Gifted Education, Parenting

Finding your child’s gift

Have you ever wondered if your child is gifted?

Perhaps they taught themselves to read at an early age?

Maybe they display empathy towards others beyond their years?

Some gifted children can manipulate numbers ten years before their age peers.

Being gifted can be seen in many different ways and although my blog has a strong focus on books and global issues, gifted education is something very close to my heart.

Having a masters in Gifted ed and working closely with gifted children over many years of teaching I have come across gifted children in all different types of classrooms.

One issue many gifted children have is not being recognised by their teacher. Parents often have a good sense (but sometimes doubt themselves or don’t know who to compare their children to) of what their children can and can’t do – and need to pass this onto their child’s teacher.

In order for our children to be supported we need to recognise the gifts they have and support them.

Here are some possible ways you can recognise if your child is gifted

  • Walk and/or talk early
  • Have an unusual sense of humour
  • Be very curious and ask complex questions
  • Show an early or intense interest in books, often learning to read at a young age
  • Make unusual connections between topics
  • Be self motivated, perfectionist, persistent or independent
  • Have a long attention span and unusual memory for details or facts
  • Learn rapidly, with little practice
  • Think faster than they are able to write
  • Prefer the company of older children
  • Have unusual perception and problem solving ability
  • Worry about adult issues and problems
  • Need less sleep than most children
  • Not always show their abilities in a school setting

It is important to remember that:

  1. Giftedness is not static – it is always changing so don’t assume just because your child can’t read at two that they are not gifted.
  2. Anyone can be gifted – It is not restricted to age, race, gender or disabilities/abilties.
  3. Being gifted does not always mean you are gifted in everything – You may only be gifted in one particular area

There are many different ways gifted children can be supported depending on their needs, some are:

  • Subject acceleration
  • Grade acceleration
  • Mentoring
  • External programs with like minded peers
  • Working alongside teachers in planning how they learn.

There was a great article in the Australian last year stating that one of the key problems gifted students face is boredom in the classroom which can lead to low self esteem, poor behaviour and disengagement with education. As parents and teachers we need to make ourselves aware of what to look for in order to identify gifted students and then how we can best support them so that their gifts turn into talents.

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Gifted Education

Ways that schools help and hinder Gifted students.

The justification for gifted education is simple: Academically advanced children should be given work at their speed and level, both to nurture their talents and prevent them from becoming bored and disruptive in class.

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I came across an interesting article this week: 4 ways schools help  or hinder Giftedness

This does make links to schooling in America but I believe there are links to Australia too.

Slow growth – it is often found in many schools that students who score highly in NAPLAN (albeit controversial testing) often do not show growth. How can we ensure that high achievers continue to achieve? There are many ways we can do this but change may be needed within the classroom – pull out groups, grouping within the classroom, acceleration, project based activities are just a few ideas.

Identification – are we using the appropriate identification tools for the students in our schools? Do you consider if you have students from a non-english speaking background? Indigenous background? Born overseas? Refugee? Each school needs to consider how they use standardised testing BUT they also need to consider how well teachers are equipped to create high quality pre assessments to gather data as well as good observation skills so they can pick up underachievers and 2e students (Twice exceptional)

Advanced curriculum – How well do we cater for gifted students in the classroom? Do we extend or enrich their learning? Teachers need to consider if they just need to be stretched sideways (problem solving, critical thinking within the current grade outcomes) or advanced to harder content (acceleration through stages). Many Gifted students will benefit from a combination of both but many do not receive this in the mainstream classroom. Teachers do need support for this to happen.

Tailor to students interests – It is really important that with Gifted students – and with other students also, that we tailor to their interests as much as possible. Think about how a lesson can be taught that catches students attention so not only are they excited about learning, they can use the great skills they have to build on skills in other areas. A students who is talented in mathematics can be extended in other ways – not always just in mathematics. They have the reasoning skills and the problem solving skills that may help them to solve environmental issues, humanitarian crisis or just something as simple as an issue in how the school timetable flows.