To meet the needs of gifted and/or highly intelligent students, schools should include programs to help them master the important concepts and various content fields; develop skills and strategies that allow them to become more independent, creative, and self-sufficient learners; and develop a joy and enthusiasm for learning. Some may also benefit from being with similarly talented peers so they have a social group with which they are comfortable.
Specifically, programs and classes for gifted children should provide them with stimulation and challenge in their areas of strength and should encourage more creativity and originality.
Of course, these are the very same things that should be provided to all children. What distinguishes educational programs for gifted children is their accelerated pace of learning and the increased breadth and depth of topics covered.
However, both schools and parents often find it a challenge to provide the appropriate services and stimulation for gifted children. Teachers are faced with a diverse group of students and must meet the needs of all of them; thus, teachers may not have enough time to devote special efforts to the gifted students in their classes. Also, teachers may not be trained to stimulate the higher thinking and productivity levels of gifted children. Some teachers find the superb critical thinking and analytical skills of many gifted children to be an annoyance and a challenge they prefer not to face. The youngsters' verbal skills, large vocabulary, and ability and eagerness to question traditional facts and conclusions may be perceived as irritating and dominating by some teachers and fellow students. This can lead to social problems that require developing better social skills.
If possible, schools should hire teachers who are trained to work with gifted students in a variety of fields. Often, gifted students are brought together for several hours a day to allow them to work with other gifted students and with a mentor. Independent study, advanced special classes, and taking advantage of resources outside the school (such as college courses) are other possibilities. Some gifted students prefer to go to schools that specialize in the field in which they excel, such as a performing arts school, a math and science school, or a school that emphasizes sports.
If your school does not offer specific services for gifted children other than advanced courses, you may need to seek out extracurricular activities and situations for your gifted child.