Advocating for Gifted Students

Instructor: Susan Nagelsen

Susan has directed the writing program in undergraduate colleges, taught in the writing and English departments, and criminal justice departments.

When the opportunity to teach the gifted student in the classroom presents itself, the parents, teachers, and administrators all have a role to play in advocating for the best education for this student. This lesson presents some specific strategies to help meet this goal.

The Gifted Student

The gifted student has been largely ignored in the education system. This student is in need of a specialized education to meet their needs just as much as a student with learning disabilities is in need of an IEP. Often, because of the fact that the gifted student presents with highly developed skills, their educational needs are overlooked.

Gifted students learn at a faster pace, often are widely read, and typically have large vocabularies. This student has learned to work independently from an early age but also relates well to adults. Learning about new things, organization, and directed goals are at the heart of this inquisitive student. Their talents abound, but often when they start school, difficulties begin because the educational system does not know how to meet their needs. Parents, teachers, and administrators can all help to address this issue.

The Parents

Parents are excellent advocates for their children, and they should be cultivated as a resource. Parents can do a lot to help facilitate a smoother road for their gifted student. When working with parents to put accommodations in place for their child, it is important to approach the meetings with an open mind. Some solutions may be easier to implement than others. Begin with what can be implemented immediately. For example:

  • Consider moving the student up a grade for one or more subjects
  • Grouping talented students together for some part of the day
  • Bringing in mentors to work with gifted students on special projects
  • Working on independent projects in the student's interest area

Teachers, parents, and administrators all want what is best for this unique student. Listening to the information parents have to share will go a long way toward providing what is needed to facilitate an optimal learning environment. When planning lessons, it may be that you have to think outside the box and try new things, or maybe you will find that working with the student to build assignments that will meet your objectives and engage the students makes all the difference.

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