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Being a gifted or talented student has a unique set of challenges for both students and educators, parents, family, and friends.

Approximately 6% of all students are enrolled in gifted and talented programs, and there is a lot to know about the students and their programs. So, you may wonder, “what is the gifted and talented program?”.

Students are considered gifted and talented when their abilities far exceed the normal range of their age. When a child is gifted, they usually excel in one or more areas, such as creative, intellectual, artistic, or leadership, or in academics, such as science, math, and language arts. It is somewhat difficult to estimate the number of gifted students in the US. However, those students within the top 10 percent related to abilities are considered to fall within this group.

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What is the gifted program?

The gifted program is for students who show above-average skills and abilities in key areas and is available to those who live in certain areas in the US, but not all. Gifted programs vary from area to area and usually include key concentrations providing various high-quality learning materials geared toward reaching goals. For children with gifts or talents, individual instruction, one-on-one and in groups, is common, focusing on higher-level learning along the lines of more advanced education.

Gifted students often perform and understand things at a level different from their peers, usually with a greater understanding. Gifted programs tend to foster the development of the gifts of these children while providing them with structured learning programs that offer various culturally appropriate materials for their age and location. A gifted program will attempt to provide a well-rounded education at a higher level than typically found in the student’s age group.

These programs are taught by instructors who are well-versed in the theory and practice of teaching students who are gifted and talented. These instructors spend the time necessary to impart to the children the value of their gifts and the potential that lies within them, children. Often, counseling is given with recommendations to the children on what to do to pursue their gift later in life.

The curriculum of the gifted program often includes higher-level instruction, group events such as field trips to museums and other events, exposure to adult-level materials such as painting or art techniques, books that require greater intelligence to understand, and higher-level subjects such as math and physics. The teachers of these programs are sometimes gifted and talented students, and even if they are not, they deeply understand their potential.

Gifted programs are different as there is no federal mandate or set curriculum, and the teachers themselves develop many programs. A good, gifted program will allow a child to express themselves freely and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them while immersing them in a wide array of materials suited to their particular gifts. Gifted programs foster a sense of wonder and curiosity, and these gifted students tend to aim their studies at deeper questions in life, science, and the arts.

What is gifted education?

Gifted education varies from state to state, and the curriculum set down by educators is always locally based. These locally based curricula are the educators’ responsibility in those areas. There are no federal regulations governing the administration of gifted education. With a lack of federal mandates and funding, many locations depend on standards set by several stakeholders and those who have reviewed current best practices and research.

Before the onset of learning and development, gifted students undergo a process of assessment to determine their special abilities. Much testing is involved in determining a student’s status and the areas that need to be addressed with special education geared toward the gifted. Several standards have been developed, which are usually administered in most locales. These standards are typically incorporated into gifted students’ educational curriculum and activities.

After an assessment has been made to determine that a student has a gift or talent that needs to be specifically addressed with gifted education, it is up to the school to meet the responsibility of the needs of the student. Thankfully, in many locations, there are programs for gifted education that follow the criteria of the standards set by the stakeholders and those who have reviewed research. Unfortunately, gifted education can often only be the best-taken advantage of by those with the financial means to do so.

With the lack of federal administration for those with gifted and talented abilities, there are no set parameters that schools are required to follow for gifted education. This leaves disparity in the administration of gifted education for many students. Often, this can be overcome by individual teachers, or schools will have special programs to handle the issues and needs of these gifted students.

Most schools operating gifted programs follow standards set by stakeholders and those reviewing research. The education that gifted students receive, in many cases, is sufficient to meet the needs of the student. The local school administration often sets down special guidelines in a curriculum where the gifted student’s needs are addressed.

Our current educational system may not fully meet the needs of those with gifts or talents; however, gifted education is alive and well in many locations. Those involved in gifted education know how special these children are and go to extraordinary lengths to prepare them for a lifetime of exploration and growth. Gifted education primarily comes down to exposing gifted students to various sources of information and cultural experiences and setting short and long-term life goals to reach their full potential.

Key features of the gifted program:

  • Structured learning with appropriate materials
  • Activities and exposure to culture and ideas much higher level than average
  • Foster curiosity and exploration of the world around them
  • Develop the potential of the students and set goals for positive life outcomes

What are the benefits of a gifted and talented program?

Above all, gifted programs seek to provide a good outcome for the student of the education they receive later in life. Indeed, most gifted programs seek nothing more than exposing children to the possibilities that lie before them. All it takes for most gifted children is to be recognized for their talent and given positive support and a sense of a healthy self-image, and these children will respond and make their mark upon society in wonderful ways.

Gifted and talented children are special but often feel left out of normal life. A good, gifted program will show the children that they are out of the ordinary and worth something more than the messages they’re getting from the world.

Gifted programs allow these children to explore the fact that they are important and have a lot to offer the world. A good, gifted program will succeed in developing an educational understanding, emotional preparedness, and social connection that allows them to create a positive outcome for themselves and their lives.

More about gifted students and programs

Those involved in governing education will fully admit that gifted or talented students possess unique needs that need to be addressed differently than regular students. However, the federal government does not make provisions for these students a priority or a legal requirement. It is somewhat ironic that those who are the most promising and bright do not have access, in many cases, to programs that suit their particular special needs.

Many gifted and talented students often struggle with many barriers seen and unseen, and many schools do not offer programs for the gifted and talented as part of their curriculum. It can be difficult for gifted students to assimilate into a curriculum and make it work. In those that do, lack of funding in many cases makes these programs insufficient for the needs of these bright students. There is no federal funding for gifted and talented students specifically.

In an imperfect world, just being gifted and talented does not mean you will be afforded the means to succeed. And often, gifted and talented students have a set of issues that transform their gifts into a lifetime of meaningful work. However, many teachers in gifted and talented programs are available to a good number of students that make a difference critically needed for these wonderful individuals.

Some of the issues affecting gifted and talented education include:

  • The federal government does not make provisions mandatory for gifted education
  • Access to programs is limited in many cases
  • Gifted students face many barriers and challenges
  • No federal funding for gifted programs

Why gifted programs are so important

Those children with gifts or talents beyond the ordinary have the potential to do unusual and exciting things for the world. These children shine the brightest but often have a corresponding darkness with their gifts. The overall development of these children is beset with challenges. In many cases, additional mental health counseling is needed as these gifts and talents sometimes come at a price, including mental illness.

Gifted programs in gifted education are essential for the well-being of these gifted students. Without suitable education, these gifted students will find incredible difficulty adjusting to a life similar to their peers. Children find a purpose for their gifts and abilities when gifted programs are instituted. Many realize that they were born with these gifts and pursue them in an aura of wonder and mystery when properly guided.

Positive outcomes for those in gifted programs who receive gifted education are the goal. You cannot put a price tag on the value of a teacher who makes a difference in their children’s lives. Education in the US is going through a crisis already, and the danger for those with gifts or talents is that they will not be properly nurtured or educated, and their potential will not be reached.

As heartbreaking as this may be, it’s up to parents, local schools, individual teachers, and others to make the difference these gifted students need. The difference gifted students can make in the world is immeasurable, and the most substantial development in medicine, the arts, science, and culture can be traced to those who have special gifts and have received gifted education in some form and all that it can offer.