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Gifted Students Don’t Need Help, Right? Wrong.

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One all-too-common misconception about gifted education is that students don’t need special help in the classroom. I’m sure many of us have heard it said that “they’re so smart, they’ll be fine.” Far too often gifted students left with “extra” time after finishing assignments early are utilized as teaching assistants, consuming valuable learning time which can be far better spent on learning new material, exploring further concepts related to mastered material, and the like.

Similarly, gifted students are often asked to read ahead, go on to the next chapter, or do something else of that nature without instructional guidance. While accelerating is a wonderful strategy, to not offer guidance for even the most brilliant students is a great disservice. Many gifted students work well independently, and independent work is an important component for gifted learning but gifted students benefit greatly, as everyone does, from guidance. It may be helpful to consider gifted students as outstanding athletes. While the best playground athlete may be able to dominate unorganized games against casual opponents, they need coaches and trainers to improve and raise their game. While gifted students have unlimited potential, they need guides, mentors, and coaches to recognize their potential and help maximize it. They need someone to help shape their skills and talents.

We’d love to hear your perspectives on experiences you may have had in similar situations. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

All the best,

Kevin Wickersham
Academic Director, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)
National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)

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