Gifted children need special attention. Schools often don’t have the resources to provide special attention for gifted students, however. This is because schools typically focus on the regular classrooms and students who are behind first rather than gifted students. Gifted education is something special that school districts provide, and parents of gifted students may sometimes feel their child is being overlooked. Gifted students may not struggle in the classroom, so teachers may not see their performance as a problem.
There are solutions for parents with gifted children. As I explained in my last blog post, talking to the child’s teacher should be the first step. There are also a variety of after-school enrichment programs or tutoring that may provide gifted students with the individualized attention that they need.
Gifted children, who are gifted specifically in academics, can benefit from outside programs. As a teacher and curriculum manager in an enrichment program, I have seen gifted students grow into confident and capable learners. Students can benefit from enrichment programs in a number of ways; below is a list I created from my unique perspective.
How Gifted Students Can Benefit from After-School Enrichment Programs & Learning Centers
1. Gifted students can progress at their own pace.
Regular classrooms are often filled with 20 or more students. Because of this, it is difficult for teachers to differentiate the lesson and make sure students progress at a comfortable pace for themselves. Gifted students may understand a concept earlier than other students, and need, or even want, to move on to the next step. Unfortunately, they often have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up before moving on.
With an enrichment academy, students can move on to the next concept when the teacher feels that they are ready. They can even skip grades more easily depending on their skill levels. Students are not confined to the average pace, but instead can excel as fast as they need to feel comfortable.
2. Gifted children will receive more individualized attention.
When teachers have a full classroom, it becomes difficult to pay attention to every student and give every student the individual attention that he or she needs. In an enrichment academy, students receive more one-on-one time with their teacher. This is especially beneficial for gifted students. Just like any student with a special need, they need more attention from their teacher.
As I discussed in another blog post, gifted students tend to be naturally curious. They have the opportunity to ask their teacher questions, and teachers go above and beyond the curriculum laid out for them. As a teacher myself, I have seen this in my own classroom. We discuss more than just the curriculum. For example, my third graders ask me why we use units squared as a label for area, and I taught them the thought behind it. Concepts like this may not be taught in the normal classroom because the average student may struggle with finding area, and the class does not have the opportunity to go onto the next concept.
3. Gifted children will meet other like-minded students.
In a regular classroom, gifted students may feel uncomfortable to showcase their aptitude. Many students want to feel accepted into the community, and being gifted may feel too different to be comfortable. I have seen students pretend to not know certain answers or ideas just to fit in.
In an enrichment academy, gifted students will be in an environment that encourages intelligence and education. This community has a lasting effect on the children. I have seen shy students, afraid to express their thoughts, come out of their shells and be the first one with their hands raised. I have classrooms of students who value good grades and intelligence; this culture rubs off onto the other students and creates a truly accepting and effective learning environment.
4. Gifted students will learn the importance of education.
Creating a classroom culture that encourages intelligence and education is an important step in a child’s education. Enrichment academies often create this culture, so students who attend these types of programs often begin to appreciate their education from an early age. My students, for instance, take their academics very seriously. Even in elementary school, they already have big plans for their future academic and professional careers. Working in this type of community is a rewarding experience that allows me to have a lasting effect on my students’ education.
When parents invest money to send their children to an enrichment academy, they are sending an important message to their children: education matters. This message may be simple and evident to us as adult, but it is one that successful people must learn at an early age.
5. Gifted students will receive extra practice.
The saying “practice makes perfect” may be overdone, but there is still truth in it. The more students read, write, and practice certain concepts, the more comfortable they will feel in their regular classrooms. Gifted students have high aptitudes, but sometimes they have low performance. Confidence may be one reason they perform lower than they are capable. An enrichment program will help increase their confidence by giving them the opportunity to practice a concept in a low-stakes, judgment-free zone. They will also have more individual attention from their teacher if they have other questions. When they practice a concept before they learn it in the regular classroom, they will feel comfortable to share their ideas and answers to their school teacher and classmates, which will help showcase their talents.
A gifted student is a special type of student who needs special attention, and a regular classroom may not always provide exactly what a gifted student needs. There has been a need in the past for extra attention to these students. Enrichment academies are a solution for this need.
Author: Becky Adams, Curriculum Manager at A Grade Ahead