top of page

Why Do So Many Parents Pull Their
Gifted/2e Kid from School?

If you've considered changing schools or taking your kid out of school, you're not alone.

My partner and I recently made the difficult decision to pull our kid out of school to support his well-being.


If you’re reading this article, you might relate.

When we decided to keep our child home, I had to postpone several meetings with colleagues who also specialize in giftedness and have gifted/2e kids. I was surprised, at first, to hear that some of them had done the same thing for their child. But this shouldn't have been too surprising. I know from working with gifted/2e families that parents of gifted/2e kids often have to make difficult school decisions.

In my experience, parents of gifted/2e kids have to do all of these more often:

  • Advocate with the teacher for more challenge

  • Advocate with the teacher for more support

  • Communicate with the teacher to clarify misunderstandings

  • Change schools to find a better fit

  • Remove their child from school for their own well-being

  • Research specialized school programs to find a good fit

  • Homeschool to meet their child’s needs

  • Unschool to meet their child’s needs

  • Seek out therapy for their child to address school-related stress and trauma

If you have an intense or sensitive gifted/2e kid, there’s a high likelihood you’ve already made a difficult decision to pull your child from school, to reduce their hours at school, or to switch schools earlier than you intended, either between years or mid-year.

Why do so many parents remove their gifted/2e kids from school?

Usually, parents remove their child from school because they can see that school is not good for their child’s well-being.

They can see that school is harming their child, even if the school denies this or others say that can't be true.

Here are a few common sources of school-based harm for gifted/2e kids (not an exhaustive list!):

Lack of access to appropriate curriculum

Unfortunately, the standard curriculum at any non-gifted school is likely a poor fit for a gifted/2e kid, because these kids know more, learn faster, and think more complexly than other kids their age. To give a gifted/2e child access to appropriate curriculum at their level, teachers usually need to be willing to approach teaching differently.

I’ve worked with many parents of gifted kids who hesitate to ask their child’s teacher for more challenging work for their child. These parents often say, “I don’t care if my kid gets advanced content, I just want them to be happy.”

But most gifted kids aren’t happy unless they have access to learning at their level.

Often times, the path to a gifted child’s happiness is through more advanced content.

In case you’re wondering, accelerated learning has a ton of research support - gifted kids learn more and do just as well socially and emotionally, if not better, when they are allowed to learn harder material faster to keep pace with their natural learning. Check out the Acceleration Institute at the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa if you want to learn more.

Social exclusion, teasing, or bullying

Research has shown that many twice-exceptional kids experience social stress and bullying at school, usually from peers and sometimes from their teacher or other school personnel.

Intense bright kids might feel out of place if their peers don’t understand their comments and humor or don’t want to talk about the same topics and ideas. Gifted/2e kids may also be teased or excluded because they have different social styles than peers - perhaps they’re more direct, enjoy intense fantasy play, like to be the leader, are highly energetic, or seem socially hesitant.

Some teachers do an awesome job supporting classmates’ relationships with other another and creating a community where different social styles are understood or celebrated. But other teachers fail to intervene when a child is judged for their behavior or differences, and don't recognize how harmful certain social dynamics can be. Worse, some teachers view gifted/2e kids' social differences as deficiencies or personality problems and may blame or shame the gifted/2e child for social difficulties.

Punitive approach to dysregulation

Some sensitive or intense gifted/2e kids find it difficult to regulate and control their emotions and behavior at school. The classroom may be overwhelming, overstimulating, or structured in a way that doesn't meet their needs for movement, engagement, and active learning.

Sensitive and intense kids in particular need teachers to use a validating, calm, curious, and collaborative approach to classroom management. If a teacher uses a punitive approach when a child is dysregulated, the child will become more distressed and dysregulated. These kids often feel blamed and punished for things that are out of their control, and may be further enraged by the injustice of such a system.

Rewards charts and red/yellow/green systems of classroom management are often framed as "positive" behavioral supports, but often feel punitive and controlling. These systems can feel particularly punishing and unfair to kids who experience big feelings, who need to move, who like to call out their ideas, and so on - because they’re punished for being their natural self or only rewarded for acting in a way that’s uncomfortable or exhausting.

Masking at school causes dysregulation at home

Many intense or sensitive gifted/2e kids “behave well” at school because they work hard to control, internalize, and hide (mask) their big emotional reactions, boredom, social differences, true interests and opinions, and so on.

This masking process often leaves kids exhausted and dysregulated at home. After a full day at school, they don’t have the energy left to control their emotions and behavior at home. You may recognize this dynamic if your child gets off the bus or gets in the car and explodes with irritability or bursts into tears.

Kids may also feel angry at their parents for making them attend a school environment that feels so miserable. If your child is increasingly dysregulated at home and you don’t see a clear cause at home, you might be observing the cumulative effects of masking at school, especially if school is a poor fit.

What if these themes resonate and you're concerned?

If these themes resonate, I usually suggest communicating and advocating more with school (see my article on that here).


If advocacy doesn’t work or if the situation is too harmful, though, many parents decide to change their child’s school, homeschool, or unschool. So if you’re considering a new school or an educational change next year because you can tell your gifted/2e kid isn’t thriving, know that you’re not alone.

If you want more ideas like this directly to your inbox, sign up for Gifted Lab Notes, my weekly email with tips and information for supporting your intense or sensitive gifted or twice-exceptional (2e) kid.

Not long after we decided to take our kid out school for the rest of the year, I went for a walk in my neighborhood and started to feel really sad and lonely. I wanted to reach out to someone to share my anger and sadness about the whole situation, but I wasn't sure who would understand. And I do this for a living!

It often feels really lonely and isolating to raise an intense or sensitive gifted/2e kid. If you want to feel more supported and less alone in your parenting journey, I hope you'll consider joining my parent coaching program, Support Your Intense Gifted/2e Kid. You get a ton of hands-on coaching and support from me, plus a community of other parents facing many of the same challenges and difficult decisions you face.

​Learn more, register, or get on the waitlist here.

bottom of page