Gifted and Talented Education

  • Setting Good Homework Habits by Michelle Kante, Gifted Education Facilitator, Lewis-Palmer Elementary School 

    Most families have very busy schedules. Both adults and children need to set a consistent routine of how they will accomplish their daily work goals. For gifted children, it can be tempting to procrastinate attacking daily or weekly homework assignments. Gifted kids may rationalize that it's easier to do the homework at the last minute. However, this is a habit that may lead to more anxiety, stress and less learning. 

    Helping your child to set a routine will help them to set healthy patterns of organization, time management and self-control in their future adult lives as well. It is important to involve your child in setting up their homework routines and habits.  Involvement means asking your child for ideas and solutions so that he or she takes ownership of the process. Here is a list of some pragmatic habits that can be established even in the busiest household: 

    1) Choose a place with your child where he or she can concentrate and feel comfortable. It should be a place free of clutter. You and your child can even purchase some organizational tools (at a local office supply store or big box store) or utilize ones already available in your home. 

    2) Set a daily, weekly schedule. Revisit and revise as needed. 

    3) Allow your child to choose the organizational method of how they will work or study. Revise and tweak if it is not working after a reasonable amount of time. Many gifted children are disorganized and struggle with the executive functioning skill of organization. They will need your help, empathy, and guidance on how to set up an effective method. 

    4) Study or attack the assignment or project in chunks of time. It's good to take breaks every 5-10 minutes. At least take a break every 20-25 minutes. The hippocampus of the human brain needs a break after 20 minutes to learn or acquire new information. It is also recommended to get up and move away from the computer screen after 20 minutes. The eyes and the body need a break before returning to the intensity of the screen or a sedentary position. 

    5) Remain flexible with the location of where your child will study. It helps to have more than one location to stimulate the brain and help recall information, analyze or synthesize information. 

    6) Introduce methods of note-taking or ways to recall information including mnemonic devices. Practice note-taking skills while watching a Ted Talk video or Ted Ex video that interests your child on a particular subject. 

    7) Inspiration and motivation should be part of the atmosphere. Praise your child for their perseverance and effort. Recognize the real-world application of the subject being studied and help your child make the connection along the way. 

    8)Connection.  Gifted children struggle with perfectionism, boredom and are not immune to feeling challenged, overwhelmed or underwhelmed at times. This may cause avoidance to tackle their projects or homework. Gifted children are not immune to learning disabilities or even can be misdiagnosed with a disability that they do not possess. Therefore it is very important to connect with your child even before hitting the homework. You may connect by establishing a special snack and chat time or take a walk, play a game outside or inside as part of the homework routine. The conversation is not an interrogation of their day but rather asking specific questions that allow them to feel loved, listened to and valued.

    Questions like: "What was the best part of your day today?" or "Did anything funny happen at school?" or "What three words would you use to describe or summarize your day? I can share my three words first." 

    If this topic interests you please feel free to check out some other resources: 

    Helping Gifted Children With Common Homework Problems  by Carol Bainbridge and Time Management for Gifted Kids  by the Council for Gifted Children 


    “Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”
    ― Gever Tulley

    In today’s society, children are exposed to an ever-changing world--the good, the bad, and the ugly. As parents, we strive to lead from a place of love and understanding while hiding our fears and paranoia. The need to provide tools for our child that allows them, as individuals, to respond to the challenges that adolescents and young adults face is vital. When children learn resilience, they are able to navigate successfully through adulthood. The following is an excerpt from an article entitled Building Resilience in Children, 30 + tips for
    Raising Resilient Kids, published by an organization called Positive Psychology Programs. The link to the entire article is at the bottom of the page.

    Raising Resilient Kids
    Family is undoubtedly the most important system affecting child resilience. By providing a supportive environment with open communication and effective parenting practices, children are given a huge head start in terms of building resilience (Newman & Blackburn, 2002). By practicing prosocial parenting, parents hold a highly influential position when it comes to cultivating a child’s capacity for resilience. Along these lines, research suggests that child resiliency is supported by an authoritative parenting style, which is warm and supportive; yet also appropriately demanding in terms of expectations (Baumrind, 1991). In other words, authoritative parents provide consistent limits in a loving way.

