NEW ZEALAND TARANAKI

Consequences of being Gifted

"Being highly intelligent can be a mixed blessing..."

About Kids magazine. Issue 9 March/April 2002. "Gifted children"

Consequences for the child

The pleasure that children derive from their talents depends somewhat on the reaction of others...

Consequences for the parent/caregiver

What is normal for these children? What help can you expect from the school?

Consequences for the teacher

A look at strategies used by schools with Bell Block Primary as an example. Is it really possible to offer Primary, Secondary and Tertiary courses?

Staffing and administration issues. The main points from Gifted and talented students: Meeting their needs in New Zealand schools. Ministry of Education. (2000).

 

Consequences for the Gifted Child:

Adults may forget that they are children first, and gifted after. Sometimes parents are surprised at the immature behaviour of their gifted child...forgetting that they may talk like an 8 or 10 year old but he/she is only 5! All children like to play and have fun. For some of these children, their idea of fun and play is what other kids would call "work". Things like studying (in all its forms) about a favourite topic. It can be very frustrating when well-meaning adults stop the child doing something they enjoy to make them "play" in a manner that pleases the adults. On the other hand, proud parents may see a chance for their gifted child to accomplish things that they could not. The need of the parents to prove to themselves or others that their child is indeed gifted overrides the childs need to enjoy the opportunities those gifts may open up. There is a danger that test and exam marks become the driving force behind hours of study, not the joy of learning itself.

The feeling of being different. According to Dr. Philip Powell, Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas, most gifted children know that they are different by the time they are five. Perhaps feeling different from others is not really exclusive to gifted children...all of us are different and unique. Throughout the various stages of our lives we usually find a group of friends we "fit" into where we have similar interests and views. But what if we have an "extreme" view of the world...there is much less chance of finding someone else like us!

Some children may be very lonely because their interests do not match those of their peers. They may have difficulties at school because of their unconventional behaviour and questioning attitude. They can become distressed or depressed through frustration and boredom, or through imbalance between their intellectual and emotional development. Their development tends to be uneven, and they often feel out-of-sync with age peers and with age-based school expectations. They are emotionally intense and have greater awareness of the perils of the world and often do not have the emotional resources to match their cognitive awareness. They are at risk for abuse in environments that do not respect their differences. The teacher may see the brightness of these children as showing off. Sometimes in order to fit in with their classmates it is safer to "play dumb" and underachieve. If classwork is too easy the child will get bored and may become one of the class troublemakers. An American study found that 20% of all High School dropouts have superior abilities.

Accepting they can't do everything. Even the strong have weaknesses. Gifted children, like everyone else, have the right to fail but may feel the pressure of "living up to their potential". If a child experiences failure early on they may switch off and shy away from anything new in case they cannot get it right first time. They may develop permanent learning blocks. Gifted children often hold very high expectations of themselves and can be very self critical.

In issue 9 (March/April) of the About Kids magazine, one parent says of her child "she needed to know that not everything associated with learning is easy. I wanted her to be able to say 'Okay, this is hard. I don't understand it, but I want to be able to', instead of 'I don't understand it, I'm not interested'." This could easily apply to any child! They need reassurance and support to learn to accept that we all have our limitations...but we don't give up on trying to improve ourselves!

Gifted children often have hidden learning disabilities (dual exceptionalities). While most of the attention the child receives is due to their particular gifts or strengths, parents and teachers may miss the learning disabilities of the gifted student. Behaviour due to a learning difficulty may be misinterpreted and called "eccentric".

Being unable to finish what they start. Some children have difficulty completing tasks within the time interval provided. At home this can be dealt with by negotiating an acceptable time period for painting, music, etc. For any particular classroom task the child may want to do more than the teacher says is required. This may result in the feeling of extreme frustration. An adult may have to speak to the teacher who may not be aware of the students feelings. An individual programme of work may be better suited to that child. In this way the balance between meeting intellectual needs and maintaining an appropriate social/peer group is retained.

For a New Zealand perspective read "Gifted children" in the About Kids magazine, Issue 9 March/April 2002. We would like to reprint part of that article here.

