Having a gifted child can certainly a blessing, but most North American education systems do not have sufficient means to challenge and accommodate a gifted student. Large class sizes and limited resources mean that teachers have to focus on the average students and rarely have time to provide the challenges and encouragement a gifted child needs. This often leads to a lack of motivation, boredom and wasted potential. In extreme cases, the gifted student suffers from social alienation and anxiety that result in behavioural problems and underachievement. Gifted students have a propensity for dropping out of academic institutions.
How do I know if my child is gifted?
Gifted children are tested by (among others) the National Association for Gifted Children in the US and by MENSA in Canada. Gifted children excel in one or more fields. Some provinces and states have special programs for gifted children, but most have to make do with the same curriculum as their peers. This poses not only academic dilemmas, but also social ones. Gifted children are often more sensitive or energetic and have a drive for perfectionism.
Identification of gifted children is difficult as educators are not trained to recognize behavioural traits and gifted children often don’t do well in class. The ineffective process of identifying gifted children, and the lack of funding to help them develop means that most of them slip through the cracks and end up underachieving. Most educators and funding are geared towards kids who have learning disabilities or special needs and it’s difficult to garner support for the gifted child.
Challenges gifted children face
Chandra Meseley has a gifted daughter, Nya and she discusses some of the difficulties her daughter faces; “There are other characteristics of giftedness that for many, including my daughter, are telltale signs – excessive energy, unending curiosity, emotionally advanced, early and superior language skills or a need for perfectionism.”
Nya’s teacher, Brenda Natt explains the behavioral difficulties and need for perfection that gifted children have: “While their IQs are high, they have behavioral aspects that need special attention and the right teachers with the right understanding to guide them.”
Boredom and behavioural issues severely hamper the development of gifted children and they often end up at the bottom of their classes or dropping out altogether. Jack Goldberg, from the University of Alberta, explains; “[The gifted student] may be bored. The loss, though, would be largely his own. Parents would argue it’s society’s loss, because this kid is a budding Einstein. But the truth is that most gifted kids don’t become Einsteins.”
Most parents find the best remedy is a gifted course or a private tutor who has experience with gifted children. While completing their curriculum at school, the students are further challenged with tasks and projects that give them a deeper understanding of what they are learning at school. Tutors also help to build confidence and challenge young gifted minds. Tutors work hands-on with your child to fulfill their individual needs and work at a pace that suits them best.
(Note: This post originally appeared on the Tutor Doctor blog on Aug. 25th)