Christina Croll knew her oldest son was out of the ordinary three years ago when he told her that a puddle of spilled milk was shaped like the nation of Bosnia.
Her son, now 7, had memorized the names, capitals and shapes of all the countries on the map.
Sure that their son was thinking at a level much higher than average, they had him take an IQ test in kindergarten. His results were well above average.
“That’s the beginning of the journey,” Croll said.
Croll found that raising a gifted child came with challenges and founded “Loudoun Parents of Gifted Students” to help bring together parents of gifted children with educators for advice and guidance.
Their first meeting, held Thursday night at the Loudoun Country Day School, was attended by more than 40 parents, most of whom had children attending Loudoun private schools.
Gifted children often feel out of step with their peers, Dr. Patrice Garver said, because they learn quicker and often have different interests, which can lead to social isolation.
“Gifted children are curious and interested in learning,” Garver said. “When they don’t receive it [advanced instruction], that’s when they become unmotivated.”
The night focused primarily on the topic of IQ and other developmental tests and their impact on parenting decisions.
Garver, a private practice psychologist who administers IQ and developmental tests to children, emphasized that a child should be comfortable in their testing environment.
How focused or nervous a child appears during the test is as important as his or her actual performance, Garver told parents.
“There are behavioral indicators in the testing experience that we sometimes want to share with parents,” Garver said. “It does sometimes describe how a child deals with challenge.”
Garver’s presentation was followed by a panel of school administrators from private and public schools throughout the county, who told parents that their goal should be to find a school their child is excited about academically.
Randy Hollister, headmaster of the Loudoun County Day School, said parents should remember their gifted child’s social needs are as important as their academic ones.
“They need attention,” Hollister told parents. “We’re talking about an entire human being here.”
Sundeep Goswami, who has a child attending junior kindergarten at the Loudoun Country Day School, agreed with the premise that a child needed to feel interested by their school.
“It’s important that the kid feel school is fun,” Goswami said after the meeting.
Parents were engaged throughout the meeting and many spent time talking to other parents who had children of similar ages after the panel ended.
Susan Boyd, the director of middle school education at the Loudoun School for the Gifted in Ashburn, was happy the group had been created.
“It’s an amazing response for all the work Chris has done,” Boyd said. “Parents need to know they have options.”
The next meeting will be held Nov. 28 at the Loudoun School for the Gifted. Croll and other organizers have yet to a set a time.
A post-meeting survey by the group found that 95 percent of parents were very likely to attend the next meeting and 5 percent were likely to attend. The group’s Facebook page can be found here.
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