What is Gifted Education?
Gifted education is simply an appropriate and challenging education which meets the atypical educational, social and emotional needs of our gifted children. It is an education which allows gifted students to learn something new every day, to be challenged and to move ahead at their own pace. Gifted education programs, along with specially trained gifted education teachers, provide a environment where gifted children can engage in learning, develop academically and thrive. An appropriate gifted education program is the only way to provide gifted children the education they require—anything less is failing our gifted children. Gifted education is not elite education. Star athletes are not benched until everyone else catches up. Students do not take turns being class president. Friends are not redistributed from popular kids to outcasts. In contrast, gifted students often do not receive academic stimulation until the rest of the class catches up, are not called on when they know the answer, and asked to mentor students who are behind.
- Reasons Gifted Education Is Necessary:
- Gifted children require a more challenging education
The advanced cognitive abilities of a gifted child help them grasp new information quicker with fewer repetitions than their same-age peers. The material must be appropriately aligned and paced to the child. When much of the material is review or the pace is too slow, the students do not learn as much as they should or could. They do not acquire necessary skills in how to study, how to learn, and how to work hard to achieve a goal. Not having those skills will harm them in their careers and lives. According to The Marland Report on gifted children in 1972, “because the majority of gifted children’s school adjustment problems occur between kindergarten and fourth grade, about half of gifted children became ‘mental dropouts’ at around 10 years of age.”
If a gifted child is expected to sit and listen to instruction on single-digit addition when they have already grasped 2digit multiplication (and this scenario repeats itself over and over in the regular classroom), frustration and boredom set in and eventually gifted children disengage from their education, develop behavior problems in class or drop out of school completely.
- Gifted education can provide specially-trained teachers who understand the unique needs of gifted children
Many regular education teachers only understand the stereotypical gifted child who excels in school, is well-behaved and is a natural leader. We know this is not often the case. Too often, boredom is misinterpreted as ADHD, misbehavior is labeled as a behavior disorder, and disengagement from learning is viewed as lazy, careless or disorganized. When specially-trained gifted education teachers who understand and can provide the educational, social and emotional environment gifted children need, then gifted children have the opportunity to fulﬁll their potential and thrive in school.
- Gifted children need to socialize with like-minded peers
Gifted children have intellectual interests that rarely coincide with their peers and they may ﬁnd themselves as social outsiders among the majority of typical students. Gifted children often learn at a young age that they just don’t ﬁt in and ﬁnding a like-minded friend is often very difﬁcult. Gifted education programs provide a social environment where gifted children can socialize with each other and be a part of a group where they feel they belong and ﬁt in.
The very essence of education is to educate our children so that they can fulﬁll their potential. Knowing that gifted children have speciﬁc academic, social and emotional needs quite different from their more typical same-age peers, how can we not provide these children an educational environment which meets those needs?
In The Explore School House, students are taught based on their ability levels and not based on their chronological ages. Each child will have his/her own Personal Development Plan. Due to such high customization, the teacher to child ratio is kept at a low 1:10. The curriculum materials used are specially designed for the gifted and highly talented to encourage critical thinking. Our teachers are trained and have experience working with gifted students. We believe it takes a village to nurture our students’ gifts and interests. Thus, we partner with the professionals in each area to work with our students (for example, we have professionals from Singapore Symphony Orchestra to help our students who are talented in music). We believe in making education relevant to the students, thus ﬁeld trips and honored guests visits are an essential part of the student’s experience here in The Explore School House.
About the Author
Yee-Wuen has been developing new business opportunities for Hewlett-Packard, Nokia and Microsoft across the globe. She has always believed that education should be nurturing the love of learning and every child should be allowed to explore their interests. While trying to support her gifted son, Yee-Wuen has been reading up on the different education systems, visiting different schools and interviewing educators, attending gifted conferences and workshops. The Explore School House was the fruit of 4 years of due diligence, her lifelong interest in education and her business development skill sets.