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How to Make The Most of Waiting in Gifted Education

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waitingAt this time of year, many of us spend our time waiting for one holiday or another to arrive. In fact, if you think about it, most of us spend much of our lives waiting for something. Waiting involves two things: something to wait for and a period of time to wait for it. We all spend time waiting—in a doctor’s office, at long red lights, in store checkout lines, or maybe for the cable technician. Smart phones have provided ample fodder for passing that wait time—handling emails, viewing entertainment, keeping up with social media, and so on, but it can still be annoying to feel that we are wasting valuable time that could be more constructively spent in tasks we purposefully design.

Gifted students spend a great deal of time waiting during their educational years. They wait for that challenging question they can’t answer, that new curriculum content they don’t already know, that opportunity to discover which field of study will ignite their passion to pursue in a career, etc.

If you are an educator, employ wait time in the way it can be helpful—allowing thinking time after high level questioning so that students are forced to think and so that all students are engaged in thinking about the question—not just the first student who raises her hand. Don’t make gifted students wait for appropriate learning opportunities; find out what they are interested in; find out what they already know, and then don’t waste their time asking them to re-learn it. Give them independence in directing their own learning so their time is spent pursuing topics of interest to them.

Students, learn strategies to help you use wait time constructively, should you not be able to avoid it. Keep a journal of questions that you are curious about and use found time to think about them. Have problems ready that you want to tackle and research so that when given the opportunity you are ready with your ideas. Ask your teachers to allow you to use time that you feel is otherwise wasted doing different tasks that challenge and fascinate you. If you need help in achieving that goal, seek out a counselor, parent, or administrator for assistance.

Time is often the most valuable gift we can give our gifted students so that every moment counts, is meaningful, and help keep students fully present and focused in positive ways. Let’s give highly capable students something worth waiting for and then and make the wait very short!

All the best,

Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
CEO, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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