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Under Challenged Gifted Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My son, Thomas is aged 7.5 years. No problem at home but at school has difficulty keeping quiet, wants to answer the questions all the time, doesn't let others have a chance, labeled through out school as disruptive. Attained top level in local sat tests, excellent observational skills, memory and have keen interest in nature. I don't think he is being stretched enough at school and have approached them about this. Need some advice about who we could see that may help us.

A: It appears to me that Thomas is not being challenged enough to enjoy learning at school. Since he is different at home, there is a legitimate concern here. It is a fact that when gifted children's needs are not met, when they do not find meaning in their learning, there is a great tendency for them to feel bored. In some cases, these children may be disruptive - which appears to me a cry for help.

I know of a highly intelligent boy who was an angel at home and absolutely loved by parents and other adults. Somehow, he was very disruptive at a school. His parents were shocked to learn of his disruptive behavior in school and initially did not want to believe his teachers. They later found that he was getting very bored at school and felt everyone around him caused the lessons to be taught at a much slower pace (this was a long time ago and there was no provision for a gifted program then). He was also answering all questions to speed up the lessons he just was not able to tolerate the pace and became very frustrated. At home, he had other siblings and a lot of books to read. He was left to do as he pleased at his own pace. There was no reason to be frustrated, and his parents were very supportive. His parents then met with the teachers to discuss how their son could be helped and the school worked with the parents to support him with higher level material and projects that are not in the school syllabus. He did well and he is now a surgeon.

I hope Thomas is in the gifted program or has some kind of enrichment at school as he is likely unchallenged and frustrated. You mentioned that you have approached the school, how has that helped? If it is not helping much, it may be a good idea for you to meet up with his teachers again to find alternatives to make learning more meaningful for him. On your part, as he is at an age that enables his to understand and articulate his feelings, you may want to have a chat with him, indirectly finding out the reasons for his disruptiveness. Try not to wrong him for anything, instead suggest behavior alternatives.


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