I have a kindergartner, she is 6, and she is my eldest child. She is bright and creative. But, as I do not have another child older or the same age as her, nor many friends with children the same age, I can’t (or truly, have not been) comparing her to other children her age. In my eyes, she is just P.

The gifted student referral period for our elementary students takes place in March. Being a Kinder-mom I had no idea what this meant. But apparently, if you OR your child’s teachers believe they could be gifted, the child can be referred for testing. This is what the county guidelines say regarding this program: “following Georgia Board of Education regulations, REACH is designed to meet the unique needs of students who demonstrate a high degree of intellectual and/or creative ability, exhibit an exceptionally high degree of motivation, excel in specific academic fields, and need special instruction and/or ancillary services to achieve at levels commensurate with their abilities.”

Now, I am a wannabe 90’s unicorn mom. In that regard, I do not necessarily think my child is an overachiever or super smart or has a crazy high IQ. I do think she’s pretty great in general. Further, unless someone told me, I would never refer her for testing for giftedness. 

Alas, I got a letter with a bright yellow sticky arrow on the front saying please fill out and return THE NEXT DAY. So much for breathing room. The letter stated her teachers referred her to be considered for testing and should I be willing, I should fill out the 15 question characteristic questionnaire. Being a woman, and a mother of girls during the Me Too movement, I asked my daughter if this was something she wanted to do. Simply, do you want to see about getting tested for a special class in school? And she said yes. So I answered the15 questions as honestly as I could. You know what? When I finished, I didn’t feel good about it. 

Questions like, “Does your child have an unusually advanced vocabulary for age or grade level and have verbal behavior characterized by a richness of expression?” WHAT?! She talks fine to me. Or, “does your child have a ready grasp of underlying principles and can quickly make valid generalizations about events, people and things?” Can I even do that? I really don’t know. So answering these HARD questions about my 6-year-old honestly on a scale of 1-4, 4 being I observe these things almost always, I couldn’t help but feel like I was selling her short. 

Here’s where the parenting becomes hard. I want to set my child up for success but also push her to her greatest potential, all in a positive way that allows her to explore all her other interests. She loves dancing, and softball, cooking and crafting, playing outside, and singing at the top of her lungs. Is saying OK to be considered for testing going to help or hinder her along the way? I want to instill a growth mindset for her and I want her to feel free to explore and not like she needs to achieve achieve achieve, which is how I, a non-gifted student growing up, felt like the gifted students acted. I distinctively remember the one boy who left class for his advance achievement classes in 4th grade ending up fighting it out to be valedictorian in High School. I wonder what he’s up to now? Probably not wondering if his kindergartner is gifted. 

So, we’ll see if she “passes” to even be considered for testing. It will be based on my answers to the questionnaire and her teachers. If she doesn’t I might feel like I failed her and question if I should have made her look polished and more capable. But then, where would that leave her? I’ll just be here crossing my fingers that the right thing happens and honesty is the best policy.