The Importance of Maintaining Gifted Programs: Schools Must Not Neglect Gifted Children

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Many people are of the opinion that special education programs for gifted children are an unnecessary burden on tightly-budgeted and under-funded school systems, but this is actually far from the truth. The gifted are perhaps the most neglected group of special needs children in almost every school district. Because many people assume that the gifted do not need extra attention, gifted programs are often the first program to be cut when budgets are reduced, but I suggest that they be the last to go. These children have profound talents and are just as deserving of extra attention as children who are physically or mentally handicapped.

Gifted children experience many difficulties, including loneliness and ridicule. They
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Gifted children have a different learning style that allows them to absorb vast amounts of material much faster than the average child. The current trend in education of introducing a new idea and then building upon it is simply too slow for them. It has been likened to "feeding an elephant one blade of grass at a time - he will starve before he realizes someone is trying to feed him" (Tolan 3). These children may demonstrate what appear to be poor academic skills, causing them to appear to be less capable (Oettinger 11). Sloppy handwriting can signify that a child's hands cannot keep pace with his quick mind; some are poor spellers because they do not see words as collections of single letters and some may even have trouble with memorization (Tolan 3). Gifted programs allow them to use their skills in ways that are better suited to their learning style.

Many parents and educators are intrigued to note that gifted children often function on several different levels of intelligence and development at the same time. It is not unusual to find a six year old that can read at a seventh grade level, but has the comprehension of a fourth grader with the temperament of a three year old. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that adults who work closely with the gifted realize that this discrepancy is common and to be

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