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Course prepares educators to identify and teach gifted children

January 22, 2001

Judy is seven but reads at a sixth-grade level. Jason, at nine, tackles high school geometry “for fun.” Maryellen produces amazingly detailed sketches, though she's only eight.

Judy, Jason and Maryellen are “gifted,” and such children can be as challenging to educators and parents as children considered to be “slow learners.”

But beginning this semester, there's help, a course called “Seminar on Teaching Gifted and Talented Children.”

Step one is identifying them early in the educational process, says Dr. Lynnette Henderson, who teaches the course. Failing to do so can result in a child who's bored, who detaches from the classroom and the learning experience.

“Research shows that gifted children may learn eight times faster than their classmates. Very few teachers are prepared to deal with that,” Henderson says. “That leads to frustration all around, for the teacher, the child and the parents.”

The second objective is to keep gifted children challenged. “They learn they can get A's merely by showing up,” Henderson says. The challenge for teachers is to maintain a connection “between effort and achievement.”

Educators taking Henderson's course will not only be better prepared to reach gifted students but they will also meet state standards for teaching them.

Henderson is compiling a list of families with gifted children who would be interested in allowing their child to participate in case studies.

Those interested in enrolling in the class and or in having their gifted child participate in case studies can telephone Henderson between 1-3 p.m. weekdays at 7536, or e-mail her at