Archive for the ‘Education of Gifted Children.’ Category

Definitions of Gifted

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Defining the term gifted is no easy task. Numerous definitions have been suggested, but no single definition of giftedness is accepted by everyone or even by a majority of people. Because so many definitions exist, people often get confused over just what it means to be gifted. Not only that, parents and teachers sometimes find it difficult to communicate because what they say is based on different definitions! To help eliminate the confusion, it’s a good idea to understand where the term came from and the different perspectives that led to the many definitions that exist today.

Origin of the Term Gifted
The term gifted children was first used in 1869 by Francis Galton. He referred to adults who demonstrated exceptional talent in some area as gifted, for example, a gifted chemist. Children could inherit the potential to become a gifted adult, and Galton referred to these children as gifted children. Lewis Terman expanded Galton’s view of gifted children to include high IQ. In the early 1900s, he began his a long-term study of gifted children, whom he defined as children with IQs of 140 or more. His study found that IQ alone could not predict success in adulthood. Leta Hollingworth, too, believed that the potential to be gifted was inherited. However, she felt that providing a nurturing home and school environment were also important in the development of that potential. In 1926, she published her book, Gifted Children, Their Nature and Nurture, and the term gifted has been used ever since to refer to children of high potential.

Different Definitions of Gifted
The early uses of the term gifted have led to different uses of the word and different ways of defining giftedness. Galton’s view left us with the idea that a gifted person is one with a gift, a special talent demonstrated in adulthood. People today may use gifted child the way Galton used the term gifted adult. In other words, to be a gifted child is to demonstrate an exceptional talent in a particular area. Terman’s view led to definitions of gifted, which not only included high IQ, but also the notion that giftedness should be a predictor of adult achievement. Hollingworth’s view, however, led to definitions of gifted as childhood potential that must be nurtured in order for it to be developed in adulthood.

  • Giftedness as Predictor of Adult Achievement
    Definitions of gifted that consider adult achievement add factors such as task commitment or motivation. Those who define gifted this way begin by looking at adults who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in their chosen field, like Einstein, and work backward to see what traits other than high IQ that adult had in childhood. A child without that trait, regardless of IQ, is not gifted according to these definitions. Renzulli’s Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness is an example.
  • Giftedness as Potential That Must be Nurtured
    Definitions that consider giftedness as potential to be developed make a distinction between what a child is capable of achieving and what the child will achieve. The fact that a child has exceptional potential is part of what makes him or her gifted. The child’s environment determines whether potential leads to achievement, so people who define gifted this way stress the importance of providing an appropriate environment. Gagne’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent is an example.
  • Giftedness as Asynchronous Development
    Linda Silverman added a new dimension to definitions of gifted when she included the uneven development of gifted children, which she called asynchronous development. Definitions of gifted that include asynchronous development consider not only IQ and talent, but also emotional traits of gifted children, such as heightened sensitivity. The definition developed by the Columbus Group is an example of this type of definition.
  • Columbus Group Definition
    “Giftedness is ‘asynchronous development’ in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (Columbus Group, 1991)
  • School-Based Definitions
    Schools may use a definition of gifted based on relative ability. Students are identified by how well they perform compared to other students in the school. Students in the top 5 or 10 (or some other number) percent are those singled out as needing a curriculum more challenging than the regular curriculum. Gifted in this definition is relative because a student who is identified as gifted in one school may not be identified as gifted in another school, leaving parents confused.

Knowing which definition of gifted a teacher or principal is using can help make communication less frustrating and more productive.

by Carol Bainbridge.

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Early Signs of Giftedness

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Many parents have indicated interest on how to pick on early signs of giftedness for very young children. Therefore, I believe that the rough estimation I came up with from various researches and my personal experiences may be of help to many parents. It must be noted that more and more children are showing signs of early advancement due to parental awareness that leads to the right coaching and nurturance. Hence, to be placed in gifted programs today, the criteria are much tougher than it has ever been in the past and competition is rather stiff. However, regardless on whether a child shows signs early or later, all children deserve an opportunity to develop themselves to the fullest and at a tender age, parents are the best teachers/educators.

There are two ranges of age groups that I am concentrating on; from birth to 2 years old and from 2 – 4 years of age.

Birth – 2 years
The following checklist is a rough indication of what you may want to look out for after your child is born up to 2 years of age.

