Academically gifted children have a number of special needs related to their individual level of intelligence and talent. Many wrongly think that placing gifted children in regular classes will help non-gifted students learn. There could be nothing further from the truth. But first, how can you tell if your child is academically gifted?
1. Often bored in regular classes
2. Behavioral problems at school
3. Poor grades even though he/she displays qualities of intelligence
5. Viewed as arrogant
6. Advanced for his/her age, especially in reading and vocabulary
7. Independent worker
8. Good leader (take-charge kind of person)
10. Good Imagination
In most states, to be admitted to the school’s gifted/talented classes, a child must first be nominated by a teacher or faculty member. Having been brought to the school’s attention, he/she is then “screened” or given a preliminary test. If the results of this test are favorable, three more tests are administered. Having passed all three tests, the parent has the option of placing the child in academically gifted classes.
Why do academically gifted children not help average children learn when placed in the same classes? One would assume that a gifted child would grasp what is being taught immediately and would then help out the kids who were having a more difficult time understanding the material. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The average child must hear a concept repeated (in one form or another) 32 times. A gifted child requires its presentation two or three times, or, in some cases, only once. When the gifted child grasps the concept, he/she is ready to learn more. The teacher, though, is simply repeating the same old thing. As a result, gifted children in regular classes tend to daydream, ignore the teacher, and/or (especially at younger ages) misbehave. This, of course, causes lower grades, and the child is likely to be thought of as arrogant by other students, since he/she is likely to vent his/her frustration insultingly (i.e. “Figure it out” or “Gosh, stupid” or other milder forms of the same). By keeping the child in the regular classes, their mental potential is not reached, and due to their frustration, they may lose all desire to learn and therefore have their mental potential stunted. That’s possibly the greatest irony of all–smart kids making good grades.
The solution to this is to put all your gifted children together in one (or more) class(es) and greatly accelerate the intensity and speed of your teaching. Gifted classes are usually small (8-15 people) and this size helps them to know each other and bounce ideas off one another. Gifted children aren’t arrogant or elitist, they just learn differently.