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Managing A Gifted Student

  • Gifted education refers to any modification of the curriculum in order to meet the needs of gifted children. In handling a gifted child, your goals should be:
  • To keep the child engaged and challenged. Gifted children often become bored in regular classrooms because they learn rapidly – many gifted children we’ve met have already read the textbook before the academic year begins! You need to find other ways to these children busy – or end up with a child who is chronically bored and possibly disruptive, underachieving, or frequently absent.
  • To foster the development of their gifts. Children who find the regular curriculum unchallenging may develop poor work habits. When an appropriate challenge finally comes along – e.g. in college – they may lack the persistence and hard work that even profoundly gifted children need to fulfill their potential. Setting gifted children challenges from the early years keeps them motivated and develops their work habits.
  • To make learning relevant and meaningful. In most schools in India, the regular curriculum presents learning in isolated chunks: their relevance to real-life and to each other is lost. In handling a gifted child, it is essential to allow them to make connections between material learned in class and their real-life experiences.

In trying to meet the needs of a single (or a few) gifted children, you need to efficiently exploit existing resources at your school. If the child is advanced in all or most subject areas, and also demonstrates emotional maturity, often the simplest way to deal with her advanced learning is acceleration (double-promotion) or radical acceleration (promoting the child by multiple standards). This is a decision that needs to be jointly made by the class-teacher, the subject-teacher, school management, the parents, and the child.

Another way to keep the gifted child engaged is curriculum compacting. If the child has already mastered the content of one or more subjects, there is no point making her sit through the classes. In such cases, the school may arrange to assess the child on content mastery – e.g. by giving her an exam similar to the end-of-year or end-of-semester exam. If the child passes that exam, the subject-teacher may allow the child to perform individual project-work instead of sitting through the classes. Project-work is an excellent opportunity for the child to develop independent working skills, explore her areas of interest, and possibly work with a more-skilled peer or subject-matter expert. If possible, parents should be involved in this effort – e.g. in recruiting a subject-matter expert or mentor ( Who is a Mentor? ) to oversee the project-work. Project-work should be assessed with high standards, using criteria jointly decided by the child (e.g. many gifted children would prefer to be assessed on content rather than neatness, and originality rather than reproduction).

For further information on catering to the needs of gifted children, read this article "Gifted Children Need Teachers Who Set Intellectual Challenges".