Understanding Gifted Learners

There are many different ways that a person can be a gifted learner and they require a unique understanding in order for parents and teachers to provide the structure, challenges, and assessments more appropriate to gifted learners. Being a gifted learner does not always mean getting good grades, especially when the student is misunderstood or is not being challenged adequately. Observation, variety, and dialog are critical factors in understanding gifted learners.

Observation

Teachers and parents can use observation to better understand a gifted learner. Using active observation helps parents and teachers recognize areas of strength and weakness in all children. Everyone has areas in which they are strong and other areas in which they are weak. Noting those skills and subjects that come more easily can help create challenging academic environments that support and encourage gifted learners. In the same way, areas of weakness and difficulty can also be better addressed.

Variety

No one is good at everything. By providing a rich learning experience with a wide variety of learning experiences, assessment tools, and avenues of exploration, parents and teachers can better understand how a gifted learner processes information and comes up with solutions. Surprisingly, many gifted learners may appear slow or unwilling to follow the more traditional methods of learning. A student gifted with mathematical talent, for example, may find traditional methods too tedious to be useful. Allowing gifted learners to use a variety of learning and testing methods challenges them to explore new avenues of thought, new areas of potential expertise, and to discover limits that may note have been discovered in a more traditional situation. 

Dialog

Gifted learners can help their teachers understand how they learn and think when there is an open dialog between teacher and student. Asking gifted learners how they reached a conclusion challenges them to better understand themselves, as well. Open dialog can also be used in small and large group learning experiences to provide all learners with a broader understanding of the many different ways a problem can be approached and solved.

Rather than stifling a gifted learner with traditional learning experiences, parents and teachers can use information gathered through observation to create a variety of lessons that allow gifted students to better understand themselves. These methods also work to prevent one of the most common faults of gifted learners: the inability to follow through when they are faced with something that is difficult for them. While the average or below average learner is accustomed to applying themselves to the learning process, gifted learners are unfamiliar with this skill, since so many things come easily to them.

Gifted learners are unique in that they can better learn to challenge themselves, given the proper learning environment.