One step at a time

There is no way you will be able to meet the needs of all new students in your classroom in the first few weeks of school. But, what you can do, to gain the confidence of the gifted child and their caregivers, is to be open to ‘listening’ to their experiences of school, and hopes and desires for their child. After all, schools see these children for sometimes the most stressful six hours of their day, but parents and siblings live with them for the remaining 18 hours.

In the classroom, be accepting of individuality, nestled within respect for others, and you will be offering a good start for any child at school. Know that choice is often a top priority for gifted children. Give them an option – allow them to make their choice between two different ways of achieving the goal or two separate products.

Sometimes, they will ask if they can modify an activity to suit them better. I am never too quick to say “No” – as their often creative idea is equally as valid as mine. Sometimes there will be times when choice is not an option, and at these times, it’s okay to tell them so. You will be building on a foundation of flexibility, and that can make it easier for them to accept, when they just can’t have a choice.

I find parents are far more willing to expect their child to fit in with classroom routines, if the rigidity is taken out of compliance issues. Meeting them half way could be twice as far as they have experienced in the past, and they will thank you for it. Many just want their child not to have to struggle with every aspect of the school system, every day. It wears everyone down after a while.

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About Debbie Smith

New Zealand Educator interested in online education, giftedness, and other special needs in education.
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