Recent scrutiny of gifted and talented education can leave parents and educators feeling as though we can’t do anything right. However, the broader conversation can be taken as a sign that things are moving in the right direction. Parents have a lot more options when it comes to tapping into their children’s potential and accessing gifted-and-talented programs than ever before. Though positive change has been made, there’s always room for improvement.
The Blind Spot in Gifted and Talented Education
One area in which G&T education has a long way to go is in recognizing and nurturing kids’ desire to learn. A weakness of American gifted-and-talented programs is their overreliance on intellectual predictors of achievement. In fact, “recent research suggests that teacher nominations miss at least 60 percent of gifted students.” Studies now show something that we at FasTracKids have known all along: curiosity is a type of giftedness in its own right. If your child is curious and loves to learn, this alone makes him or her outstanding.
The Gift of Curiosity
Curiosity is characterized by the joy of discovery, the desire for exploration, and the drive to seek answers to the unknown. It’s also a fundamental predictor of the aspiration to become a scientist. Looking beyond the fact that intellectual ability is not the only indicator of giftedness, research shows that test performance also doesn’t equate to happiness. An inquisitive mind is a better predictor of long-term achievement, contentedness, and fulfillment. Curious kids are more focused in class, outperform their peers, work harder, and learn more.
We all know the value of intellectual giftedness. If you see early on that your child has a “hungry mind,” though, then a concept known as “academic intrinsic motivation” could also have great value for you. This idea acknowledges the existence of and, more importantly, the value of “motivational giftedness” – independent of the intellectual kind. Motivationally gifted children enjoy learning and the opportunity to perform challenging tasks. Regardless of test scores, they demonstrate curiosity and persistence. Gifted curiosity could even be enough to bridge the achievement gap. Though children from less privileged backgrounds tend to struggle more in school, motivational giftedness shows the potential to transcend economic disadvantages and level the playing field. Higher curiosity is associated with higher academic achievement in all children.
The Under-Appreciated Gift
All this is promising news for inquisitive kids and their parents, but, unfortunately, our schools and their preoccupation with standardization starve curiosity rather than feeding it. We’re all born curious, but this fragile gift faces threats from all sides in our current educational climate. To make up for weaknesses in the American education system, parents are left to look outside the systems on which we were taught to rely.
Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation
We’re glad that American schools have put forth the effort to identify and meet the needs of kids who are intellectually gifted. However, at FasTracKids, we think it’s just as important to nurture the strengths of those children who are motivationally gifted. Motivation is a primary indicator of long-term success and can propel students to achieve regardless of learning styles or intellectual abilities.
A Clear Opportunity
At FasTracKids, we view giftedness as a developmental process rather than a black-and-white world of haves and have-nots. You may not be able to control your child’s IQ, but you can foster curiosity, and thereby his or her motivation to learn. As a parent, you have the opportunity to turn a spark into a flame and go on feeding it. The benefit will be your child’s enjoyment of learning and continued pursuit of new experiences throughout his or her education.
Feed the Flame!
The FasTracKids approach feeds curious minds by exposing children to many different subjects at an early age. Parents who take advantage of the FasTracKids series of enrichment programs — like G&T 101, skill-building preschool, Academic Boot Camps, FasTracKids Science, STE(A)M Careers, and more — help their children tap into natural curiosity and turn intrinsic motivation into an engine for future academic success. If your child is curious and loves to learn, schedule a free trial class today. There’s nothing to lose and a lifetime of happiness and achievement to gain.