How Parents Can Support Gifted Learners

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The term gifted is often used when it comes to high performing kids, but what does it really mean? Having a gifted child means that your learner is showing above average abilities which can lead to intellectual and creative achievement at a young age. Gifted children are capable of high performance, but many also need special attention, especially when it comes to their social and emotional development. Some gifted children may perform above average in one area but lack skill in another.

IDENTIFY THE GIFT

“It’s actually up to the child’s school district to identify each student for gifted services,” says Lynne Henwood, president of the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children. “Each district has its own identification process based on the needs of its student body. This process should consist of different types of assessments (portfolios, observations, creativity tests, etc.) and not just tests. It’s important for parents to understand that a “gifted” label shouldn’t be the end goal, says Henwood. “The goal should be to match learning needs with services,” she says. “If a child exhibits gifted behaviors as a preschooler, the best course of action for a parent is to tap into interests and curiosities by exposing them to new experiences, providing an environment that invites looking, reading to their child and allowing them to experiment and explore. “

“The ideal time for a child to be clinically assessed for giftedness is during infancy, starting at age four, if possible,” says D’Arcy Natale, executive director of The Gifted Child Society in Ramsey. Natale says it’s important to note that while early identification is ideal, a child can be assessed for giftedness anytime between the ages of 4 and 16. giftedness in children until later stages of development.

Clinical cognitive assessments administered by psychologists are the ideal way to identify giftedness, Natale says. “These assessments are conducted one-to-one with licensed or certified psychologists and can take up to 1.5 hours for screening or 2-3 hours for in-depth assessment.” Natale notes that test scores and grades alone do not accurately define a gifted child, as their individual challenges and gifted traits can create barriers to their success in class.

Finding an IQ score isn’t always the necessary step, as it can be an expensive quest and doesn’t always tell the full story of the child, says Henwood. “An IQ score that is outside the gifted range does not mean that a child does not have gifted potential or abilities, and a school does not need to accept external testing as part of its process. identification. “

GIFTED THROUGH THE SCHOOL YEARS

Programming for the gifted differs from school to school, as well as according to different age groups. “There are many ways to serve gifted learners, but they all need to be targeted to the areas for which the gifted learner has been identified,” says Henwood, adding that there is a common misconception that gifted children are gifted in everything. “A very important part of any gifted program is understanding that gifted children have unique social and emotional needs,” she says.

“Many gifted children are prone to perfectionism, anxiety and overexcitability. Some students are gifted in one area and may even have a disability in another, ”she says. “Another misconception is that gifted children are those who have tidy and organized desks, raise their hands and never interrupt, always produce a beautiful job, which is delivered on time and who are always polite. Some of our most gifted learners are the opposite of these things.

Almost all gifted learners are asynchronous, which means they have uneven development. “A young child may have the cognitive ability to understand complex world events, but may not have the emotional maturity to process the events,” says Henwood. “Sometimes a gifted child has difficulty building relationships with their peers, which can lead to loneliness and isolation. Social and emotional learning should be built into any gifted program, and professionals who understand gifted children should also be available for support. “

In elementary school, programming may include grouping groups of students with gifted learning needs into the regular classroom, drop-out classes, push-in enrichment, advanced opportunities to participate in competitions or take on challenges. leadership roles in school and across time and space to develop interest-based projects.

“Another misconception is that gifted kids will do this on their own,” says Henwood. “These learners need the support of an adult to grow as much as any other child. Their needs should not be ignored just because they can quickly assimilate concepts. It is up to educators to ensure that all of their learners are exposed to new information and learn new skills, and not just receive more or more work, or be invited to tutor other students. . Everyone needs a productive struggle to grow, and if these students don’t develop the tools to persevere in that struggle, they may be ill-equipped to handle the rigors of college. High school programs can use their IB and AP programs to meet the learning needs of the gifted, but they should also provide them with opportunities for talent development, says Henwood.

High school students should have the opportunity to intern with working professionals and work on genuine and real problems. Service projects and community involvement are great ways for gifted students to develop their talents and skills. Students can take classes at a local college to meet their advanced needs.

College programs may involve advanced / accelerated math courses, differentiation within classrooms, enrichment opportunities, mentoring, hands-on application of skills in authentic projects, contests, and competitions (Destination Imagination , Continental Math League, etc.) and specialty clubs in which students can be in the role of the practicing professional (school newspaper editor, photographer, etc.)

RESOURCES FOR GIFTED CHILDREN

“The New Jersey Association for Gifted Children publishes a monthly NewsNet newsletter that provides nearby resources and events for curious children,” says Henwood. “Some universities offer programs for the gifted in the summer and some offer courses throughout the school year, such as the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY). Mensa for Kids also offers resources and opportunities. The National Association for Gifted Children has resources and advice for parents on their website.

Parents may also seek opportunities for older children to intern with interest organizations, such as helping with a political campaign or volunteering at the hospital. “Young writers can submit their work to publications like the New York Times and Stone Soup,” says Henwood. “NASA has great contests and activities for kids who love space.”

“The Gifted Child Society (CTY) is a long-standing resource dedicated to supporting and enriching gifted children from kindergarten through high school,” says Natale.

“TGCS offers tailor-made programs and experiences for advanced learning, as well as socialization and collaboration, for gifted and like-minded children. We recommend resources like ours, where one-on-one interaction can be much more tailored and truly differentiated for children who are gifted, as a complement to, not a substitute for, “normal” schooling.


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