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Learning Environment for Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Describe a good classroom organization and learning environment for gifted children.

A: This sounds more like an assignment question! Anyway, I will briefly list down a general description.

What is most important is a Differentiated Instruction, which is indeed a continuous process of learning about students' needs and interests and using that knowledge to guide instruction. Here, teachers need to use their knowledge of students to determine how content can be presented, appropriate activities, and to guide students in demonstrating what they have learned based on their individual capabilities.

The classroom organization and management is essential. Class size is typically small and flexible with ample space for students to move around and explore and engage in various activities while remaining on task.

The teacher acts as a facilitator and instead of presenting the curriculum, s/he would concentrate on creating and selecting learning opportunities for students, guiding them, and working with them to assess their progress. Lessons are student-centered. Students are also allowed to schedule their own task (for part of the time) to encourage exploration and independence with recommendation by the teacher.

In a gifted classroom, it is important to maintain a well-balanced social and emotional climate for all students, especially the gifted at-risk (minority, girls, disabled, underachievers). There should be differentiated learning even in the same classroom for gifted students of varying abilities and talents. If included in a regular class, they should not feel threatened and mask their abilities. Acceptance is essential for these students and each one's abilities and talents ought to be valued and appreciated, however with a fine balance as to not go over the board. Issues of perfectionism should be addressed and not at all ignored.

Gifted students differ from other in three key areas that is, the pace at which they learn, the depth of their understanding and the interest that they hold. It is highly important for the school to cater for these needs regardless of whether there is a special program for gifted students or in a mixed ability classroom.

Last but not least, teachers of gifted students should be well-trained to handle the differentiation learning and emotional issues that they may go through as this is crucial to their learning. This is especially important at primary levels.


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