  • Ability of recognize carers early (within a few months after birth)
  • Early expressions (e.g. smiling)
  • Unusual alertness
  • Interest in books (turning pages of books before 1 year of age and paying attention when read to within 6 months)
  • Interest in computers
  • Unusually active and high levels of energy (but not hyperactive)
  • Playing with shape sorters by about 11 months.
  • Ability to form two word phrases by 14 months
  • Ability to understand instructions by 18 months
  • Ability to say and understand many words before 18 months
  • Could stay still and enjoy a TV programs (e.g., Sesame Street) by the age of 1
  • Has favorite TV shows/VCD/DVDs by age 1
  • Appears to require less sleep (yet not sleepy or irritable due to lack of sleep)
  • Recognition of letters/alphabets by age 2
  • Recognition and rote counting of numbers 1 – 10 or higher by age 2
  • Recognition of colors by age 2
  • Recognition of first word by age 2
  • Interest in puzzles by age 2
  • Has long attention span in interest areas by age 2
  • Ability to form at least 3 word sentence by age 2
  • Interest in time by age 2

2 – 4 years

The following includes all/most skills in the checklist above.

  • Early and extensive language development and vocabulary, forms grammatically correct sentences as compared to peers
  • Interest in computers (not video games)
  • Ability to solve a 20-piece puzzle by age 3
  • Has a vivid imagination (includes having imaginary friends)
  • Extraordinary feats of memory
  • Extreme curiosity and asks many questions
  • Specific talent (if any), such as artistic ability or an unusual facility for numbers – becomes more apparent by age 4
  • Ability to memorize and recall facts easily
  • Early development of a sense of humor
  • Ability to do one-to-one counting for small quantities by age 3
  • Recognition of simple signs and own written name by age 3
  • Ability to write letters, numbers, words, and their names between 3 and 4 years
  • Ability to read easy readers by age 4
  • Rather independent on the computer by age 4
  • Demonstration of musical aptitude just after 2
  • Ability to do simple addition and subtraction by age 4
  • High degrees of mathematical understanding by age 4

The above checklist is at best regarded as a rough guide and bear in mind that not all of the skills and age guide mentioned is absolute. Some children may demonstrate these abilities at a younger age and some may be older and yet classified as advanced learners. However, this can be a good guide to look out for signs of early advanced development in children and provide the necessary platform for them to flourish.

In addition, bear in mind that a child can be both gifted and learning disabled. Unfortunately, more often than not, the disability is recognized while giftedness goes undetected. It is also a fact that giftedness in children from ethnic minorities, disadvantageous backgrounds (financially and educationally), and for those for whom English is a second language (almost all standardized tests are in English), is often overlooked as well. Be mindful if your child falls into any of these categories. If your child is in pre-school, make sure you ask your child’s teacher to observe her/him and look for talents, skills and abilities that conventional tests fail to detect.

Finally yet importantly, you may want to check out the following website (The National Association for Gifted Children, UK) that provides an online questionnaire, which will give you an indicator about your child’s level of development. Please bear in mind that this questionnaire is a rough indicator only is by no means an assessment.

by Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D.

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What Should You Tell the Teacher About Your Gifted Child?

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Parents of gifted children often wonder whether they should say anything to the teacher about their child’s abilities or wait and see if the teacher recognizes the abilities on his or her own. There is no easy answer to that question, but parents can consider the pros and cons of each approach to determine which answer is best for their situation.

Tell the Teacher

  • No time is wasted.
    A teacher can address the child’s academic needs from the beginning of the school year. The child will be learning with appropriately challenging material.
  • Misdiagnosis is less likely.
    Because a bored gifted child can look very much like a child with ADHD, keeping a child challenged from the start will make it less likely that a child will be misdiagnosed with ADHD (or some other disorder). Once a misdiagnosis is made, it is extremely difficult to change it, and that diagnosis follows the child throughout his or her school years.
  • Teachers can learn about giftedness.
    Some teachers welcome the opportunity to learn about gifted children and their needs and enjoy having them in their classrooms. When a parent mentions giftedness to the teacher at the beginning of the year, the teacher has a chance to learn about gifted children and their academic needs. They also have a chance to plan lessons ahead of time rather than having to figure out what to do with a child once the school year has gotten under way.


  • Teacher may see the parent as a pushy parent.
    Some teachers are suspicious when they are told that a child is smart. They may believe that the parent is just one more pushy parent who thinks their average child is brilliant. Instead of providing the child with more challenging work, the teacher may expect the child to complete all assignments perfectly and use the lack of perfection to “prove” that the child is not as smart as the parent believes.
  • Teacher may be resentful and react negatively.
    Some teachers believe that they are professional and experienced enough to recognize a gifted child when they see one and don’t always appreciate a parent telling them that their child is gifted. Of course, unless a teacher has training in gifted education, they may not recognize gifted children, but that doesn’t change the fact that teachers may feel somewhat professionally insulted.
  • Some teachers don’t like gifted children.
    While some teachers love to work with gifted children, others don’t. Those who don’t may treat the child with less respect than he or she treats the other children.

