Monday I introduced the strategies that work with the various profiles of gifted kids highlighted in Betts and Neihart’s article on gifted kids (click here to read that article). Today I tackle the biggies – profiles that include Challenging, Underground, and Drop-outs (click here to read the original Betts and Neihart article).
Let’s start with Challenging gifted children.
- Challenging – These children find school boring and of little value. Since they typically struggle to connect with their peers related to typical gifted development, they find little social stimulation is school as well. Unable to connect on a social or academic level, these children may under perform or display behavioral challenges in school. My book Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students talks about these children a lot highlighting specific strategies to curtail the challenging behaviors. These children require specific, non-emotional teaching and parenting strategies. However, these children are also profoundly talented at baiting the adults they work with, drawing them into a negative interaction. Some basic guidelines to working with these children include making sure the curriculum is appropriate, helping them connect to intellectual peers, and providing school and home coaching regarding social skills. Non-emotional responses to behavioral problems are another key!
- Undergound – These gifted children hide their intellect, in favor of developing relationships with non-gifted peers. Concerned with their social status and (usually) the appeal of a particular peer, they will hide their talents in order to meet the perceived needs of the group they are trying to join. For example, a gifted male who is not athletic, but artistic, may decided he would rather join a fringe, artistic clique. That same male could hide his giftedness to fit in with that group if that was the social rule of the group. This is seen quite frequently with girls in their early teen years (though some research suggests that is changing). I can reflect on my own life and recall many times when I down-played my intellect in favor of gaining popularity – I modeled and went out for dance clubs rather than academic programs. Mind you, I still earned straight A’s – but even that changed one year, as I wrestled with my own identity. Strategies for this profile would include connecting with the child, finding ways for them to be “cool” according to their social group and perform well in class (this may mean changing how the teacher interacts with the student, or how the parent interacts). These kids also benefit from family and school coaching related to decision making and perspective taking.
- Drop-Outs – The above two profiles, if left unchecked, can result in this one – the student that drops out emotionally, and perhaps, at some point, physically. Gifted children account for as much as 20% of students that fail to complete high school…20%. That is way too high. But the reality is that most parents, educators, and students are undereducated on what the needs are of gifted children and specific ways to meet those needs. Quite honesty,I write in this field as my attempt to close this gap in a practical way. If a child is withdrawing form their education, it is almost too late to catch them. It needs to start earlier – before the child feels they are an outsider, before they think school has no value, before they think the whole gifted label was a lie. Now this does not mean you can’t help a kid that is already disconnected from the school setting. You can. It is just a whole lot harder!!! Regardless of when the child is identified as needing help, it is important to connect that kid – through appropriate curriculum, social coaching, and the availability of some caring adult that can help that kid reconnect.
Hopefully the series has been helpful. My books over far more detailed strategies. Let me know what other kind of strategies you are looking for, and I will be happy to address it. In fact, leave a question here, or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will be happy to address it.