Gifted or talented children comprise approximately three to five million students nationwide. The learning capacity and style of gifted children differs from that of typical students, therefore, necessitating a personalized learning environment. With that in mind, it makes sense to determine what type of academic environment would best support a gifted or talented child. Additionally, as parents, you want to give your gifted child the best possible opportunity for future success.
How are gifted children identified?
This is the starting point of determining whether your child has extra needs due to his/her giftedness. Often, school administrators will identify gifted students through screening programs already in place. School officials administer various tests to confirm eligibility. Usually, an IQ test is one of the tests taken. When school officials conclude that a student is gifted, there are a couple of options for the parents; they can enroll their child in the gifted program at the public school or look into a smaller, private school geared specifically for talented children. Let’s examine the profile of a gifted child to determine his/her specific learning needs.
What is the intellectual profile of a gifted child?
Although every state has its own definition of what makes a student eligible for a gifted program, the National Association for Gifted Children has given this definition:
“Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).”
In addition, there are other common attributes of gifted children. They are as follows:
- Superior reading ability, which usually begins at a younger than normal age.
- Advanced vocabulary and capacity to construct complex sentences for his/her age.
- Highly curious about the world and ready to investigate new ways to experiment with it.
- Varied and intense interests.
- Excellent problem-solving skills due to his/her ability to break down the problem into parts for analysis.
- Huge amount of information stored up in his/her memory.
- Ability to spot small, relevant details.
- Enjoys experiments.
- Highly imaginative and playful.
Based on the many intellectual characteristics of gifted children, we could safely conclude, they have a zest for learning but may be a little less than “traditional” in their approach.
What are some social/emotional characteristics of gifted children?
- Very sensitive and in tune to surroundings, others, and emotions.
- Introverted or shy.
- More prone to being shunned or bullied because of child’s difference and shyness.
- “Needs cannot be met by one style of learning.”
What academic environment best supports this type of student.
It is worth mentioning that many famous people in history would be considered gifted, if not geniuses, due to their life-changing inventions, discoveries, or scientific contributions to society. Many of them, however, were perceived as failures before they went on to the famed books of history. Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Verner Von Braun, and Leo Tolstoy all failed in a traditional school setting. Thomas Edison’s teacher didn’t fail him but did notify him that he was “too stupid to learn anything”. Teachers rejected Fred Waring and Caruso’s singing, and Walt Disney was encouraged to give up his profession, because he just did not have any good ideas. This should tell us a bit about the misperceptions that can often arise with the gifted, even genius child. Without the proper nurturing and motivation (either from within or without), the child may very well wither instead of blossom.
Based on the gifted child’s unique profile, here are 5 reasons a small, private-school setting may accommodate his/her needs best.
- Customized instruction plan can focus on abilities of the gifted child to keep him/her engaged.
- Small classroom size encourages shy, introverted students to speak up.
- Private school setting with fewer students strengthens relationships, therefore decreasing chances of bullying, teasing, or peer pressure issues.
- Small schools are more flexible to students’ learning styles and can adapt if needed.
- Curriculum that is custom-made for the gifted child will keep him/her from getting bored.
At the Tenney school, we are privileged to provide our students with a one-on-one experience. With customized instruction to meet the needs of the student, the environment is conducive to growth and learning. Our staff is able to make a valuable connection with each student, fostering the inbred love of learning. If you would like more information, please contact us today!