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Assessing gifted kids

Gifted children shine in the right environment

Based on his public school record, you never would have guessed the boy was gifted. “This student’s academic record was spotty and teachers expressed disappointment with him,” says Mark Young, principal of The Abelard School in Toronto, Ontario. The student, now in Grade 11, handed in assignments late, antagonizing his teachers. When the boy switched over to Abelard, Young discovered the delays weren’t because the student was struggling with the work; rather, they reflected his perfectionism. What he eventually delivers, Young says, is “remarkable.”

One of many common misconceptions about gifted students, administrators of such programs say, is they are straight-A students (although many are). “Gifted doesn’t mean the ability to absorb a lot of material,” Young says. “It is about bringing a unique and important perspective to a subject, whether it is math or history, and combining it with traditional interpretations.”

Without academic indicators, educators, let alone parents, find it difficult to determine if a child is gifted. Melissa Volekaert, director of lower school and gifted co-ordinator at Fieldstone School in Toronto, says the only accurate test is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), a roughly two-hour oral exam that evaluates a child’s independent and abstract thinking. And Young says tests don’t always accurately reflect if a child is gifted.

But gifted kids show certain characteristics that can tip off parents and educators. While bright students tend to be obedient, Volekaert says, gifted students “aren’t usually the best behaved.” This isn’t to say gifted kids are troublemakers, or vice versa, but they tend to be more inquisitive than most and possess unique eccentricities that can frustrate teachers.

“They are very oriented towards justice and fairness,” Volekaert says. “If something is not perceived as fair, you will get quite a reaction.” If a teacher claims information to be accurate when the student suspects it is not, for example, the student may start an argument or essentially “write the teacher off,” which can lead to behaviour issues. 

And while bright students perform well in most subjects, Young says gifted students generally excel in certain areas and struggle in others—another reason why gifted students sometimes go undetected. Young remembers a former Grade 9 student studying then-OAC (Grade 13) math, but struggling with reading novels at his own level. An instructor worked one-on-one with the student in Grade 9 English, and teachers in subsequent grades were alerted to the math genius’ weakness. “By the time he came through the curriculum, he was very strong all around,” Young says. 

That’s what a good gifted program can do: challenge students’ strengths, while addressing their weaknesses. Gifted programs generally follow two models: withdrawal, in which students are periodically removed from regular class to study gifted curricula, and self-contained classrooms, where students only attend classes exclusively for them. 

Abelard’s 50 students are not all gifted, but all are exceptionally bright and highly motivated. “These students are all irrepressible and want to be challenged,” Young says. “This way each student’s voice is heard.”

Three hundred students are enrolled in Fieldstone’s academically challenging program, but just 30 take part in its gifted program. The program removes kids from regular classes three times a week: once to interact with their peer group, and twice to work with students from other grades on specific subjects, such as robotics or cryptography. Volekaert believes it’s important for gifted kids to remain in regular classes. “Not everyone is gifted,” she says. “They need to learn to work with the kind of people they will work with when they’re finished school.”

Of course, not every child is ready to be called gifted. “The label is not always helpful because there are certain expectations brought to bear,” Young says. Yet both Young and Volekaert say if your child shows characteristics of being gifted—and seems disengaged from regular school—it may be time to investigate a specialized program. “These kids really march to their own drum,” Volekaert says.

Series: Gifted Programs

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Delano Academy (est. 2014)  

  • Vaughan, Ontario
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • Day school (140 students)
D.A. is a K-12 university prep, coed IB candidate 21st Century school. Enriched and rigorous curriculum. Balanced academics, arts, athletics & character development. We value best practices & evidenced based approaches. [View profile]
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate
$15,995 to $19,995

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Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 15995

Fieldstone School (est. 1997)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • Day school (300 students)
Fieldstone prepares students to be future global leaders. As Canada's Cambridge School, we offer a stimulating curriculum in the context of a small and nurturing environment. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$17,750 to $24,755


Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 17750

Academy for Gifted Children - P.A.C.E. (est. 1993)  

  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • Day school (360 students)
Academy for Gifted Children - P.A.C.E. is a private school for intellectually gifted students in Richmond Hill, Ontario, from grades 1 to 12. Tuition is $13,500. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$14,000


Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 14000

The Dragon Academy (est. 2001)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • 4 to 12 Coed
  • Day school (80 students)
Dragon Academy is the right fit for gifted students, grades 6 to 12. Dragon's small, discussion-based classes go beyond the classroom into our world-class city . An inclusive, exciting, can't wait to get there school. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$22,000 to $27,000

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MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 22000

Bishop's College School (est. 1836)  

