For many years educators have only taken the brain into account when working with gifted children without realizing that there are many other pieces to giftedness that it are essential to understand.
Gifted children also have very unique social and emotional characteristics and needs which need to be understood and addressed if they are going to be adequately served and challenged in our schools.
These students need teachers and administrators to see them as more than just a “head on a desk” but as a whole person.
Affective Can Be More Important Than Cognitive
The affective side of giftedness is of equal, if not more, importance as the cognitive side. If it is ignored the cognitive comes to a screeching halt. These students need understanding and guidance in regards to their social and emotional needs more than they need any guidance for cognitive development which they develop well on their own. These children are so intelligent that it can often be easy to assume they do not need as much attention as other children but in reality they are actually more sensitive and need even more positive reinforcement than other children.
So let’s understand a little bit of who these people are and what makes them work.
Asynchronous Development & Brain Growth
First of all gifted children have asynchronous development. They’re physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development doesn’t move at the same rate as that of another person’s typically will.
Secondly the frontal lobes of gifted children’s brains do not develop any faster than those of other people. Their decision making will be primarily driven by their amygdala until their early 20’s but because they are more intense this tendency will be even more pronounced in them.
It is important not to expect them to have more logical decision making skills than their peers until that age despite their higher intelligence, and it is important not to get drawn into emotional power struggles with them.
‘Trouble Traits’ To Watch For
Gifted children also have some “trouble traits” that need to be watched out for and channeled. These include intensity, sensitivity, multi-potentiality (the ability to be good at many different things), multi-stimulus (they can think about many things at a time), intuitive, and excessive energies (intellectual, emotional, imaginational, sensual, psycho-motor).
Giftedness is an energy. You can’t cork it or tell them to stop being the way they are. The energy needs to be redirected in a way that helps the student instead of hindering him. Gifted people can have all five of these energies but the first 3,intellectual, emotional and imaginational, will always be seen in all gifted people.
Building The Puzzle
Our job is to help gifted students understand, as soon as they come into school, that being gifted means that pieces of the puzzle go together differently. Because of that they will experience a world differently. It isn’t weird, it isn’t terrible, it isn’t awful, it’s just different. We want to help them understand who they are, instead of you always feeling like they don’t fit.
For a much more in depth explanation of all of these traits, as well as detailed guidance and resources for recognizing them and handling them in your students, visit TAGTonDemand.com/product/social-emotional-6-hour-core/.
This course will provide you with 6 of the 30-Hour training required to be certified as a gifted and talented teacher.