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 suffer from lack of friends of their own age for many reasons, but mainly because they communicate on a completely different level than other children. They find it impossible to relate to children their own age but they are not yet adults, able to function on their own in society (Tolan 1). Gifted programs give them exposure to other children similar to themselves, and regardless if any friendships develop from being involved in one of these programs, they are made aware that they are not alone.

Perhaps we can recall the "smart kid" in our own class - the brain, the egghead, or the geek who was often ridiculed for getting good grades. Children like these often will try to make mistakes or get poor grades in an attempt to fit it with the rest of the children. But "fit in" is exactly what they cannot do. Gifted children are actually considered to be a deviant intelligence and it is practically impossible to find a gifted child who does not experience socialization problems (Campbell).

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... specialized attention and education as any disabled individual and can also become more productive citizens.

Works Cited

Campbell, Elizabeth S., PhD. E-mail Interview. June 16, 2003.

Feldman, David Henry. Nature's Gambit: Child Prodigies and the Development of Human

Potential. New York: Basic, 1986.

Kearney, Kathy. "Life in the Asynchronous Family." Home Educator's Family Times

Vol. 8 No. 3 May/June 2000.

Oettinger, Katherine. "Your Gifted Child" US Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Welfare

Division, Children's Bureau, Washington D.C. Publication no. 371-1958, reprinted 1964.

Radford, John. Child Prodigies and Exceptional Early Achievers. New York: Free Press, 1990.

Tolan, Stefanie. "Helping Your Highly Gifted Child." ERIC Digests, Reston, VA, 1990.

Winner, Elizabeth. Gifted Children: Myths and Realities. New York: Basic, 1996.
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