Every adult has their own set of myths about gifted students. Some popular myths are that gifted students are troublemakers, that they don’t need help, or that they are too smart for their own good. But the truth is that gifted students face many challenges. They just have different needs than other students in how to deal with them.
Gifted students are often misunderstood. This article will dispel some of the myths about these students.
Myth #1 Gifted students are lazy.
Truth About Perceived “Laziness”:
Gifted students often have a lot of energy and are very motivated to learn. Depending on the personality, some gifted students may become aloof because they are not challenged in class. Therefore, the “lack of interest” comes off as laziness.
Solution to a Gifted Child’s Lackadaisical Attitude:
When you see a gifted child become aloof or lackadaisical, encourage the child. Try to be understanding and patient when the child does not want to do things that are not related to their gifted interest. The child may need a break from learning unrelated material so that they can focus on what interests them.
Myth #2: Gifted students are smart at everything.
Truth about Giftedness:
While they are often intelligent, gifted students vary in their abilities. Some are good at math, while others excel in creative writing. For example, a student who is a great writer may not be as good at math as another student. Therefore, you may have to “teach” the gifted child how to learn and get excited about it.
Solution to Avoid Mismatched Expectations:
Allow asynchronous learning in each subject. Get rid of the “age-banded” benchmarks approach, especially for younger children. Encourage the child to be independent and to work at his or her own pace. Spend time together as a family, doing something that interests you all. Help your child learn how to function well in an environment where everyone is working at different levels of ability.
Myth #3: Gifted students are robots.
Truth about Gifted Students’ Behavioral Differences:
They can be different from other children and may have unique interests and personality traits. However, many gifted children are well socialized. They are just trying to learn how to balance being a child and their advanced knowledge.
Solution to Remain Open to Gifted Children:
Provide safe exposure to a variety of social scenarios with peers and adults. Younger gifted children crave comrades with their peers, but they also enjoy a stimulating conversation with an adult who works in one of their fields of interest. Allow them to build unique experiences within a safe framework in which a parent is involved. At other times, it is best to let them work in order to give them a confident comfort zone.
Myth #4: Gifted students are spoiled: This is not always the case.
Truth about the Gifted Stigma of Being Spoiled:
Sometimes, gifted students have to work hard to keep up with their peers. For example, let’s say your child knows an advanced way to solve a pre-algebra problem. However, the instructor counts off for not following the method she used in class, even though they may get the answer correct. Gifted students may have to shift their mindset to accept alternate methods which they find elementary and tedious just to keep in line with their peers and avoid backlash from professors. In some cases, gifted students work hard at fitting in, so they will turn off their genius and sacrifice their intellectual abilities to survive socially.
Solution to Address the Appearance of Special Treatment for the Gifted:
Remember to encourage and reward gifted children. Though they may participate more because of their energy, remember they have feelings, too. Ignoring or diminishing their efforts just because they excel is not going to result in a positive outcome; it often triggers some behaviors associated with being “spoiled”.
Myth #5: Gifted students don’t need help.
Truth Regarding the Help Needed by Gifted Students:
This is one of the biggest and most harmful myths. Gifted students are technically “special needs” and see the world much differently than their peers. When a child makes this discovery of their differences, it can be traumatic, confusing, or disruptive in a variety of ways.
For example, take Theodore. Theo was a gifted student who had always done exceptionally well in school because he was matched with intellectual peers and could move onto new subjects when ready. When his parents moved, he was placed in a regular classroom for the first time in his life, and it was a disaster. The class was full of students who were struggling to keep up in school. Theodore’s new classmates teased him and made fun of his math abilities. Their jealousies resulted in namecalling, exclusion from social activities, and other passive-aggressive bullying tactics. He felt like an outcast, and he hated school.
Solution to Support Gifted Scholars:
Gifted students often benefit from additional instruction and support in an intellectual-banded versus an age-banded setting. Group students by ability level for each subject for a period of time each day. This creates a safe space to learn and be challenged without having to worry about social dynamics in the classroom.
Myth#6: Gifted students will succeed no matter what.
Truth about Gifted Success Rates:
Due to the harmful belief in Myth #6 (gifted students don’t need help), this is definitely not true. In fact, less than 20% of identified gifted students receive specialized services from their school or local school board. The ones who don’t receive services have a higher likelihood of not reaching the same potential as their peers.
Think of a tree, for example. As with a tree, bearing fruit is not about potential. An apple tree left unattended, unfertilized, and unprotected from the elements will result in slow or no growth. The same is with gifted children. Academic and life success is about cultivating a safe and nourishing environment for which the child can become productive.
Solution to Successful Outcomes with Talented Students:
Develop programs or collaborate with professionals to mentor gifted children. Provide guidance, supervision, and other services to gifted children. Improve schools’ support for students who are gifted with breakout rooms, customized programming, and immersion groups.
Myth #7: Gifted Students Already have Access to Multiple Resources and Help
Truth About Resources for Gifted Children:
Parents of gifted children often worry about their child’s ability to keep up in school. They may feel that their child has already been given a lot of advantages and does not need any more help. This is a myth. Gifted students do not have unlimited resources or help available to them. In fact, they may be at a disadvantage if they are not given the opportunity to learn in an environment that challenges them.
Solution to Providing Resources for Gifted Children:
In many cases, gifted children are not given the resources they need to succeed in school. This is why many parents decide to homeschool their gifted children.
Poor resources can be due to a lack of understanding of what giftedness is, a lack of funds, or a reluctance to provide more services for students who are already doing well in school. However, there are solutions to this problem. Gifted education programs can be funded through private donations or public grants. Teachers can be trained in how to work with gifted students, and schools can create enrichment opportunities for these students. With the right resources, gifted children can thrive and reach their full potential.
Here are Seven tips for dealing with giftedness that have worked for our team and partners:
1. Find out as much as you can about your child’s gifts and talents.
If your child isn’t studying math, music, or science, it’s time to find a teacher who can help him or her. Talk with other parents, teachers and guidance counselors.
2. Understand how giftedness is measured and performance standards are set.
For example, in areas like math and science, schools use standardized tests to measure what students know and can do.
3. Embrace your child’s gifts and talents.
Find a way to make it work for him or her. Gifted students can be as creative, original and unique in their approach to life as anyone else.
4. Don’t expect your child to become extraordinarily gifted in every subject overnight.
Some talents need cultivation from others while other gifts may come natural without any outside influence.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask your child questions and to listen to his or her answers.
Gifted children are very eager to share their knowledge and experiences, so they may be more open than you might expect.
6. Be patient!
Some days, their child brain is going through an “update”, and they may need more space and time than usual. On other days, they are engrossed in a project, book, or course of study. Allow them options to absorb information as it makes sense while guiding their parameters.
7. Stay educated.
The more you know about giftedness, the more informed parenting decisions you will make! That said, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to gifted children. All parents have their own personal preferences and beliefs regarding what is best for their children in different situations.
In conclusion, gifted children are often misunderstood and misrepresented. The myths about them are harmful because they can lead to misconceptions and inaccurate assumptions. It is important to remember that gifted children are individuals with their own unique needs and talents. They should be nurtured and supported in order to reach their full potential.