What do children need to know in order to succeed? A tough question if you ask parents and teachers who work with gifted children. Self-advocacy is important, as well as environment. Two experts in the field elaborate on their views.

Deb Douglas has been working with gifted kids for several years and her current passion is empowering our gifted kids to self-advocacy. In the US concern for gifted children depends much on the economy and political interests. Educational initiatives, identification programs, standardized testing, administrators in school districts and gifted education coordinators are all bound to change but what remains constant is each individual child’s need for an appropriately challenging gifted education. Deb believes that “Many gifted children in heterogeneous classrooms wait endlessly to be challenged, to learn something new and in the process their dreams are completely deferred”.

Tips on how to succeed

Dr. George Betts elaborates on some things gifted children need to know in order to succeed:

  • The importance of developing a positive nurturing environment. This starts at home and parents are the first people who should accept these children. As educators and coordinators of gifted program we know how to give (time and effort to drop inputs into the lives of gifted children) and that is a form of nourishing.
  • The development of self is critical. Self-esteem and self-concept are essential as well as developing skills to be resilient and for self-advocacy. Most of the gifted children do not have this naturally and they need to be taught at home and at school.
  • Finding your true peers. One thing we can give our gifted kids is small peer groups that they can relate to and open up in.
  • “Passion learning is all about falling in love with some area that you really want to learn and know more about”. It’s not about doing something after learning it but just living it out. Gifted children cannot just turn off their gifted switch after coming home from school, there is an insatiable hunger to learn all the time and that needs to be tactfully managed.


About the experts:

  • Deb Douglas, Past President of the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted, former high school teacher and gifted program coordinator.
  • Dr. George Betts, President, NAGC


The content of this article was derived from a lecture at the NAGC convention in Phoenix, 2015.