Don’t Tell the Teacher


  • Parent will not look like a pushy parent.
    When the teacher takes the initiative in recognizing a child’s high ability, he or she is more likely to believe that the child is gifted rather than a hothoused child of average ability whose parents have been pushing.
  • Teacher will not be alienated.
    Parents who tell the teacher that their child is gifted often risk alienating the teacher, who may then treat the child more negatively than he or she might otherwise have done. Some of the alienation comes from resentment of pushy parents and some comes from disliking being told that a child needs special treatment.


  • Child is overlooked.
    This is perhaps the greatest disadvantage. Unless the child looks like what the teacher expects a gifted child to look like, the teacher may not recognize a child as gifted. Underachieving gifted students are often missed because they aren’t the top achievers in the class.
  • Child is inaccurately labeled.
    If a highly gifted child is not appropriately challenged and begins to misbehave, that child may be labeled as an ADHD child. Inaccurate labels need not be official. That is, a teacher may simply classify the child as lazy or immature or as a troublemaker or daydreamer. Once seen in those terms, a child has a hard time looking like anything else in the teacher’s eyes and parents will have a very difficult time convincing the teacher that the child needs more challenging work.

Clearly, there is no easy answer to whether or not to tell the teacher that a child is gifted or wait to see if the teacher sees it for herself. However, there are some things to take into consideration as you ponder the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Your child’s personality and temperament.
    Children who misbehave when they get frustrated are more likely to be seen as immature or as having ADHD than those who sit still and control their emotional reaction to frustration. Children who are complacent and never complain even though they are bored will rarely be recognized as needing more challenging work.
  • Your child’s willingness to work and level of academic achievement.
    A child who completes assignments and gets good grades more closely matches the stereotypical gifted child than does the child who resists doing less than challenging work and gets less than stellar grades.
  • Teacher’s background and familiarity with gifted children.
    Teachers who have some training in gifted education and are familiar with gifted children are far more likely to recognize gifted underachievers and gifted children who act out on their boredom and frustration. These teachers also tend to be more open-minded when a parent suggests that his or her child needs more academically challenging work.

Do you think your child might be misunderstood or missed or do you think that your child might be easily recognized? Evaluating your child might push you closer to making one decision rather than the other, but it’s also important to consider the teacher and the teacher’s background.

Whether you talk to your child’s teacher at the beginning of the school year or later, you’ll want to follow some basic tips for talking to your child’s teacher.

by Carol Bainbridge.

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Characteristics of Young Gifted Children

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

How old does a child have to be before he or she exhibits characteristics of giftedness? Many parents and teachers believe that a child is gifted when school tests say they are, and these tests aren’t given until third or fourth grade, if at all. The truth is that gifted traits show up in toddlers. In fact, some of them can be seen even in infants!

Browse through the following lists and see how many characteristics apply to your young child. Keep in mind that to be gifted a child need not have every one of these characteristics.

Traits in Young Children:

  1. As infants, may get fussy if facing one direction for too long
  2. As infants, appear alert
  3. Need less sleep, even as infants
  4. Frequently reach ‘milestones’ such as walking and first speech earlier than average
  5. May speak late, but then speak in complete sentences
  6. Strong desire to explore, investigate, and master the environment (opens up cabinets, takes things apart)
  7. Toys and games mastered early, then discarded
  8. Very active (but activity with a purpose, not to be confused with ADHD)
  9. Can distinguish between reality and fantasy (questions about Santa or the tooth fairy come very early!)

Highly gifted toddlers may also show an intense interest in numbers or letters. These are often the children who start doing simple math or teach themselves to read by the time they are three. However, a child who does not read or do math early may still be gifted. Children who read or do math early are almost certainly gifted, but not all gifted children do those things early.

Studies of gifted infants (those who score high on IQ tests as grade school children) show that they have a low tolerance for the familiar and a preference for novelty. Basically, infants were shown different objects for a certain amount of time. Those infants who later were shown to be gifted children looked away from objects more quickly than other infants. When shown a familiar object and a new one, the gifted infants preferred to look at the new one.

This is interesting since it supports the idea that gifted children need new information to learn, that they get bored with the same old information day after day. Their frustration at having to learn and “relearn” the same information is due to this apparently inborn need for novelty and not to their being spoiled, as many people imply (or state outright!)

by Carol Bainbridge.