 

Internet Links to other articles:

Helping Adolescents Adjust to Giftedness

Competitiveness, rejection and perfectionism are just a few of the problems faced by gifted youths. Adults can assist these young people to "own" and develop their talents. This digest provides a good description of the challenges they face and provides specific coping strategies.

Helping Gifted Students With Stress Management

Many gifted youngsters may feel they are under a relentless pressure to excel. Constant striving to live up to self-expectations, or those of others, can be very stressful. This digest provides information to help parents tell if their child is experiencing stress and provides coping strategies for both parents and students.

Joy and Loss: The Emotional Lives of Gifted Children

There is a myth that gifted children are better adjusted, more popular, and happier than other children. However, for most gifted children, nearly the opposite is true. While they are happy with work they see as challenging, their childhood can be more painful, more isolated, and more stressful than other children because of their high expectations of themselves and because they do not fit in with their peers.


Consequences for the parent/caregiver:

Wait, there's more! Brothers and sisters are usually within 5 or 10 points in measured ability. When one child in the family is identified as gifted, the chances are great that all members of the family are gifted. Read about definitions of "giftedness" here...

Coming second: Second children are recognised as gifted much less frequently than first-borns or only children. They exhibit different characteristics from their older siblings and are less likely to be achievement oriented. Even the first-born identical twin has a greater chance of being accepted in a gifted program than the second-born! Early identification of advanced development is as essential as early identification of any other exceptionality. Early intervention promotes optimal development.

Gifted children often have hidden learning disabilities (dual exceptionalities). While most of the attention the child receives is due to their particular gifts or strengths, parents and teachers may miss the learning disabilities of the gifted student. Behaviour due to a learning difficulty may be misinterpreted and called "eccentric". The behavioural characteristics of some gifted and talented children closely resemble those associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The feeling of being different. According to Dr. Philip Powell, Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas, most gifted children know that they are different by the time they are five. Some children may be very lonely because their interests do not match those of their peers. They may have difficulties at school because of their unconventional behaviour and questioning attitude. They can become distressed or depressed through frustration and boredom, or through imbalance between their intellectual and emotional development.

Gender differences: Gifted girls and gifted boys have different coping mechanisms and are likely to face different problems.

Being unable to finish what they start. For any particular classroom task the child may want to do more than the teacher says is required. This may result in the feeling of extreme frustration. An adult may have to speak to the teacher who may not be aware of the students feelings. On the other hand, once an idea is pursued and understood, the temptation is to move on to new experiences. Many gifted children will complete and check work only if pressured to do so. Because they sometimes lack the persistence required to complete a task, their achievement rarely matches their ability. An individual programme of work may be better suited to that child. In this way the balance between meeting intellectual needs and maintaining an appropriate social/peer group is retained.

Public backlash: Parents of gifted children may be thought of by friends, family or teachers as being "pushy parents". There is plenty of evidence that gifted children should be differentially treated, either by acceleration, enrichment, and ability grouping. The trick is to maintain a balance between meeting the intellectual, emotional and social needs of the student. They are children first, and gifted after.

Introversion rules OK: Over 60% of gifted children and 70% of highly gifted children are introverted compared with 30% of the general population. Introversion correlates with introspection, reflection, the ability to inhibit aggression, deep sensitivity, moral development, high academic achievement, scholarly contributions, leadership in academic and aesthetic fields in adult life, and smoother passage through midlife; however, it is very likely to be misunderstood and "corrected" in children by well-meaning adults.

Being gifted isn't enough: The University of Chicago studied the development of 100 super achievers (research mathematicians, musicians, swimmers and tennis players) and discovered that their careers displayed a strong parent and teacher influence, proving that the gifted are nurtured, as well as born. Most of them were strongly encouraged to pursue their career by a member of the family, or an exceptionally dedicated teacher who had the ability to differentiate the ordinary from the extraordinary.

For a New Zealand perspective read "Gifted children" in the About Kids magazine, Issue 9 March/April 2002. We would like to reprint part of that article here.

