Do Gifted Kids Actually NEED Support At All?

MYTH – Gifted students do not require additional supports in order to be successful. 

While it is true that gifted children have strong potential to perform well in school, assuming that this means that they do not need an engaging educational experience that enriches their gifted minds is unfounded. All children deserve an enriching educational experience, not one that serves the children who struggle at the expense of the children who naturally excel.

More evidence for the need to directly teach and enrich our gifted students can be found in looking at the research comparing American children to their foreign counterparts.  While American children excel in the younger grades, these scores drop drastically as the child ages. In twelfth grade, America is ranked last on performance scores in advanced math and science courses (NAGC, 2009).  While the studies do not discuss possible causes for the decline, one could argue a correlation between support offered to gifted students and performance.

Gifted children placed in traditional classrooms that do not differentiate for their exceptionalities typically experience a level of boredom and frustration that can have very negative long-term impact (Neihart, Reis, Robinson, & Moon, 2002). This frustration can then lead to a host of more negative outcomes, including underperformance and dropping out. In fact, at least 5% of children identified as gifted drop out of high school – surprising considering their potential (Renzulli & Park, 2000).

I don’t know about you, but it sure seems like they need support to me!

What are your thoughts on this???

4 thoughts on “Do Gifted Kids Actually NEED Support At All?

  1. Because I was good at just about everything I tried while I was younger, I somehow got the impression that if I had to work at something, I wasn’t good at it and I should choose something else that I WAS good at. I guess, in a way, I learned to be lazy. I was in college before I realized that, at some point, you need to work hard at anything that you want to be good at. But my subconscious still tells me that, if I have to work at it, I must not REALLY be that good. Somehow, I equate working hard at something to mean that I am not that good. I still seem to have a work ethic – I do work hard at jobs I have – but I seem to deny myself the feeling that I am good at it.

    My children, on the other hand, seem to have been spared this. They went to schools that fostered a strong work ethic, even for the exceptionally gifted students.

    We do a disservice to children to not providing them with things that they need to work hard at. And we need to tell them that working hard at something doesn’t mean that they aren’t naturally good at it. Excellence demands hard work, no matter what domain you work in.

  2. I was one of those bored kids in school. Even in high school when I took classes that should have been challenging, I coasted through because I didn’t have to make more effort to get an A. It really hurt me when I got to college and my first semester really pushed me in ways that I wasn’t ready for.

    Gifted kids need to be pushed and that means extra support for them.

  3. I find that my school’s policy for identifying children as gifted only allows those kids who are already excelling, who are always well-prepared, and who are very communicative with their teachers (hands in the air, anxious to answer questions in front of the class, never wrong).

    My introverted, already underachieving daughter who hated being put on the spot in front of the class pretty much had no chance of being identified as gifted and her IQ score in the highly gifted range was discounted.

  4. Good post! In my many years of implementing certification in Gifted Education as a private tutor, I have learned a few things directed from the “gifted’s mouth” –
    1. Gifted kids ARE different, and they don’t necessarily know better, they just know different – acknowledge and honor those differences.
    2. Gifted kids want more individualized challenging work…not just more work.
    3. The DO NOT have an “off switch”, so refrain from encouraging them to shit it off or “slow down”. Teach them manageability.

    Bottom line: Gifted individuals are deserving of, and require the same specialized instruction as any other individual that sits on the spectrum of learning.

    Thanks again for this post! I enjoyed it.
    Denise A.

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