WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2012 17:50 PM
At 4 years old, New Mexico resident Lee Bustamante’s ability to read and solve math problems has given his family reason to be proud, KVIA reported. Unfortunately, the Bustamante family’s local school district does not offer any gifted programs for preschool children like Lee.
This is not only a problem for Lee, but talented children across the country who do not have access to gifted schools or programs. Classes that are designed for traditional students often do little to hold gifted youths' attention, which, in turn, can cause them to grow disinterested in their schooling.
Lee’s plight also highlights the importance of programs and teachers that are equipped to meet the needs of gifted children.
Special talents require specialized education
According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), there is no universally agreed upon definition of giftedness. What is apparent is that gifted children tend to display high levels of aptitude or competence in at least one domain, such as academic subjects and the arts.
However, as there is no simple definition of what giftedness is, there is also no one approach to teaching these youths. What is apparent is that educational strategies developed specifically for gifted kids do work, based on past research. According to the NAGC, learning methods, such as acceleration, grouping and advanced placement have all had a positive impact on students with special abilities.
Interactive programs keep intellectually curious students engaged
Hands-on experimentation is just one strategy being used at the gifted summer camp being offered by Cobb Elementary School in Alabama, The Anniston Star reported. Over the course of this four-week program, 28 Cobb students have an opportunity to go deeper than they normally do during the academic year.
"We’re finding out that most of our children do not have the opportunity to do a lot of experiments," teacher Teresia Hall, told the news source. "So we try to do a few things with them during the summer."
Since the summer camp began, gifted students have created balloon-powered cars and whipped up their own smoothies.
Without gifted programs, students may change to fit in
While the students who are participating in Cobb Elementary’s summer camp benefit from learning alongside like-minded pupils, other children are not as lucky. Peer pressure and bullying are all too common among adolescents and teenagers. When one member of a class understands a new lesson faster or shows exceptional skill in a particular area, they may become a target. This, in turn, pushes some students to change who they are simply so they can get by undisturbed.
Unfortunately, when pupils run from whom they really are, they are setting themselves up for failure, both in the classroom and throughout life. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, gifted youths may be more prone to depression and anxiety, while their social skills have the potential to become stunted. All this, coupled with the fact that some students may sabotage their academic success simply to fit in, creates a recipe for disaster.
The importance of early identification
All the problems that may arise when gifted children are not placed among similar kids fuels the need for the early identification of these particular students. One way parents may be able to avoid trouble down the line is to have their children sit for an IQ test for kids as soon as they show signs of giftedness. Using the results of this assessment, parents will be better equipped to find an educational setting that can best service their children's unique needs.