Helping Gifted Middle School Students Thrive

gtchat 08162016 Middle School Gifted

Ah … middle school – the transitional years between elementary school and high school fraught with new challenges to executive functioning, hormones, bullying and personal freedoms. It is stressful for all who pass through its halls. Middle school challenges go well beyond academics and into a vast array of social-emotional issues. For some middle school gifted students, it can mean dealing with heightened sensitivity, introversion and asynchronous development.

“According to Roeper, Middle School is when many GT girls go underground in a search for peer acceptance.” ~ Lisa Van Gemert

Dr. Gail Post also pointed to “existential depression, disappointment with authority,  and loss of interest in school; and identity formation – are they cool or a nerd?” as problematic for gifted students in middle school. Students are introduced to cooperative learning, peer tutoring, and a shift away from ability grouping; potentially detrimental to GT students.

What role do executive functioning (EF) skills play in middle school? It is a time of juggling schedules, meeting deadlines, and multi-tasking; all dependent on EF. Students are expected to exhibit emotional control and interact appropriately with age-peers.

There are advanced learning opportunities which could enhance the middle school experience for gifted students. MS GT students could benefit from cluster grouping, acceleration & STEM programming plus social emotional counseling. Mentoring, competitions, talent searches, field trips could all be considered at the MS level.

What are some practical strategies teachers can use to help gifted middle schoolers thrive socially and emotionally? Counselors and teachers should teach their students interpersonal and organizational skills. Educators need to seek professional development related to the needs of GT students so they can meet unique needs of individual students. Teachers can encourage these students to find their passion and get involved in extracurricular activities of choice. Counselors can help students develop strategies for dealing with stress: finding a confidant, exercise, hobbies.

Parents can also help their children thrive during the middle school years. They can consider available summer and Saturday enrichment opportunities as well as  provide a supportive and safe environment at home where kids feel comfortable confiding in their parents.

Excellent perspectives on middle school and gifted students were shared by both educators and parents. We invite you to take a look at the transcript of this chat which may be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Caught in Middle: How to Help Gifted Children Survive Middle School Years

Educational Opportunities for Gifted Middle School Students (pdf) VA Dept of Ed

Status of Middle School Gifted Programs 2013 (pdf)

Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School: Tips for Parents of Gifted Students

The War Against Excellence: The Rising Tide of Mediocrity in America’s Middle Schools (pdf)

The War against Excellence: The Rising Tide of Mediocrity in America’s Middle Schools (Amazon)

Middle School Programs for Gifted Students (pdf)

Ramblings of a Gifted Teacher: Hoodies, Headphones & Axe Spray

Edmonds SD Highly Capable & Gifted Programs: Grade 7-8 Middle School Options

Serving Middle School Gifted Learners

Gifted MS Students Transitioning to HS: How One Teacher Helped His Students Feel Less Anxious (pdf)

Tips for Teaching Gifted Students

5 Gifted & Talented Program Ideas for Middle School

Reversing the Underachievement of Gifted Middle School Students (pdf)

Thriving in Middle School: Strategies for Gifted Students with Executive Function Deficits

Strategies to Address Weak Executive Functioning Skills (pdf)

Tips for Parents: Executive Functioning at Home and School

Preparing for Their Future: Parenting Gifted Teens & Tweens (Blog Hop)

Mo. District Pilots Gifted Education Middle School: Gifted School Takes Root in Ferguson-Florissant

The Effects of an Affective Curriculum on Perfectionism and Coping in Gifted Middle School Students (download)

Cybraryman’s Study Skills and Organization Page

Cybraryman’s Community-Based Service Learning Page

Build on Strengths: Teaching the Twice-Exceptional (2e) Child

Photos courtesy of Pixabay   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Posted on August 23, 2016, in gifted and talented. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: