They are too smart for regular school

News 20 January, 2018
  • Photo Benoît Philie
    The mother of Manolo Poirier-Nantel (centre), Marie-Claude Nantel, and his mother-in-law, Marie-Hélène Lepage (left) is struggling to send her to school, that anguish.

    Benoît Philie

    Saturday, 20 January, 2018 01:00

    Saturday, 20 January, 2018 01:00

    Look at this article

    They have learned to read, count and write before even entering kindergarten, and past projects. However, many gifted children are put to one side on the benches of a school in Quebec and their parents are at their wits end for help.

    “For those who say I’m lucky… well, they don’t know what it is,” says Marie-Claude Nantel, the mother of Manolo Poirier-Nantel, 10 years.

    “I am a special education teacher, and I am at my wits end for him, I need help. And help when one has a child’s high-potential… well, there isn’t, ” Ms. Nantel, who lives on the South Shore of Montreal.

    In Quebec, more than 20 000 young people would be considered gifted.

    The Journal has met children and adults who have received this diagnosis in order to portray the situation in Quebec, where there is no specific education policy to the giftedness.


    The mother of Manolo understood very early that his son was not like the other. “At the daycare, the staff told me that he understood more quickly than his friends and he was bored. “

    “In kindergarten, for his first project, he wrote a short story. I didn’t even know he could write, ” said Ms. Nantel, throwing a smile at her boy, sitting at his side.

    Very soon, however, Manolo has become anxious at the idea of going to school and he had to change schools several times.

    This is also the case of Fabrice Déry, 13 years, of Saguenay, which, despite its knowledge and varied interests, had to be removed from the school a few times to do her classes at home.

    Extremely brilliant, but with sensitivities, these children do not fit into the mold of the ” normal “schools.

    “In sports, as soon as a person stands out, we offer him the possibility to progress at his own pace. In the arts, it is the same. We want to be virtuosos. But at the intellectual level, we force all children to do the same thing. It is a huge mistake and a loss of potential to society, ” said retired psychologist Françoys Gagné.

    According to the psychologist specializing in giftedness Marianne Bélanger, the great majority of teachers, doctors and psychologists are not aware of the scientific knowledge in giftedness and have not been trained to detect and evaluate.

    “Up to this day, the most talented, therefore, have been forgotten,” said Ms. Bélanger, who also founded the Association québécoise de giftedness.


    The school is a nightmare

    Photo special collaboration, Sophie Lavoie

    A young 13-year-old, who does not believe in his diagnosis of giftedness, has changed schools three times in elementary school.

    To read the article, click here.


    He learned to read and write, single even before kindergarten

    Photo Benoît Philie

    His parents are at wits end for their boy who learns too quickly.

    To read the article, click here.


    No specific program for the gifted young

    Quebec will shoot themselves in the foot by depriving gifted students to have access to school programs and accelerated are tailored to their needs, say experts, who found that intelligence is a topic that is so taboo in the province.

    “We tend to want to help those who are making the most of the leg, which is quite normal, but we forget about the other extreme. The gifted also have great needs and the school system designed for all is not appropriate for them, “laments Sylvie Régnier, president of High potential Québec, an organization created in 2012 and dedicated to raise Quebecers’ awareness on giftedness.

    She believes that intelligence is a subject that scares to Quebec. This is a view shared by Huguette Lamontagne, a member of the group of people surdouées Mensa Canada. “It is as if this was not a good thing to hold the mass, especially intellectually,” says the lady, who is herself gifted.


    Unlike Ontario, France and the United States, gifted children in Quebec are not always recognised as having special needs in education policy.

    Some are bored to death in school because they understand more quickly than others. They are also more likely to drop out of school than students normal, ” says psychologist French specialist of giftedness Jeanne Siaud-Facchin.

    “Some end up in be sick or have behavioral problems in the classroom. Even in the groups and schools which are already gathered the best students, ” she said, in an interview with The Newspaper.

    However, this may change by 2030 in the province.

    Since last year, Québec shall take into account giftedness in its new Policy of educational success. It reads, among other things, that ” the diversity of needs also includes those gifted people and people who are not experiencing particular difficulties “.


    Diagnosis between 800 $ and 1500 $

    Photo courtesy

    The neuropsychologist Carine Doucet.

    To make an assessment of giftedness in a child, the specialists in three time, ” says neuropsychologist Carine Doucet.

    First, there is the evaluation of the intellectual quotient (IQ) with the award of an intelligence test standard, which solicits different aspects of intellectual functioning.

    Interviews are conducted with parents and teachers to analyze the skills and behaviors of young people in the area of creativity, personality, and motivation.

    Finally, a clinical interview as well as the placing of questionnaires of evaluations to supplement the diagnosis.


