At Grayson, we take a multifaceted approach to identifying gifted learners. Recognizing that each child is unique, we seek to understand applicants’ needs and to evaluate whether or not the school is a good “fit” for each child.

Young children who are highly gifted often have many different ways of showing us the way their minds work. Some of these include:

  • Demonstrates early interest in reading
  • Acquires vocabulary easily
  • Asks “why” questions/displays intellectual curiosity about many different topics
  • Has the capacity to understand abstract concepts and ask complex questions
  • Engages in imaginative and original kinds of play
  • Can be perfectionistic about their work
  • Prefers to play with children older than himself/herself
  • Enjoys taking things apart and/or putting them together
  • Grasps new ideas quickly and applies them in different contexts
  • Has a long attention span when interested in a topic

We seek children who demonstrate high potential as learners. Some of these children may be advanced “across the board,” while others may be highly gifted in one specific area of study such as math or languages. We welcome both learners.

We do not have a “hard cutoff” or minimum IQ or other test score that all applicants must meet; rather, we know that giftedness varies widely. A highly gifted student may be:

  • Performing well above grade level in one or two particular areas — for example, a child who is ready for algebra in fourth grade but performs at grade level in language arts and science; or
  • Passionate about an area (or areas) of interest outside of the regular school curriculum — for example, a first grader fascinated by all aspects of marine biology may not have any opportunity in his or her regular school environment to “do something with” this interest and/or expertise;
  • Extraordinary at acquiring new information, but without an outlet for their skills — for example, a young child who eagerly learns how to count to ten in as many languages as she can, while earning high but not remarkable grades in school; or
  • Full of creativity, always wanting to build, design, invent — for example, a child who protests doing worksheets but will spend hours designing and building a robot to clean their room for them.

Because giftedness can look so very different from one child to another, it is difficult to offer precise parameters and metrics that define a “Grayson kid.” Perhaps the best way to understand what a “Grayson kid” looks like is simply to see some snapshots of some of them:

L is a rising sixth grader who loves all things math and science, especially robotics. A voracious reader, she even “snuck” reading time when she was supposed to be on “cognitive rest” after a concussion, though she insists that the books she was “caught” reading weren’t very sophisticated, so it was okay. Her mother has described her brain as “constantly hungry” and is kept busy seeking new ways to keep her intellect satisfied because her private school’s curriculum is simply not challenging enough. Accordingly, by the end of fifth grade, she has taken three years of French outside of school, in addition to several years of advanced math through online courses. While her grades in school aren’t stellar anymore because she is so bored by the slow pace and unstimulating coursework, her test scores and a conversation about her areas of interest reveal a phenomenal ability and aptitude for learning. This summer, her resourceful mother has arranged for her to spend time studying at MIT and at Penn’s robotics lab for the second year in a row.

A is an energetic little boy whose parents can hardly keep up with him. They’ve always known he was extraordinary, and have a plethora of stories to share about amazing achievements and shockingly precocious comments at startlingly young ages. When he was around five and had a broken arm, he waited with his parents in an exam room for a doctor to come see him. It wasn’t that long a wait — but while he was there, he taught himself all the times tables up through the 13s. When he was seven, he taught himself long division, because he thought “it seemed like good stuff to know.”

P’s parents knew she was highly gifted when she started reading at age two. Her test scores describe a brain quite different from her chronological peers. While taking an IQ test at age four, for example, the tester showed her a picture of a microscope and asked what it was. P replied excitedly, “Oh! I know a poem about a microscope! ‘I put a piece of cantaloupe/Underneath my microscope/I saw a lot of green things wiggling’…Oh, I can’t remember the whole thing. But I know it ends with, ‘I’m never eating cantaloupe again.’ Shel Silverstein wrote it. It’s in a book of his poems in my room.” Now six, her math capabilities measure somewhere around 4th or 5th grade, and her reading level is about 5th grade, as well. Most recently, she is trying to decide how to balance her life goals of owning a restaurant while also being a rock star, plus just the other day she informed her mother, “I’d like to be just like Rachel Carson when I grow up.”

D is a sensitive, quiet boy who loves animals and books. When he was a fourth grader, his math skills far outstripped his teacher’s ability to challenge him, and he found himself bored every day in class. One week, though, he came home and proudly showed his mom his latest math test. He had gotten a perfect score, he said happily, not that such a result was unusual for him. When she looked to see what had suddenly made her often-disengaged son excited again, she realized that the reason he was so enthusiastic is that he had done all the calculations on the entire test in Roman numerals — that’s what had made yet another boring arithmetic test so interesting for him.

C is always coming up with inventions, and loves to describe how they will work to her mother. When she was in 4th grade, she explained her latest invention: the Infinite Water Gun, which automatically replenishes itself by pulling water molecules from the air and into the reservoir. After careful thought, however, she decided that the water gun would need to have safety measures in place, in the form of limits to how often it could refill in a day — if it was too powerful, it might damage countries and their environments.

As you can see, these children do not look alike. Their test results vary tremendously; some of them have “spikes” of ability in one area or another, while others show more generalized “across-the-board” giftedness.

But they are all alike in one important way — they are already ahead of their peers, and in the right environment, they can continue to learn at a rate that typical schools simply cannot offer, and which most teachers are not trained to handle. They are clearly high-ability learners — exceptionally gifted kids — with great potential that cannot be met in a typical school.

They are Grayson kids.

If you think you have a Grayson kid, we’d love to hear from you