Although gifted students tend to excel in the classroom and have little trouble achieving top grades, many still find school a struggle.

Indeed, fitting in with other students can be very difficult for high-achieving kids. As well as having different thought processes than other students, many gifted children are unfortunately ostracised by their peers simply for being smart. Helping gifted students fit in with the wider school community is just as important as nurturing their outstanding academic abilities. Indeed, socializing with peers is a fundamental aspect of a young person’s education, teaching them to navigate the world and providing them with an outlet for their deepest thoughts and fears.

If you need help with making gifted students feel comfortable in the classroom, we’ve put together a few helpful tips:

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1. Provide opportunities for students to socialize successfully

Gifted students who have difficulty identifying social cues cannot simply be expected to develop their friend-making skills during recess or after school. Try to engineer a situation in the classroom that allows them to take control of a group task. Offer praise for taking on a leadership role and highlight how they demonstrated strong social skills. Students often need to experience feelings of success in a controlled environment before taking them out into the real world.

2. Teach them flexible thinking

Gifted students often have difficulty shifting their thought processes from outside their little bubble, often choosing to think intensely about their academic interests and shutting out others. To combat this, try to teach your students to be flexible thinkers.

Flexible thinking means developing an awareness of one’s cognitive habits and learning to break out of unhelpful cycles.

3. Learn more about being gifted

Reading about giftedness is a fantastic way of tuning in to a student’s thinking. Indeed, many teachers are so preoccupied with helping out struggling students that they overlook the importance of guiding high-achievers through their formative years. Supporting Emotional Needs for the Gifted (SENG) is an organization with an abundance of information about gifted young people and how to help them. Take a look at their SENG for more information.

4. Help the student find their group

Gifted students benefit from socializing with like-minded peers. While they may not get on with everyone in the school, there are bound to be some kindred spirits somewhere. To bring together groups of gifted students, try setting up extra-curricular groups based on academic interests, such as a book or games club. This will help high-achievers follow their passions while building social ties and nurturing a sense of belonging.

5. Establish classroom cues with the gifted students

As already mentioned, it is all too easy for gifted children to get lost in their thoughts and zone out of class discussions. To bring them back down to earth and relate to their peers without causing embarrassment, speak to the student privately to agree upon a verbal or visual cue that will snap them out of it. This could include, for example:

  • Coughs
  • Finger snaps
  • Claps
  • Memorable words

When you perform this cue, the student should stop what they are doing and turn their attention back to the task at hand.

6. Remember to be patient

A gifted student’s physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development tends to be a little uneven. In this way, patience is important if they are a little slow in certain areas. A gifted student who experiences social difficulties will not learn new skills overnight and will benefit from understanding and empathy on your part.

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