Nov 17, 2020
Enriching Education for Gifted Students During COVID-19
Parents are supporting their students’ education in ways like never before. But how can parents help ensure that their gifted and talented students are challenged during a time when traditional learning looks different? Grant Wood Area Education Agency’s Erikka Vosmek and Laura Musser support gifted and talented programs in the agency’s partnering districts. They shared their thoughts on how to best keep all students engaged during virtual learning, with a special focus on engaging students who might be more inclined to challenging themselves. They explained the concept of ‘Voice and Choice’, or empowering students with a mindset of self-direction.
Empowering a student to communicate openly can keep them engaged in thinking about how and what they learn. Parents can ask their students what their interests and passions are, and find ways to support them in pursuing their passions and interests.
One way parents can encourage their students to use their voice is with Wonderwalks -- going for a walk and asking the child things that they wonder about. Around the house, they may wonder how the microwave works. Parents then can support them in discovering how it works. The goal is to have them identify their own questions and help them get at their answers in real world, authentic problem solving scenarios.
Parents can give their students a choice in deciding how they are going to interact with the content and how they’re going to demonstrate learning.
If the goal is for a student to read 30 minutes each day, it can be helpful to let them choose which book to read. It may not even have to be a book, it could be other print materials around the house or graphic novels. This choice empowers the student to get more out of their learning.
Parents can expand on this concept even further by challenging their students to think creatively and choose how the story would end up differently if they were the author. Ask a student “how could that have gone differently.” If a child loves video games, challenge them by asking “how could you make this game better?” This engages students to think outside the box in topics that interest them.
How can parents who are working from home connect to their student’s learning?
Parents should ask themselves, “what skills are you using as a professional that you learned in your child’s grade?” This can stimulate learning by thinking about an authentic problem.
How can a parent best help their gifted and talented student?
Parents can help assess barriers that might challenge students and can offer strength based support for things that are harder. Parents are encouraged to ask open ended questions and learn about their child’s needs.
Many students struggle with time management and organization -- parents can help making lists, schedules, using google calendar, or planners. Set a pace for your student, once they have proven they can do the skill, they can move on.
Oftentimes, especially with gifted and talented students, they might know more than you on a specific topic. Parents may not be able to teach their students the content, but can direct them to resources that will help them grow.
It’s not always about giving a gifted and talented student ‘more,’ it’s about keeping them engaged.