When is a Disruptive Child a Gifted Child? We explore the traits and next steps for a gifted child.

Traits of a gifted child

May 4th 2017

Naughty child vs gifted child? Disruptive vs frustrated? Our education consultants explain how to distinguish the key traits that make a world of difference in the classroom...

According to a recent OFSTED report, low level disruption in the classroom is having a very real effect on children’s lives – potentially losing an hour of learning a day for each child, or a staggering 38 days a year.

Most parents are familiar with tales of others in their child’s class swinging on chairs, disturbing other children or refusing to co-operate with the lesson – but what if it’s your child being disruptive?

When Naughtiness isn’t Naughtiness

It’s tempting to blame disruptive classroom behaviour on poor parenting, poor teaching or any number of other social ills, but a surprisingly high number of disruptive children are actually gifted children who are simply frustrated. Although most schools work hard to identify and support gifted children, there are always those who slip through the net, and whose behaviour in class may appear to be “naughty” or rebellious.

Fortunately, once such a child is identified, there are many effective strategies to help them meet their full potential, turning the classroom from a battleground into a focused learning environment once more.

One such strategy is the use of private tutoring for the gifted child. Steve Spriggs, MD of William Clarence Education, knows the value of private tuition for a child who is bright but bored. “If the work isn’t stimulating or challenging, the gifted child will shut down,” he says. “Gifted children can smell busywork a mile off and will often refuse to co-operate with classroom activities which they don’t believe to be worthwhile.”

Through the use of a private tutor, gifted children are stretched and developed, and private tuition can help them to go back to a subject where they would otherwise have switched off. “Of course, it’s important that the school is part of the solution and recognises the child as gifted, but in the first instance, private tuition can do a great deal to calm the situation and to re-engage the child.”

Traits of the Gifted Child

But how might you know if your disruptive child is gifted? There are some key clues to look out for:

  • Is your child very sensitive to sensory stimuli – very aware of clothing, easily overwhelmed by noise, vehemently disliking of particular odours?
  • Does your child ask “difficult” questions, and persist until they receive a satisfactory answer?
  • Does your child use complex language and ideas to challenge authority?
  • Does your child’s poor behaviour coincide with low blood sugar?
  • Is the poor behaviour specific to the school situation, or to one particular class?
  • At home, does your child become very absorbed in and focused on what they are doing?

All of these traits point towards a child who is gifted intellectually but perhaps struggling within the narrow confines of the school system. A gifted child’s creativity and spontaneity can be difficult for teachers, and for other children, and many gifted children also have a learning disorder of some kind which adds to their frustrations – they may be unable to fully express their ideas, or perhaps unable to work neatly.

Next Steps for your Gifted Child

The first step if your child is getting into trouble in lessons should always be to talk to your child about the problem, and to get their views on why they are misbehaving – bearing in mind that behaviour which some might label as naughty or disruptive (such as asking too many questions or challenging the point of a particular piece of work) is often actually a positive thing.

The next step is to talk to the school to seek a long term solution. However, private tuition is a very good interim step and the relationship your gifted child will build up with a good private tutor will help him or her to respect the boundaries of school, as well as to express their full potential both in and out of the classroom.

Whether your child is destined for greatness, or in need of a little extra assistance in the classroom, the specialists from our Family Services team are on hand to discuss their individual needs, and work out an action plan to bring out their best in the classroom. Contact us today to find out more.