Educating the Profoundly Gifted
Why should society care about the education of profoundly gifted children? The Big Picture: PG children are a relatively small population with an enormous potential to benefit society at large. Yet they are often marginalized by educational leaders committed to sustaining averages. It’s a common refrain that ‘all children are gifted’; all deserve to have their needs met. In reality, PG children, as a group, rarely have their needs addressed let alone met. These kids have no reason to contribute to a society who ignores them. Society loves to tell children to ‘be your best’; fulfill your potential. Yet, at the same time, is comfortable with limiting resources to help them do just that.
Profound giftedness is evidenced early in life; as infants, they are unusually alert with sustained attention spans. Profoundly gifted children show early language and motor skills development with almost half displaying ambidextrous ability. Parents have reported engaging in extraordinary conversations with very young children. In particular, profoundly gifted children are early readers who easily comprehend what they read. Most are reading before the age of 4 and many are self-taught. (Hollingworth/Gross/Morelock/Silverman,et.al.)
Biological needs for a profoundly gifted child are usually out of synch with their intellectual abilities which can cause specific developmental needs. The term ‘asynchronous development’, or ‘many ages at once’, was coined to describe this situation. It can be extremely disturbing to an unidentified child or child who isn’t informed of their giftedness; to realize you are different from your age-mates, but not know why. Profoundly gifted children are still kids. They may have different interests from their friends and perceive the world in different ways, but not possess the maturity to cope with their abilities.
What about testing a PG child – when and how? The determination of when and how to test a child is more subjective than many understand; individual circumstances and the reason for testing should be taken into consideration. Generally, between the ages of 5 and 8 is a good starting place. Testing very young children (<4) is not recommended. Basic childhood needs will affect the test results … fatigue, hunger, lack of familiarity with the tester, etc. Necessity is often the best indicator … kindergarten or gifted program placement, selecting a school, or need for acceleration.
Educating PG children can be challenging. PG children have significantly greater needs than HG and gifted children. Many schools may only see these students in rare instances; if at all. A teacher may encounter one once in a lifetime. Where differentiation of the curriculum & weekly enrichment may benefit gifted students; it will not suffice the PG. A 4 year old who is reading, writing and comprehending high-level math may need highly-trained teachers or radical acceleration. PG students may require early entrance (K/college), mentoring, acceleration, self-paced and individualized programs, out-of-school enrichment, or self-contained gifted classrooms. Flexibility is key as needs change quickly as a child matures.
What challenges do parents face when seeking an appropriate education for their PG child? Parents of PG kids must be immersed in advocacy procedures and be prepared to document their child’s abilities. They need to be aware that they may need to be forceful advocates even when their child is quite young. Parenting PG children can be very expensive and beyond many parents’ means. Parents may need to be creative and resourceful when providing enrichment and educational opportunities for their children. Financial assistance can be complicated. Parents of PG kids may be overwhelmed at first, but latter appreciate their child’s abilities as they grow and mature. It’s important to remember they are so much more than simply their intellect. A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZST/Noon AEST/1 AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Children above 180 IQ Stanford-Binet (1942 Hollingsworth free ebook)
“Mellow Out,” They Say. If I Only Could (book excerpt – pdf)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.