Many parents and teachers fail to recognize the gifted student as many appear more as gifted underachievers. It can be confusing when parents and teachers know that the student is smart yet appear to not apply themselves.
The truth of the matter is, gifted children quickly get bored with regular school work. It’s simply not challenging enough for them. If something isn’t challenging, why bother? From the gifted students perspective, there’s simply no point in even making the effort.
Gifted children frequently share many similar traits. Here is a short checklist of traits that many gifted children share.
It’s depressing to have to deal with those who don’t understand or don’t have the same level of knowledge that you have. Gifted children often are underachievers because they are depressed about having to do such easy school work.
A bad student that gets a good grade gets a lot of praise and notice when they get that good grade. Gifted students get noticed by not getting that good grade. There is simply no reward for them as they are already expected to get a good grade.
Low Self Esteem
When students aren’t given the opportunity to excel in their education they often display a low self esteem. If there is no reason to bother they simply lose their self esteem.
The gifted child will avoid social situations where they may be the smartest one in the group. In some younger classrooms this may cause the child to socially isolate to avoid feeling out of place.
It’s very common for these students to become disruptive. They don’t have any way to get the energy out because they are avoiding the school work that is too easy and they have to get that energy out. Often the most disruptive student in the class are the gifted underachievers. These are the students that the teacher may wish to assign more work, extra work or more challenging work to in order to help them get this out of their system.
Lack of Motivation
Without challenging enough work they may appear to be lacking in motivation. They can appear to be lazy, lethargic and uninterested in anything.
Often these students display a negative attitude. It comes down to their need for something more challenging. It’s amazing what a bit of motivation for such students can do. If a student is displaying a negative attitude it helps if the teacher, parents or counselors can sit down and help the student to get motivated by finding why they are so negative.
It’s very common for such students to avoid taking any risks or making any effort. If the work isn’t a challenge it’s very common for them to simply avoid taking a chance on doing something.
Lack of Goals
Gifted students often appear to lack goals. They require more challenging work than other students and wise parents and teachers will find this out quickly and work with the student accordingly.
Lack of Perseverance
Students may appear to lack perseverance. They will seem to have the attitude that nothing matters and who cares if it gets done.
Excel In Some Subjects
Many gifted students appear as underachievers because they do not do well in one specific subject. However, it is worthy of note to recognize that gifted students aren’t always gifted in all subjects. They may excel in mathematics, but do very poorly in sciences or language arts. This is a very common scenario and may make the child appear to be an underachiever.
Once parents and teachers recognize what is going on they can sit down together and design a plan for learning for underachieving students. It may require some testing that is done by professional to determine what is really going on. Some students may also be considered ADHD when in reality they are really also gifted students.
In some cases, more challenging work may be required. Occasionally school districts will have a child skip a grade however, this is rarely advised as the child will have other challenges then because they are always going to be the ‘youngest student’ in the classroom.
Finding out the actual cause of what is going on is the best course of action and will help to give the student the best possible chance in life. Parents, teachers and school districts must work together to help identify the situation and create a working plan of action to help the student reach the best of his or her potential.
Taking the time to determine what is going on by ruling out the various options will go far in helping identify gifted underachievers. Look at the checklist above and go over the details of what is really going on with the student to identify potential gifted students.