Thursday, August 8, 2013

Talent Searches for Gifted Kids

The title of this post makes me smile, but it is actually true. There are talent searches to identify gifted kids! Why would you want your child to participate in one? Each talent identification program has different benefits, but the primary reason for participating in any of them is prestige. Simply, it looks great on any kind of application, from scholarship to college entrance. Of course, many of them also boast other benefits that can really help gifted kids, not the least of which is putting them in touch with their peers - something many kids can only dream about. Below are some of the most popular talent searches for gifted kids.

1. The Duke Talent Identification Program is probably the best known talent identification program. Many of us likely remember taking the SAT in 7th grade as part of this program. I know I do! It was a wonderful opportunity to get a look at a test that most of my peers wouldn't experience for many more years. It also started a flood of college mail arriving at my house, which started me dreaming about college at a young age - never a bad thing. In fact, it was as a direct result of the Duke TIP that I first discovered classical education. I received a brochure from St. John's College and knew that I wanted to go to a school like that. I didn't end up at St. John's, but I did end up getting a superior classical (and Catholic!) education. I digress. If you can get your gifted child into one of these programs, do. You never know what spark you might be lighting.
  • 4th-6th Grade: I actually didn't realize that Duke had this program until I went to sign Therese up for the 7th grade program. Now that I know, I can sign Nicky up! Once you qualify (as early as 4th grade), your enrollment continues through 6th grade. To qualify, "students must score in the 95th percentile or higher on a grade-level standardized achievement test, aptitude test, mental-ability test, approved state criterion-referenced test, or 125 or above on an IQ test." Enrollment begins 10/1, so it's not too late for this year! There are too many benefits to list here, so be sure to check the website. The fee is $37.
  • 7th Grade: From the website: "Duke TIP's 7th Grade Talent Search is the largest program of its kind in the nation. Since its inception in 1980, over 2 million students have participated in a Duke TIP Talent Search. The 7th Grade Talent Search identifies academically talented seventh graders based on standardized test scores achieved while attending elementary or middle school. Candidates are invited to take the ACT or the SAT college entrance exam as seventh graders, which allows them greater insight into their academic abilities. 
    • Participants gain valuable benefits and have access to unique resources for gifted students." Enrollment for this one began 8/1, so be sure to sign up soon! Therese already has her SAT testing date (1/25/14 at Langham Creek - anyone in Houston want to come keep her company!?). The fee is $74, but it covers the cost of the SAT and some prep materials, including a practice test. Again, there are many benefits to being a Duke TIP participant, so be sure to read the website. If your SAT score qualifies you, you may be invited to a state or national recognition ceremony. 
2. The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Talent Search - This talent search is for grades 2-8, although it, too,offers the 7th grader the option to take the SAT or ACT. The Center for Talented Youth is a prestigious program that boasts famous alumni, including the founder of Facebook. This program offers numerous summer programs and online courses for its participants. Like the Duke program, membership has cache, and through the program your child will be able to meet and interact with kids like him/her. If you're not sure which talent search to participate in, you can do what I'm doing: Therese is taking the SAT through Duke and the ACT through CTY. The talent search application fee is $39.00, and you can enroll online now. 

3. Not a talent search, but definitely something you want to pursue if you have a profoundly gifted child, the Davidson Young Scholars Program from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development offers a multitude of resources for profoundly gifted children. Unless you have had your child take an intelligence test before (like the WISC-IV or the Woodcock-Johnson), you might want to wait for the results of your child's SAT/ACT to apply to this program, as those scores are the easiest way to qualify for the Davidson program. Unlike the two previous talent searches, this program does not accept the results of standardized tests. Instead, students must have scores in the 99.9% in at least one section on the above tests (see this page for full qualifications), or certain sliding-scale scores on the SAT or ACT. If you do what I'm doing and have your child take both tests through both talent searches above, you hedge your bets that she will qualify with at least one test. 

Why Davidson? Honestly, you need to visit this website to see all that is offered for free. There is a real community feel to the organization and if you, like me, sometimes wonder if you are doing right by your gifted child, you will really appreciate the free consulting services available to Davidson families. I wonder when college will be appropriate. I don't want Therese to go early, but I don't want to have taught her everything by the time she gets there. Hello, consultant? What are your thoughts?

I know this post has been dense, and I thank you for sticking with me. These are things that we as homeschooling parents of gifted kids need to know. Fortunately, the process for applying for these programs is easy for homeschoolers. In fact, Duke even has a school code for homeschoolers (something I didn't see when I first started investigating the TIP a few years ago). If you know of other great programs for gifted kids, please do share in the comments!

 Laus Deo,

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