Having a gifted child is a walk in the park, isn’t it? Not necessarily - parents of gifted children can find themselves struggling when it comes to finding activities to do at home (and beyond). Read our ideas and tips for activities for highly capable children.
Is being gifted a problem?
Parents of gifted children often encounter problems when talking to others, including teachers, about their child's abilities. People don’t tend to offer much sympathy when you’re finding parenting challenging, and you may have heard something along the lines of “How can you complain when your child is super smart?” 😠
Being gifted, in itself, is not the problem - but being a high achiever can cause issues for a child and their family. Like racehorses, gifted children are often under the same limitations as thoroughbreds🏇, forced to stand still behind the start line. And their parents… well, they’re the ones desperately trying to hold on to the reins!
Mensa considers the top 2% of the population to be ‘gifted’. Above-average intelligence is indeed a gift, but it brings with it a series of challenges. The biggest one is - how do you help gifted children to make the most of their talents?
Just because a child has high potential, it doesn’t mean they’ll always get top marks in the classroom. This is because they can lose interest and get bored easily. They can also become anxious and impatient and refuse to go to school. ❌
This is something all parents would like to prevent, so let’s look at how to keep a gifted child busy with engaging and stimulating activities.
Schools for gifted children
Let's start with the fundamental question. Are there schools for students with above-average cognitive skills that can offer the necessary stimuli for a gifted children and help them progress at a pace that suits them? 🚀 The answer is yes, but that may not always be the best solution. A successful school experience is often the result of personalised and inclusive teaching.
That is, parents, teachers and support staff must work together. A gifted student should be the focus of a tailor-made, inclusive educational path that allows them to reach their full potential. The key to this is recognition of their skills and any other associated learning differences that they may have - as many gifted children are dual or multiple exceptional (DME). This means that, along with their exceptional intelligence, they also have special educational needs such as ADHD, dyslexia, or autism spectrum disorders.
A gifted child should:
- have a personalised educational path
- have different learning goals
- be allowed to do different activities during classroom hours
- have supplementary or different homework assigned
- have the opportunity to attend a higher-level class
Activities for gifted children at school
Teachers who have experience working with gifted students will be able to build a learning path that allows a child with high potential to both express and explores their cognitive abilities, while also addressing their social needs. 👥
Here are some examples of activities that a gifted child can do at school:
- Cooperative learning: they can work in a group with others and make an important contribution to the success of a project or task
- Tutoring: the child can be involved in explaining activities and concepts that they already understand to the class
- Small challenges: if a child is particularly good at a subject, they will be able to take on extra tasks and challenges set by the teacher
It’s often a worry that a child with high potential will become big-headed, but it’s rarely the case. If anything, the greater risk is that their enthusiasm and desire to learn will dry up due to lack of stimulation.
A gifted child needs to be challenged regularly, experience a range of activities and deepen their knowledge of subjects that they are passionate about. They also need to be creative in their work and have the opportunity to ask questions.
Activities for gifted children: some ideas
Are you struggling to keep your gifted child busy? Here are some ideas to inspire you!
Activities for gifted children: exhibitions, museums, fairs
Learning outside the classroom is the ideal way to increase your subject knowledge. One great activity that provides learning opportunities for a gifted child is a trip to a museum, an aquarium or an exhibition. Try to exploit their free time in a constructive way to keep their brilliant minds busy. 🧠
Activities for gifted children: research and insights
This advice is especially useful for children attending primary school. If you don't know how to keep your child busy when they’re not at school, ask them to do research into a topic they are passionate about. They could even present it to you and host a mini Q&A session for the family! Give them a special folder to store their work once it’s done. 🔍
Activities for gifted children: games and video games (also online learning)
Modern technology offers a range of fantastic opportunities for gifted children. They can explore their thirst for knowledge and understanding through the use of video games and online software - and also by simply surfing the web. Of course, you’ll need to watch over them and make sure you have the appropriate parental controls in place - but the computer could prove to be a fantastically in satisfying their thirst for knowledge.🎮
Activities for gifted children: free time
It’s counterproductive to fill every minute of a gifted child’s free time with learning activities. They will always need time for themselves, whether it’s playing with Lego, reading, drawing, or computer programming. Their abilities shouldn’t impose on them having free time for their favourite activities. A gifted child, like any child, needs time to themselves. 😊