What Does it Mean to be Gifted
To understand gifted children it is essential to realize that although they are children with the same needs as other children, they are very different. These differences affect almost every aspect of the child’s emotional and intellectual life, being gifted does not go away when the child becomes an adult. Gifted children, like all children, must be provided with educational structures, programs and provisions which motivate them to develop their talents and assist them to perform as closely as possible to their optimum levels.
Gifted children are on a developmentally different schedule from infancy onward. This places them out-of-sync with expected developmental stages internally and externally. Programs which anticipate limited powers of concentration and break complicated subjects into simple pieces for children to understand may stress gifted children. Sequences may be too simple for minds which thrive on complexity and challenge. Able to process huge quantities of information rapidly, gifted children may find nothing to interest or engage them in regular programs and may act out. Stephanie Tolan, author and gifted advocate, likens the feeling to feeding an elephant grass, one blade at a time. Not only will he die of malnutrition before you can get sufficient food to him, he is unlikely to realize you are trying to feed him at all. The single blade of grass is simply too small to notice.
Do parents push these children or train them? Force their development? Usually it is the child who pulls rather than the parent who pushes. All parents think their child is gifted! is unsupported myth. Parents who notice their child’s development differs from age peers have observed these differences at birth. If they are familiar with the concept, they are usually accurate in identifying their child as gifted (84%) LINDA LINK
When gifted students are placed in a school like Tokyo Gifted Academy they may experience what it is like to be one of the crowd and struggle with class work for the first time in their lives. This helps to develop social skills,, empathy, and study habits. It is worth mentioning that while gifted children do need a challenging learning environment, they do not necessarily need a heavier work load, especially if it involves repetition. Many of them despise useless repetition and can often master a subject with very little practice. While they are capable of very high quality of work, high quantities of work can stress them out just like any other student. Gifted children need a faster rate of presenting information which matches their faster rate of learning, not a heavier workload. When they do feel burned out it is generally caused by constantly being compelled to spend hours working on assignments which provide no mental challenge.
Not all gifted children are achievers. Gifted students should not be viewed as a homogeneous group; they vary in the range of talents they exhibit and in their emotional, social and physical development. These students' behaviors vary within the classroom and they might not always be those who gain high marks, who are the most attentive nor the most docile and cooperative in terms of neatness and task completion.
In 1991, a meeting of theorists, practitioners, and parents in Columbus, Ohio, proposed that asynchronous development - and the emotional consequences and altered quality of life stemming from it - is at the very heart of giftedness. The Columbus Group asserts that the contemporary tendency to define giftedness as behaviors, achievement, products or school placements, external to the individual, necessarily misses the essence of giftedness - how it alters the meaning of life experience for the gifted individual. This definition includes both the cognitive and emotional components while incorporating the concept of asynchronous development.
“Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counselling in order for them to develop optimally.”
(The Columbus Group, 1991)
"Asynchrony" means being out-of-sync, both internally and externally. "Asynchronous development" means that gifted children develop cognitively at a much faster rate than they develop physically and emotionally, posing some interesting problems. For example, ideas forged by eight-year-old minds may be difficult to produce with five-year-old hands. Further, advanced cognition often makes gifted children aware of information that they are not yet emotionally ready to handle. They tend to experience all of life with greater intensity, rendering them emotionally complex. These children usually do not fit the developmental norms for their age; they have more advanced play interests and often are academically far ahead of their age peers. The brighter the child, the greater the asynchrony and potential vulnerability. Therefore, parents who are aware of the inherent developmental differences of their children can prepare themselves to act as their advocates. Linda Silverman