It may seem contradictory, yet many gifted children struggle academically. Some 33 to 50 percent of intellectually precocious children will fail at least once in their academic career. According to a 2003 study, a mere 40 percent of gifted children will complete an undergraduate degree or pursue graduate studies. The rest drop out.Université de Montréal psychology instructor Geneviève Piché, along with five students, sought to clarify the fundamental notions of academic success and review data on why gifted students don't always succeed.
According to experts, children are considered gifted or a high potential when their mental age is at least one year older than their physical age. A child is intellectually precocious when his or her IQ is 130, which is the case for two to three percent of children. Only one percent of children have IQs of 140 and over compared to IQs of 90 and 120 amid the general population.
Why do gifted children struggle academically? Despite their high levels of curiosity and hunger for learning, many of these children lag when it comes to writing. “For these children, psychomotor development doesn't develop at the same pace,” says co-researcher Cassandre Bélanger-Legault. “This is sometimes at the root of academic failure.”
Another reason is the lack of interest that gifted children have at school because the curriculum doesn't meet their needs. The result is that they either become a disturbing force in the classroom or completely apathetic. “After years of a poorly adapted curriculum and of intellectual passivity, these children finish high school devoid of interest,” explains co-researcher Philippe Grenier-Vallée. “They struggle to organize their work and remain inattentive in the classroom.”
“The danger with boredom is that it can lead to dropping out, which in turn can lead to juvenile delinquency,” says co-researcher Marie-Ève Boucher. “Based on studies conducted mainly in the United States, 10 to 30 percent of intellectually precocious students have psychological and behavioral trouble. These are the result of trouble coping with their intellectual discrepancy.”
The main conclusion reached by the literature review? The importance of quickly identifying gifted children so that their gift becomes an asset rather than a liability. Their future often depends on parents adapting their education.
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