Gifted children are as different from each other as they are from the general population. So, it’s no wonder that it becomes so difficult for us to identify them and meet their needs. Their needs vary from child to child, making it impossible to create a definitive gifted curriculum.
How do we identify and meet the needs of our gifted children then?
First, we try to figure out what gifted children look like. Then, we determine whether we have a creatively gifted child, an academically gifted child, a cognitively gifted child, or a twice-exceptional child.
We’re going to explore the academically gifted child in this post… characteristics of academically gifted children, identifying the academically gifted child, and how to support that child.
Are you living with a child whom you think may be academically gifted? Let’s learn more together…
Characteristics of the Academically Gifted Child
- can memorize large quantities of information and apply it
- possesses advanced comprehension
- acquires skills rapidly
- has read widely to self-teach in an area
- high success in his preferred academic area
- pursues his interest with perseveration and enthusiasm
Do any of these apply to your child? Does it exhaust you? Yeah… me too. How can you be sure, though, that your child is gifted, and not just a really smart kid?
Identifying the Academically Gifted Child
If you’re the parent of an academically gifted child, you’re likely know that your child needs little repetition and can acquire new skills rapidly.
You can certainly have your child tested by a psychologist, school, or gifted resource center, but I encourage you to really think about your motivation for testing.
Figuring out what your academically gifted child already knows, finding materials that challenge him, and encouraging him to move forward in his learning is what’s most important. Maybe you could have him take unit tests for each of the curriculum areas you plan to work on with him in the coming year.
Whatever he demonstrates mastery of can be skipped.
Everything else gets taught and practiced, for only as long as he needs the repetition – whether that’s one day or several. Appreciating his ability, and allowing him to move forward as rapidly as he is able, will grow him into a confident learner who knows that he can learn anything he wants to, by simply reading about or experiencing it.
Remember, whether you pursue testing or not, you need to be your child’s advocate. You need to believe in him and champion his intellect. It’s always so much easier for outsiders to praise and celebrate athletes than it is for them to tell you how great your “smart kid” is. You need to keep your misunderstood gifted child’s self-esteem up and protect how he feels about himself.
And it will be an uphill battle.
Now that you’re sure that your child is academically gifted and needs more difficult challenges, what do you do?
Supporting the Academically Gifted Child
It seems like it would be easy to meet the needs of your academically gifted child, doesn’t it? And, in some ways, it is… It’s certainly a little easier to figure out what he needs than trying to meet the needs of your creatively gifted child.
But, it’s important to keep a few things in mind as you guide your bright child through his childhood. An academically gifted child can hyper-focus on the subject that he loves most. Encouraging your child to become a well-rounded adult can feel like you’re beating your head against a wall sometimes.
You need to be more creative in how you approach various subject areas.
Try to integrate subject areas with topics he already loves. Design an interest-based curriculum plan. Get your child involved in the planning of his own year. Pick resources that will tap into his interests and passions, while stretching his learning in new ways.
Branch out to find mentors, classes, or other opportunities to grow your academically gifted child’s mind. Here are some fun resources that might help you create your own interest-based units of study for your academically gifted child:
Whatever you do, remember to love that kiddo and meet his needs –academically and emotionally – in any way you can. He is a precious gift.
For more information about gifted kids, check out:
For more resources and tips for meeting the needs of your gifted child, you may want to follow the Raising Gifted Learners board on Pinterest:
What are some of your best tips for challenging and meeting the needs of your academically gifted child?