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How to identify if you have a gifted child

This specialized Richmond school inspires and nurtures the potential of its gifted students
Choice School 1
Choice School has provided a learning environment tailored for gifted students for over 30 years.

Most people believe their children are generally pretty smart, but does your child demonstrate a higher-than-average intellectual ability?

As a parent, you're probably the first to notice if your child learns faster, remembers more, or acquires and applies knowledge in more advanced ways than other kids their age—not to mention you are able to see that they feel deeply and have different social and physical needs.

These collective traits are all good indicators—among others—that your child may be gifted. However, there are several definitions and many ways to formally identify giftedness.

At Choice School, one such definition from the BC Ministry of Education, Special Education Policy, guides their admission process and instructional community. It relies on evidence-based criteria and defines gifted children as those with exceptionally high capability regarding intellect, creativity, or the skills associated with specific disciplines and often demonstrate outstanding abilities in several areas.

It further considers that a child may demonstrate an extraordinary intensity of focus in their particular areas of talent or interest. However, they may also have accompanying disabilities and should not be expected to have strengths in all areas of intellectual functioning.

"For over 30 years, our unique school has provided and continues to provide a learning environment specifically tailored for high potential, high ability, gifted learners," says Sukhbir Bolina, principal at Choice School. "We are the only school in B.C. designated as a school for gifted students."

Choice School creates a caring learning environment where gifted children feel genuine support and acceptance, particularly of their differences.

"Very few schools have the whole population of gifted students like we do," reveals Bolina. "We currently have 46 kids enrolled from kindergarten to grade eight, with an average class size of seven to eight students."

Traits to identify if your child is gifted

Choice School 2
Choice School creates a caring learning environment where gifted children feel genuine support. Photo via: Choice School.

Gifted kids often exhibit traits within four categories: cognitive (large vocabulary, excellent problem solver, interested in intellectual activity), creative (inventiveness, imaginative, keen sense of humour, broad interests), affective (elevated sensitivity or empathy, high self-expectations, emotional depth), and behavioural (boundless enthusiasm, highly energetic, insatiable curiosity, impulsive).

"Being a gifted individual is also a special need," says Bolina. "We have kids in grade three math who are mentally working at a grade six level and require a special environment like ours that can bring out the best in them." 

To have your child enrolled  at Choice, follow the application process, which begins with scheduling a personal tour with principal Bolina. Before the next step, you'll have to take care of the forms, the application fee and the required documents. 

"Then we have your child attend three consecutive days (experience days) to take part in regular class activities, where they will be assessed academically and socially," explains Bolina.

Choice School programs

The curriculum focuses on expanding core competencies through inquiry, critical thinking and problem-based learning, where each student's abilities, strengths, and interests are encouraged and supported through their programs.

In addition to music and art programs, Choice offers Experiential Week, an intense examination of a particular topic built around a theme, with field trips and practical skills development. 

"Our kids have so much more to offer and learn, and they're so creative we want to take them outside the box," says Bolina. 

The Choice Challenge program runs for  six weeks, where students choose from a range of learning options. 

"We use our teachers' diverse backgrounds and interests to teach a topic. For example, I'm a chess master and offered chess last year," he recalls, "which requires critical thinking skills." 

"In the past, we have offered  woodworking, geology (rock polishing), knitting and aviation, among others, all linked to the curriculum in one way or another. We're very unique in this aspect; we offer over and above the normal experience students would have in other schools."

Choice also promotes healthy living with their own greenhouse. Everyone takes part in the garden, from seeding, watering and weeding, to sharing in the harvest.

Bolina believes if your child is gifted, they should be at Choice. 

"We want to harness the amazing potential they have within, so their gifts can be developed into talents."

If you believe that your child is exhibiting indications of gifted abilities, or if you’d like to learn more about potential signifiers, Choice School will be hosting an admissions open house on Friday, October 7, from 9 am until noon at 20451 Westminster Hwy in Richmond.

For more information, visit, or call principal Sukhbir Bolina at 604-273-2418.

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