Article

Child Behavior: Gifted but Distracted Students

Ask Dr. Fernandez

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Q | I am having difficulty with a boy who is very bright but does not want to listen. He also seems to have a bad influence on the other boys. How can I redirect him?

A | You are in an important position to recognize gifted learners. By identifying this student, you've taken the first step to help him get the academic support he needs. It is typical for gifted children to experience boredom, frustration, and diminished motivation when they are in classrooms for average-ability students. Encouragement will likely be insufficient in meeting his needs; he needs in-depth and specialized instruction.

There is an unfortunate misperception that gifted students do not need additional support. In actuality, teaching gifted students requires specialized training. Your student will need you and his parents as his advocates to ensure he is not overlooked and is receiving appropriate services.

Request that your student be evaluated to get a comprehensive picture of his learning strengths and academic needs. Options may include accommodations in the current classroom, pullout programs, part-time assignment to regular or special classes, acceleration or grade advancement, or even placement in a specialized, self-contained school.

Speak to school administrators to find out what options are available for gifted students at your school. Get his parents involved. Also, look into the National Association for Gifted Children (nagc.org); it offers useful resources to support gifted students.

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Question for Dr. Fernandez?
E-mail: instructor@scholastic.com

Melanie A. Fernandez, Ph.D., ABPP, is board certified in clinical child and adolescent psychology and is director of the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Program at the Child Mind Institute (childmind.org).

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