Every week we ferry two of my children around to schools other than their own so that they can participate in a ‘plusklas’ or a ‘talentklas’. It’s only recently that teachers uttered the words highly gifted to us about our sons. And so parenting (and my Dutch vocab) takes on a new level. What happens to gifted children in Dutch schools?
Identifying Gifted Children
The first step is identifying that a child displays characteristics of a gifted child. An IQ test may identify whether a child is gifted, but it is certainly not a foolproof way.
It could just be that a teacher realises that a child needs more challenge than the current education material is providing them.
Statistics show that around 2% of a population is gifted. That means in the Netherlands there are around 333,000 gifted people. According to 2016 data there are just over 34,000 gifted primary school children here.
Highly Sensitive and Gifted
I have been aware that we are raising three highly sensitive children for many years, and interestingly many gifted kids are highly sensitive too. Or is that highly sensitive children are gifted too. Either way, there’s a link.
Pros and Cons of Being Gifted
For years my now eight year old felt uncomfortable at school. He told us time and time again that he was bored, and despite feeding this back to his teacher, he didn’t feel any better. He was given higher level work. He was given more work. He was given more challenge. But still, hij zat niet lekker in zijn vel.
Yes, there are lots of advantages to grasping things quickly, being able to analyse in depth, being creative, thinking differently, soaking up information like a sponge and so on.
But there are also cons to being gifted, and a huge one is that a child feels different. Particularly when it comes to social interaction. I have written about four difficulties of raising a gifted child, and none of the issues are easy ones to solve.
Schools for Hoogbegaafd
There’s a great interactive graphic on Ik ben hoogbegaafd which details schools for gifted children in the Netherlands. Our nearest school for gifted kids is many kilometres away, making it an unfeasible alternative to his current school. So we’re looking at other options.
My son goes one day a week to a ‘plusklas’, which is essentially a class formed of 18 children who have been identified as having gifted traits from a few different schools. This has helped him so far, but it is early days. And this is certainly not something that every school offers.
I wonder how many gifted children are falling through the cracks. My youngest was also identified as eligible for the plusklas his brother goes to, but there wasn’t enough places for all children who fit the specifications.
This is the beginning of our journey into gifted children. I know I have a lot to learn!
Resources and Useful Links
Day a Week School, Amsterdam
Giftedness 101 by Linda Silverman
Living with Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability and Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents and Adults by Susan Daniels and Michael M Piechowski
Over to You: Have you experience with gifted children in the education system? Any tips you have are most welcome!