5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Working with Gifted Kids
By Nicole Endacott, IEA Program Coordinator
After working with gifted kids for over the past three years at IEA, Program Coordinator Nicole Endacott shares the 5 lessons she has learned from our inspiring students.
- There are infinite types of “smart.”
The kids who are gifted aren’t always the ones who ace every test. They can be the students who create elaborate doodles in the back of the classroom, acutely perceive when their friend is upset, or who have such outside-the-box creative ideas they can’t even put them into words or onto paper. Working in the gifted education world has meant broadening my view of what intellect can look like in such a diverse population – it’s so much fun to see how giftedness can express itself in our community!
- Being sensitive doesn’t mean being weak.
Gifted kids often are more sensitive to abnormal stimuli such as social tension, high noise levels, perceived injustice, unusual textures, or a sudden change of plans. Though these sensitivities can make life as a gifted kid challenging at times, it does not mean they are weak. Going through life with sensitivities makes gifted kids brave, resilient, and empathetic.
- Finding like-minded peers is invaluable.
One of my favorite parts of working with gifted youth is watching them enter an environment where they encounter kids like themselves, perhaps for the first time. When they’re able to have conversations with their peers about their favorite topics, gifted kids can bloom socially. I love seeing friendships form over unique premises you could only find in the gifted world: sharing an obscure favorite dinosaur, maybe, or a love of rhyming multi-syllable words.
- Everyone should learn to advocate for themselves.
Gifted students have had to ask for what they need more than average children. Though a teacher with 30 other students may see a child asking for a harder worksheet as lower on their list of priorities, we should be rewarding students who know how to ask for tools that will help them succeed.
- “We’re all weird.”
On the final day of Academy classes last fall, I discovered a phrase written on a white board after every student had left: “Reminder: We’re all weird.” It was written in a student’s handwriting. I later found out that it was meant as a reminder that everyone has things that make them unique: we can either worry about being different or we can realize that our “weird” traits are the best parts of us!