  • Sherbrooke, Quebec
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • Boarding school (210 students)
  • Day school (42 students)
Bishop's College School is an English boarding and day school for students in grades 7 through 12. Small in size and culturally diverse, BCS is an IB World School offering the IB DP and course certificates. [View profile]
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate
$25,400 to $66,500


MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed 25400

Académie de la Capitale (est. 1998)  

  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • Day school (65 students)
Acadecap International School a.k.a. Académie de la Capitale, an IB school, offers bilingual and/or English programmes from Pre-K to Grade 12. Students thrive in a culture of academic excellence and real-life learning. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
$13,340 to $19,510


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 13340

Unionville Montessori Private Schools (est. 1987)  

  • Unionville, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (900 students)
Unionville Montessori School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight. Its average class size is 18 to 22 students. [View profile]
  • Traditional
  • Montessori
$7,750 to $14,750


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 7750

King's View Academy   

  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • Day school (30 students)
  • Day school (30 students)
King's View Academy offers students the opportunity to study grades 7 through 12, including Advanced Placement courses, in a self-directed, self-paced, flexibly-scheduled and well-supported academic environment. [View profile]
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate
$10,500 to $19,125


MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Coed 10500

Ontario Virtual School (est. 2010)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • 8 to 12 Coed
  • Day school (3000 students)
  • eSchool school (3000 students)
Ontario Virtual School is an Ontario Government approved credit-granting institution offering high school level courses for Grades 9-12 in an interactive online format. Students can start anytime with 24/7 access. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$399 to $499 /course

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HighSchools Day eSchool Coed 399

Oak Learners (est. 2016)  

  • Etobicoke, Ontario
  • JK to 6 Coed
  • Day school (12 students)
Oak Learners offers a creative learning atmosphere, working with your child’s unique learning style to inspire their strengths and interests. [View profile]
  • Reggio Emilia
$3,600 to $18,900

User
reviews (3)

• User reviews (3)
Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed 3600

Rutherford Private School & Daycare   

  • Vaughan, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • Day school (100 students)
  • Boarding school (50 students)
Rutherford Private School creates an atmosphere of academic excellence, and develops students with a love of learning that provides sound preparation for higher education. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Montessori
$9,900 to $29,000


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed 9900

Madrona School Society (est. 1993)  

  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • K to 9 Coed
  • Day school (80 students)
Madrona School Society is a gifted school in Vancouver. It offers programs for kindergarten to grade nine with an average class size of six to 14 students. [View profile]
  • Progressive
$20,000


Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 20000

Dearcroft Montessori School (est. 1968)  

  • Oakville, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (170 students)
Offering Montessori programs from Toddler to Grade 8, Dearcroft is accredited by CCMA and staffed by dedicated teachers. [View profile]
  • Montessori
$8,800 to $21,250


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 8800

North Broward Preparatory School (est. 1957)  

  • Coconut Creek, Florida(USA)
  • K to 12 Coed
  • Day school (1296 students)
  • Boarding school (325 students)
North Broward Preparatory School is a K-12 co-educational day and boarding school located in S. Florida located minutes from the beach with IB, AP, and LD classes set on 80 acres with year round hockey. [View profile]
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate
US $24,200 to US $59,950


Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed 24200

Joan of Arc Academy / Academie Jeanne d'Arc (est. 1954)  

  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • JK to 8 Girls
  • Day school
In our all-girls environment, academic achievement in both official languages is the norm. A Joan of Arc Academy bilingual education prepares the women leaders for the challenges of tomorrow. Come and see the difference. [View profile]
  • Progressive
$15,750


Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Girls 15750

Progressive Academy (est. 1983)  

  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • Day school (200 students)
Progressive Academy's programs inspire students from preschool to grade 12 in Edmonton, Alberta. Wonderful faculty, wide range of experiential opportunities and high expectations ignite a desire to learn. [View profile]
  • Progressive
$8,950 to $10,150


Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 8950

Sherwood Heights School (est. 1989)  

  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • Day school (500 students)
Sherwood Heights School offers Enriched Academic Programmes from Kindergarten to Grade 12, in Mississauga. The Programmes are Enriched and Comprehensive, delivered with Extra Attention and Care. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$11,700 to $15,000


Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 11700

Dewey Institute   

  • Bracebridge, Ontario
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • Boarding school (130 students)
We uphold and pursue a pragmatic, balanced education with an emphasis on art, sports and music to cultivate talents to lead the new century. [View profile]
  • Traditional
  • Waldorf
$20,000 to $35,000


MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Coed 20000

Xyna International School (est. 2010)  

  • Brampton, Ontario
  • 6 to 12 Girls/Coed
  • Day school (50 students)
  • Day school (50 students)
  • Homestay school (10 students)
Xyna International School offers programs from Gr 9 - 12 in Brampton(Co-ed) and 6-12 in Woodbridge(Girls only). At Xyna students have many opportunities to develop teamwork, communication and leadership skills. [View profile]
  • Progressive
$7,000


MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Homestay Girls Coed 7000

Astolot Educational Centre (est. 1997)  

  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • Day school (40 students)
  • Day school (25 students)
Astolot Educational Centre is a day school with grades 1 to 12 in Ottawa, Ontario. Classroom teacher-student ratios are 1 to 10. Students have the ability to reach their full potential with Astolot programming. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$14,800 to $16,300

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reviews (1)

• User reviews (1)
Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Coed 14800

Avante School (est. 2009)  

  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 2 to 12 Coed
  • Day school (25 students)
Avante School provides a custom tailored learning experience for accelerated success and much less stress. [View profile]
  • Liberal Arts
$8,500 to $13,500


MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 8500

College Bourget   

  • Rigaud, Quebec
  • PS to 11 Coed
  • Day school (1450 students)
  • Boarding school (100 students)
Collège Bourget is a day & boarding school situated between Montreal & Ottawa, that exceeds Quebec curriculum guidelines & ensures our students grow through different spheres: arts, sports, community service & science. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$4,700 to $35,000


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed 4700

London International Academy (est. 2002)  

  • London, Ontario
  • 9 to 12 Boys/Girls/Coed
  • Boarding school (150 students)
  • Boarding school (145 students)
  • Day school (5 students)
A Canadian Private Secondary Co-ed Boarding school, located in downtown London, Ontario. LIA offers academic courses from Grades 9-12 and is authorized to grant the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). [View profile]
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate
$11,000 to $41,900


HighSchools Boarding Boarding Day Boys Girls Coed 11000

St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School (est. 1891)  

  • Oakville, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Girls
  • Day school (550 students)
Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Preschool to Graduating Year since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$18,000 to $28,430


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls 18000

Prestige School - Toronto Campus (est. 2003)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • Day school (290 students)
Prestige School offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade 12 in Toronto. Its average class size is 10 to 18 students. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$11,250 to $15,500


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 11250

The Abelard School (est. 1997)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • Day school (50 students)
Founded in 1997, the Abelard School is a small independent school for grades 7 though 12, located in downtown Toronto. It offers small class sizes and an enriched, integrated curriculum to bright, motivated students. [View profile]
  • Liberal Arts
$20,000 to $25,000


MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 20000

Prestige School - Richmond Hill Campus (est. 2003)  

  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • Day school
The Prestige School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Richmond Hill. Its average class size is ten students. [View profile]
  • Traditional
$10,000 to $15,500


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 10000

OAT - Ontario Academy of Technology (est. 2013)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • 9 to 12 Coed
  • Homestay school (15 students)
  • Day school (25 students)
OAT is a high school in Toronto specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Full credit courses, Booster programs and Reach Ahead programs designed to give students the support they need to excel. [View profile]
  • Progressive
$12,000 to $14,000

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• User reviews (3)
HighSchools Homestay Day Coed 12000

March Academy (est. 2003)  

  • Kanata, Ontario
  • 1 to 6 Coed
  • Day school (30 students)
March Academy offers an alternative program for students in grades 1 through 6. Small classes with academic programming includes weekly lessons in the arts, the natural environment and daily physical education. [View profile]
  • Liberal Arts
$16,000

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Elementary Day Coed 16000

Hampshire Country School (est. 1948)  

  • Rindge, New Hampshire(USA)
  • 3 to 12 Boys
  • Boarding school (25 students)
A friendly, active boarding school for bright boys who have good intentions but who may be too impulsive, intense, or bothersome for other schools and whose intellectual interests may separate them from their peers. [View profile]
  • Liberal Arts
US $61,500


MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Boys 61500

Aurora Montessori School (est. 1989)  

  • Aurora, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (370 students)
Aurora Montessori School offers a comprehensive, nurturing and enriched program for Toddler to Grade 8. Our enrolment of 375 day students has an average class size of 15 to 24. [View profile]
  • Montessori
  • Reggio Emilia
$10,500 to $16,200


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 10500

AVRO Academy (est. 2010)  

  • North York, Ontario
  • 9 to 12 Coed
  • Day school
AVRO Academy is an alternative high school in Toronto for grades 9 to 12. Students earn credits while developing skills that best prepares them for post secondary education. We focus on student strength! [View profile]
  • Progressive
$15,175 to $19,175


HighSchools Day Coed 15175

Wheatley School (est. 1986)  

  • St. Catharines, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (160 students)
Wheatley School offers programs from nursery to grade eight in St. Catharines. Its average class size is 15 students. [View profile]
  • Montessori
  • International Baccalaureate
$5,900 to $13,500


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 5900

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