What type of education do gifted children need?

My child is bored at school and doesn't want to go. I'd like to be able to help get the best possible education for this child to avoid having a turned-off difficult adolescent in the near future.

Expert answer

Ideally for the gifted I would want schooling that includes the appropriate mix of ability grouping, acceleration strategies and differentiated extension. We need mental age peers to relate to, not chronological age peers, so keeping gifted children in regular classrooms may inadvertently isolate them. Acceleration is the single best strategy for gifted children (in its many forms). See http://nationdeceived.org/ (A Nation Deceived)

Unfortunately there is very little government funding for educating gifted children, but I think concentrating on ability is a very positive approach to educating the child. All schools can access gifted education training if they are interested. Your child will need to spend most of the time at school with teachers who respect and appreciate him/her.

If you know your child's ability levels, learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, you may be able to negotiate with a willing school to meet the child's needs. Differentiating the curriculum will necessitate a focus on higher order critical and creative thinking skills. See the top levels of Bloom's taxonomy. Problem finding and solving could form the basis of projects. S/he will need qualitatively different work - the greater depth and complexity described in C. June Maker's work - modification of content, product, process and environment.

Like other areas of special needs the gifted need to be identified early. They need access to good teaching, based on empirical research, so that they are challenged, go further and faster, can spark off peers, don't get lazy and lost. We see too much unrealised potential to be persuaded by social arguments that children of a certain age must stay with their age peers. It's possible that most gifted children are underachievers from day one at school.

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