One of the reasons that we decided to homeschool our oldest is due to his giftedness. He was bored in 1st grade, and, even now, as we do 2nd grade Math and Language Arts at home, he says most of it is “too easy.”
Gifted children tend to be those who do exceedingly well in school, possibly in all areas, but most likely in one or two specific areas. The public schools attempt to identify students who are not challenged by standard school curricula and offer additional or specialized education for them. Unfortunately, most of the time, these types of classes/programs are not offered until 4th or 5th grade.
Generally, gifted individuals learn more quickly, deeply, and broadly than their peers. Gifted children may learn to read early and operate at the same level as normal children who are significantly older. The gifted tend to demonstrate high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity, a large vocabulary, and an excellent memory. They can often master concepts with few repetitions. They may also be physically and emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic, and may frequently question authority. Some have trouble relating to or communicating with their peers because of disparities in vocabulary size (especially in the early years), personality, interests, and motivation. As children, they may prefer the company of older children or adults.
In the case of our son, he became bored in class during instruction, because he understood the lesson immediately, and would then tune out the teacher. Many times, he would get into trouble for not paying attention or being unprepared to answer questions. His teacher understood this and was very patient with him. She was also aware of his “idiosyncracies,” as she called them.
Gifted children are often extremely sensitive to environmental stimuli. Their senses are assaulted daily by things that others cannot imagine even being bothersome. The florescent lights that hang above their desk, the smells in the lunchroom, the frantic activity on the playground, the heart wrenching beauty of the tree outside the classroom window, the tag in their new shirt…. These distractions can border on truly painful at times. It is often that as they are dealing with this overload to their senses, people expect them to perform highly in school and to act with greater maturity than their classmates. When they break down, and they do breakdown, people around them may not understand why and accuse them of being overly dramatic. The fact that the child themselves is unable to explain why things bother them so much only solidifies the accusation. Given that they only have the experience of living in their own body, the child does not know that others feel the world differently, and so they accept the accusation. It is important to always use the “lens of giftedness” when viewing the behaviors of gifted children.
Gifted children are sometimes described as “neuroatypical.” This does not mean that the child has a disorder, but rather that his brain just functions differently from the average person. It may be unfair to expect a gifted child to behave and perform in the ways that an average child might. It is important to get to know your gifted child and know him well.
To understand highly gifted children it is essential to realize that, although they are children with the same basic needs as other children, they are very different. Adults cannot ignore or gloss over their differences without doing serious damage to these children, for the differences will not go away or be outgrown. They affect almost every aspect of these children’s intellectual and emotional lives.
from Gifted Education Digests