 

Internet Links to other articles:

Working Party report on New Zealand Gifted and Talented students

As a parent or teacher with a special interest in Gifted and Talented students, visit the Ministry of Education website for new initiatives and funding and the latest ammendments to the National Administration Guidelines (NAG's). New opportunities may open up that will assist you in meeting the needs of your child or students.

Supporting Gifted Education through Advocacy

This article will provide you with ideas for how to work 'within-the-system' and provides specific steps to follow in order to achieve long-term results.

Helping Your Highly Gifted Child

The discovery that their child is not merely gifted but highly or profoundly gifted can result in parents feeling a combination of excitement and anxiety. There is very little understanding of extreme intellectual potential and how to develop it. This digest deals offers some practical suggestions based on the experience of other parents and the modest amount of research available.

Homeschooling Gifted Students: An Introductory Guide for Parents

Many families have chosen homeschooling as the educational option for their gifted children. There are many issues to explore when families consider homeschooling their children.

Underachieving Gifted Students

How to get the best performance from students is a challenging task. Parents can feel frustrated when their child does not perform as well academically as their potential indicates. This digest discusses the these issues and provides specific suggestions and coping strategies for both parents and educators.

Should Gifted Students Be Grade-Advanced? A US perspective

This digest describes a wide variety of options including many forms of pull-out programs offering educational enrichment, honors classes, after school and summer programs featuring special course work, and mentor programs in which children are matched with professionals in the community for special learning experiences.

Providing Curriculum Alternatives To Motivate Gifted Students

In classrooms there are many different levels of ability. This digest presents two strategies to help highly able students get more out of school. Parents will find these suggestions helpful when they work with their child's teacher. Teachers may find that the following strategies enable them to challenge and motivate the gifted and all their other students.


Consequences for the teacher:

Teachers must be careful not to blindly follow definitions or assume children fit into stereotypes...even after advice or professional development sessions from "experts". The following is a guide only...always get to know your children before deciding what YOU think is best for THEM...

"Being highly intelligent can be a mixed blessing..." About Kids magazine. Issue 9 March/April 2002. "Gifted children"

Creative traits

that can lead to classroom problems

Abstract and theoretical

Goes far beyond what is required in assignments yet may ignore key objectives.

Inventive (non-conforming) and independent

Resists teacher chosen assignments. Hands in messy work.

Sensitive

Withdraws because of peer group criticism and fear of rejection.

Alert, eager

Resents periods of classroom inactivity. For lack of something to do may become mischievous or restless.

Intuitive

Seeing conclusions without displaying knowledge of sequential concepts. May refuse to complete work they feel is "too easy". May be misinterpreted by teachers as the task being too hard.

Daydreaming (as concentrated periods of thinking)

Inattentive to teacher's or classmates' comments and class discussions. Other students may make fun.

Aesthetically oriented

Resists participation of active team sports. Last to be picked for teams leads to negative self image.

At the moment schools are on their own, being offered little in the way of meaningful assistance in terms of extra staffing, funding or training from the Ministry of Education.

Different schools deal with their gifted children in different ways: Some ignore them. Most acknowledge they do not have the resources to effectively educate their gifted children but they are willing to try. In New Zealand we have yet to put into place a national system that permits schools to identify their gifted children! Read about definitions of "giftedness" here...

"Talented" and "gifted" - what's the difference? There is plenty of evidence that gifted children should be differentially treated, either by acceleration, enrichment, or ability grouping. But how you decide to define giftedness will influence how you later identify gifted children. Is there any real difference between being "talented" and being truly "gifted"? Some schools consider the top 15%, 10% or 5% of their students to be gifted or talented. Does research support the lumping together of these groups?

Children in the top 3 percent of the population have atypical developmental patterns and require differentiated instruction. Children in the top 10 percent of the population are not statistically or developmentally different from children in the top 15 percent, and it is not justifiable to single them out for special treatment.

It is similar to the situation where the moderately intellectually impaired, highly intellectually impaired and profoundly intellectually impaired all have quite different challenges and associated needs. So it is with the moderately gifted, highly gifted and profoundly gifted. They should not be lumped together.

