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Gifted, Slow, and Disorganized
Q: My eight-year-old gifted son is disorganized and slow in finishing his work. I know this is normal for a gifted child, but how far do I push this? Should I get his teacher to let him do less work? He keeps coming home with unfinished work. Any ideas to improve his organization skills?
A: Because gifted-and-talented children find work easy and may be able to do assignments quickly without thinking them through, they don't develop sound skills in time management, organization, studying, or prioritizing projects. With entry into a gifted program, or as they encounter more advanced subjects, they begin to have difficulty completing work and may even avoid more challenging learning experiences. They can profit from some specific training in time management, study skills, goal setting, and the like.
An appropriate course of action would be to arrange a conference with your son's teacher and the guidance counselor at his school. His teacher is probably aware of the problem. Together, you can develop strategies to help him deal with these problems. For example, he can be taught to put together a calendar of all his assignments so that he can track work when it is due. As he completes tasks, he can be rewarded with the opportunity to participate in another activity that he enjoys. Two books that provide helpful information on these topics for gifted children, their parents, and their teachers are School Power: Study Skills Strategies for Succeeding in School by Jeanne Shay Schumm and Sylvia Rimm's book How to Parent So Children Will Learn.
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Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.