    The average cost for a neuropsychological evaluation complete in a private clinic is around $ 1500 in Quebec.

    The neuropsychologist Carine Doucet, Montreal, indicates, however, that this amount may vary depending on the type of assessment requested. A client who seeks only to know if he is gifted or not, can expect to pay around $800.

    For the children, such an evaluation is possible in school or in child psychiatry, subject, however, to a very long wait, ” says Ms. Doucet.

    For adults, it is impossible to pass by the public.

    In France, the neurological assessment complete costs around € 300 (about $450).


    Initiatives in Quebec


    The Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB) has a “Policy of gifted and talented students” in 2011. A program of giftedness in secondary school has since been introduced to the secondary school Paul-Gérin-Lajoie-D’outremont, the only one in the francophone school in Quebec.

    “It was noticed that there was a need in the community for enrichment programs. Our program of giftedness is addressed to students who are able to learn very quickly. They spend much less time in the department’s program and do more projects, ” says the director of the institution, Gaetane Marquis.

    Students are involved among others in the creation of animated films, documentaries or short films throughout their career. They also do science projects, and travel. The first cohort of gifted is now in her fourth high school. Classes of giftedness have then been open every year since.

    A program of giftedness that enables gifted and talented students to progress according to their interests, their talents and their projects ” has also been put in place at the école primaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys.


    The primary school, Fernand-Seguin, located in the heart of Ahuntsic, is home to its share of talented and gifted students who come from the territory of the Commission scolaire de Montréal. The institution offers an education enriched and adapted to its English language students.

    The Riverside school Board also offers a program of giftedness in secondary school for English students at Centennial secondary school, on the South Shore of Montreal. “The intensive programme allows you to develop the fullest potential of students desiring access to higher education “, we read on the website of the institution. It offers the options of Science/math or Arts.


    This is done elsewhere in the world

    File Photo Martin Alarie

    British Columbia

    The gifted students are recognised as having special needs by the ministry of Education in an amendment to the education Act in 1995. Many schools currently provide special programs for young gifted children.

    In Ontario

    The province has included the definition of giftedness in its law on the issue in the 1980s, becoming one of 12 ” anomalies “, giving you access to tailored programs. Ontario is home to close to twenty schools completely composed of gifted students.


    The province has followed the example of British Columbia in 2000. The definition of giftedness is also included in the policy of special education in 2004.

    United States

    In 2015, 37 us States had a formal definition of giftedness, and offer different services adapted to the needs of gifted students.

    South korea

    The country has adopted the Gifted Education Promotion Law in 2000, which allows to offer a specialized education to gifted students.


    Since 2005, appropriate arrangements are provided for the benefit of the students intellectually precocious. The French Association for gifted children is also mandated by the ministry of national Education to train and support teachers, professionals and families in the area of giftedness.


    Is your child gifted ?

    Photo Fotolia

    Giftedness is hard to define. One thing is certain, it is not limited to intelligence and not to be counted not only in iq, contrary to what was happening at a certain time. These are mainly creative people with a great capacity for analysis and adaptation. Here are some of the distinctive traits often found in gifted child.

    • Curiosity
    • Ability to understand abstract topics (death, justice)
    • Questioning incessant
    • Intense and exhausting
    • Self-directed learning (reading, math)
    • Anxiety
    • Mode of thought in fireworks
    • Hate the repetition, practice and revision
    • Innovation and originality
    • Imaginary world
    • Sense of humor developed and clever (puns, double meanings)
    • Restless when there is a lack of stimulation
    • Seems impulsive
    • Rarely tired
    • Does not tolerate the waiting and boredom
    • Distracted and in his world
    • Must often be detained
    • Lack of flexibility
    • Hyperfocus
    • Difficulty to do the task when it has no interest
    • Disproportionate Effort in order to please others
    • Hypersensitivity
    • Don’t like the authority

    Signs in toddlers

    • First words between 7 and 9 months and the identification of letters and numbers at 2 years instead of 4.
    • Near-absence of first words until 24 months and a sudden onset of a language that is almost mature
    • First steps around 10 months instead of 12
    • Up the steps only 2 years instead of 3

    Sources : Kim Authier, magazine of the order of psychologists of Quebec

    2% to 10% Proportion of the population that is considered gifted, according to the definitions of giftedness. The 2 % corresponds to the proportion of the population with an iq of 130 and more, the average being about 100.

    90 % Among the gifted students, 90 % are efficient. However, many suffer from performance anxiety. (Source : Betts and Neihart, 1988)

    In Quebec, this represents over 20 000 young people of school age

    18% to 25%: the Proportion of gifted people who drop out of the school system, once returned to the university (Source : Renzulli, 2011)