Three of the most common ways schools are providing for the gifted are acceleration, enrichment, and ability grouping. These may be used alone or in combination.

Acceleration: The child or class advances a grade or year level of work more quickly than the school schedule usually permits.

eg, when 3 years of work is combined into 2.

eg, a child may be allowed to enter a primary, intermediate or secondary school a year earlier than is the general rule.

eg, a child may be able to undertake a Year 11 Science course while enrolled as a Year 9 student

 

Enrichment: the child stays his/her normal class with extra subjects or material in addition to the usual studies.

eg, story writing, music lessons, dramatics, debates, research problems, science projects, current events, individual instruction, field trips, teacher-pupil conferences, a foreign language, model making.

keeps the student positively engaged while waiting for classmates to complete other work.

avoids some of the problems of friendship and social adjustment that may be seen in acceleration programmes.

 

Ability or Special grouping: this may take a number of forms: -

eg, the exceptionally able are brought together for just one period a week. In a seminar, they discuss their volunary reading and choose books for the next week.

eg, the exceptionally able are brought together for a part of each day to discuss subjects of current interest and study and to do many kinds of creative work.

eg, in large schools, gifted chilren may form a special class or home room.

eg, in some large cities, they are brought together from different contributing schools to attend special "day schools".

Bell Block Primary School (New Zealand) uses a combination of acceleration and ability grouping. As a trial a few years ago, the Correspondance School provided the language and science courses that the students participated in. Students could even work from home for a few hours each week to complete the assignments. In a new trial for 2002 and 2003, one of their students spends half of the week at the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) completing a series of 8 week Science, Mathematics and Computing courses. In an attempt to widen the net, Principal Chris O'Neill and his staff have initiated a "Talents opportunity" programme which involves surveying the children and providing a chance to demonstrate any hidden talents in the areas of sport, performing arts, etc. For more ideas relevant to your type of school click here

Challenges for the student and teacher: Gifted students need to broaden their abilities and interests via a curriculum designed by competent teachers who enjoy the challenge of bright minds. Part of the challenge should include changing from working independently to working as part of a group.

Gifted children often have hidden learning disabilities (dual exceptionalities). While most of the attention the child receives is due to their particular gifts or strengths, parents and teachers may miss the learning disabilities of the gifted student. Behaviour due to a learning difficulty may be misinterpreted and called "eccentric". The behavioural characteristics of some gifted and talented children closely resemble those associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Feeling good: Some children may be very lonely because their interests do not match those of their peers. They may have difficulties at school because of their unconventional behaviour and questioning attitude. Help them develop a positive self-image. Gifted classes provide a group where like-minded children are more likely to be understanding and accepting of one another. Gifted children also need to feel valued for themselves and not just for their accomplishments.

Speaking out: They need to talk to peers, teacher and parents. Allow plenty of opportunities so they can express their ideas and feelings. You may need to express these feelings to parents on a regular basis. Look out for signs of depression. Discussion also hones thinking and questioning skills and also gives the student opportunities to learn to appreciate other points of view.

Finish the job: Completion of tasks should be a requirement. Because they sometimes lack the persistence required to complete a task, their achievement rarely matches their ability. Writing develops superior organisation skills and frames intellectual content. Their minds switch so quickly from one topic to another that they need to learn how to organise and express their ideas. Once an idea is pursued and understood, the temptation is to move on to new experiences.

Introversion rules OK: Over 60% of gifted children and 70% of highly gifted children are introverted compared with 30% of the general population. Introversion correlates with introspection, reflection, the ability to inhibit aggression, deep sensitivity, moral development, high academic achievement, scholarly contributions, leadership in academic and aesthetic fields in adult life, and smoother passage through midlife; however, it is very likely to be misunderstood and "corrected" in children by well-meaning adults.