    Similarly, in her highly recommended parenting podcast: Respectful Parenting Unruffled, Janet Lansbury (2018) describes numerous relatable examples where resilience and positive youth development are enhanced by the use of respectful parenting (e.g., supporting a child who has differences, raising self-directed children, promoting confident leadership, etc.). Along with these effective parenting styles, the following list contains a number of more concrete and specific ways in which parents and caregivers can promote resilience in children (Brooks and Goldstein (2003):

    ●Build Empathy: Help your child develop empathy by teaching him/her how to really consider and visualize the struggles faced by others.
    ● Identify a Go-To Person: Make sure your child has a close and supportive adult he/she feels comfortable confiding in.● Listen: Ensure that your child feels like you aren’t simply hearing, but are truly tuned-in to what he/she has to say.
    ● Accept Children for Who They Are: Avoid pushing your child in a direction he/she doesn’t want to go; but instead, celebrate the person he/she is.
    ● Identify Strengths: Find-out what your child is really good at and offer encouragement and support.
    ● Do-Overs: Make sure your child knows that mistakes along the way are okay; present them as learning experiences and areas where he/she can try to do better next time.
    ● Develop Responsibility: Give your child opportunities for developing mastery and responsibility, this will encourage self-esteem and -efficacy.
    ● Offer Meaningful Participation: Offer your child opportunities to engage in activities he/she really cares about.
    ● Teach Problem-Solving: Show your child ways to deal with problems, providing both role modeling and encouragement.

    As an additional tool for parents, there are ten specific phrases connected to the desired goal that can be used to help kids to learn and internalize resilience when faced with a problem (Grose, 2013). These phrases are presented in a useful chart for parents and teachers, but here are a few examples:

    ● For the Goal of Humor: “Come on, laugh it off.” Helping your child to see the humor in a situation, as this is a powerful tool he/she will be able to apply in many difficult situations in life.
    ● For the Goal of Providing Hope: “I know it looks bad now, but you will get through this.” There is really no doubt that fostering a sense of optimism gives children a big advantage when it comes to many prosocial outcomes.
    ● For the Goal of Positive Reframing: “What can you learn from this so it doesn’t happen next time?” Reframing helps children to have a more realistic and healthy perspective of a situation. Children with emotional flexibility benefit from a good repertoire of coping solutions to draw from when needed. 

    Growth Mindset

    It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. ~Albert Einstein

    Over the past few years, many in education have begun to shift their thinking about student learning and intelligence. Over time, teachers have begun to incorporate a belief system that intelligence can be developed with a "growth mindset". But what exactly is a growth mindset, how does it impact gifted children, and how can it be supported at home?

    Carol Dweck, a researcher in the field of motivation, has pioneered a recent movement in our schools. Through her research, Dweck has found that a significant indicator of personal and academic success lies in a person’s mindset.

    According to Dweck, people with a fixed mindset focus more on judging their actions negatively.  They believe that their abilities, their successes, and their qualities are “fixed” and cannot be changed. They often rely on their innate talents to guide them to success, rather than believing in the impact of hard work and perseverance.

    A person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that through hard work, grit, and constructive change they can grow, and they can make positive changes in their learning. People with a growth mindset recognize that the level of effort they put forth directly correlates to their success.

    How It Relates to Gifted Children

    “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures... I divide the world into the learners and the non-learners.” ~ Benjamin Barber

    Many gifted children experience early success in some or many academic areas.  They are accustomed to being at the top of the class and learning usually comes easily to them. Oftentimes, as they move into more challenging academic topics, they begin to feel an unfamiliar and uncomfortable struggle.

    When students are explicitly taught how to respond to struggle, they come to understand how to persevere and to face it productively.

    How it relates to the Underachieving Child

    “The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.” ~ Michelangelo

    In 1994, a new definition of giftedness emerged to include terms such as high performance, exceptional production, or exceptional learning behaviors.  Gifted students are defined as those that show potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared to their peers.  However, researchers are consistently finding that over 50% of gifted students may not achieve their potential. Students may not be meeting their academic potential because they have never been taught persistence and subsequently struggle to cope with personal and academic challenges.

