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Why Are Gifted Students Different And What Does That Mean For Us As Educators

When someone says, “All of our students are gifted,” what they really mean is – “all of our students have gifts and talents.” All students are not gifted and cannot be gifted because giftedness relates to development. Gifted students have a different developmental pattern from average students. Try as hard as I can—I cannot change your pattern of development.

There are 4 domains of development: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional. In average and high achieving students, the 4 domains move at approximately the same rate.  The domains develop “in sync” with each other.

Not so for gifted students.

The domains seem to each develop individually in gifted students.

  • The physical domain may develop at a pace similar to an average student or even sometimes a little slower.
  • The cognitive domain develops at a much faster pace than the average student.
  • The social domain might develop at a similar or slower pace that an average student
  • The emotional domain develops faster that for an average student.

It’s the 5th grader who’s physically a 4th grader, emotionally a 6th grader, cognitively a 7th grader, and socially a 4th grader.

It’s like having 4 different people all living inside the gifted person at the same time. 

Gifted students often find themselves in a setting where they have no common interests with any of the students around them. The more developed cognitive area is why gifted learners are able to work with abstract concepts, whereas the normal and high achieving students prefer and need more concrete concepts.

As educators, it’s important to realize gifted and talented students are raw ore waiting to be refined into men and women who will one day make great contributions to society.

Sometimes we forget it’s our legal duty to find students who have the capability of high performance.  The law doesn’t say they are already high-performing when we find them. It’s says we need to find the students with the capability for high performance. Gifted students are like raw ore and we have 12 years to refine them.

That’s why it’s so important that our gifted programs provide settings where gifted students can grow and develop.

So what does a really good gifted program look like?

All you have to do is take a close look at your local high school football program.  Who else has

  • Specially trained teachers,
  • Working with specially trained kids,
  • Who don’t have to “wait in line”.
  • But are allowed accelerate and work at the level of their ability?

When coaches find a freshman who’s going to be a star quarterback, they don’t say, “I’m sorry, you can’t be the starting quarterback until you’re a senior, you’ll just have to wait on the bench for a while.”  NO! They say, “Awesome, we have him for 4 years!”

Wouldn’t it be great if every gifted and talented program were like our football programs!

Stay tuned for the next article in this series of Gifted & Talented, Nature & Needs.

This series is based on Joyce Juntune’s 6 Hour Training, Nature & Needs of Gifted Children.

For a limited time you can buy this course for only $60 ($30 off regular price). Buy Joyce Juntune’s 6 Hour Nature & Needs by clicking here or call (281) 560-3499.

The guided online course is designed to provide teachers with the tools to:

  1. Identify and understand gifted and talented students
  2. Learn the characteristics of gifted children and how to separate these from behaviors
  3. Discover the four different types of gifted
  4. Gain awareness of the danger of “underground” G/T students
  5. Understand what makes gifted students different from normal and high achieving students.
  6. Learn the 4 domains of development in students and how it applies to gifted students
  7. Why gifted programs are necessary in our districts and why we should model high school football programs
  8. Know the importance of differentiation even within the G/T classroom
  9. Discover the impact of a child’s environment and how it will influence their development

For Coordinators and Directors: Call (281) 560-3499 to speak with Jan for bulk purchases. Reflective questions and activities in the online course facilitate user engagement, and the learning management system provides built-in accountability and tracking.

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