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Why Gifted Students Need Specialized Education

Gifted Resources

Gifted children learn quite differently than those supported by most traditional school settings. They have unique educational needs that require specialized attention, such as accelerated learning opportunities, enrichment programs, and/or advanced coursework. While some traditional schools offer supplemental services designed for gifted students, availability and eligibility criteria may vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction.

But first, what even is giftedness? Let’s start by going back to basics.

What Is Giftedness?

Distilling it to its simplest definition, “giftedness” is a neurological difference that enables gifted individuals to comprehend the world differently from neurotypical people. They have an advanced ability in one or more specific areas compared to others of the same age.
Identifying giftedness involves a mix of formal testing and qualitative assessment. The first way people can usually tell whether they have a gifted child (at home or in the classroom) is by considering the most common traits, such as the following:

  • Advanced comprehension
  • Emotional depth
  • Curiosity
  • A mature sense of humor
  • Creative problem-solving

Although these characteristics serve as guideposts, remember that each gifted child is unique. Recognizing and nurturing their individuality will help unlock their full potential.

How Does This Differ from Being Twice Exceptional (2e)?

If you have an inkling that your child or a student in your classroom may be gifted, you may have come across the term “twice exceptional.” This refers to gifted individuals who have one or more learning disabilities, like dyslexia, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder. There are three categories that 2e children tend to fall into, making it difficult to identify them. Once you do, you’ll be able to connect them to the specialized education they need to thrive.

Why Do Gifted Children Require Special Education Services?

Contrary to common perception, giftedness is not solely about academic achievement; there is also a need for social and emotional support. Traditional school settings may not adequately challenge their intellect or allow them to share their passions with like-minded peers. Specialized educational programs, such as Davidson Academy, provide a curriculum tailored to an individual’s interests, small classrooms grouped by ability versus age, and a community of educators and staff members who truly understand giftedness.

Challenges that Stem from the Wrong Learning Environment

When gifted children are not supported properly in an academic setting—as well as emotionally or socially—they may experience more negative emotions that lead to unhealthy behaviors. We will dive into the top three: burnout, boredom, and perfectionism.

Burnout

among gifted students can manifest as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion resulting from prolonged stress or pressure to meet high expectations. This can impact their academic performance, mental health, and overall well-being.
Recognizing the signs of burnout and providing appropriate support, such as counseling, stress management techniques, and opportunities for self-care, are crucial in helping gifted students navigate these challenges and maintain a healthy balance in their lives.

Boredom

Have you ever been in a situation where you already knew what you were supposed to be doing, but had to sit through the instructions anyway because others were not as familiar as you? You probably felt frustrated or bored. That is similar to what gifted children experience in classrooms and with a curriculum that doesn’t stimulate their minds.
Gifted students need opportunities to express their passions through personal projects and curated curricula. Flexibility in what they are learning helps them meet peers who share the same interests, which alleviates their boredom and helps them connect.

Perfectionism

Gifted students often experience intense academic demands, which can lead to an internalized pressure to perform coupled with a fear of failure. This relentless pursuit of excellence can lead to setting unrealistic standards for themselves, anxiety, self-criticism, disillusionment, and procrastination.

Stress management, a positive and growth-focused mindset, and increased peer collaboration can help build healthy attitudes toward achievement and reduce the pressure to be flawless.

Luckily, gifted children and their parents and educators do not have to figure out how to solve these challenges alone. There are alternative schools for gifted students, including gifted & talented programs, magnet schools, pull-out programs, and public schools developed specifically for the profoundly gifted, including Davidson Academy and Davidson Academy Online.

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