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Characteristics of Gifted Children

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

To the trained eye, it can be fairly easy to spot a gifted child. Even to the not-so-trained eye of a parent, it’s easy to notice that a child is not quite like other children. However, parents often question what those differences mean. They know their child is smart, but gifted? Looking at a list of gifted traits or characteristics is a quick first step in determining whether a child is gifted. If you have a toddler and you’re wondering if he or she is gifted, take a look at the list of characteristics of young gifted children.

Cognitive Traits

    • Very Observant
    • Extremely Curious
    • Intense interests
    • Excellent memory
    • Long attention span
    • Excellent reasoning skills
    • Well-developed powers of abstraction, conceptualization, and synthesis
    • Quickly and easily sees relationships in ideas, objects, or facts
    • Fluent and flexible thinking
    • Elaborate and original thinking
    • Excellent problem solving skills
    • Learns quickly and with less practice and repetition
    • Unusual and/or vivid imagination

Social and Emotional Traits:

    • Interested in philosophical and social issues
    • Very sensitive, emotionally and even physically
    • Concerned about fairness and injustice
    • Perfectionistic
    • Energetic
    • Well-Developed Sense of Humor
    • Usually intrinsically motivated
    • Relates well to parents, teachers and other adults

Language Traits:

    • Extensive Vocabulary
    • May Read Early
    • Reads Rapidly and Widely
    • Asks “what if” questions

Additional Traits

    • Enjoys learning new things
    • Enjoys intellectual activity
    • Displays intellectual playfulness
    • Prefers books and magazines meant for older children
    • Skeptical, critical, and evaluative
    • Asynchronous development

by Carol Bainbridge.

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Gifted Children and Lack of Attention

Friday, October 29th, 2010

One of the most common myths about gifted children is that they are the bright-eyed eager students in the classroom. They are the ones who pay rapt attention to every word the teacher utters and love to do their homework. While this may be true of some gifted children, it is far from typical gifted behavior. In fact, many gifted students behave in quite the opposite manner: they may be inattentive and often don’t do their homework, or they may do it and neglect to turn it in.

Causes of Inattention

In most cases, children don’t start out in school not paying attention in class. They quite likely come to kindergarten eager to learn and expand on what they already know. Unfortunately, what most of these children get in kindergarten is information they already know. For example, a five-year-old who is already reading on a third grade level will have to endure lessons on the “letter of the week.”

Even if they aren’t already reading or the information in the lesson is new to them, they learn faster than average children: average children need nine to twelve repetitions of a new concept in order to learn it, bright children need six to eight repetitions, but gifted children can learn new concepts after only one or two repetitions.

Since the majority of students in a classroom are average students, classrooms tend to be geared toward their learning needs. That means, for example, that even if a gifted child starts kindergarten not knowing how to read, a full week spent on only one letter of the alphabet is unnecessary. The lessons can become frustrating and brain-numbing.

Gifted children need plenty of intellectual stimulation, and if they don’t get it from their teachers, they will often provide it for themselves. If lessons become mind-numbingly dull, a gifted child’s mind will wander to more interesting thoughts. Sometimes these children look like they are daydreaming. If the classroom has a window, they might be seen staring out the window looking as though they wished they were outside playing.

While that could be true, it is also quite likely that the child is watching the birds and wondering how they can fly or they may be looking at the leaves on a tree as they drop to the ground wondering what makes the leaves fall from the trees.

Inattentiveness vs. Multitasking

Surprisingly, gifted children can continue to follow what a teacher is saying so that when the teacher calls on a gifted child who looks like he hasn’t been paying attention, the child can answer the question without any problem. However, it’s also quite possible that a child can become so engrossed in his own thoughts that he is essentially in another world and doesn’t even hear the teacher, even when his name is called.

To the teacher, the child looks as though he is not interested in learning, but the opposite is usually true: the child is very interested in learning, but has already learned the material being discussed and therefore isn’t learning anything. Consequently, the child retreats to the rich, inner life so typical of gifted children.


Gifted children who are appropriately challenged rarely have trouble paying attention in class. Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to convince a teacher that the cause of a child’s lack of attention in class is the result of too little challenge rather than too much. Teachers who are unfamiliar with the needs of gifted children understand that children who are unable to comprehend a concept can tune out and daydream, but they don’t usually understand that gifted children tune out because they DO comprehend.

