to pursue small-group or independent work that is better matched to the level and pace of her learning. This will work better if there's another child in the class who can do the same -- but that isn't always the case. If there does happen to be another bright kindergarten student in another classroom, see if they can be moved together, but if they can't, argue for their placement in the same classroom next year. 
2) Look for situations in which your child has mates of the same mental age. Of course, if there's a program for bright children, apply for it. Sometimes other situations can be found by letting your child spend part of the day with an older class; sometimes there are multi-age classrooms or you may even consider skipping a grade if your child shows personal maturity and has better than average fine motor skills. If there are older siblings/cousins, sometimes spending time with them can encourage a child toward bigger and better goals. 
3) Look for opportunities where your child may encounter others with equal or greater talent, such as Suzuki music lessons or others like them, where some instruction is in a class, classes in dance or sports, etc.

Dr. Robinson also has suggestions for things you can do at home: 
1) Keep your own expectations reasonably high for what your child will accomplish. Let her know that you understand what her situation is at school but that you want her to pick up on opportunities the teacher presents, and celebrate when she does this. 
2) Encourage her independence in self-help skills such as bathing, fixing her lunch, etc., that will convey the message that she can do and advocate for herself. 
3) Shift from praise of what she produces (e.g. a "wonderful picture") to letting her know you appreciate the effort she puts into things that turn out well -- and even those that don't. Rather than telling her what a great artist she is, for example, talk to her about how she chose the color combinations, point out a detail that shows careful observation, comment on aspects she's worked on (especially those she has erased and improved), etc. 4) Introduce activities at home that take investment, such as reading more challenging books and learning to type.

Here are some resources relevant to gifted children entering school.

Q. We made a decision to homeschool our two boys. The 1st grader reads at an 8th grade level, does 7-8th grade math, and is teaching himself cursive. The 2nd grader has a 6th grade reading level and does 5-6 grade math. We'd like to use a homeschool curriculum as the backbone of their education and would like to know if you would recommend some that are geared towards gifted kids. J.A.

A. It's difficult to recommend a specific homeschool curriculum because so much depends on your family's educational goals and priorities as well as your children's abilities and interests. Since your children are working at significantly advanced levels in math and reading, it may be necessary to use a potpourri of curriculum materials. Many homeschooling families find this one of the joys of homeschooling because it allows them to customize the curriculum exactly to the needs of the learner.

Here are some homeschooling resources that may help you customize the curriculum for each child.

* * * 
Please send any questions to be answered in future newsletters to: NOTE: Due to space constraints, questions answered in this newsletter may be edited and similar questions combined.

If you or your organization would be interested in a book signing or a "Meet the Author" session with the authors of Genius Denied, please email your request to or visit Genius Denied - On Tour.



 Meet the Authors 

Southlake Parents for Academic Excellence
Dallas, Texas
Presentation & Book Signing
March 31, 2005

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District Gifted and Talented Spring Symposium
Dallas, Texas
Keynote Presentations
April 1 and 2, 2005


McKinney Parent Advocacy Group for Gifted Education
McKinney, Texas
Presentation & Book Signing
April 2, 2005


Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Presentation & Book Signing
April 12, 2005


The Appleton Area School District
Appleton, Wisconsin
Presentation & Book Signing
April 13, 2005



Parent Advocacy Resources

Supporting gifted education through advocacy S. Berger
This article offers useful information on forming parent advocacy groups. 
Re-Forming Gifted Education: How Parents and Teachers Can Match the Program to the Child K. Rogers
This book covers a wide range of gifted education options that are appropriate for gifted students.
The Templeton Report:  A Nation Deceived
This report is FREE and provides the back up research for why an accelerated curriculum for gifted students is appropriate, effective and the best way to raise student achievement.
Communicating Effectively with your Gifted Child's School J.F. Smutney
Preparing for and holding an effective school meeting K. LaBonte, C. Russell, G. Russell

How to advocate for your child
O. Shekerjian

Educational options for gifted learners Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Getting to Yes:  Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, 2nd Ed. R. Fisher, 
W. Ury & B. Patton

Underachievement and Interest/Talent Development


Flirting with underachievement R. Schultz

Gifted-friendly parenting strategies Davidson Institute for Talent Development

Revisiting the problem of match: Contributions of flow theory to talent development S. Whalen

Solving the Mysterious Underachievement Problem S. Rimm

Some ideas for motivating students  
R. Harris









Gifted Children ~
Early Years in School

Small poppies: Highly gifted children in the early years M. Gross
Hidden gifted learner D. Lovecky
Models of underachievement among gifted preadolescents: The role of personal, family, and school factors J. Baker, 
R. Bridger & K. Evans
Social adjustment and peer pressures for gifted children S. Rimm
Early gifts, early school recognition  
J. Smutney

The uncommonly bright child H. Robinson

Vulnerabilities of highly gifted children
W. Roedell
Profiles of the gifted and talented G.Betts & M. Neihart


Homeschooling Resources

The Complete Home Learning Sourcebook R. Rupp
Creative homeschooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families L. Rivero 
Homeschooling tips
Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Gifted children and homeschooling: An annotated bibliography K. Kearney

"Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves."  

                                                                                                      ~Ernest Dimnet

The Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Supporting our nation's brightest young minds.

9665 Gateway Drive, Suite B, Reno, Nevada 89521
Phone: 775-852-3483 Fax: 775-852-2184
Email:     Web:


NOTE: The appearance of selected programs and/or resources in the Davidson Institute's Genius Denied broadcast does not imply
an endorsement or affiliation. Programs and resources are highlighted for informational purposes only.


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