Social & Emotional Needs of the Gifted,
Adults and Children
by Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.
needs do not vary from one individual to another; the ways to
meet those needs, however, varies from one person to another. All of us
need love and acceptance, and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It is
my goal to help people understand how high intellectual functioning
affects children and their development.
believe that once parents, teachers, and others who have influences
over children’s lives know what these bright children need in order to
flourish and become emotionally healthy, fulfilled, productive adults,
they will gladly give it.
terms including “able learners,” “academically advanced,” “bright,” and
so on. The term “gifted” implies that the person thus “blessed” was
given special intellectual tools.
must earn the gift through hard work, accomplishment, and good
attitude. Many people view high intelligence with a mixture of fear,
interest, admiration, resentment, contempt, suspicion, and
of us are familiar with the sometimes rather delighted observation,
“Even though he was really smart as a kid, he hasn’t amounted to
believe many gifted people spend much of their remaining life trying to
recreate this positive feedback and wondering what they are doing wrong.
unhealthy to pretend there is nothing wrong or different, that we don’t
notice these differences. It is certainly preferable to try to address
and talk about the impact it can and does have on the individual’s
the adult can guide the child to problem-solve ways to cope and adjust,
work on how to play up strengths and positives, and move on from there.
Winebrenner specializes in meeting the needs of gifted learners in the
inclusion classroom through a combination of curriculum compacting,,
differentiating, pre-testing and individual lessons and projects.
gives many examples and samples and tries to make it sound like do-able
fun. I used to teach this way, and it was challenging, fun, and
rewarding. It takes lots of organization, follow-through, time, and
must convince teachers that some children really do need special
attention before they will go to that much effort.
bottom line statistic when all the research is pooled indicates that
there is no harm to anyone in either self-esteem or achievement. When
schools go from heterogeneous to ability-grouped instruction, the kids
in the slower two-thirds show slight achievement gains, and they show
slight to no increase in academic attitude and self-esteem.
the grouped highest third reacts depends on what they receive by way of
instruction. If the curriculum content and delivery are not modified to
meet the ability levels of the students, the achievement gain is
appropriately paced and challenging material is presented, high ability
grouped students make significant gains over their comparably gifted,
non-grouped peers. Their self-esteem scores take a slight initial dip,
but recover as the students adjust to the challenge.
can cluster or group among themselves at grade level. Kids can be sent
to higher or lower grades for instruction with other children who are
working at a similar instructional level.
primary advantage of grouping over compacting and differentiating is
that it is less work for the teacher. It takes less time and
grade level team divides the children into ability groups for a
particular subject, each teacher plans for just one level.
Differentiation and individualizing can still take place within that
group if the teacher feels the need and chooses to do so.
children have less reason to exhibit their impatience and lack of tact
with the poor readers and slower learners. A big problem with
non-ability grouped classes is the lack of tolerance the brightest kids
seem to show for the least able learners.
young gifted children who have not had the time to learn about and
understand these differences, it is natural that their responses and
observations would appear insensitive and rude.
they wonder, “am I not supposed to notice when so-and-so reads worse
than I did when I was in preschool, and the teacher tells him, ‘very,
good, Johnny,’ and tells me to be quiet?”
gifted children do not yet see the big picture, and sometimes we make
it very hard for them indeed. In an ability grouped classroom we can
more easily give the gifted child that positive feedback all human
beings crave, without worrying about hurting someone else’s feelings or
treating the gifted child as a pet student.
these two or three children are spread out across the grade level and
need to be either assigned to the same teacher or brought together
periodically during the day for instruction together.
are the children who are more than moderately gifted. I must add here
that there really are some rare individuals who won’t even fit in a
grade level cluster, especially in elementary school.
reading and comprehension skills, and sometimes mathematics reasoning
abilities, so far outpace other children that the early school years
can be quite painful for the child, the parents, and the teachers.
parents, themselves survivors of a difficult gifted childhood, are
thrilled to be developing such a close, wonderful relationship with
their child. Danger.
is more damaging for the child than the adult. When you talk to your
child the way you would a friend, you violate adult-child boundaries.
child can take on a peer or even spousal position. This robs the child
of his childhood. Gifted children are often so eager to please and to
accept responsibility that it is difficult for the parent to see this
long-range damage includes eventual adult relationship problems for the
grown child as well as an inability to separate from parents in a
healthy emotional sense. What do you do instead?
an outside social life. Family activities are good, activities with
just the parent and the child are good, but encourage and facilitate
friendships and activities for your children. Guide your children
toward involvement in sports, lessons, music, classes at the zoo or
museum, scouts, church or synagogue activities.
it clear to your children that although they are an important part of
your life, you have important parts of your life that do not include
them. Encourage them to do the same. Then, most important, believe it
yourself and act on it.
him budget his time for activities, chores, homework, play. When he
budgets that time poorly, follow up as quickly as possible. “You didn’t
leave time before school to make your bed. You’ll have to come straight
home from school to do it before you go out to play” (...or have your
snack, or play computer, etc.).
the most brilliant person needs love, companionship, and relationships.
Be sure to teach your child how to function accordingly. Paying other
people to do things for us is not fulfilling and does not create
matter how successful your child may eventually be, he will be
well-prepared if he knows how to get down to basics and take care of
himself and others personally.
not necessary or advisable to make the gifted child bring deficient
areas up to her best talent areas, unless the deficient area is below
an age-appropriate level. Legible handwriting is important.
directions is necessary in life. If your child resists certain
activities, ask yourself why you care. Is the activity something your
child really needs, or simply something you want for some reason?
believe it’s reasonable to tell a non-athletic child that physical
fitness is important. You may reasonably insist that your child
brainstorm physical activities with you and select from the list.
a frequency schedule and have the child help decide her schedule.
Gifted children respond well to research results, facts, and
statistics. Use them to guide the child into activities you know are
important, i.e., fresh air, sunshine, exercise, or challenging reading
to develop denser dendritic connections.
careful not to overdo it or let your child overdo it. We grow and gain
maturity during our alone time, our down times. It is when we get to
that behavior yourself. If you are over-busy, you are sacrificing your
own growth. Psychologists say that chronically tired, over-busy people
are running away from self-examination.
Take the time to integrate all that you are learning into the person you are constantly becoming. That may be the greatest gift you can give your gifted child. Have a good time.
Options to provide accurate information regarding intelligence,
what it is, where it comes from, and how our family, school,
relationship and workplace environments either nurture or stifle its
someone is highly intelligent – different from the majority in
thoughts, expression, and interest – the wrong environment can lead to
confusion, sadness, and underachievement. My continuing purpose is to
open the eyes and awareness of adults in ways that will benefit them
and the children under their care."
Estimates of Levels of Gifted Online Assessment on her site.
Article published here courtesy of the author.
Also see more articles
by Deborah L. Ruf.
Some related pages :
High Ability - gifted/talented articles
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