20 Sep 2018

MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT GIFTED CHILDREN

The biggest myth about intellectually able kids is that they need no help what so ever in school! As they already seem to know it all, it’s only their own laziness that stops them from achieving. Everything comes easier to them; they’re assured a place of the top of the class. Their future is bright with no trouble sitting exams; they sail through both primary and secondary school and are assured a place at a top university doing the course of their choice! If only. School is a veritable mind field for gifted kids and their parents. These children often struggle to fit in with both teachers and other pupils. Their abstract and often complex way of thinking makes it often difficult for them to study or to sit exams. Repetition, necessary for a lot of revision work, is anathema to them. Some gifted children’s handwriting (vital for a lot of exam and homework) is appalling as their hand tries desperately to keep up with the fast pace of the brain. The reality is that sometimes instead of finding themselves at the top of the class these children are in fact left languishing unchallenged in remedial classes!

Myth #1: All students are gifted in some way

Fact:  Everyone has a personal strength, something we do better than we do other things. Equally, we all have a personal weakness, something in which we do not excel. We don’t confuse personal weaknesses with disabilities. Equally, we should not confuse personal strengths with gifts.

The essence of giftedness is advanced development. Students who are gifted have the potential to perform at levels significantly beyond what might be expected for their age. A student can be intellectually or creatively gifted. He or she might be physically gifted or gifted in some area of social-emotional development. But giftedness in any area means ability well beyond the average.

Myth #2: Gifted kids love school, get high grades, and greet each new school day with enthusiasm.

Fact: Most schools are geared for average learners, not gifted learners, which can make it hard for gifted students to get excited about going. Some of the most talented students in the United States actually choose to drop out of school altogether.

Myth #3: Gifted students come from white middle- and upper-class families.

Fact: Children with gifts and talents are represented in all cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

Myth #4: Gifted kids are good at everything they do.

Fact: Some gifted students are good at many things; others are exceptionally able at only a few things. Some gifted students are also learning disabled, which means that they might not be very good at schoolwork.

Myth 5: Gifted students learn at the same pace as other students: Gifted kids are high achievers who do really well at exams. Exams can present difficulties for these children. Their handwriting for instance may be difficult to read and they may have developed poor study practices.

Fact:   In a mixed ability class, the student who is fastest at memorising information can do so as much as 12 times faster than the slowest student can.  With more complex information processing, as in higher order thinking, the fastest student can be four times faster than the slowest student. Their capacity to learn at a faster rate than other students is one of the most common characteristics of gifted students. This means that they have the capacity to learn the curriculum more quickly than others. For example, gifted students are more likely to retain science, mathematics and foreign language content accurately when taught 2-3 times faster than ‘normal’ class pace. They are significantly more likely to forget or unlearn science, mathematics and foreign language content when they must drill and review it more than 2-3 times after mastery.

Myth #6: All gifted students have trouble adjusting to school and forming relationships. Fact: Some gifted students do, some don’t – just like other students.

Myth #7: Gifted kids are good at everything they do.

Fact: Some gifted students are good at many things; others are exceptionally able at only a few things. Some gifted students are also learning disabled, which means that they might not be very good at school work.

Myth #8: Gifted students come from white middle- and upper-class families.  So it’s an elitist label with no real meaning. It’s simply untrue to make this statement; gifted children come from all socio economic backgrounds and are found in all sorts of schools and areas. However, gifted children from poorer backgrounds may find it more difficult to access resources. This is why they are not only recognize as requiring a special needs status but also properly fund any gifted children programmes within schools so that all children, regardless of background, can access differentiated education appropriate to their needs.

Fact: Children with gifts and talents are represented in all cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

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