This post today was written about the kind of support that tutors can offer to ‘gifted and talented’ children, by founder of the The Tutor Pages, Henry Fagg. Thanks Henry, its over to you:
Education professionals have a term to describe children who excel in one or more subjects: they call them ‘gifted and talented’. However, there is sometimes a reluctance to recognise that these children need bespoke support in the same way as children who are traditionally seen as having ‘special needs’. Far from it being elitist to consider providing extra support for giftedness (a fear among both teachers and parents), its provision can mean the difference between a happy, motivated and academically successful high performer and one whose early promise descends into frustration, apathy or mediocre attainment.
Schools already employ various strategies to help the 5-10% children defined by the Department of Education as gifted. These can include curriculum differentiation (where a lesson is planned to include advanced activities for gifted students), enrichment (where supplementary activities are created beyond the core curriculum), extension (where students are allowed to work on the curriculum at a faster rate, for example, in a separate class) and acceleration (where students are allowed to participate in more advanced classes with older children). None of these approaches is without problems; they all require classroom teachers to have sufficient training, time, resources, motivation and administrative support to carry them out successfully.
If a school fails to provide adequate support, parents will begin to look elsewhere, and this is where employing a private tutor can be a useful option. Some tutors are highly skilled and experienced at working with gifted children, and private tuition by its nature can provide the kind of bespoke, personalised attention which can really make a difference.
Although parents will sometimes turn to tutors because they would like their child to achieve better grades, it should be recognised that any such achievements can only come about as an indirect result of addressing deeper issues. This is arguably where private tuition comes into its own. It can help gifted children move beyond simply a focus on results or a halfhearted attempt to please their parents. Instead, by homing in on exactly the right balance of challenge and encouragement for the individual child, a personalised approach can spark enjoyment and fulfilment in studying the subject for its own sake.
This is a mindset which is all too often neglected in our results-driven culture, but out of which motivation, confidence and resilience can blossom. Such love of learning for its own sake facilitates lifelong learning – and is an attitude which we can all learn from.