Teachers are responsible for teaching children with a wide range of intellectual abilities in the classroom. Teachers therefore generally direct their efforts towards reaching children with average abilities, with the expectation that gifted children will not need special attention.
Gifted children are not always well received in the classroom because they may question the teacher continuously, or act out when they are under-stimulated and thus frustrated.
Gifted children are rarely recognized by their classmates in a purely positive light. They are often viewed, appropriately, as different from the norm or even “weird.”
They don’t always fit in with their classmates and may have difficulty making friends. Over time, this exclusion and emotional rejection can be quite difficult.
Gifted children frequently develop coping strategies to camouflage their differences to try and fit in. This coping strategy can undermine their aspirations and impede their development. Fortunate gifted children find other children who are like themselves. Others withdraw into books, video games, and other solitary pursuits. Still others fight back, which can lead to behaviour problems.
Feelings of alienation that are seeded in the early years can haunt gifted children over their lifespan. Gifted children are most in need of recognition for their abilities and their differences to develop a positive sense of self. Without support, gifted children are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and behaviour problems as they mature.
The needs of gifted children are different from what is provided to the average student in real world classrooms. Without recognition of their unique needs, a gifted child’s abilities can remain underdeveloped and their differences can become a source a shame.
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Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta