Q:

The teacher says that my gifted 7-year-old child is behind her peers socially. She didn't explain this at all. I told her that the child has lots of older friends in our neighborhood with whom she plays well. She also is quite involved in gymnastics and ballet and has easily made friends in both activities. Exactly how should a child her age be behaving? -- Unsure

A:

Socialization at school largely involves interacting successfully with one's peers and fitting in with the group. This age group typically enjoys making friends and acting like them as well as playing games with rules. Just because your child is gifted in academics certainly doesn't mean that her social skills are at the same high level. On the other hand, if she is happy at school and has a good friend or two in the classroom, there well may not be any socialization issues. Your child does not have to be like every other child in the classroom.

You simply have to talk with your child's teacher again. Ask her exactly what behaviors of your child cause her to think the child is behind her peers socially. This is the only way you can discover if your child really is not up to par in developing socialization skills. If the child needs some help in socializing with classmates, you and the teacher should work out a plan to improve this skill. Meanwhile, be sure to encourage friendships. Incidentally, it is quite common for gifted children to want to play with older children, as they will have more in common.

You do need to understand that there is no one else like your child. While there are developmental steps in acquiring social skills, not every child goes about this in the same way. Plus, learning to socialize with peers does not occur only at school. It also is happening in the neighborhood and in extracurricular activities. Apparently, your child has been successful in making friends in these places.