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How Gifted Preschoolers Handle Kindergarten

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

Though the gifted label might signify that your child is "smart," it doesn't always translate into doing well in school. All children need to face challenges in order to grow into competent adults. Kindergarten curriculum may be too easy for the gifted child, but the kindergarten classroom can still present opportunities for growth. The way your child deals with school will largely depend on her personality.

Asynchronous Development

According to the group Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted, gifted children often face asynchronous development. Your kindergartner may be 5 years old chronologically, but he might also be doing math at the fifth-grade level, yet respond emotionally at a 3-year-old level. This disparity can make it difficult to cope in the classroom, particularly when it comes to finding friends. The gifted child may have a hard time finding classmates who share interests. This phenomena is more pronounced in highly gifted children, though. If your child does not show significant asynchronous development, he may have a great time in kindergarten.

Boredom and Acting Out

Boredom in school is a common challenge for gifted children. When your child already knows how to read, for example, it's painful to sit through a phonics lesson day after day. In some cases, boredom can lead to acting out in the classroom. She might be a distraction to others in the classroom because she's looking for someone to play with, or she might pester the teacher with questions that seem off topic. If your child isn't well behaved, the teacher may question her giftedness or label her as a troublemaker, creating a spiral effect where her behavior becomes worse.


If the teacher 'gets it,' she'll be able to differentiate the curriculum in order to provide your child with the challenges he needs. For example, your child may be able to go into a different classroom for part of the day to receive instruction on his level, while still spending most of the day in the kindergarten classroom, where he can work on social or fine motor skills. Alternatively, she may be able to give him more difficult work to do while she takes care of other students. If your child has this type of differentiation available, he's likely to be successful in kindergarten.


Ultimately, the way your gifted child will deal with the kindergarten classroom depends on several factors. Though it's tempting to look for a highly academic kindergarten program, it's actually better to look for one that focuses on growth through play, according to HealthyChildren.org, the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She'll also probably thrive in an environment where the teacher is understanding of her unique needs and won't try to force her into inappropriate learning styles.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

Photo Credits

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