The Knox School of Santa Barbara
Eight Truths about Bright Kids that Parents and Educators Should Know
By Maria Blackburn
Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
Test scores and teacher comments show that your child is bright, academically advanced, gifted. You rejoice … until you see that D on their report card.
Is this normal? Yes. Need proof? Here are eight things we know about bright kids, according to the National Association for Gifted Children.
1. They shouldn’t be ignored. Academically advanced students need nurturing and guidance from trained educators who know how to challenge and support them in fully developing their abilities and encourage their love for learning.
2. Academically advanced students may need more challenging and/or accelerated learning than what’s provided in the regular classroom. Teachers work to challenge all students, but not all teachers are able to recognize and support gifted learners, according to a Fordham Institute report. In it, 73% of teachers agreed that “Too often, the brightest students are bored or under-challenged in school — we’re not giving them a sufficient chance to thrive.”
3. Bright kids can get bad grades. Underachievement caused by an unchallenging classroom situation can affect grades and behavior in gifted students. Moreover, students can grow bored, despondent, or develop bad work habits when not appropriately challenged in school.
4. And yet, they’re not like everyone else. All children have positive attributes and strengths, but not all children are identified as academically gifted. In a school setting, “gifted” means that when compared to others in their same grade or age, a child has an advanced capacity to learn and apply that knowledge. This term can be used to identify students for services to meet their unique learning needs.
5. Bright kids don’t make everyone else in their regular class smarter. Average and below average students don’t look to their academically advanced classmates as role models, according to this ability grouping study, which found that relying on someone who is expected to succeed does little to increase a struggling student’s sense of confidence.
6. They’re a diverse bunch. Academically advanced students come from all cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups. Those with learning or other disabilities are known as “twice-exceptional” or “2e.” Like other advanced learners, they are highly talented in at least one domain but their giftedness may be overshadowed by their disability and not appropriately nurtured.
7. Bright kids may feel unhappy or isolated in school. While some advanced learners may be happy and well-adjusted in school, others differ in terms of their emotional and moral intensity, sensitivity to feelings, perfectionism, and deep concerns about societal problems, which can make them feel isolated. Others may not share interests with their classmates, making school difficult.
8. Acceleration may help, not hurt, bright kids’ social and emotional well-being. Research shows that many academically advanced kids are happier with older students who share their interests then they are with peers their age. As a result, options like subject or grade acceleration may be appropriate.