Motivation and the Gifted Child

May 7, 2015 Filed under: Gifted And Talented,Parenting IMACS Staff Writer @ 1:00 am

After school, weekend and online programs in math and computer science for gifted children who enjoy fun, academic challenges.

"My kid could finish his math homework in no time if he would just do it, but instead he drags it out for an hour, and that’s with me having to nudge him through it." Sound familiar? Parents and teachers often assume that a gifted child will automatically be a high achiever given the child’s high abilities, so it comes as a surprise when he or she underachieves. There can be a variety of reasons for underachievement, but a common cause is lack of motivation. Whereas bright students often enjoy working toward external recognition for their accomplishments, gifted learners may not value outside praise as much, particularly if given for activities that do not enhance their learning experience. A child may think, "I already know it, so why should I have to spend time proving that to someone else, especially someone who knows that I know it?"

Parents and teachers searching for ways to reignite motivation in an underachiever would do well to appeal to his or her intrinsic love of genuine learning. Because gifted children typically require little effort to learn standard curricula, they need additional challenges that demand meaningful effort. The satisfaction that talented athletes feel after bearing the weight of a true physical challenge fuels their fire to push to the next level. Talented minds need to feel that same kind of satisfaction, the kind that comes from bearing challenges that have true intellectual weight, so they can make the connection between effort and achievement. Providing those challenges is a first step to bringing back lost motivation. For additional strategies on enhancing motivation in gifted children, visit the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

Help your child regain or maintain motivation with fun challenges in a supportive environment at IMACS! Register now to attend a FREE Placement Class. Like IMACS on Facebook for the latest information about our local classes and online courses.

2 responses to “Motivation and the Gifted Child”

  1. While I agree with everything you say, I contend that the term “gifted” is outmoded. ALL children have gifts and talents that schools often do not recognize, reinforce, or only lightly esteem. We now know that intelligence takes on many different forms besides academic. I just think the whole “gifted” thing is elitist and far too exclusionary.

    • The term “gifted” might very well be outmoded. Nonetheless, it’s what we have today to communicate about these individuals. Gifted learners come from all backgrounds, and significantly more needs to be done to identify those in traditionally underserved groups. While all children may have gifts and talents, not all children are gifted. Just as some students have learning differences that are supported through special education programs, others have learning differences that are supported through gifted education programs, although to a much lesser extent. The “gifted” label should not be used as a value judgment. Its misuse is due, in part, to being tied primarily to academic achievement in school. Ironically, gifted children often suffer from underachievement because their learning differences are not properly supported. Gifted is neither good nor bad, neither better nor worse. It’s a wiring of the brain that requires different approaches to learning, and significantly more should be done to support gifted children.

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