Gifted and talented students are often the envy of their peers and naturally succeed in an academic setting. However, these gifts are not without their pitfalls. Exceptional students need emotional and social support to make sure they take care of themselves as well as reach their maximum potential. These needs can sometimes fall through the cracks when support systems in schools aren’t adjusted to these students. Below are five common struggles that gifted and talented students face.
1. Many gifted students try to reach an impossible goal – perfection.
While it is normal and healthy to have high expectations for your child, it’s important to make sure these expectations don’t negatively impact their mental health. Signs of unhealthy perfectionism are procrastination or unnecessarily long amounts of time devoted to already excellent projects. It’s wonderful to strive to do your best, but prolonged perfectionist tendencies can lead to stomach problems, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and even eating disorders in hopes to maintain full control of their lives. Help your student accept that perfection is unattainable and set reasonable yet high academic goals and accept that no one – themselves included – is perfect.
2. Because of the pressures of rigorous schoolwork or extracurricular activities, many gifted and talented students have little free time.
Academic challenges are often fun to students with exceptional intelligence, but constant pressure and no time to relax can wear this fun away. The heavy workload of an accelerated program can cause a lot of stress and strain on young minds. It can take a toll very quickly and lead to burnout. To prevent this, make sure you help your child schedule time for themselves and encourage rest and relaxation, especially in regards to healthy habits and a full night’s sleep. It is vital to make sure your child has time to themselves as well as time to interact with friends and family. Here are some additional ideas of activities your gifted child may enjoy.
3. Gifted children are often very socially mature for their age, but this can cause them to have problems interacting with their peers.
Middle and high school are difficult transitions for any student, but the pressure can be worse on exceptional students. Many children with average academic capabilities see their gifted peers as “show-offs,” and try to distance themselves. In other cases, the gifted or talented student may have trouble finding similar interests to other children their age. It’s easier to find friends when interests and intellect are similar.
4. Talented and gifted students may have trouble focusing on schoolwork that doesn’t interest them or they don’t naturally excel at.
Accelerated children are used to academic curriculum coming naturally to them – it’s part of being gifted! However, there will always be difficult or uninteresting subjects and it’s important to address that. Students who are gifted in some areas aren’t always gifted in every area and often get frustrated or bored with things they aren’t immediately good at. High expectations can make it difficult to ask for support. On the other hand, when students pick up new material quickly, they can become bored and leave the rest of their peers behind and cause disruption in an ordinary classroom.
5. Organization skills can also be a problem with gifted students as many are abstract thinkers.
While it is more common for male students to become distracted and disorganized, this is an issue that afflicts everyone. It is easy to become overwhelmed for abstract thinkers, as it can make it difficult to break down large projects into easy pieces. Visual aids like a homework planner and calendar are excellent, and old-school pencil and paper can also help the organization process.
It’s important to remember that gifted and talented students are still children and are in need of parental and educational support. The problems listed above can be easily dealt with in an environment suited to accelerated children, like our trained staff at The Tenney School. The one-on-one approach and specialized support group help our students succeed, even in the face of these challenges.