The first step in trying to solve this problem is to talk to the teacher. Most teachers want to do what is best for their students, so sometimes all it takes is a word or two about what a child needs. It’s best, however, to avoid using the words “bored” and “gifted.” When parents tell a teacher their children are bored, the teacher may become defensive. After all, most teachers work hard to teach children and provide the materials the children need. Teachers may interpret the comment that a child is bored as a criticism of their teaching ability, even if a parent doesn’t believe that to be true. When parents tell teachers their children are gifted, teachers may think that the parents have an inflated idea of their children’s abilities.

Instead, parents should talk about their children as individuals and talk about individual needs. For example, parents might tell a teacher that their children work best when challenged or that their children seem to pay more attention when work is harder. If the teacher seems to be doubtful, then parents can simply ask the teacher to try a new strategy to see if it works.

The point is to keep the focus on the child’s individual needs as a learner and to try to build a partnership with the teacher. Telling most teachers that a child is gifted can move the focus away from the individual child and onto the issue of gifted children in general. Telling a teacher a child is bored may shift the focus onto the teacher’s teaching ability and classroom management skills.

by Carol Bainbridge.

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Top 10 Tips for Talking With Your Gifted Child’s Teacher

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to get to know your child’s teacher and to let him or her know something about you and your concerns. While school-wide parent-teacher conferences and open houses may allow you to learn about a teacher’s policies and personality, they are usually too short to allow for any in-depth discussion of a child’s problems or needs. A better way to discuss your child is to set up a private conference. Here are some tips for a successful discussion.
1. Make a list of concerns:
A list of concerns is a good way to start preparing for a meeting with the teacher. If you are concerned about homework, write that down. If you are concerned with behavior, write that down. It is neither necessary nor desirable to write down every single concern you might have. Instead, focus on one or two of the most important issues. Trying to cover every single issue at one meeting can be counterproductive.

2. Talk to your child.
Let your child know that you are planning to talk to the teacher. Chances are that you are already aware of your child’s feelings on the issues you want to discuss, but he or she might have something to add. In addition, it’s good to listen to both your child’s and the teacher’s point of view. Sometimes a child misreads a situation, and sometimes a teacher is unaware of a child’s feelings. Be sure your child knows you are going to try to resolve problems; you’re not just going to complain.
3. Put together a portfolio of your child’s work:
If you’ve been keeping a portfolio of your child’s work, look through it for examples of work that might support what you want the teacher to know about your son or daughter. For example, you are concerned that the homework is too easy, find samples of work on a similar level your child had done the previous year (or two) or current work that is more advanced. Many children, especially the teacher pleasers, don’t always reveal their true abilities, so the teacher might not be aware of them.
4. Set up an appointment:
Your concerns about your child are important, so you probably want to discuss them as soon as possible. However, you have a better chance of successfully resolving any issues if you make an appointment with the teacher. Making an appointment has several benefits:

  • Both you and the teacher have time to prepare
  • You are less like to catch the teacher at a bad moment
  • It shows respect and gets your started on the right foot
  • 5. Keep a positive attitude.
    A positive attitude is important before, during, and after a conference with the teacher. Children can pick up negative attitudes and if a child thinks the parent disapproves of or doesn’t respect a teacher, the child will think such an attitude is acceptable, which will just make any existing problems worse and more difficult to resolve. Leave your anger at home since it can make you look irrational and cause the teacher to become defensive, neither of which will help your child.
    6. Avoid the words “Bored” and “Gifted”
    Few things can upset a teacher more than telling her that your child is bored in her classroom. Most teachers don’t purposely set out to create dull lessons; they usually work hard to create lessons that will be fun and interesting. The word “gifted” makes some teachers feel they are talking with one more pushy parent. Instead, talk about learning styles. You can point out, for example, that your child learns best when given challenging work.
    7. Keep the focus on your child:
    Teachers have more than one child to worry about and so they may respond to your concerns by pointing out what other children need. You can say that while you appreciate their concern for all the children, you are there to discuss your child. For example, a teacher may say that it would not be fair to the other children to give your child special work. Let her know that you appreciate the fact that she is concerned about the other children, but your concern is what is fair to your child.
    8. Ask for clarifications:
    Most teachers are trained to focus on deficits — academic, emotional, and social. Consequently, a teacher may point out where she thinks your child needs improvement. For example, she may tell you that your child is too immature to handle more challenging work. Ask what makes her think your child is immature and ask for examples of the immature behavior. Also ask if other children behave in similar ways. It may be that the behavior is fairly typical for that age group.
    9. Develop a plan of action.
    Work with the teacher to develop specific steps that you will both take to help resolve the issue. Few school issues can be handled at school alone. For example, if your child isn’t turning in his homework and you are asking he be given more challenging work, you might agree to set a specific time for homework and agree to check it while the teacher might agree to try giving him more advanced work.
    10. Send a thank you note:
    Within a day or two after the meeting, send the teacher a note thanking her for meeting with you. List the steps that you and the teacher agreed to take to address your concerns. This note serves not only as a thank you, but also as a way to outline your understanding of the steps you will both take or of any other outcome of the meeting. If there are any misunderstandings, they can be resolved before they cause problems.
    by Carol Bainbridge.