    This lack of persistence is likely a result of the student’s development of a fixed mindset and belief that intelligence is a trait that can not be developed.

    Carol Dweck suggests that with a shift in thinking, in which students are praised for their effort rather than their intelligence, the student will begin to see potential for growth and be able to strive to accomplish more challenging goals.

    Common “Growth Mindset” Thinking Stems 

    Instead of….


    “I don’t know how to do this”

    “I don’t know how to do this… yet.”

    “I’m not good at this”

    “What am I missing?”

    “This is too hard!”

    “This may take some time and effort.”

    “I can’t do this.”

    “I’m going to train my brain.”

    “I messed up”

    “I can learn and grow from my mistakes.”

    “I give up.”

    “I’m going to try a different strategy.”

    “It’s good enough…”

    “Is this really my best work?”

    “Plan-A didn’t Work”

    “It’s a good thing there are 25 more letters in the alphabet!”

    Building a Growth Mindset at Home

    “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.” ~ Carol Dweck

    Although it is beneficial to praise your child and encourage them to see their giftedness as a unique and special quality, it is equally important to help them develop a growth mindset. 

    When you see your child make small mistakes at home, encourage them to recognize how they can grow and learn from that mistake.  When they are struggling with a homework assignment, a game or activity, or during an extracurricular activity, give them time to work through it before intervening. Encourage them to try a different strategy, reference a different source, or work backwards before giving them extensive guidance. In allowing them to grapple with the problem themselves, you are exposing them to struggle and encouraging them to develop effective ways of dealing with challenges. Above all, remind them that mistakes and challenges help grow our brains!

    Further Reading 

    Giftedness and the growth mindset: Lessons from music and sports

    100 Percent is Overrated

    Fostering a "Growth Mindset:" 7 Ways to Nurture Your Gifted Child 

    What is Summer Melt?

    Fun Ideas for Summer Learning

    “Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the tree house; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape…”

    - Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    With summer fast approaching, many parents begin to think about the unstructured time their children may have and the possibility of their losing some of the year’s learning gains over the long summer days, also known as Summer Melt. Research has shown that children who participate in summer activities experience learning gains and those who do not lose some learning gains from the past school year (National Association for Gifted Children). Summer enrichment should be designed so that students are learning actively, exploring areas of interest. Summer learning affords students lots of hands-on learning experiences and requires sustained attention, flexibility, and persistence. Summer learning also affords students opportunities to apply their learning, be creative, and take risks that often cannot take during the school year.

    “One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”

    - Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

    Several institutions have developed rich and diverse programs that cater to students’ interests. Such programs provide students opportunities to meet and work with peers who have many of the same interests and abilities, to nurture intense interests, and to cultivate new interests. In the Pikes Peak & Denver areas, many organizations offer summer learning programs for students young to teenagers: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, The Fine Arts Center, and CityRock (rock climbing). Pikes Peak Community College offers a Teen College Summer Camp for incoming 7th-9th graders where students can explore real careers in a variety of fields including robotics, video game design, culinary arts, crime investigation, and selfies as an art form. These are just of few of the opportunities in our area; a few more are linked below.

    “Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”

    - Jenny Han

    Parents can also offer rich and diverse summer learning opportunities through day trips to museums, zoos, and other interesting places with lots of discussion about them. The key is to create active rather than passive learning experiences that build on your student’s interests. Dr. Devon MacEachron, co-founder of the Center for Exceptional Learners, implores to not be limited to organized camp programs…[or] to menu of activities offered in formal programs in your area. Often the best opportunities for your child are the ones that you initiate together” (“A Prescription for the Perfect Summer”).

    “You’re off to great places; today is your day. Your mountain is waiting; so get on your way.”
    - Dr. Seuss

    Summer Enrichment, or Just Hanging Out

    Colorado College Summer Enrichment - grades 1-11 in the fall

    UCCS Center for STEM Education Summer Programs

    Denver Museum of Nature and Science - Teen Lounge (July 13) & Other opportunities

    What is the difference between Academic Enrichment and Acceleration?

