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Is My Child Mathematically Gifted?

There is a field of experts in the area of mathematical abilities. They measure cognitive abilities to solve structured problems and constructive  abilities to creativity problem solve. One person emerges that takes all this wonderful research and makes it available to the parent and the ordinary math teacher (not pursuing a Ph.D.): Dr. Ann Shoplik.

Ann co-authored (with Dr. Susan Aussouline) a book entitled Developing Math Talent: A Guide for Educating Gifted And Advanced Learners in Math which is well worth purchasing if you find yourself parenting or teaching a mathematically gifted child.  A summary of many of the books conclusions can be found in the Digest of Gifted Research blog entitled “Developing Math Talent: Advice to Parents.”

Below is a scattershot of some of the resources I have found most useful…

Defining Giftedness

I am going to have the experts rise up and object (please feel free to comment).  For the purposes of parent advocacy, gifted means that your child is not being sufficiently challenged and has the capability and desire to go deeper and farther than current math curriculum is letting them. The lack of students in our nation pursuing STEM degrees is a matter of national security.  One way to respond is to identify the gifted and provide them resources to soar.

Determining Giftedness

Some schools require an IQ test. Many of these tests can be subjective.  If your child tests below your school’s cut off, you may want to consider an independent testing site.

Some schools give the that year’s course final at the beginning of the year. Those who score over 90% are accelerated a grade. The downside is that the 10% they missed may have been crucial building blocks of future math ability.

Ann Shoplik recommends above grade level testing, for example the Explore, the ACT or the SAT. Once giftedness is determined, she advises a diagnostic testing/prescribed learning cycle that requires a mentor or committed teacher.

Listen to your child.  Do they hate math because it’s boring or because it is too challenging?  Do they love math and want more?  Listen even more carefully to girls and minorities.  Their mathematical giftedness often goes unrecognized by peers and teachers.

Finding Resources

Acceleration has been shown again and again to be healthy, appropriate and better than not accelerating for gifted students.  Read more at


Connect with gifted parent groups and programs.


If you are local to Pennsylvania

Female Alliance STEM Education


If you are local to Beaver County

Beaver County Gifted Parents

Beaver County STEM Education Advocacy Coalition


Have Some Fun

Watch with your kid


Have fun parenting a gifted child.  Reach out and grab some support.


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