Key Questions to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Gifted Student

Is your child regularly coming home from school lacking the desire to return the next day?  Have you noticed your child’s love for learning diminishing?  If your child deems that “real” work and “real” learning is more routinely done separate from the school’s curricular requirements, then it may be time to determine whether your child’s school is the most appropriate learning environment for your student. In some cases, the situation can be resolved by conferencing with the teacher or the school’s administrators to communicate your concerns and develop a plan to work toward interventions that work for your student. They may include accelerating your child to the next grade level, participating in enrichment programs, or compacting the curriculum. However, what works for one gifted student may not work for another, and it is okay to consider that the current school system is no longer the best match for your gifted student’s learning needs.  

Finding the right school can be daunting and requires asking key questions that go beyond what the internet can answer. Below are key questions to consider when choosing a school that best fits the learning needs of your gifted child.1

Start your inquiry by asking questions that target identification policies and programming guidelines:

  • Does the state require the school in question to identify and provide services for G/T students at various grade levels?
  • What percentage of their students are performing according to top state or national levels? 
  • For secondary students, ask about advanced graduation programs, the number of national merit scholars, and the GPA of top students.    
  • What G/T identification process is followed by the school?
  • How many students at the school are identified as gifted/talented, and how are they serviced?
  • How does the school identify ethnically diverse G/T students and how do they monitor equitable practices?  
  • How does the school identify and serve twice-exceptional gifted students2?
  • For schooling options outside of public institutions, inquire about tuition fees. How much is tuition, and what does it include?

Next, dig further into G/T programs offered by talking with school personnel such as G/T coordinators, administration personnel, and teachers:

  • How does the school handle varied levels of readiness among students?3
  • How does the school monitor the academic progress (growth) of students4, and how often is growth measured? 
  • What opportunities are provided for students to excel in his or her area of interest/strength? 
  • Does the G/T program incorporate independent or small group research investigations as part of curricula requirements? 
  • Is there a continuum of skills for students to create innovative, advanced products, and performances in their area of interest and strength?
  • How are teachers and counselors educated or trained to specifically work with gifted students?   
  • How are academic mentors or professional type internships used to facilitate student research or enhance the learning experience?
  • What opportunities do students have to participate in academic competitions?
  • Does the school assist parents in applying for summer, afternoon, or weekend programs designed for gifted and high-ability students?

You will also want to address more nuanced details that target students’ experiences in the classroom:

  • What is the typical class size (student-to-teacher ratio per class)?
  • Are students offered individualized learning and differentiated instruction?  Ask teachers and administrators to describe what this looks like at their school.5
  • Is flexibility provided within existing curricula and homework assignments that incorporate students’ interests and account for the achievement levels of gifted children?
  • Are critical and creative thinking skills taught in the classroom?  Ask for examples of how this is done.
  • How is technology integrated into the curriculum and classroom, and how often are students given opportunity to access technology?
  • Ask to visit a classroom for a “walk through” experience. Notice the teacher climate.  Is there a positive work environment?

Choosing a program that fits the needs of your gifted student can be a daunting, overwhelming task. However, asking the right questions can be helpful in making a decision. Finding an appropriate learning environment where your gifted student is appreciated for his or her uniqueness is a huge benefit in the academic and affective development of your child.  In closing, here are some words of wisdom and encouragement. 

Work to build alliances within the school by focusing on the problem, not a person. For example, discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses by describing learning environments or interventions where your child has been successful as well as those in which he or she has struggled. Work together to help your gifted child capitalize on his or her strengths while also providing support for his or her weaknesses. There is wisdom in joining efforts with your child’s teacher and school personnel to work together as a team. Optimizing learning experiences for your child is a shared goal with the school; therefore, there are endless possibilities to reaching it when done in a spirit of unity.

Remember, the perfect school does not exist. Even after finding the school you believe is best suited for your child, there will still be aspects of his or her educational experience that you may not like or agree with. Parents, this is normal, and can often introduce valuable learning experiences for your child. Just as a child learns how to work toward his or her goals from inspiring teachers, advanced curricula, and excellent technology tools; it is through life’s challenges that he or she learns crucial and necessary coping skills. Keep in mind…a school that is a good fit will have more successes than struggles, but both types of experiences will be valuable for your child.

Congratulations for taking the first step to ensure your child does not slip between the cracks of any educational system. Parenting a gifted child is indeed a tough, but very rewarding experience. Stay the course, and your efforts will pay off!


1. This list is not comprehensive, but questions have been selected to provide initial guidance and direction. Children are unique, and every situation is different. Select questions and sub questions that address the needs of your child and situation.

2. Most schools do not have policies in place for twice exceptional (2E) students but may provide resources for parents.

3. Use caution with schools who claim the curriculum is challenging for all students.  Be careful to note if more work is assigned for G/T students as opposed to differentiating curriculum and instruction based on rigor and appropriateness. “More” work to resolve a child’s boredom is often perceived as a punishment by the child.

4. Be cautious of schools using only end of course, end of semester, and end of year exams.   

5. A website that may be helpful for parents to better understand differentiation of instruction is the following: 

Additional Resources

Foucault, A. (n. d.). Differentiation tips for parents. Reading Rockets. Retrieved from

Hassel, B., & Hassel, E. (2005). Choosing the right school for your gifted child. Digest of Gifted Research, 6(1). Retrieved from

National Association for Gifted Children. (2009). Myths about gifted students. Retrieved from

Perelstein, L. (2015). How to choose a school for your gifted child. Noodle. Retrieved from

Top 12 questions to ask private schools. (n.d.). Our Kids: The Trusted Source. Retrieved from

Priscilla Lurz, M.Ed. has dedicated thirty-five years as an educator in Maryland and Texas working as a G/T education teacher and a district program administrator. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented (TAGT) and is currently the immediate past President of TAGT.  Now retired, Priscilla remains active in the field as a consultant for G/T education services.