    Why Gifted Children Have Homework Problems and What You Can Do About Them

    Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

    The last thing most parents of gifted children think their kids will have problems with is homework. After all, gifted children are cognitively advanced and learn quickly. Unfortunately, for some parents, visions of straight A report cards are replaced by one or more (or even all) of these problems:

    • Child does homework, but doesn’t turn it in
    • Child says he did it at school, but didn’t
    • Child procrastinates
    • Child rushes and makes careless errors

    It’s not unusual for a gifted child to have all of these problems. It is difficult to motivate a child to do homework, particularly if a child is intrinsically motivated. The first step in solving these homework problems is to understand what causes them.

    Reasons Behind Homework Problems of Gifted Children

    1. Learning Disability
      A gifted child with dyslexia, an auditory processing problem, or some other learning disability may find it difficult to perform as well as they should in school and on homework. Gifted children are not immune to these disabilities and the effect of such disabilities on their learning is then reflected in their homework, including an avoidance to do it. Gifted children with undiagnosed disabilities may be confused and even embarrassed by problems they have understanding concepts or doing their homework. It is much less psychologically and emotionally threatening to avoid doing the homework than it is to do it and fail at it. If a child doesn’t try, he can easily convince himself that had he done the homework, he would have done it well.
    2. Disorganization
      Gifted children who are disorganized – and that is a large number of them – have a hard time doing homework because they have misplaced the assignment, forgot to bring the book or worksheet home, or forgot the due date. Daily planners don’t seem to help these children because they tend to lose, misplace, or forget those as well. If they have managed to bring all the necessary materials home on the right day, they can then forget to take it to school or they may take it to school, but be unable to find it in their backpack or stuff it in their desk or locker at school, where it disappears until the end of the semester or school year.
    3. Perfectionism
      Children who are perfectionists are often reluctant to complete their homework because they don’t feel it is good enough. If it doesn’t meet their standards, which tend to be quite high, they can become frustrated. Over time, they may procrastinate in order avoid that frustration. Perfectionist children may complete their homework, but then neglect to turn it in because they aren’t satisfied with it or don’t feel that it reflects their true ability and don’t want their teacher to see it and evaluate it. Perfectionists may also choose to put little effort into their work since they can then rationalize the lack of perfection on the lack of effort.
    4. Lack of Challenge
      Work that is not challenging or stimulating can be so tedious to complete that gifted children will avoid doing it at all costs. Tasks, for any child, should be optimally challenging. That means that they should not be too easy or too difficult. Tasks that are too difficult can lead to anxiety while tasks that are too easy lead to boredom. In both cases, children find it difficult to concentrate on the task. They will avoid the tasks in order to avoid the unpleasant feeling – either anxiety or boredom – that comes with it. When children are given tasks that are too difficult, they can get help learning the concepts or completing the task. However, when tasks are too easy, no help is necessary; children are simply expected to complete the tasks, in spite of the fact that boredom makes it just as difficult to concentrate on a task as anxiety does. Sometimes children will manage to complete focus long enough to do the homework, but they will rush through it to get it done and as a result make numerous careless errors.

    How to Solve Homework Problems

    • Get Help for Learning Disability
      Gifted children with a learning disability may have problems with homework. Like all children with a learning disability, gifted children need to learn how to manage the disability and need specific learning strategies and classroom accommodations in order to work at their level of ability. However, it’s important to recognize that gifted children are often misdiagnosed with disorders like ADHD, bipolar, and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Some learning disabilities can be found through IQ and achievement subtest scores. This testing, and any screenings for disorders, should be done by a psychologist who has knowledge of and experience working with gifted children. It’s also important to understand that problems with homework can have many causes; looking for a disability should not necessarily be the first thing considered.
    • Help Children Get Organized
      Some children have problems getting with homework because they forget to bring it home, forget the books they need to do it, forget to take it back to school, or forget when it’s due. If they do remember all that, they may lose the homework, which may eventually turn up — at the end of the school year, stuffed with countless other papers in the child’s desk or locker.

