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3 Strategies for Supporting Gifted and Talented Students

While gifted and talented (G&T) students have many heightened skill sets and abilities, if not supported properly, they risk falling behind in school despite the lack of national attention compared to other student demographics.

One reason for this is the prevailing myth that G&T students should be able to excel on their own. According to the National Association for Gifted Children, the truth is that without proper support and guidance, these students can easily become bored and frustrated, leading to “low achievement, despondency, or unhealthy work habits.”

Below are three strategies you can implement in your classrooms to help G&T students reach their full potential.


1. Combat Perfectionism

While every student is different and has unique social and emotional needs, research shows that G&T students on average feel more isolated and are less sensitive to how their peers perceive them. Additionally, students may suffer from anxiety, social withdrawal, low self-esteem and excessive perfectionism. These negative emotions can feel magnified, especially if children feel like they are overwhelmed with expectations set by teachers or parents. 

According to the Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA), a nonprofit organization that focuses on supporting the academic needs and opportunities of gifted children, around 20% of gifted children suffer from perfectionism to the point where it causes problems.

A few tips recommended by the IEA to address this include:

  • Speaking to students honestly about your own mistakes and how these setbacks led to future success.
  • Promoting the importance of the process as opposed to the outcome of a particular project.
  • Help them find humor in mistakes and encourage them to not take mistakes so seriously.
  • Encourage them to remove the idea of “being perfect” from their identity.
  • Set limits and help them set boundaries on the amount of time they’re working on any one task or assignment.


2. Embrace Enrichment Opportunities

Incorporating enrichment opportunities has long represented a crucial cornerstone of effective G&T education. In a paper published in Education Sciences, researchers trace this national approach to as early as 1985, when researchers first began categorizing different types of enrichment based on their intended outcomes and use cases.

Today, there exist significantly more types of enrichment for students. As highlighted in the report, types that are of particular interest to G&T students include:

  • Strength-Based Learning Opportunities
    This strategy considers students’ academic strengths, interests and learning preferences to create activities that are both naturally appealing and designed to further develop their natural strengths and interests.
  • Critical/Creative Thinking and Problem Solving
    These learning opportunities are designed to provide students with opportunities to use critical and creative thinking and problem solving to interpret a challenge and then use open-ended thinking to produce multiple ideas and solutions.
  • Differentiated Instruction (Curriculum Compacting) Targeted to Student Needs
    In this approach, instructional and curricular modifications are made to meet the needs of students on an individual level to ensure that instruction and content are more challenging and advanced, as needed.


3. Consider Invention Education

One effective way to implement the above enrichment styles is through invention education, a hands-on pedagogy that challenges students to solve real-world problems by building invention prototypes.

With this strategy, not only do G&T students have the opportunity to pursue solutions that most interest them, but because such projects are open-ended in nature, they invite students to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In this way, invention education allows for naturally occurring differentiated instruction, giving students full autonomy as to how they want to solve a given problem or challenge.

In Florida’s Pinellas County School District, district officials partnered with the National Inventors Hall of Fame® to support their G&T students using our engaging invention education curricula. To learn more about their experience, we invite you to check out this blog!


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