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Education for Gifted Children in Public Schools

Gifted children are often more intense than their peers, with lower frustration tolerance and a greater propensity towards emotional outbursts. Although extremely smart, they often lack executive skills that will develop later, including the ability to self-regulate their emotions.

Aimee Yermish of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development has written an article providing information directed at parents concerned about the asynchronous development of many gifted children. The qualities which make raising gifted children challenging, though very rewarding, for parents also make educating them challenging, though again very rewarding, for educators.

Although highly intelligent, many gifted children can not adapt to the pace of a regular classroom and will require additional support to be successful. These children are truly 'special needs' even though they may not meet the criteria of anything other than 'gifted'. Many of these children may also meet the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as noted in an excellent article by Kimberly A. Orendorff on the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC).

Gifted Children in Public Schools

Many gifted children do very well in public schools. Public school boards are generally mandated to provide appropriate educational programs to special needs students, including gifted students. Unfortunately, in this age of almost universal cutbacks, gifted education programs are among the first to go. It is difficult for school boards to justify gifted education programs before fully meeting the needs of all other special needs students, which is seldom done. Nevertheless, many school boards have retained programs from earlier more affluent times, and some have even expanded low-cost programs.

Gifted children can be provided with some additional support in public schools through gifted pull-out programs or dedicated gifted classes. The 'difficult' characteristics of a gifted child which can cause problems in a regular classroom do not disappear at a time when pull-out programs do not run, so in general parents and gifted children would prefer dedicated gifted classes, at least for those children who find the pace and breadth of a regular classroom frustrating.

An alternative in schools that do not have gifted programming available is acceleration. Acceleration can be either full-grade acceleration or subject acceleration. There is a tendency of schools in general to resist grade acceleration for gifted children, but research has shown that it is a very effective way of meeting the needs of many gifted children.

As students progress through the school system, they are often able to connect with higher level material through distance education programs or programs through post-secondary institutions. Some school boards have joint programs with local colleges and universities which provide for early entrance to a post-secondary institution

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