Gifted children frequently encounter less academic support at school than children at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Why is it that gifted children are not always given as much instructional support as children with learning difficulties? Adam Caller, educator and member of the IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association), says much of the problem lies with differing criteria for what constitutes the label of ‘gifted or talented’, from country to country, and from generation to generation. Is it an IQ above 130? Is it an extraordinary talent in music or performing arts? Is it mastering academics above grade level? However you define gifted, each child’s gift is unique.
And yet, most experts agree that gifted students are not getting the individual support they need in the typical classroom. It is often assumed highly gifted children do not require as much academic support as they should be able to “fend for themselves”.
Dr. Beth Levy, consultant and evaluator for the Mirman School for Gifted Children agrees, “If you look at the funding, you will see that there is much more monetary expenditures on remediation and learning disabilities compared to that of gifted enrichment.”
Students that are exceptionally gifted have a tendency to become bored when exposed to learning that they have already mastered. They may demonstrate unwanted behaviors, which in turn, impact their social and emotional development.
Gifted children are often not allowed to ‘act their age’ and instead are expected to behave in a way that is commensurate with their academic level.
Elizabeth Fraley, Director of KinderPrep and Early Elementary for Academic Achievers, says, “We work with many gifted students that are reading 2-3 grade levels ahead that see us weekly for enrichment. Not only are we reaching their academic goals, we are also supporting their social and emotional development. Our teachers are cognizant of each child’s needs and offer unique instructional support that addresses higher order thinking skills and enrichment beyond the typical classroom. Truly ‘gifted’ children must be nurtured and challenged to fulfill their potential.”
I agree with this wholeheartedly. In my Catholic grade school, rather than advancing me several grades, I was made the school librarian for three years, and attended no classes whatsoever. It was miserable at best.
Giftedness is indeed a learning difference and is entitled to individual support. Thanks for sharing your story.