    The purpose of both enrichment and acceleration is to continue to engage and challenge students with different abilities so that they continue to develop both intellectually and socially. There is a place for both of these in student programming. “It shouldn’t be an either/or argument about enrichment and acceleration, rather it should be both, according to the needs of the individual student” (Dr. Wardman, University of Auckland, Education Central).

    “It's not just how far and fast one can run, but rather what one can do to apply the material that one has learned in an environment that allows them to generate hypotheses, gather data, to write a play, poem, or song." - Dr. Renzulli, University of Connecticut

    What is Academic Enrichment?

    Enrichment provides an opportunity for students to keep pace with the rest of their classmates, but also to explore topics of interest with more depth and breadth at their own level of academic ability. Students can remain with their chronological peers and still be academically challenged on their own level. This model allows gifted students to access advanced courses, explore content more deeply, and show their learning in a variety of ways. Sometimes, educators may utilize student groups in order to facilitate opportunities for gifted students to access content at appropriate academic and complexity levels as well as develop important social-emotional skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, and communication. These groups are often flexible and targeted, providing an opportunity for students to participate or not depending on the topic and skill level.

    Academic enrichment may include interest-based projects, extension activities, independent study, and/or study contracts and a menu of options. Enrichment opportunities may also be provided outside the regular classroom, such as chess club, robotics, etc.

    What is Acceleration?

    Acceleration is when a student moves through traditional curriculum at faster rates than typical. It provides an opportunity to match the level and complexity of content with the readiness and motivation of the student. While acceleration does provide content that is academically at the student’s level, the student may not be emotionally ready for the content or materials. Additionally, while grade acceleration may seem to make sense in grade school, the student may face great social-emotional challenges later during middle or high school. “Each form of acceleration had a very different pattern of academic, social, and psychological outcomes for students. Hence, individual decisions about accelerating a gifted child must continue to be the norm. However, more attention may be placed on matching the child to the forms of acceleration that reflect his or her learning, social, and psychological characteristics and needs” (Rogers and Kimpston).

    Acceleration could be whole year acceleration such as early admission to Kindergarten or college, grade skipping, or telescoping (completing more than one year of content in one calendar year). Acceleration could also be subject based acceleration such as Advanced Placement courses, dual enrollment courses, or higher level math classes. Subject based acceleration often allows gifted students to engage in academically challenging and complex content (above-level course work) as well as interaction with a chronological peer group (age-level class) who also shares similar interests and drive.

    “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” - Walt Disney


    All students--whether they skip grades, work ahead in one subject or stay with their peers--need enriching experiences. “They need content that is relevant to their lives, activities that cause them to process important ideas at a high level, and products that cause them to grapple with meaningful problems and pose defensible solutions” (NAGC).

    Enrichment or Acceleration or Both? How to best provide for gifted students - Education Central

    Against Accelerating the Gifted Child - Jessica Lahey, The New York Times 

    The Acceleration of Students: What we do vs What we know - Rogers and Kimpston, Educational Leadership

    Gifted Ed Practices - National Association for Gifted Children
    November/December Edition: How does the practice of gratitude improve the lives of students?

    “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” —Gilbert K. Chesterton

    “Historically, philosophers have suggested that gratitude is one of the most important human emotions for the success of society, and...modern psychology research confirms that gratitude is an important social emotion that can benefit the lives of...people” (from Positive Psychology Program).  For at least 2,000 years, intellectuals have been considering the important role gratitude plays in daily life. Cicero and Seneca thought of gratitude as a crucially important virtue that was foundational to a successful civilization. Gratitude continues to be considered to be a powerful tool in developing a healthy, successful life. “In the last few years alone, there have been several papers published dealing with gratitude from either a hybrid psychological-philosophical perspective or from an outright philosophical perspective (Jackson, 2016; Kristjansson, 2015; Moran, 2016; Morgan et al., 2017)” (from Positive Psychology Program).

    What is Gratitude?

    Gratitude has been defined a number of ways. Researchers who study the effects of gratitude define it as more than just feeling thankful for something - it is more like a deeper appreciation for someone or something, which produces longer lasting positivity. Practicing gratitude is not necessarily an innate behavior for all people. However, “gratitude seems to work like a muscle” (Owen Griffith, Practicing Gratitude in the Classroom) - the more you utilize it, the more you develop your gratitude muscles.

