Are Life Skills Needed in the Gifted Classroom?

This past Friday, I was able to participate in the weekly #gtchat conversation.  (You can see the transcript here.) The topic was one that I have thought about and  try to incorporate in to my Gifted classroom, and that topic is Life Skills. Is it really important to teach our students life skills in our classroom? Is it one of those things we can afford to spend time on since we have so many high stakes testing in our schools? To me the answer is YES!

There are many life skills that need to be taught in the Gifted classroom that will transcend school and home, and into the future work place of our students. Here is just a few, but not a complete list:

  • How to fail
  • How to work with a partner/group
  • How to control emotions / overexcitability
  • How to be organized
  • How to express one’s self
  • How to deal with struggle
  • How to multi-task
  • How to manage time
  • How to be a leader / knowing when to follow

Not to say that many teachers don’t incorporate these life skills into their classrooms, I just think many times, even I, take my students abilities for granted. Just because these children are smart doesn’t mean they have life skills. Our gifted students and children need to know how to do many of the skills above to be successful in the workplace.

Teachers must work with parents of gifted children to experience many of the life skills in the list above. Some parents, like the ones in my urban school district, don’t have the means or the training to help their gifted child out when it comes to school curriculum or life skills. Many are just trying to survive with jobs that are second or third shift. These parents don’t have the time to work on these life skills. This isn’t to say they don’t want to. They just don’t have the time. That’s where teachers need to be a bit more sensitive, and get to know their students. When we do, that’s when we can assist parents in teaching our students these skills.

I do a lot of projects in my classroom. I make my students chart out their project, and when the due date will be. I try to get some students to work with others so that they have the opportunity to lead and follow. They also have to deal with struggling, but knowing they are not alone. I almost have my students make a portfolio for the year. It contains their projects, grades, pictures, outlines, anything they feel that was important to their project. They show these portfolios to their parents at conference time.

How do you feel about incorporating life skills into your Gifted classroom? If so how do you do it? If not, why?


2 thoughts on “Are Life Skills Needed in the Gifted Classroom?

  1. Tricia

    I believe that life skills have to be embedded in nearly every aspect of how we teach and parent our children, and especially our highly able gifted kiddos. From teaching them the value of learning from mistakes, to cleaning up our own messes, or being polite to one another. It’s an art that is carefully crafted on a student by student, or event by event basis.

    I’ve always tried to impart my belief in their abilities to do the right thing, and take personal responsibility as part of their own development. It’s a complex issue but I think it is at the core of good teaching.

    1. Jeffrey Shoemaker Post author

      I agree with you. It is a complex issue. Sometimes it is one of the most overlooked as well. I never thought of as so personal. I thought teaching common social norms. But I feel you are right. It is a personal part of their own development.


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