I was in gifted from Grade 4 to 12 and would never have survived without it. Before Grade 4, I was bullied, had pathetic social skills, and was generally miserable. I was "that" kid - the one that fidgeted, was a know-it-all, and had dorky uncontrollable habits like talking out loud to myself. I can laugh at it now, but at the time it was terrible. Once I was pulled out of my home school, everything changed. I could interact, learn and, most of all, had peers who were a lot more forgiving of my quirks because they had them as well. I was introduced to concepts that were withheld in my first school - and I understand why. A teacher with 30 kids can't teach Mr. Mugs and Shakespeare at the same time. - nutmega
It's a tough decision
I was in exactly the same situation 2 years ago. My husband was all for trying the gifted programme while I was more inclined to leave my son in FI where he was happy and doing well. We eventually decided to try gifted for a year and then let our son decide whether to stay or go back to FI. He chose to stay in gifted and is still enjoying it and has a good circle of friends there as well as staying in touch with his old ones from FI. It's a tough decision and I wish you all the best - we gifted parents are not the pushy narcissists some of these posts are making us out to be. We're just trying to do the best thing for our children.
A better fit
Entering the program has been great for us. Not perfect, of course, but a much better fit.
I know how I feel in a slow-moving meeting at work. I can't imagine spending so many hours bored in a classroom, day-in, day-out.
I've really enjoyed watching my daughter pursue her interests and share them with other kids who "get it."
Challenge is good
A lot of these comments are pretty extreme. Speaking from experience, I think that gifted, or enhanced classes - whatever they're being called nowadays - are a good thing for students, but that too much should not be read into them.
I was first identified as being "gifted" in grade 2. For the rest of elementary and junior high school, that meant being taken out of regular classes a couple times a week for a period or two and having a chance to do some different types of activities. It's true that some kids for whom regular school comes easy can become disruptive or distracting, mostly out of boredom. If the teacher gives you 20 minutes to finish a math assignment, and it only takes you 5, then of course you're going to turn to speak to your friend, who may not be done yet and might require more time than you do. For that reason, it was good to get away for a little bit to do work that pushed us a bit more.
In high school, I took my core subjects with other "enhanced" kids, and my electives with everyone else. That worked out really well. While we did occasionally cover slightly different topics, or the same topics in a different way, our teachers never went on about how special we were. At lunch and after school, we hung out with our friends in the regular stream and acted like normal kids for the most part. There were the odd stereotypical "nerd" types who despite being very smart had a hard time interacting with other kids, but they were a definite minority, and I can't recall my parents ever bragging about it to anyone.
The advantage of these classes for kids who might need them is that they're challenged a bit more. My teachers at least tried to discourage those of us who thought it might be possible to skate by on natural ability alone to do that little bit extra. Being grouped with high achievers also provided a healthy level of competition which at least for myself personally, pushed me do as well as I could.