Every student learns best when given the proper learning environment; a healthy learning environment ensures that they are given plenty of creative exposure, proper learning tools, and sensitivity toward each of their learning styles. However, for gifted and talented students, creating an ideal learning environment is often very tricky; many gifted and talented students feel “trapped” or stagnant in normal school environments. They will become bored and dissatisfied if not given enough healthy intellectual challenge and stimulation. Sometimes it’s difficult knowing exactly what our child needs to flourish. The National Association for Gifted Children explains,
“Effective educators of students with gifts and talents create safe learning environments that foster emotional well-being, positive social interaction, leadership for social change, and cultural understanding for success in a diverse society.”
As a parent, it’s important to understand what each of these aspects are and how they can be applied to our child’s education. Giving our child the right learning environment provides them the tools they need to succeed, not just in school, but in every area of life.
Emotions and self-exploration are tricky aspects of growing up. For gifted students, finding the right avenues of support and counsel are extremely important. Accelerated class pace and advanced learning programs can easily overwhelm even the most intelligent and gifted children. They may begin to feel buried under the load or scared of academic or social pressure.
By providing positive coping mechanisms and showing them where to turn to in times of need, we help our children learn how to handle negative emotions and stress. Although this is the foundation of a proper learning environment within their classroom, this kind of emotional support must first start within our home. Make talking with your child a daily habit and show them that they can always come to you for anything that upsets or worries them.
Positive Social Interaction
Gifted and talented students are often stigmatized as “loners” or the “shy” kids. Finding friends that share their love of knowledge and intellectual exploration is a challenge. However, for some kids, too much social interaction is just as painful. School learning environments must encourage healthy social outreach but also respect each child’s unique need for personal space. As parents, helping our child navigate the social playing field must be a priority. If you notice your child lacking friends or becoming socially isolated, go out of your way to find new social activities that will help them grow beyond their comfort zone in safe but enjoyable ways. Extra-curricular activities such as robotics clubs, art groups, sports, debate teams, or competitions are some fun but intellectually challenging past-times that help gifted children grow socially.
Leadership for Social Change
Gifted children possess enormous potential to become future leaders and humanitarians. Politicians, doctors, scientists, and explorers often trace their roots back to gifted and advanced abilities in school. It’s important that we help our children understand their future potential and give them the tools to rise to the occasion. Talk to them about possible future plans, including college and interesting job fields. Don’t pressure them to commit to a certain pathway, but help them explore all their options. Schools that use “careers days” and college preparedness programs allow students to begin planning early on for what they want their futures to include.
If your child expresses interest in particular career fields such as biology or robotics, help them expand their curiosity with the appropriate extra-curricular programs such as The Summer Institute for the Gifted. Similarly, themed camps are also great for gifted students to expand socially as well as intellectually. These programs give them a fun taste of what careers and life paths interest them.
Gifted and talented children often express a great deal of natural curiosity over other world cultures and social ways of life. It’s vital we foster this diverse curiosity and allow them to experience the world in a variety of ways. Schools that provide information on other cultures and nationalities give children the tools for cultural understanding. This is a great foundation for future relationships and acceptance. As parents, we can also expand our child’s world-view by exposing them to new languages and lifestyles. If their school doesn’t offer adequate language classes, consider investing in extra-curricular language lessons. Many of these programs also include cultural lessons to enhance the experience.
Although providing the proper learning environment for our gifted children is challenging, the results are well-worth the struggle. Gifted and talented children are naturally very self-motivated and driven, even at a young age. By giving them the right tools and environment, we’re allowing them to rise to their greatest level. For more information on how to provide a socially and intellectually engaging environment both at home and in the classroom, please contact us today.