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Great teachers empathize with kids, respect them, and believe that each one has something special that can be built upon.

– Ann Lieberman

Social and emotional needs

Nurturing social and emotional talents

“Honesty, fairness, moral issues, global concerns, and sensitivity to others are common themes in the lives of gifted children”. Silverman, L. The Moral Sensitivity of Gifted Children and the Evolution of Society.

Educationally appropriate challenges and programming can assist these students to develop positive social and emotional wellbeing. If these children are catered for within an environment that meets their academic, social and emotional needs then many of the issues arising for these young people can be minimised. It is usual for gifted individuals to experience the world with more intensity and sensitivity than their same aged peers, however; this can be abnormalised by well meaning professionals who lack an understanding of the expected social and emotional development of gifted individuals.

According to the literature, gifted children's social and emotional adjustment may be related to the type of giftedness identified, the educational fit of the environment they are educated within, and the personal characteristics and resilience they possess 

Some gifted children will experience difficulties with social and emotional issues at different stages of their development. Transition times during education can be a particular time of vulnerability for gifted individuals (e.g., moving from primary to intermediate or secondary school). A number of factors may influence how a gifted child responds to events from a social and emotional perspective.

Understanding and valuing these potential emotional strengths and assisting these children can be a very rewarding opportunity for families and educators. 28 Acts of Kindness for the Gifted by Joy Navan (2013) has some collected thoughts from the directors of SENG for the nurture and support of gifted children.

A recent research study (PDF, 590 KB) completed in New Zealand (Needham 2012) highlighted the lack of understanding teachers have of the social and emotional needs of gifted children.

  • The findings suggested that many teachers were uncertain about the social and emotional characteristics and needs of gifted and talented children.
  • The teachers within the study expressed positive attitudes towards gifted and talented children while acknowledging their lack of personal knowledge about gifted and talented education.
  • The findings also identified teachers’ frustrations at barriers affecting their ability to support gifted and talented children’s social and emotional needs in their classroom programmes. This included limited personal knowledge and skills, lack of professional development, lack of time to spend with gifted and talented children, and school directed priorities for meeting the needs of other children.

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