Nobel laureate and author Pearl S. Buck once said, ‘The truly creative minds in any field is no more than this: ….He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.’
This is one way of identifying a gifted child, who is not quite like the rest. Many people can get confused as to whether their child is just smart, or gifted. Here are some of the characteristics that point to a gifted child:
- Extremely curious
- Excellent reasoning skills
- Unusual and/or vivid imagination
- Very observant
- Excellent memory
- Fluent and flexible thinking
- Long attention span
- Elaborate and original thinking
- Excellent problem solving skills
- Quickly and easily sees relationships in ideas, objects, or facts
- Intense interests
- Learns quickly and with less practice and repetition
Myths and truths
Many gifted kids are often misunderstood by their teachers, classmates and even their parents. Here are some myths and truths about gifted children.
- They can accomplish anything they put their minds to; they just have to apply themselves.
- They have fewer problems than others; they do not need or deserve extra time and attention.
- Gifted kids are self-directed; they know where they are heading.
- Gifted underachievers just need to try harder and get organized.
- The primary value of the gifted child is in his or her brain power.
- A gifted child’s family always prizes his or her abilities.
- Gifted kids need to serve as examples to others and they should always assume extra responsibility.
- All gifted kids are high achievers; They don’t have to work for grades.
- Gifted kids don’t need help with study skills, they can manage on their own.
Gifted kids are often perfectionists and idealistic and may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth. This can lead to fear of failure and can interfere with their achievement in and out of school.
The social and emotional development of a gifted child may not be at the same level as their intellectual development. Gifted kids may experience heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and those of others, producing constant guilt over achievements or grades perceived to be low.
Some gifted kids are ‘mappers’ (sequential learners), while others are ‘leapers’ (spatial learners). Leapers often can’t say how they got a ‘right answer.’ Mappers may get lost in the steps leading to the right answer.
Gifted kids may be so far ahead of their chronological age mates that they know more than half the curriculum before the school year begins! Their boredom can result in low achievement and grades.
In school, gifted kids may need real problems to work on in order to achieve high revels. Gifted students often refuse to work for grades alone.
Gifted kids often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with study and test taking skills. They can justify all the answers in a multiple choice question, or skip reading test instructions because they are impatient.
Gifted kids who do well in school may define success as getting an “A” and failure as any grade less than an “A”. By early adolescence they may be unwilling to try anything which they are not certain or guaranteed of success. Adapted From the Council for Exceptional Children.
Teaching gifted kids
Most schools and institutions spend far more energy teaching academically challenged students than teaching academically gifted ones. By realizing that both groups need special attention, we can make all children feel happy and successful at school. Here are a few pointers on how to keep gifted children engaged.
Gifted students should be able to learn at their own quick pace. They will work better if you group or reserve a time when they can learn together.
- Keep a good sense of humour as this works well in gifted students.
- Be open-ended and ask thought- provoking questions. Not yes or no ones.
- Encourage them to ask questions. They are not only likely to know the answers to your questions, but they may also have additional questions about the topic.
- Use their interests in different subjects as frameworks for teaching math, reading, science, social studies and writing skills.
- Encourage them to be all rounded students, by exposing them to other activities besides those they are gifted in. For instance, you can encourage a mathematician to write essays and engage in sports.
- Consult and brainstorm with other teachers of gifted students.
- Remember they are just kids, and expect them to exhibit normal kid’s behaviour like tantrums when they don’t get their way. They may be intelligent but not mature.
END: BL 34 /20