This session focused on Dr. George Betts and Dr. Maureen Neihart’s description of the gifted child who is an autonomous learner, as well as the key strategies from Dr. Elisa Medhus’s book, Raising Children Who Think for Themselves. These two resources go well together because they both focus on the positive impact of being independent and self-directed.
Betts and Neihart outline the six holistic types of gifted children with the intention of helping the first five types move toward the sixth type, the “autonomous learner.” This type rarely develops in elementary school, although parents and teachers can provide opportunities for younger children to experience autonomy. More information about the gifted autonomous learner can be found in the article, “Profiles of the Gifted and Talented,” written by Betts and Neihart for the Gifted Child Quarterly and posted on the Davidson Institute site, http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10114. In their summary of the “Six Types of Gifted,” the autonomous learner is described in these ways:
While few gifted children are able to consistently demonstrate these behaviors and attitudes at an early age, it is important for parents and teachers to model and reinforce these behaviors in order to nurture the development of autonomous learners. Here are things Betts and Neihart encourage parents to do for the autonomous learner:
Dr. Medhus’s seven key strategies are listed in bold type with supplemental resources below each one. While her book was not written specifically for parents of gifted children, these strategies certainly promote the kind of independent, self-directed learner described by Betts and Neihart. Create a family environment conducive to self-inspiration.
Teach children how to develop effective internal dialogue and avoid counter-productive internal dialogue.
Use empathy training.
Teach children to develop and rely on their intuition.
Discipline to promote internal direction.
Help children develop defeat recovery skills so that they remain self-inspired.
Teaching children how to handle real world influences in a self-inspired way.
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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.
The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.