Dr. Kara McGoey led an informational seminar for parents of profoundly gifted students on managing the challenges PG kids face in the classroom. The themes that arose during this interactive discussion include:
Specific Strategies for Maintaining Behavior
Communication and Collaboration
Create a system of communication with your child's teacher before problems arise. Work with the teacher to prevent any problem behaviors in the classroom by sharing what works at home and what may trigger your child's behavior. If your child's teacher is not cooperative, create an ally in an administrator, gifted coordinator or school psychologist. Do not create the alliance to undermine the teacher but to support your child.
Create a different colored folder for each class. Color code all the materials for each class. Add a special folder for homework and teacher communication.
Help your child choose an assignment/datebook that works for them. Schedule in all of the child's activities and homework time. Enlist a teacher or peer to help with writing assignments in the book.
Easing and Preventing Anxiety
Enlist the aid of the school counselor or school psychologist. They can be a support at the school and advocate for your child.
Search for an outside interest that allows your child to excel and experience success outside of the pressure of school or home.
Create a "cool-down" strategy
Guide your child in making positive statements that help them through the anxiety. For example, the child could say "cool down, I can ask for help, I can do this."
Create a signal in the classroom that lets the teacher know the child is upset and needs support. The child could either find the counselor or retreat to a special area of the classroom.
Create reasonable goals and expectations for completing class assignments. Set this up before the child tries to overachieve/reach perfection. Set timelines, completion plans and schedule time to complete the work.
Find a creative outlet for the anxiety. One example may be to write a story about a girl or boy that makes mistakes and successfully corrects or works through them. This allows the child to discuss strategies and "practice" through the character of the story.
Behavior Management Strategies
Systems designed to provide clear, concrete rules, expectations, schedules and guidelines that also create clear consequences for both positive and negative behavior are appreciated by any student. During the seminar, a participating parent described a level system in the classroom. All children were given different colored cards at the beginning of the day. Each card corresponded to a different level, super, warning, time out, self-diagnostic worksheet assigned and finally double alert or contact parents. Children who have no color changes can turn the number of successful days in for rewards. This is a simplified explanation but the details of the system are not important. It is the clear expectations and consequences applied consistently that support appropriate behavior.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute's programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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