Be a catalyst for greatness: The University of Chicago studied the development of 100 super achievers (research mathematicians, musicians, swimmers and tennis players) and discovered that their careers displayed a strong parent and teacher influence, proving that the gifted are nurtured, as well as born. Most of them were strongly encouraged to pursue their career by a member of the family, or an exceptionally dedicated teacher who had the ability to differentiate the ordinary from the extraordinary.

For a New Zealand perspective read "Gifted children" in the About Kids magazine, Issue 9 March/April 2002. We would like to reprint part of that article here.

 

Internet Links to other articles:

As a parent or teacher with a special interest in Gifted and Talented students, visit the Ministry of Education website for new initiatives and funding and the latest ammendments to the National Administration Guidelines (NAG's). New opportunities may open up that will assist you in meeting the needs of your child or students.

Certificate in Special Needs Education  
Information on Massey University's Certificate in Special Needs Education, which includes papers in Gifted Education.  

Professional Training for Teachers of the Gifted and Talented

Here we examine the roles of teachers of the gifted and talented, the roles of regular classroom teachers, and ways they work together.

The Gifted & Talented Community on Te Kete Ipurangi
This community on TKI includes a range of materials, such as, readings, case studies, conference and professional development details.

Gifted Learners and the Middle School: Problem or Promise?

Historically, tension has existed between gifted education and middle school education.

Developing Programs for Students of High Ability

Educators need to understand the components of an effective educational program for the different needs and abilities of high ability or gifted students. Here each of these components is described, written specifically for the educator who is designing these programs.

Challenging Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom

This is a good overview of the challenges faced in educating gifted students in the regular classroom.

Planning Science Programs for High Ability Learners

This article provides suggestions for what a science curriculum for gifted students should include. These ideas are not only for teachers, but can be used by parents as suggestions for how their child's science curriculum can be improved.

Teaching English to Gifted Students

How to identify students who are gifted in the areas of English and language arts, principles for developing effective programs in English and language arts for the gifted, and suggesting possible methods of evaluating gifted students and programs.

Teaching Mathematics to Gifted Students in a Mixed-Ability Classroom

Strategies for how your school can meet the special needs of your child. While this article is written for the educational professional, parents will find it useful when talking with their child's teacher.

How To Provide Full-Time Services on a Part Time Budget

The belief that all students are best served in heterogeneous learning environments is challenged here. This article supports the benefits of keeping gifted students together in their areas of greatest strength for at least part of the school day. This example of ability grouping represents a way to make sure gifted students continue to receive a quality education at the same time as schools work to improve learning opportunities for all students.

Providing Curriculum Alternatives To Motivate Gifted Students

In classrooms there are many different levels of ability. This digest presents two strategies to help highly able students get more out of school. Parents will find these suggestions helpful when they work with their child's teacher. Teachers may find that the following strategies enable them to challenge and motivate the gifted and all their other students.

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)  
A resource base in the United States. This link takes you to their page on disabilities and gifted education, including identification, assessment, intervention, and enrichment.


Consequences for the school

Teachers must be careful not to blindly follow definitions or assume children fit into stereotypes...even after advice or professional development sessions from "experts". The following is a guide only...always get to know your children before deciding what YOU think is best for THEM...

There are no teaching resources specifically aimed at gifted children from the Ministry of Education. At the moment schools are on their own, being offered little in the way of meaningful assistance in terms of extra staffing, funding or training from the Ministry. Yet the Education Review Office (ERO) is looking for evidence that schools are indeed "adding value" to these children. This seems like an unrealistic and unreasonable expectation in light of the fact there is little research on gifted children in New Zealand and limited resources to help a school identify and effectively meet their needs.

The responsibility lies squarely on the school's shoulders to meet the needs of gifted children, even though the New Zealand Government provides little else other than publications such as:

The main points from Gifted and talented students: Meeting their needs in New Zealand schools. Ministry of Education. (2000).

Frequently, educational initiatives for the gifted and talented are short-lived. This often occurs when the impetus for a new development resides with a single staff member.

A new programme is more likely to develop and endure if it is based on relevant school policy and implemented through a team approach.

A policy should be developed through consultation in the school and community.

 

A policy for the education of gifted and talented students should address the following issues:

Why provide differentially for these students?

