(Website for this image: pakalil.com)
Motivating children who are gifted and talented can often be difficult. Gifted students may find that school work is easy and requires no effort. This may be the case for a few years, but eventually, students will run into curriculum that challenges them. My oldest daughter, who is highly gifted, nearly lost her scholarship as a college freshman, because she did not really know how to study. Luckily, she figured it out that first year, and went on to successfully complete her degree.
There is an informative article called The Top Ten Ways to Motivate Gifted Children, written by Carol Bainbridge for About.Com. Read the entire article here.
Here are her 10 ways:
1. Nurture your child's interests. (music lessons, how to books, etc.)
2. Expose your child to new ideas and areas. (visit museums, attend programs, try new things together)
3. Use short-term goals and rewards--break a big project down into smaller more manageable pieces. (School is often easy for these children so they do not learn how to study or work hard. A large project may be their first experience with having to work on something for an extended time. Teaching children to break down a project into several small pieces is a life skill!)
4. Help your child learn to manage time. (Some of my gifted children would spend inordinate amounts of time on things that did not matter. Learning to prioritize, and decide what is worth 100% effort and what is just worth getting done is a difficult task, but also a very necessary life skill. My daughter says to this day, that she is so grateful that she finally mastered this skill.)
5. Praise your child's efforts--praise specifically...not "nice work," but "you worked hard on your science project; you deserved that A"
6. Help your child take control--these children need to understand the role that personal responsibility plays in success.
7. Keep a positive attitude about school--parents, watch what you say.
8. Help your child make connections between schoolwork and their interests--ie. vets need to do well in math and science. A little research may be necessary to find the requirements of various jobs.
9. Turn homework into creative games
10. Keep in mind that motivation is not always about school achievement. Achievement is not motivation. (sometimes just getting it done is the goal...motivation may not be possible.)
Sometimes, as students progress through school, lack of motivation becomes gifted underachievement. The oxymoron of bright students who underachieve has been a troubling phenomenon in the field of Gifted and Talented.
Sally Reis, a leading researcher in gifted education shares her family's story of dealing with a gifted, underachieving son, and some ideas on how to work through this problem. Read her insights here.
She has done extensive research on the subject. You can find more of her articles online. Here are a few:
The Underachievement of Gifted Students: What do we Know and Where do we go?
Gifted Underachievement: Oxymoron or Educational Enigma?
(website for this image: uconn.edu)
Another researcher that written a lot about gifted underachievers is Del Siegel. He has put together a very informative powerpoint presentation about this subject. It has goal setting worksheets that can be completed with your student, as well as a survey that can help you understand why your child underachieves. It also offers remediation and help for parents. I would recommend it to any parent struggling to motivate a gifted child.
(website for this image: nagc.org)