I recently conducted a three day course at the University of NSW as part of their GERRIC program, specifically designed for gifted and talented students. As part of my preparation for the course I did some further reading around giftedness in children. As an educator (and also as a parent of two young children), I found it fascinating to read about how to effectively nurture, lead and help develop skills and abilities in gifted children.
Here are 9 key principles I gleaned from my reading. These principles will help you as an educator and/or as a parent with your gifted child/student:
1) Be intentionally observant
To effectively identify and support the gifted student, parents and educators must heighten their observation of what the student is doing, thinking, engaging with and asking questions about. Children exhibit so many talents and capabilities and if we are to effectively teach and support them then we must be intentionally observant.
2) Be incredibly curious
Excellent educators and caregivers of gifted students adopt a curious attitude. Refrain from making quick and rash assessments and instead choose curiosity over judgment. As you intentionally observe the gifted student, keep an open mind and be interested and engaged. Ask ‘Why?’, and, ‘In what way?’, and, ‘Tell me more about that’.
3) Be an engaged co-learner
Parents and educators of gifted children actually do the journey of learning with the child. Be an interested, observant, curious co-learner. Model curiosity and interest and become involved in the investigative process.
4) Interact thoughtfully
One-to-one interaction is important for every child, and especially the gifted child. Be aware of what the child is interested in and engaged with and respond appropriately.
5) Provide rich and varied learning experiences
Gifted students respond best to rich and varied learning experiences. Provide opportunities, resources and environments for these students to engage with and learn from. Encourage the students to utilize their knowledge rather this to simply acquire it.
6) Choose appropriate teaching strategies
Gifted children need significant adults (parents/caregivers and educators) to focus on facilitating learning rather than directing learning. The gifted child needs many opportunities to discover learning and learning processes for themselves, rather than having it all ‘spelled out’ for them. Here’s the key: facilitate, guide and challenge rather than demonstrate, direct and instruct.
7) Build meaningful partnerships
To facilitate the growth and nurturing of the gifted child, parents and teachers must intentionally build meaningful partnerships with each other. Information needs to be shared in a spirit of co-operation rather than confrontation. Parents must seek to give help and suggestions rather than advice and correction. Educators must listen to what parents say. This meaningful partnership between parent and educator is essential.
8) Keep detailed records
Detailed, anecdotal records of the student’s progress, even from a very early age, are an important part of identification of giftedness as well as the nurturing of that giftedness. Parents and teachers are encouraged to keep carefully dated and detailed records of the child’s learning, behaviour, interests, drawings, writing, and language and speech development. This can be in various forms such as written notes, photographs and videos. Document, document, document the child’s learning, experiences and progress.
9) Be generous with encouragement.
Everyone responds to encouragement. Every child deserves praise and positive feedback. Be generous with your words and build esteem into your each child. (Need some ideas? Download your own copy of 100 Ways To Praise A Child).
This week, use these 9 principles to help engage and develop your gifted child/student.
Enjoy the journey,
And more importantly, enjoy the moments.