In our GoStudent expert talks we speak to experts in the field of education! Find out more on real-life insights from leaders in the ed-industry. 🚀
In the previous article of this two-part series, our experts explained the four common struggles of high achieving students. These struggles can often emerge as a result of particular parenting styles.
What are the mistakes parents of gifted students make?
Pressure to perform
Often, gifted students have accelerated growth in one particular subject or talent area but can struggle with other subjects and skills.
A common mistake Colm O’Reilly, director of the centre of talented youth at The Dublin City University, has observed is that parents “push” students to do better in those weaker areas “instead of first supporting their advanced growth in the talented field.”
O’Reilly explains that parents often do this in the hope of restoring “balance” in students’ lives. Though he feels that it ends up “pressurizing them” and proves detrimental for student mental health. 🤯
Perfectionism is a common trait of gifted students but if not regulated it can be harmful for them.
O’Reilly has noticed that as “brilliance is expected” of high performing students, when a child scores 98% in their exam, parents and teachers often seem to be more concerned about where they lost the 2%! Whereas if they do get that full 100% it is only then that parents express approval.
For O’Reilly this sort of behaviour from parents is “dangerous” for students.
🔥 Expert Tip : “Children need praise and feedback on the effort they make,”says O’Reilly. “As if parents don’t do that then children will associate the feeling of being liked [and appreciated] by the scores they receive.”
This is what often makes students perfectionists to the point that without which they don’t find happiness in learning or in life! 😕
Students with high learning potential can grasp lessons far faster than their peers. Which means they are often left with more free time in the classroom and at home. O’Reilly has noticed that to fill in this time parents often overload gifted students with additional homework! 📚
🔥 Expert Tip : “Doing this only keeps gifted students busy for a while,” says O’Reilly. “But it does not help them excel in their talent or get more curious about their subject.”
Ways of engaging high performing students
Staying informed & communicating
🔥 Expert Tip : “Parents need to know as much as they can about the abilities of their [gifted] child,” says Rebecca Howell, senior education consultant at Potential Plus UK. “They can find this information through teachers, educational psychologists and relevant assessment tests.”
Howell also encourages parents to communicate their gifted child’s struggles – whether academic, social or emotional to teachers, so they can come up with solutions for it.
Create opportunities for interests
🔥 Expert Tip : “Parents need to help gifted children pursue their interests,” says O’Reilly. “As when parents think something is important, learning becomes more motivating for kids.”
Whether that is through books, documentaries, museums or concerts, there is a wide variety of mediums through which students can have an “advanced exposure” to their talent area.
Enrolment in special programmes
If a gifted student is interested in aeronautics, it is very unlikely that regular teachers at his or her school will be able to answer questions on the intricate working of an aeroplane! ✈️
In fact, to keep up with the pace of the class, the teacher might also discourage high performing students from asking complex questions. This can be disheartening for high performing students.
🔥 Expert Tip : “Regular school often lacks the academic stimulus needed for [gifted] children,” says O'Reilly. “Parents must enroll them in out of school programs especially designed for them.”
O'Reilly feels that such special programmes, which can also be in the form of beneficial summer schools, offer gifted students access to “experts” who have “practical knowledge” in the field of their advanced interest.
So such programmes give high performance students an atmosphere where they are fully understood and encouraged by their educators. 💪
Gifted students can also feel isolated from classmates at their regular school because of the gap between their intellectual levels.
So special programmes give gifted students an opportunity to interact with like-minded peers, without pushing them in a mature college space. It is in these peer groups that students will further find more learning stimulation.
Moreover, by making like-minded friends students will be able to develop their emotional intelligence, cultivate meaningful friendships and build self-confidence. All of which will help them prepare for future careers!
🔥 Expert Tip : “The social development of gifted students should not be underestimated,” says O'Reilly. “As they will need a job, where they will have to work in collaboration with other people.” 🤝
Howell suggests signing up high performance students for challenging extracurriculars like martial arts, horse-riding, music lessons and even board games that can impart thinking skills.
🔥 Expert Tip : “Such extra-curricular activities can give gifted students challenging learning experiences that are not pushing them further ahead in their schoolwork,” says Howell.
Learning in regular schools is designed for age and not ability. So gifted students need additional academic stimulus which they can get from tutoring support.
🔥 Expert Tip : “Get tutoring support on subjects beyond the curriculum. For example if your child excels in maths let him or her learn how to code through tutoring,” says Howell. “This way it does not encroach on what is happening in the classroom.”