Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to School. Back to Reality.

For many gifted children and their families, the school holidays are a time of great relief. As we brace ourselves to re-enter the fray, we would do well to remember a few of those issues which can make school particularly difficult for gifted children. They are perfectly normal kids, just different, and we need to understand and make allowances for those differences so that we don't end up causing more stress than is necessary: 

  • Gifted children learn faster in some areas than their classmates and often have interests not shared by children of the same age or taken to the same depth. They may find it difficult to find true peers in school and may feel isolated or somehow "out of sync". For further reading, take a look at Social Skills of Gifted Children by Louise Porter.

  • A gifted child may "suffer" from oversensitivities and may find stimuli which other children take in their stride, to be overwhelming. School is full of loud noises, bright lights, pungent smells, odd textures, not to mention emotional encounters which they often take very much to heart. Check out Dabrowski's Over-excitabilities. A Layman's Explanation by Stephanie Tolan.

  • While 60% to 75% of the general population are extroverts, about 60% of the gifted population are introverts. An extrovert is energised by being around others but an introvert finds their energy drained by others. After a period of time in other people's company, they need some time alone to recharge. A very worthwhile read for teachers and parents of gifted children is Introversion: The Often Forgotten Factor Impacting the Gifted by Jill Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig.

Considering that at least one of the points above may apply, which of the following do you think your gifted child would most welcome at the end of a school day:

    A. To be whisked off on a playdate with a couple of their classmates? 

    B. To be greeted by you with a string of twenty questions about the details of their school day? (My own personal specialty!) 

    C. To be left alone to escape into a world of their own for a while to process and "re-centre" themselves?

This doesn't apply to all gifted children, of course; some arrive home raring to go. But it's worth bearing in mind that many are exhausted, drained, frustrated, have had just about enough, thank you very much, and simply want some time alone. It's nothing personal!


  1. I had to leave my son in the van in the driveway when we got home from picking him up at school. He wanted to be alone. Now we homeschool. :)

  2. Excellent and absolutely spot on!

  3. I worked with kids who are gifted who also have Asperger Syndrome for many years. For those kids, social skills was a majority of what I worked on them with... Although for many of the kids I also taught them self-determination. Even if they were overloaded sensorily they did not feel comfortable asking for a quiet break until it was too late.
    Of course, my daughter has the issues socially that the article addresses... I am glad you shared it.