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Teaching the Gifted

     Gifted learners are gifts to those of us who have been touched by them.  They remind us of the power of knowledge, how each one could contribute and develop within society areas of expertise that God has given us to explore.

     There are two schools of thought concerning gifted individuals, one is that gifted individuals are born with higher levels of intelligence, meaning that their brains are pre-wired to excel; the other is that exposure to diverse or specific experiences  develops the ability to grasp and apply concepts beyond their peers.  In the United States, students are often recommended into gifted programs by their teachers/administrators or assessments which focus on IQ (Intelligence Quotient).

     Regardless of our opinions about the origin of gifted individuals, we all are learning that teaching gifted students takes skill and purposeful planning.  Because they are usually multi-level thinkers, and perceive differently from their peers, it is important to challenge them above and beyond the normal curriculum before boredom sets in.  In my experience in the classroom, it is easy to sympathize with a student struggling but the same applies to the gifted student.  If gifted students are not attended to, we have done them a disservice.  I once read a story about a gifted five-year-old that was reading on the fifth grade level; all marveled at her ability. The travesty was that when she became a fifth grader she was still reading on the fifth grade level!  May we all gasp and never allow such neglect on our watch.

     When I am responsible to educate gifted learners with other learners on grade level. I often try to find someone close to their level of intelligence to pair them with for collaboration, remembering that iron sharpens iron.  If this is not possible I would encourage the parents to seek friends outside of the classroom setting that they can grow intellectually with.

      Another way to assist a gifted student is to schedule activities such as playdates, book clubs, and sports, things that stimulate, challenge and promote enjoyment.  This includes lesson plans. In my classroom or homeschool settings a study of “Crossing the Rubicon” would look different for a student on grade level than for an above-average learner. 

     The bottom line with gifted learners is to instruct with depth.  Allow them to explore levels of the subject by comparing, contrasting, trying alternative methods to solve issues, concerns, guide them to debate with research that can support beliefs particularly those that are rooted in integrity. I try to keep simple supplies for artwork such markers, highlighters, index cards, and office supplies on hand for their reports, and extended thinking. 


Teach them to study                             

Disciplining the gifted child

     Disciplining the gifted child takes skill as well.  An author spoke of her twins that were both extremely bright.  She mentioned that she overheard a conversation that they were having one day while driving.  They were discussing God’s character when one said, “I want to love like God” and the other responded not me “I want to be God”. With this she marveled at each one’s response at such a young age and understood how to discipline and instruct them.  Like the second child who articulated that he wanted the power of God more than the love of God gifted learners are often quick on their feet.  If not careful they will try to outwit anyone who opposes them.  I try to guide them to understand the importance of yielding to God, those in authority and friends; to understand timing, when to speak, when to be quiet, or allow others a turn to participate. 

Community Help

      To assist with your gifted student or child, do research, seek those within your local community to have your child shadow or volunteer in programs of interest. This summer, my daughters volunteered at the Botanical Gardens, the Butterfly House, and our son has helped inner city youth.  Information from local middle and high schools can be another venue, speak with career counselors about your son’s or daughter’s interest; a few years ago we enrolled in a medical program that met weekly for one of our teenagers with cadavers and all!  Note, if the student is under sixteen you may be required to participate as well, but it’s worth it! 



Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, http://www.cloudtownsend.com/

Bloom’s Taxonomy which represents six levels of learning.  Check out the sample questions section.  http://www.officeport.com/edu/blooms.htm

Copyright © 2008-2015 Heather Kinchlow

Reader Comments...
2010-03-22 00:04:18
"Heather, you wrote: "If not careful they will try to outwit anyone who opposes them. I try to guide them to understand the importance of yielding to God, those in authority and friends; to understand timing, when to speak, when to be quiet, or allow others a turn to participate."

We are raising a gifted 7-year-old, and find this to be the greatest struggle--helping him appreciate the importance of authority! He thinks he is smarter than all of us (...he might be!), so he thinks he is the captain of his own ship. Without the Lord as our ultimate authority I believe his life would spin into some bad patterning, but we are working daily at establishing that spiritual hierarchy. Raising a gifted child is both a blessing & a struggle most days! Thanks for the notes of advice! ;-D"
        - Lisandrea

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