Button tested for the gifted program last week. I’ve been waiting for this moment for 4 years. Even doing what I could at home to anticipate the kind of questions on the test so we could prepare her as much as possible. If she is deemed “gifted,” she has access to far greater teachers and curriculum from third grade forward. And if not, then she risks becoming a casualty of No Child Left Behind–where the whole class slows down to the lowest performing student rather than moving at the pace best suited for her.

So she took the test. I was careful to not put any pressure on her, but also to make clear that she needed to perform her best on these tests because she has a tendency to rush through things that she doesn’t consider important. “Do your best, Button. Go slowly, take your time, and try your best. It doesn’t matter if you get some wrong. All that matters is if you tried your hardest.”

Oh, but on the inside I wanted her to ace it, no matter what!! It felt like so much was on the line…and she had no clue.

I was sharing some of my inner angst with Niki. What if she doesn’t make it into the gifted program?!

“Her giftedness doesn’t depend on this test. She is gifted no matter what this test says.”

That’s a good point. We know her strengths and weaknesses better than any test. We know that she hasn’t been challenged in school since Kindergarten. Once we got past “color in the lines” and “take your time,” the curriculum hasn’t pushed her. When she was out of school for a week and a half, she was able to make up all the homework from the time she missed in two hours one evening at home.

That got me and Niki reminiscing on our respective gifted program experiences. I qualified but opted out; Niki came just short of qualifying. Neither of us were “gifted” students, but we worked hard, did our best, and had the opportunity to attend some of the best universities in the U.S. And we turned out okay. : D

A test can assess only a limited amount. A gifted program can only offer so much. The real indicia of giftedness comes with application and best effort. The real program for gifted students is being challenged by their parents at home–learning, thinking, applying doesn’t end in the classroom. It simply begins there.