By Cliff Tyler
It is a common misconception that accelerated students do not need additional help outside the classroom, but they have just as much need for tutors as their peers do. In fact, gifted students face a specific set of challenges that their peers do not. They are often bored in the classroom since they have an easier time grasping new concepts than their peers. They are ready to jump ahead to more difficult concepts and to expand their knowledge beyond the curriculum, but the rest of the class is not.
The majority of teachers have not had training in education for accelerated students and do not provide the stimulation these students need to grow to their full potential. Without an opportunity to pursue their natural curiosity, gifted students may stagnate, losing their drive. It is common for these students to develop behavioral issues, contrary to the image of the gifted child as a model student. But a tutor can provide the student with the opportunity to delve deeper, reinforcing the student’s love of learning.
Tutoring for struggling students is about helping the students push upward and forward. But for accelerated students who are already ahead, it is essentially about allowing them to broaden their knowledge, filling in the gaps and providing a greater depth of understanding rather than simply pushing them harder. This type of tutoring can instill in these students a belief in their own ability to accomplish great things and can empower them to pursue their own interests. It can foster in gifted students the attitude that if they are willing to put in the effort, no knowledge is beyond their grasp.
Even though accelerated students have innate talent in certain areas and subjects, they may struggle in others. These students benefit from traditional tutoring in those areas. For instance, star math students frequently need additional help developing their verbal and written communication skills. A few avenues can be taken for these students, such as one-on-one tutoring, or maybe even outside the box options such as tutoring DVD, which call for full attention to what is being said on the screen. Another option is tutoring with AI, or artificial intelligence. There are already AI tutoring programs in place that help students with basic mathematics, writing and other subjects. In the near future, these programs will help students in more creative fields and mimic a real-life teacher. These methods are different and will force the student to write and communicate on their own. Any student, even the most gifted, may have difficulty learning effective study habits.
Accelerated students in particular often have underdeveloped organizational skills because they need to put in relatively little effort to succeed in school. Failing to learn these skills early on holds students back in their professional lives and hinders their ability to meet personal goals. A tutor who can challenge the gifted student provides the practice space for the student to learn to manage time effectively and to build healthy organizational skills. The tutor can also work with the student to develop good study habits.
Accelerated students are often poorly understood and sometimes overlooked in the education system because they are generally assumed to be thriving. But like all students, they come in all shapes and sizes, and each student benefits from guidance tailored to his or her own needs.