The longer I am a teacher, the more aware I am that children need emotional support and security in different ways from their parents and their teachers. I am not alone in this kind of thinking. We can see that as children grow up they sometimes don’t see their selves as we do. They become unsure of themselves and doubt begins. Teenagers go through this often. I see it in the middle school I teach in. But…in some cases gifted children could and can go through this differently. Let me explain.
A gifted child can be at a disadvantage based on their giftedness. For a child who was advanced several grades their peers are older than they are, and yet educationally they can relate. On the other hand, emotionally they can not. They have a tendency to be “big people” in “little bodies.” They may see themselves differently from what others perceive them. So, how do teachers and parents work together to help these children to come into maturity having a good self concept? We give them lots of emotional support and security. Here is a few things that I do in my classroom to help give children a sense of security.
1. Classroom = Safe place
- I communicate to the best of my abilities to my students that our classroom is a safe place. There are no bullies, and no bully behavior will be tolerated. I also outline very specific consequences for that kind of behavior.
- I use activities in my classroom to help illustrate the use of partnership. They can depend on me. I will be as fair as I can. I will listen when you need to talk, I will help you when I can, and I will guide you where I think you should go. At the same time, I am open to hearing suggestions on classroom procedures, content, and projects.
2. Shared Ownership of the Classroom
- We work together to come up with some classroom rules and consequences that students will follow. I try to guide them so that they are not too tough on themselves. I also offer up personal learning plans with my students. I allow them the option to learning something they have a desire to learn about.
I share my teaching philosophy with my students.
- I post my teaching manifesto on the wall, and I try to live up to this. I show them day after day that I am there for them, and for their education.
So for me to start emotionally supporting my students I try very hard to create an atmosphere that they can explore, create, and discuss topics and projects without worrying about being criticized. It takes time and a lot of energy to do this, but it does work.
After looking at a lot of different articles I have found a common theme. We need to nurture the gifts that our gifted children have, and help them to develop those gifts into something that will help accentuate their personality. Gifted children shouldn’t be known for their giftedness, but who they are as a person. We need to focus on who they are to strengthen their core personality. I try to learn who my students are through conversations, activities, and discussions we have in class, and sometimes outside of class. I show my students that I am not only concerned about their education. I show them that I am interested in who they are as a person; a person who has something to contribute to our class, school, and society.
Here is a few things that I do in my class to emotionally support my students. Now you have to realize that my class sizes can’t reach more than 15. Most of my classes range from 2-14 students.
- I try to find at least one thing to complement them on from the time I had them.
- I try to have a short conversation with each of my students. With a class period that is only 1 day a week and last for 220-240 minutes I have time to say something to my students.
- I have periodical class meetings when I see a growing negitive issue in my class. It is better to be proactive than reactive.
- At times I will play games with them on the playground. I have tried to jump rope, or 4 square in the past. I have also been the pitcher and umpire in kickball games.
- I encourage my students when they are struggling, and I offer guidance to help them. When I see a student not acting in a normal way I often call them to my desk and we have a short talk.
To close, parents and teachers can do a lot to help emotionally support their gifted children. I want to share a short story that I think it is appropriate for this post. When I was in high school, which can be a tough time anyways, I had lost my Grandfather. This was the first time death was so close to me. I struggled for many months with this. My grades dropped, and I began to feel myself become a loner. I had a few teachers and an administrator who pulled me aside and began to council me. These people changed my life. I feel that if they hadn’t done what they did I may not be a teacher today. I think because of those talks I am sensitive to the emotional support of children. Think about your life, I know there are people who have shaped your life for the better; do that for these children. Remeber, emotionally supporting gifted children doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be done.