Strategies for Challenging Gifted Learners
In the age of COVID, a lot of attention has been paid to how Kumon can help students close learning gaps and catch up to where they should be. But what about students who are already working ahead of their grade level? How does Kumon challenge gifted learners?
Just as students who are struggling might give up and zone out, gifted learners who are ahead of the class might finish their work early and be difficult to keep engaged. In either case, students may get bored and act out or miss something important. That’s why it’s crucial to keep students engaged.
What is differentiated instruction?
Education experts talk about the importance of differentiated instruction – teaching a roomful of individuals on whatever level they are at – in keeping students engaged, challenged and learning. Kumon’s customized learning program offers the opportunity to do just that.
In traditional classrooms, gifted students often finish their work early and are asked to sit quietly while the rest of the class works.
In the Kumon Program, which is based on the philosophy that a child must master a particular skill or concept before moving to the next one, students are encouraged to learn at their own pace. They are given a worksheet and asked to keep practicing a skill until the student can execute that skill perfectly. Only after a skill is mastered do they begin to build on that foundation by starting to develop proficiency in the next skill.
With Kumon, students who are struggling to master a skill spend a little more time practicing it. If it comes easily to them, however, they can forge ahead. That way, they are always challenged by the next attainable goal.
How does Kumon help gifted learners?
For advanced students, Kumon offers a more challenging program than they are likely to find in their regular classrooms. Instead of twiddling their thumbs while a teacher explains a concept that they understood earlier, Kumon allows gifted students to work independently on their particular skill level.
And although a gifted learner may understand many concepts easily, there are bound to be some that trip them up. In Kumon, when an advanced student is having a harder time grasping one concept, they can stay at that level as long as it takes. In addition to ensuring that foundational skills are mastered, this teaches advanced students how to study and learn something new, which is something they may not have encountered often previously. It’s good for them to have to work on more complicated concepts a bit longer before they tackle new, more difficult ones, as it gives them confidence that they’ll be able to conquer other problems, too, when they arise.
What can you do to keep a gifted student engaged?
There are a number of ways to keep gifted students engaged and learning. Here are a few:
- Encourage students to read independently about subjects they’re interested in. Provide challenging books and materials.
- When a student understands a concept being taught to the rest of their class, don’t hold them back. Instead, push them to work on a related but more advanced topic or problem.
- Don’t assume that just because a student is working well above grade level in math, for instance, that they are just as far ahead in reading. They may struggle with comprehension or writing. Learn their comfort level with every subject.
The Kumon Program was developed to help students get to grade level and then surpass it. Kumon is ideally suited for gifted students because it is always pushing them to meet the next challenge at the best pace for the individuals.