It is important for teachers, parents, and other involved adults to consider that a gifted student might not have all the answers and might, in fact, need a little bit of extra help in some subjects. It does not change the fact
that they are gifted for them to need extra help in a subject. This leads to another issue.
Expectations of Self
By the time a student discovers that they learn faster, or easier, or differently than other students they have already been assigned a label. When that labelis gifted not only are the expectations of the adults set, but often the student has expectation that gifted means that they will not have to work as hard to achieve top grades.
Self-esteem sometimes suffers in gifted students because of these expectations or assumptions. In one example, a gifted student who normally did not have to review, or even study for tests hit a concept that wasparticularly difficult for her. She scored a 70% on a test, far from her normal upper 90s to perfect scores. She began to think that that one score defined her and her ability to learn.
The student began to think of herself as stupid. While this seems extreme, considering that she had never scored below a 90% on any test, in nine years of school, the lower score was a harsh blow. She decided that she hated math, and was no good at it. Her teachers and parents assured her that one score did not define her, or her ability to learn. They tried to explain that she was still as gifted as ever, but that she might actually have to study to achieve the higher scores she was accustomed to. The student believed that having to study for something actually made her less bright. Her expectations of her own abilities took a hit, and so did her overall self-esteem.
Drive or the Lack of It
Some gifted students are programmed to excel. It is part of their makeup to strive for the highest scores, and the maximum amount of knowledge accumulation. These students are driven to finish faster, with better scores, so that they might quickly move on to the next educational achievement.
Other gifted students are programmed to rest on their laurels, so to speak. These students do not feel the drive to excel, but are content to do nothing and still achieve passing scores. This is frustrating for students and parents who both see wasted potential. It is hard for the adults to see why a student with greater potential is willing to coast instead of speed ahead. Both of these traits occur in gifted students. It is important to determine which category a gifted student falls into and direct them as needed.
Gifted Students are Special
In many school districts around the country gifted programs are incorporated under the special education department. At first glance this might seem odd, after all special education is usually thought of as education provided to students who have learning disadvantages. Giftedness is not a disadvantage, but sometimes requires special handling. There are many issues that are particularly pronounced in gifted students.
One of these is the issue of maturity. Gifted students are often capable of work beyond that of their age peers. However, just because they may be more advanced academically than their age peers does not mean that they are more mature than their age peers. This sometimes poses a dilemma, should the student be advanced to a higher grade so that they are academically challenged, or should they be kept with their age peers because they might not be ready for social issues they might face when placed with older students.
Some school systems opt for gifted programs that are enrichment programs, offering gifted students grade level work, and providing more opportunities to learn such as music and art classes that are not offered to the general student population. Other school systems choose accelerated programs, which allow the gifted student to move on to higher grade work sooner. Both programs have merit, but depending on the gifted student, one program might work better than the other.