A gifted student needs more qualitative tasks which require effort to solve and that facilitate organizational and structuring processes. If these skills have not been acquired in the past, it may be necessary to train inner and outer organization skills specifically, for example with agendas, calendars, Sabine Fruth’s “House of Knowledge” etc.
Since gifted students are very individual, it is helpful to ask what exactly the respective student finds stressful or too easy in class. Often, for example, it is not the waiting (he can distract himself), but the classroom discussions he is forced to listen to that cause disappointment (by the answers of others) and impatience.
Some gifted students cannot handle assignments that are too easy, because they cannot make sense of them, or tend to make them overly complex.
A solution to this would be agreeing on a kind of signal: If everything is alright, he shows a laughing smiley, if things become difficult, he could turn the smiley upside-down. In this case, you could address those specific situations that need solutions.
How can the school contribute?
- The ideal way, of course, would be to enhance the assignments for the gifted student. Since this is often very energy-consuming, I have collected a number of possibilities to change and enhance tasks for gifted students in very short time. You can find them under the icon: Classroom Material.
If this is not sufficiently possible:
- Explain the teacher’s perspective to the gifted student: The teacher needs to know that the students understand the material. That’s why you need to raise your hand and do your homework.
- Gifted students are often not picked to speak, or only if nobody else raises their hand. That can be very frustrating for the gifted student and increases the risk that she’s perceived as a nerd.
In order to avoid this, you can make the following agreement: The teacher has to realize that the gifted student raises their hand three times during class. He can signal through eye-contact that he has taken notice of the student.
- Agreements with the teacher regarding assignments: How much knowledge or skills does the gifted student need to prove before she can attend to other tasks? (For example: She needs to have solved the two most difficult problems.)
- A gifted student is often underexerted, if she needs to solve too many easy problems. If all problems must be solved, a solution could be to alternate between difficult and easy problems.
- Gifted students often receive additional assignments that require no support and therefore don’t support their development. They need to have at least one challenging project through which they can learn and grow (cf. Giftedness vs. High Performance).
The following provide some ideas for such projects:
- Extracurricular activities (clubs, competitions, university…)
- Engagement in a school project (shop, mediation, event engineering)
- ScienceScout, individual projects, or individual lessons
- Acceleration or part-acceleration
- If the school does not provide an adequate offer for the gifted student, this student should be provided the opportunity to withdraw: She may be allowed to eat, work on her own material, leave the room, etc. The teacher will then signal to the student when she needs to be back to participate in class.
How can the student contribute?
- While waiting: Detach or withdraw: Relax, re-experience nice memories, plan something, imagine listening to music…. or solve interesting problems in your head: math problems, logical quizzes, game of chess, come up with stories in your head, conduct “social studies”, predict behaviors etc..
- Make topics more interesting by asking additional questions: Where could this knowledge be applied? How could this chapter be put into a historical or philosophical context? etc.
How can parents and counsellors contribute?
- Support and accompany certain issues
- Discuss the purpose of routine/ practice/ structure. You may want to control and reward the execution, but at the same time, keep the student away from pointless tasks.
- Make learning processes more tangible and discuss them, for example with Tipp10 (free online touch typing tutor that allows you to observe your learning curve or through learning an instrument etc.
- Create sense of achievement in extracurricular activities
© Frauke Niehues