Now that school has started again students and teachers are getting to know each other, while parents are navigating a new school year learning about the children’s teachers, and everyone is getting back into a routine. Fall is a time of new classes, cooler weather, football, and sometimes, the beginning of learning challenges for gifted students.
Getting back into the swing of things at the beginning of a new school year is often challenging for many students, gifted or not. The freedom of summertime gives students a chance to unwind and learn in different ways. Gifted students often have the freedom to be themselves whether that means digging deeper into areas of interest or exploring new adventures on the spur of the moment. The structure of the school day confines subjects to specific periods of time whether that time is enough or not. For gifted students, having 30 minutes of science a few times a week may be woefully inadequate and may prevent the deeper exploration they crave. Most teachers also wish they had more time to allow students to explore.
Some teachers extract more freedom for student learning by tweaking a few things in their classroom. While it isn’t always easy, and doesn’t work for everyone, it is worth considering. The gifted student may want to ask their teacher about these practices if they are not part of the classroom.
Three ways to tweak a schedule full of mandated curriculum is to consider the following:
classroom layout, efficient schedule, and student free time. An effective classroom layout provides an environment where there are few classroom traffic jams when students are moving about the room, and where the resources are easily accessible. Many teachers (and students) try several setups before finding one that works well. Since some gifted students do not like change it is a good idea to give students notice before doing this.
An efficient schedule makes use of every minute during the school day, squeezing out time for student free time for deeper learning. Grouping similar subjects or learning tasks in the elementary classroom can cut down time for moving around the classroom and getting out new supplies. This may give a few minutes of extra time to use for further learning. In the middle or high school this is more difficult because of the school schedule, but there could be some time during a class to give students further exploration time. While these steps may not work for all classrooms, one or two may work for some and benefit all students in the class, including gifted students.
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