The Gifted Student

The Gifted Student
Your child is gifted. Congratulations! It's an awesome responsibility to parent a gifted child. So, what about high school? Check out boarding schools. They offer a rich array of resources and experience for teaching gifted children.

Oxford Languages defines gifted as "having exceptional talent or natural ability." You've been aware for a long time that your child is gifted. She reads several grade levels above her grade and is passionate about robotics. She socializes well, and is liked by her teachers and classmates. The problem is that your local public school doesn't have the resources to stretch her and allow her to achieve her full potential. So, you are looking at boarding schools as an option for expanding her intellectual horizons.

Signs of Giftedness in Children Include:

  • an extreme need for constant mental stimulation
  • an ability to learn and process complex information rapidly
  • a need to explore subjects in surprising depth
  • an insatiable curiosity, as demonstrated by endless questions and inquiries
  • ability to comprehend material several grade levels above their age peers
  • surprising emotional depth and sensitivity at a young age
  • enthusiastic about unique interests and topics
  • quirky or mature sense of humor
  • creative problem solving and imaginative expression
  • absorbs information quickly with few repetitions needed
  • self-aware, socially aware, and aware of global issues

Source: Davidson Institute

So, I can tell you as a parent of two gifted daughters, boarding school is an excellent option. We lived in rural Litchfield County, Connecticut. The local regional school system was very good but had limited resources. There was no internet in those days. So, we encouraged reading lots of books and added enrichment activities. But, again, we soon exhausted those scarce resources. Boarding school ended up being the most sensible option.

Furthermore, I can tell you that as the teacher of gifted students in a private school when we were living abroad, I faced constant challenges teaching gifted students. I had perhaps 12-15 students per class, but their gifts and interests were never uniform. The one constant was their ability to understand whatever I was teaching instantly.

Another reason the boarding school option works well for gifted children is that everything they need is available in one package. That's because boarding schools have skilled, experienced teachers and coaches and a curriculum with academic offerings not always found in our financially-challenged public schools today. In addition, she will have classmates who are probably just as gifted as your child. All of this will make for a happy, gifted child.

This video offers an interview with a gifted teen.

Things to check out

On your first contact with a school, ask about its approach to teaching gifted students. Confirm that it offers the courses and subjects you know that your child loves. In addition, note the extracurricular activities and athletics that will complement her academic studies. If you feel she could benefit from private lessons or coaching, find out if the school can facilitate that.

Discuss classroom strategies with the school and confirm that its approach suits your needs and requirements. Since boarding schools are stand-alone entities, each school's program and perspective will be unique.

Educational acceleration is one of the cornerstones of exemplary gifted education practices, with more research supporting this intervention than any other in the literature on gifted individuals. The practice of educational acceleration has long been used to match high-level students' general abilities and specific talents with optimal learning opportunities.

Source: National Association of Gifted Children - Gifted Education Strategies

In this video, Dr. Dan Peters discusses characteristics of gifted youth.

Make it her idea.

As we parents tend to do, you're probably worrying about whether your daughter will want to go off to boarding school. I don't recall that being an issue with our daughters because they realized what fantastic opportunities awaited them at a boarding school. In the 21st century, your daughter can explore schools' academic offerings virtually from the comfort of her smartphone or tablet. She can watch videos. She can view the photo galleries. She has many ways to find out about schools and get answers to her questions. So it should not be difficult to make attending a residential school her idea. That's important. Don't command your daughter—Marshall the facts. Make your case if you must. But get her to buy into the idea wholeheartedly.

Enable Gifted Students to Work Together

According to NAGC, research shows that enabling gifted students to work together in groups boosts their academic achievement and benefits other students in the classroom, as well. When gifted students work together, they challenge themselves in unexpected ways. They bounce ideas off one another and take a peer's idea to a new place. They also learn that as smart as they are, they, too, must exert effort with challenging content—and that they'll sometimes fail along the way.

Source: ASCD - Six Strategies for challenging gifted learners

Nurturing the Gifted Student

Just because your child is gifted doesn't mean she can be turned loose to do whatever she wants. Instead, she will excel and be able to explore the subjects about which she is passionate by working within a structured approach. Look for boarding schools that understand how to nurture and guide gifted students. Identify schools that will build on the foundation you have carefully laid during her childhood. Seek out teachers who will be her mentors. After all, it's all about shaping and guiding a young person so that she can confidently manage her adult life.

There should be no ceiling to your child's education. With the Young Scholars Program, there won't be. Our program is free to profoundly gifted students and their families and gives them the opportunity to connect and engage in a community that understands their needs. Source: The Davidson Institute

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

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