      Eileen Bailey,Guide to ADD/ADHD, has some excellent suggestions for helping kids get organized. Although most gifted kids don’t have ADD/ADHD, some need help keeping their work organized. One suggestion is the Basket of Preparation. Children drop homework and books in a basket when they come home from school, get it from the basket when it’s time to do homework, then put it back in the basket when it’s done. In the morning everything they need is in one place, ready to take to school.

      While you might get your child to do the homework and take it to school, there is no guarantee that your child will turn it in. What can you do to make sure the homework gets turned in? A plastic, expanding folder with separate compartments is a good way to help kids keep track of work that needs to be turned in. Each compartment can be labeled so that a child knows where the homework is for each class. The expanding folder can be used along with the Basket of Preparation. When homework is completed, rather than just placing it in the basket, it can be placed in the appropriate compartment of the expanding folder, which is kept in the basket.

      These techniques can work for teens as well as young children, but teens might also find an electronic organizer, such as a palm pilot, useful. Teens love electronic gadgets, so they might be more motivated to keep track of their work electronically. It eliminates assignments written in numerous different places, including little scraps of paper. However, this might not be a good choice for those children who lose more than their homework.

    • Set a Daily Time for Doing Homework
      Gifted children will often rush through homework that is too easy for them. They are eager to get it done so that they can move on to more interesting and stimulating activities. One solution to this problem is to have a set time every day to complete homework. This time must be used for study, whether the child has homework or not. When children have homework, they know they must do it during this time. If the homework takes them only fifteen minutes and their assigned study time is one hour, they must fill in the remaining time with additional study.

      The additional study children do can consist of enrichment activities. For example, if a child has an assignment to draw a map of the expansion of the Roman Empire, they might write an essay about the Romans or they might write a short story about an imaginary Roman soldier. Once children know they have to fill the assigned study time, they may be less likely to rush through their homework just to get it done and move on to other activities.

      The daily study time should be the same time every day. Parents should discuss the options with their children so that the children can have some control. For example, children might choose to do their homework right after school or they might choose to do it right after dinner. It is important, however, that the time be the same every day. Children cannot choose to do it after school one day and then after dinner another day, depending on their mood.

      Although homework time should be the same every day, children who are involved in extracurricular activities may need a more complex schedule. The may need to do homework right after school on Mondays because they have a dance class after dinner, but will do homework after dinner on the other days. In other words, the schedule must be consistent and not based on daily moods. Not only will children learn that scheduling time for homework is important, they will also learn necessary time management skills.

    • Talk to the Teachers
      Ideally, teachers will recognize the need for more challenging homework and will be willing to provide it. However, if a child has had issues getting homework done and turned in for so long that it has become a habit, other strategies may be needed at school, whether the teachers provide more challenging work or not. Some schools have homework hotlines that parents can call to find out about homework assignments. In addition, some teachers have Web sites, where they post assignments. Parents can check with their child’s teachers to see if such a hotline exists and if so, what the teachers’ extension numbers are for that hotline. Parents can also check on Web sites and get the Web address.

      Parents can also arrange with a teacher to sign daily papers about homework. Every day a child writes down homework and has the teacher sign a paper, even when there is no homework. Children cannot say they have no homework when they do. On those days children have no homework, they should still spend their designated homework time studying. However, for this system to work, children and parents must agree on a consequence for failing to bring home a signed homework sheet.

    Good study habits are important for success in school and these strategies can help develop those habits.

    by Carol Bainbridge.

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    Behavior Problems – Can boredom cause behavior problems in school?

    Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
    Question: Behavior Problems – Can boredom cause behavior problems in school?

    My five-year old son knew the alphabet at 2 years and 3 months and read his first children’s book Cat Traps by Moly Coxe at 3 years and 10 months. He can also draw like an 8 or 9-year-old. He should be doing well in school, but he has developed some behavior problems. He hits other kids, has hit an assistant-teacher, and a teacher. According to his teachers, it is due to boredom at preschool. Can boredom really cause a child to misbehave in school?

    Answer: Yes, boredom can cause a child to misbehave in school. Some have argued that everyone gets bored and gifted kids should just learn to deal with the boredom. However, many of the ways adults deal with boredom are not possible for kids. For example, if adults are bored at work, they can take a break. If they find their job is boring and are constantly bored, they can look for another job. If they are bored by a lecture, they can usually get up and leave. Children have none of those options. They can’t take a break from the class they are in. They can’t look for another class or school, and they can’t get up and leave when the class is boring to them. Adults certainly have to endure boring situations, like sitting through a boring business meeting and performing boring tasks like cleaning house or the yard.

    However, those situations don’t last for six hours every day, five days a week, four weeks a month, for nine months a year. Think about the most boring task you have to perform. Now imagine having to perform that task for the same amount of time children are in school. Don’t forget, though, that you can’t take breaks when you want to. You can have two fifteen minute breaks and maybe an hour for lunch. Of course, if you haven’t made sufficient progress on that boring task, you might not be allowed to take a break. You might make it through the day, but how would you feel by the end of the week? By the end of a month?

    When gifted children misbehave in class, teachers may want to label them as ADHD or emotionally disturbed. They may want the child to undergo evaluations and maybe begin taking medication to help improve their behavior. While it is possible that the teacher is right, it is also true that bad behavior of gifted children often disappears if the school offers some accommodations:

    • provides more challenging work
    • places them in a more academically appropriate environment
    Changing the school environment is far less intrusive, less expensive, easier, and less time consuming than any other method. If more academic challenge doesn’t solve the problem, then other sources of the problem could be considered.
    by Carol Bainbridge.

    What to Look for in a Good Gifted Program

    Monday, October 18th, 2010

    Many parents of gifted children wonder if their local school will be able to provide an appropriate education for their children. Should they stick with the local school? Look for a private school? Quite often a parent will assume that a private school is better than a public school. However, that is not necessarily true. Gifted children need a special environment, as does any special needs child, and it’s important for parents to understand what to look for in a school, whether it’s private or public.

    Whether your child is already in school or about to start, you will want to evaluate what it has to offer. In order to do that, you need criteria. The elements described here are the elements of a good gifted program. Use them as criteria for evaluating any school you are considering for your child.

    • Philosophy and Goals
      What is the philosophy and what are the goals of the program? Are the goals similar or different for different ages? If they are different, what are the differences and why are they different? Gifted children are gifted for life. They start out gifted and end up gifted. As a result, they have similar academic needs throughout their school years. Any differences in goals should be based on age-appropriate differences in instruction, but those differences should be based on what is appropriate for gifted children.
    • Acceleration and Enrichment
      Acceleration refers to the speeding up of instruction. Gifted children are fast learners and require little repetition of information. Enrichment refers to the increased depth of study of a particular topic. It extends the regular curriculum. Both are needed in some form.
    • Multiple Options
      Is the program a “one size fits all” program or are there various options for the different needs of the different types of gifted children? A profoundly gifted child has significantly different educational needs than does a mildly gifted child, for example. In addition, a child may be exceptionally gifted in math, but not in language arts. Multiple options are essential.
    • Student Learning Expectations
      What are the students expected to learn by the end of the program session? Learning outcomes must be clear. The students may have fun, but they must also learn something new. Any child could participate in fun activities, but a gifted program should be one that is designed specifically for gifted children.
    • Challenging Curriculum
      Gifted children need a stimulating curriculum. Without it, they can “tune out,” losing interest in school. A curriculum for gifted children should require them to stretch their minds.
    • Flexibility
      Flexibility is needed in order to respond to the needs of individual gifted children. Rigid adherence to the system often prevents some gifted children from appropriate challenges. For example, a gifted 3rd grader may have mastered 6th grade level math. That child does not need to complete third grade math assignments. A school needs to be flexible enough to consider options for that child’s math instruction. Another possibility is a gifted child musician. A junior high student with exceptional talent playing the violin could be allowed time off from school to take advantage of opportunities to study with exceptional violinists or take part in special musical programs.
    • Sound Identification Process
      Multiple assessment procedures should be used to determine which children would benefit from placement in a gifted program. Every effort should be made to include children who are frequently overlooked. These children include LD gifted, underachievers, and children from under-represented groups, like economically deprived and minority children. Too often schools rely on one test, usually a group test, or simply teacher recommendations for identification.
    • Staff Development Plan
      Teachers who have been trained to work with gifted children are much more effective than those who have not. Do the teachers who work in the gifted program or teach the gifted children have gifted endorsements? Does the school have regular in-service sessions about gifted children?
    • Guidance Component
      Gifted children often feel isolated or “different.” They sometimes don’t feel like they fit in socially with the other children. They also can be very sensitive and have a harder time than other children dealing with the day-to-day stress of school or growing up. The guidance can be individual or group guidance.
    • Honoring Academic Talent
      Schools must honor all talent areas in the same way athletic talent is honored. For example, pep rallies can be held for academics and artistic talent as well as for sports. Groups of students often participate in the Science Olympiad or local and state band competitions, and pep rallies could be held for these. Names of achievers can be listed or announced in the same way sports heroes are listed and announced.

    by Carol Bainbridge.

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