Special Needs: Kids Who are Gifted and Talented
What defines a gifted and talented child? While there is no universal standard, a gifted and talented child displays unusual aptitude in a particular area or field that is notably advanced when compared to his or her peer group. Most importantly, the child demonstrates an exceptional ability to learn.
However, not all gifted and talented children are identical: each one is a unique individual. This can be confusing for many people who believe that a gifted and talented child should demonstrate a certain uniformity of ability. However, many gifted children frequently develop their skills at different rates. Just because a child is exceptionally fast at calculating complex mathematical formulas does not mean that he will be equally adept at navigating the confusing social sphere of day-to-day play. There is no one yardstick for all gifted and talented children; each child manifests a particular talent or series of talents in his own way, and must be encouraged to grow in his own individual fashion.
Additionally, not all gifted children come from supportive backgrounds. In many instances, a family may not actively encourage a gifted child to develop either because they lack the resources or have a critical attitude toward intellectual development. This can warp a gifted child, who will have problems recognizing his own ability and subsequently may not accept outside help or support.
Although gifted children do understand concepts rapidly, they do not necessarily have an easier time at school. In some cases, they become bored or unengaged by the curriculum because it is too simple; this can lead to poor grades and a lack of enthusiasm. The emotional and social growth of gifted children tends to proceed at a separate pace from his or her intellectual development. Each child requires encouragement and support to grow to their full potential.
Learning Styles of Gifted And Talented Children
While each gifted child is unique, researchers have observed that gifted children can be categorized as having two basic learning styles. These styles are described as “leaping” and “mapping.” Leapers have a spatial learning style, which means they frequently do not understand how they arrived at the correct answer, whereas mappers are far more meticulous and studied in their approach. The intuitive learning style of a leaper can become problematic in highly technical fields when a more linear approach is required.
Many gifted children become perfectionists and place undue amounts of pressure on themselves to perform at a higher level. In grade school, any grade lower than an “A” is deemed unacceptable by the child, which frequently leads him or her to not try subject areas where they are uncertain of his or her ability. This is especially true of mappers, whose highly linear approach to learning can encourage them to become very reticent to try new things.
While some gifted children accept their exceptional gifts early on, other children rebel against this concept of themselves, rejecting help and remaining openly opposed to ‘academia.’ It is only after these children accept their own giftedness that they actively begin to pursue knowledge.