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Educating Gifted Children

by Linda Warren

Parents of gifted children sometimes find that it is difficult to give their children the education they need. Many people think that having a gifted child means that there are not problems in school for the student. This is far from the truth. In fact, gifted children have as many problems in school as those children of average educational aptitude, or even those children who have learning disabilities. It is just that the gifted children have different problems.

One problem that gifted children have is that they may not learn all subjects equally well. It is commonly thought that a gifted child can easily learn any subject that they are presented. And for some gifted children this is true. Because giftedness comes in many shapes and forms, some gifted children may find math to be a simple subject, easily learning new facts, and needing little repetition or reinforcement to be able to answer problems. That same gifted child might also voluntarily work more math problems that required, willingly exploring more math than is necessary to complete assignments. She might even explore math further, just because she considers it fun or entertaining. This gifted child might have trouble in other aspects of her education. For example, she might struggle with spelling, or other language arts.

The level of giftedness varies between children. Gifted does not mean that learning is effortless. Nor does it guarantee that there is not a cost somewhere else. Gifted children sometimes feel a great deal of pressure when parents or teachers expect them to do equally well in all subjects. Sometimes parents or teachers compound that pressure by telling the child something like, “You are so smart in science, you should be a doctor.” Just because a child may be gifted in science does not mean that being a doctor is what they are interested in. Yet if a child is told every week, from an early age, that they should be a doctor, because they are so gifted, then it becomes hard for them to break free of expectations.

In the classroom gifted children are sometimes given less attention rather than more. In part, this is due to the fact that children who learn easily are thought to not need specialized, or individualized instruction. Gifted students are often assigned as student helpers for children who do need more help. While this is great for the child who needs more help, it does not further the education of the gifted child. Giftedness is not just the ease of learning presented but also the need or drive to attain more information. If that hunger for knowledge is not fed in the gifted child then he may become bored, or even angered. This can lead to behavioral problems. The answer to solving the issues listed here regarding gifted children may not be as difficult as expected.

Gifted children tend to be creative and energetic. They are curious and questioning. It is possible to teach to those strengths, and their ability to learn easily and quickly, offering individualized instruction. This may be difficult to achieve in the typical classroom, there are ways to provide this. One alternative is smaller classes, where children can receive more individual attention. These smaller classes would also allow gifted children to explore their interests and delve deeper into subjects that they are good in, or have deeper understanding of. Another alternative to smaller class size is the home school environment, where the education of the gifted child can be completely individualized.

Gifted children can be challenging to educate, but they deserve as much attention as other students. In a time when it is not politically correct to celebrate exceptionalism, gifted students are sometimes not allowed to shine. They have needs, and weaknesses, and those need to be addressed when developing a curriculum. If we can provide these exceptional students with what they need today, society will reap the benefits of their creativity and ingenuity in the future.

About the Author:

Linda Warren is a writer. Her interests include self-sufficiency, and preparedness. She is a home schooling parent of one child for four years and counting with the online curriculum


Cricket @ Thrifty Texas Penny said...

I wholeheartedly agree. As a music teacher I often see GT students slip through the cracks because a classroom teacher insisted that they be taught in the same way as the other students, regardless of the learning abilities. Likewise when their curiousity and creativeness weren't nurtured they were turned off from learning. I wish there were more people out there who were as intuitive as you are and would take the time to truly see that GT kids have special learning needs too!

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