Who are our gifted and talented in the school, and who will co-ordinate our approach?

What are we going to do?

Where are we going to do it?

How and when will we do it, and how will it be resourced?

Professional development is particularly important in this area because most teacher education pre-service programmes offer only brief introductions to educating gifted and talented students. Effective professional development:

is collaboratively planned;

is tailored to the nature and needs of the individual school;

covers conceptions, identification, programming, curriculum differentiation, teaching methods and resources, and special groups of gifted students;

addresses areas of concern.

 

 

It is also imperative that schools develop a set of characteristics that reflects their individual definition of, and approach to, giftedness and talent. Read about definitions of "giftedness" here...

It is important to recognise potential as well as demonstrated performance. Educators should offer rich and challenging experiences to help realise potential.

Special attention should be given to the "hidden gifted". These include the disadvantaged gifted, the disabled gifted, those with learning difficulties, the underachieving gifted, and those from minority cultural and ethnic groups.

It is helpful to have a school-wide policy on the gifted and talented that co-ordinates identification in the school.

Some of the principles of sound identification suggest that it should begin early, be continuous, incorporate a team approach, be as unobtrusive as possible, and include both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Identifying gifted students from diverse cultures poses special challenges. Standardised tests of intelligence and achievement and even teacher and self-nominations are often not appropriate or effective. Of more value for identifying Maori students and those from other ethnic groups are the evaluation of students' products, careful teacher observation through a responsive learning environment, and input from whanau members and kaumatua.

Within qualitative differentiation for gifted and talented students, three primary areas of differentiation emerge: content, process, and product. Differentiation transforms the learning environment and teaching style.

When designing and implementing programmes for gifted and talented students, schools must take into consideration factors such as culture, gender, learning difficulties, and socio-economic status.

When planning and implementing differentiated programmes for gifted and talented students, schools should utilise enrichment and acceleration, offering a continuum of provisions.

Offering a continuum of opportunities for gifted and talented students involves individualising the options to meet the students' needs.

In designing appropriate curricula for gifted and talented students, a curriculum model or models may serve as an ideal framework. Bloom's Taxonomy, the Autonomous Learner Model, and the Enrichment Triad Model are commonly adopted or adapted by schools.

Programme evaluation is a necessary aspect of gifted education. It should examine all programme components by using a variety of methods and by involving the entire school community.

Programme evaluation must have a clear purpose, be supported by a comprehensive written plan, and be designed to make changes or adjustments to programmes according to outcomes.

Programme evaluation should be both formative and summative, fitting the evaluation to the programme, not the other way round.

Ministry of Education. (2000). Gifted and talented students: Meeting their needs in New Zealand schools. Wellington: Learning Media Ltd.

Printed copies of this publication can be purchased from the publisher, Learning Media Limited, Box 3293, Wellington.

A school must be creative and self-reliant. Bell Block Primary School (New Zealand) uses a combination of acceleration and ability grouping. As a trial a few years ago, the Correspondance School provided the language and science courses that the students participated in. Students could even work from home for a few hours each week to complete the assignments. In a new trial for 2002 and 2003, one of their students spends half of the week at the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) completing a series of 8 week Science, Mathematics and Computing courses. In an attempt to widen the net, Inglewood High School is surveying teacehrs adn students to provide an opportunity for studens to demonstrate any hidden talents in the areas of sport, performing arts, etc.

For more ideas relevant to your type of school click here

Some of the information above comes from "WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED ABOUT GIFTED CHILDREN 1979 - 2002"
BY LINDA SILVERMAN, PH.D., DIRECTOR GIFTED DEVELOPMENT CENTER,

New Zealand's history of neglecting gifted children... Working Party report summary

What does it mean to be called "gifted"... definitions of "Giftedness"

How to identify gifted children... some common features to look for

Consequences for parents and teacher... practical suggestions

What can Primary and Secondary teacher do? Giftedness in school

Real examples for Primary schools and Secondary schools. Acceleration, dual enrolment, and the conflicting needs of the school versus the student. Case studies

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