    “A number of studies have shown that even a small dose of daily gratitude can increase optimism, decrease negative feelings, enhance school connectedness, and improve overall attitudes towards school and learning. Dr. Alex Korb, in his article “The Grateful Brain,” also argues that practicing gratitude increases activity in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that is responsible for eating, sleeping, metabolism, and stress. A regular gratitude practice also increases dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness and joy. This is likely why people who regularly practice gratitude often report greater levels of happiness” (from The Mindful Classroom).

    How can I help my student practice gratitude?

    Finding opportunities to engage in gratitude daily, can be one of the most beneficial practices for students.

    There are many ways to practice gratitude, and it can be practiced in any aspect of our lives - school, home, work, etc. Practicing gratitude costs nothing and yields great benefits.

    “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

    How to Teach Gratitude to Tweens and Teens - Amy L. Eva, Greater Good Magazine (UC Berkeley)

    10 Ways to Become More Grateful - Robert Emmons, Greater Good Magazine (UC Berkeley)

    31 Gratitude Exercises that Will Boost Your Happiness - Ackerman & Oppland, Positive Psychology Program 

    OCTOBER EDITION: What is creativity? Why is it important to develop creativity in our students?

    “My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” - Sir Ken Robinson

    Robinson, among many great thinkers, contend that all students are born naturally creative, full of curiosities and questions. This is the same creativity that drive inventors, leading scientists, philosophers, and historic figures. Successfully navigating an increasingly complex, knowledge-based world will require creativity. The more children are encouraged to keep asking those questions and pursuing their curiosities, the more likely that this natural creativity will not only remain, but will also grow and develop (“Creative Confidence” - Whittle).

    “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

    Understanding creativity helps us to foster and develop it in our students. Creating is an intellectual process rather than the product of some intangible inspiration. Creative thinking is a process of noticing what is, wondering what might be, exploring ideas, generating possibilities, and looking for many right answers rather than just one. It requires students “to assemble, disassemble, and transform prior learning, and to combine it with new knowledge and skills to form unique conceptions or products” (“Developing Creative Capacities” - Franklin & Theall).

    “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” - Albert Einstein

    Creative thinking is a social process. Creative capacities are fostered by a climate that teaches and encourages this kind of thinking. It is also often a collaborative process - exchanging ideas, debating the merits of proposed ideas, negotiating challenges. This kind of student dialogue nurtures both creative capacities and the practical skills needed to implement their creative thinking.

    To dig deeper into Creativity, see the articles below:

    “5 Ways To Encourage Kids To Grow Up To Be Innovators” - Gwen Moran, FastCompany

    “Creativity Requires a Culture that Respects Effort and Failure” - Patrick Maggitti (Villanova School of Business) Business Insider

    “Fostering a Culture of Creativity in the Workplace” - Alison A. Quirk

    The HuffPost

    SEPTEMBER EDITION: Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. - Thomas A. Edison

    Research shows that kids who demonstrate grit persist at hard tasks and outperform their competitors. While there are a number of factors that lead to success, grit is among the most important. This is good news because you can do quite a lot to develop grit.

    What is grit? Grit is having both the passion and perseverance to achieve a goal. It also comprises the ability to learn from mistakes or even failure - resiliency. It is especially complex because it is related to other skills and mindsets such as optimism, purpose, growth mindset, bravery, and even self-control.

    “There are a lot of misconceptions about grit. Grit is much more than just encouraging kids to “try harder” or not give up—it’s also about helping kids find their passion. Having grit does not mean never quitting—it means quitting responsibly (and not just because times get tough) and sticking to the things to which you are truly dedicated.” - The Character Lab

    How can I help my student develop grit? 
    -Make it OK to fail.

    -Work hard even after experiencing failure or when you feel like quitting.

    -Develop a growth mindset. Push outside your comfort zone to learn new things.

    -Develop persistence. Stick with a project or activity for more than just a few weeks.

    -Model positive reactions to setbacks and mistakes.


    Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ When You’re Trying To Become Successful - Lisa Quest 
    Forbes Magazine