“I’m working with a great group of gifted students. The only problem is that some of them don’t like to have to think because they’re used to everything being so easy. How do I motivate my top students to want to get to the next level? How do I get them to want to dig deep and not just to be masters of the surface level?”
This is from an email I got from a friend of mine who has started teaching in America and asked for my help. Her training had prepared her for dealing with learning disabilities but she felt less equipped when working with children in the gifted program. I have worked with many gifted children at Hummingbird Learning Centre because their parents and teachers had noticed that their motivation had died, they lacked focus and attention and their grades were slipping.
Here are some of the strategies from the Hummingbird Learning Method® that we use to motivate gifted children to think:
Make a huge effort to reward and praise their effort rather than their natural talent and intelligence. Remember that they have probably always been rewarded for getting the correct answer rather than their thinking process.
Find out what interests them and allow them to explore that topic using a multidisciplinary approach.
Failure can be very de-motivating. Gifted children are not good at everything but as they tend to be very good in certain areas, they can find it difficult to deal with failure when it comes. Dealing with failure is an important life skill and one they need to cultivate in order to stay motivated to come up with a solution.
It is important to maintain a good relationship with the school and class teacher. Rather than the teacher simply giving the gifted child more of the same work, ask that they are given more challenging work. This will stop boredom setting in and prevent disruptive behaviour in the classroom
Asking for evidence to support their answer will get them to think deeper. Deeper thinking results in deeper answers.