Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Counseling Gifted Students: School-Based Considerations and Strategies

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Counseling Gifted Students: School-Based Considerations and Strategies

Article excerpt


Counselors working in schools may primarily focus on students with below-average achievement, or who are atrisk for falling behind academically. Unfortunately, educators and counselors can overlook the developmental and emotional needs of gifted students, because these students are often meeting or exceeding educational expectations (Fisher & Kennedy, 2016). In this article, we will provide an overview of gifted youth, with a focus on the diversity that exists within this group. We will also review the potential risks and challenges faced by gifted students in schools, and the strategies that school-based counselors may consider when working with gifted students.

Giftedness is one of many aspects of diversity that a school team must consider when supporting any student. Other dimensions of diversity that impact a student's social, academic, and identity development include race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. As with each of these factors, a student's giftedness is a part of their identity, and a counselor should consider how a student's skills, talents, or abilities may be interacting with other factors in their life when evaluating problem situations or forming treatment plans (Cross & Cross, 2015). With the potential impact and interaction effects of giftedness in mind, counselors can tailor their treatment approaches to best meet the needs of this population of students (Fisher & Kennedy, 2016).

What is giftedness?

Across time and across the globe, there have been and continue to be many different definitions of giftedness and methods for identifying gifted individuals. Some refer to this population as gifted, others use gifted and talented, and still others may identify those with high ability (i.e., high IQ), high academic achievement, or who stand out for remarkable skills or accomplishments across other fields such as art or music. McClain and Pfeiffer (2012) provide a broad definition that covers these various aspects and attributes, describing this population as those who "exhibit outstanding intellectual ability, or promise, and are capable of extraordinary performance and accomplishment" (p. 59). Peterson (2015) describes gifted individuals as those with exceptionally high ability, "regardless of academic performance" (p. 153). Thus, Peterson is arguing that a framework for this definition should be inclusive of both those who have remarkable achievements, as well as those with the capacity to do so. Throughout this article, we will use the term gifted, but we will try to be as inclusive of the broadest possible group of gifted individuals in our coverage of relevant challenges and recommended strategies for supporting these students. Similarly, we encourage all counselors to broaden their view to include the possibility of giftedness as we describe it in any of the students that they work with.

Methods for the identification of gifted students vary widely across and within countries. For example, within the United States, there are no national criteria for giftedness, and students are identified as gifted in varying ways across the 50 States (Fisher & Kennedy, 2016). In Lebanon, little research has been conducted on both the period of adolescence (Ayyash-Abdo, 2007) or on gifted children (Saroupbim, 2009). The country lacks a formal system of education for gifted students, as the emphasis in the national school curriculum remains on mainstream education (Saroupbim, 2009). Conversely, in Israel, The Israeli Ministry's Division for Gifted and Talented Education is responsible for coordinating provision for gifted and talented children in the Israeli educational system and offers a variety of special programs for gifted and talented children nationwide (Zeidner & Shani-Zinovich, 2013). According to the current policy of the Israeli Ministry of Education, special educational programs are offered to individuals who are identified as scholastically gifted, based on overall scholastic achievements and cognitive ability tests performance. …

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