1.1 Background of the study
All over the globe, the information age has brought immense awareness amidst the social transformation emphasizing nurturing self-sufficiency skills through effective learning for all, eliminating instances of exclusion on the basis of limited proficiency and economically disadvantaged learners. Empirically, the effectiveness of the current formal schooling has come under continual criticism apparently arising from increasing disaffection levels, resulting in a looming crisis with potential to damage the core purpose of American education. However, the disengagement challenge trickles down to the educational environment and the supportive mechanisms erected in place to ensure wholesome development. According to Skinner and Belmont (1993), the degree of engagement in the educational environment varies considerably and that affected pupils never sustains behavioral involvement in the activities they assume later in their lives.
Conversely, engaged learners sustain behavioral involvement positively reflected during the selection of tasks at the border of their competencies, initiate action when given the opportunity, and exert intense effort and concentration in the implementation of learning opportunities (Shaw, 2005). Similarly, intellectual gifted students are the worst affected by the disengagement owing to their vulnerability when adjusting to unsupportive environment. For instance, despite their unique intellectual ability they face up to challenges of uneven development, perfectionism, adult expectations, intense sensitivity, self-definition, alienation, inappropriate environments and role conflict over which the degree of success IN adjustments depends to a great extent on environmental support (Roedell, 2013).
1.2 Problem statement
Accelerating cases of disproportionately in the current education system are raising concern on the role of the education in nurturing the student’s ability in a climate where children receive appropriate education to their personal requirements. Often, the gifted population has been a subject of misunderstanding under the policies of educational environment where they are either expelled from the formal schooling under the zero tolerance practice, condemned to special education for the mentally disturbed or ignored all the same to survive the tough environment. Obviously, from the above status the customary environment fails to accord them the right structure and fair treatment to nurture their potential, owing to the prolonged and widening mismatch with the environment as they approach their prime years.
Initially, the customary educational environment in America public institutions was founded on the principle of offering free and quality education regardless of cultural background and special circumstances, to nurture productive citizens. However, the modern-day requirements demand visionary and facilitative approach to generate global citizens able to transcend present and future barriers and pursue their individual dreams. Interestingly, supporting diversity in the present environment demand designing and implementing facilitative educational structures which address all sensitive academic requirements, learning approaches and inclusive for the multiple intelligences. However, many of the facilitative structures are yet to be represented in the current formal curriculum with the gifted population of students having to bear with the unfair system offering no challenge to their potential. In particular, students with high capabilities and participating in selected activities often emerge as high achievers in structured environments, but risk underachieving if they never realize their priorities.
Primarily, the motivation behind this research project is investigating the impact of supporting gifted children in preschools both in supportive and unsupportive educational environment in nurturing their performances in ensuing years. Consequently, this study analyses the productivity of variables in supporting gifted children accomplish their giftedness and translate that into the performance.
1.3 Research Question
Primarily, the research is intended to answer the fundamental perception on whether there exist any substantial impacts in the performance of gifted children in a supportive educational environment in preschools in Colorado, against those attending the customary educational environment. The interconnecting natures of the general research question arise from inspirations of Krechevsky and Mardell’s observation, in a context that educational environments not only transmit a learning culture and knowledge to subsequent generations but they create them and nurture their inherent gift.
1.4 Objective of the Research
The objectives of this research project intended to:
- Examine the variables determining the productivity of preschool environments to nurture the intellectual capacities of gifted children.
- Identify the critical support structures essential to provide the required attention to the gifted children and how they are flexible to cater for subsequent diversity amongst the learners.
- Contrast the performance of gifted children placed under the customary educational environment against the un-supportive environment.
- Investigate the core functions of facilitators in the supportive environment intended to challenge the intellectual capacities of the gifted children.
- Find out and learn more on the discrepancies arising in supportive preschool environment structures worth implementation in the education system to produce global citizens.
- Analyze potential challenges faced by the facilitators in the supportive environment as they identify, cope and orient the gifted learners in the preschool environment.
1.5 Purpose of the Research
The findings of this study aims to reveal the vulnerability of the gifted children to uneven development approaches under the formal curriculum where their extreme intellectual capabilities are limited by their physical capabilities. Notably, the study offers enlightening channels for the educational practitioners refocus on assistive environments for the children exhibiting difficulties during adjustments to academic demands. Ideally, ordinary schooling strategies often fail to generate a matching challenge to enhance the wholesome development for the gifted children realize their potential. In view of that, the study serves as a diagnostic channel to enrichment programs by exploring alternatives to nurture the gifted population engage in activities generating long term attentiveness as future knowledge producers. For too long, handling the children requiring special treatment has generated a range of controversial response under the traditional standpoint condemning as outright underachievers. For this reason, the study seeks to demonstrate the potential of enhancing their intellectual gifts under the support system and whether the approach is worth committing to, given the now interconnected atmosphere demanding global preparedness for diverse capacities.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study serves a series of interrelated significances in clarifying the controversial position of whether to put the gifted children in a supportive educational environment or under the usual curriculum. Firstly, the study serves a platform to understand why a supportive environment is thought to serve as the best approach to handle the intellectual talents and why it may fail to rise up to the expectations. Secondly, it generates a better understanding of the impact of disengagement endured by the gifted population while trying to face up with adjustments in the educational settings. Besides analyzing the structures of the supportive environment, the study is significant in demonstrating the fundamental basis for handling and managing the diversity of multiple intelligences in the learning environment. Additionally, the project puts to task the preschool system on its existing adequacy of supporting and impacting the performance of gifted children and highlighting instances when the learning environment may fail to yield the anticipated productivity. Furthermore, this project serves an inclusive purpose of maximizing the educational productivity both to benefit the gifted students and the wellbeing of the society. Lastly, addressing the stated problem provides a platform in compliance with the obligatory course work for the master’s program.
2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Identifying With the Gifted Children
Giftedness, individual talent, expertise and creative achievement often exist as inextricably linked in the interpretation of facilitating conditions. However, the definition of giftedness has honestly generated controversial viewpoints in philosophical and existential forums, alike the challenge of accepting their potential in the learning environment. Customarily, a gifted child refers to one demonstrating high intelligence across the full range of intellectual activities and concepts beyond the norm such as creativity and emotional intelligence (Dowland, 2006).However, with the nature of misconception surrounding the gifted children, educators have overly relied on the IQ measure as the effective predictor of academic achievement in general (Pfeiffer, 2008). However, in the modern conceptions of gifted children linking them to practice has initiated a switch over from generalized to specific approaches.
Educating the children with a high-level intellectual capacity under the typical setting often fails to generate their full potential owing to their unique behaviors, personal feelings and special requirements. A set of reasons why the above mentioned children often fail to live up to their potential, one being the way they are oriented to preschools, taught and assessed in an environment that does not enable them learn and perform in an optimal way (Sternberg, Jarvin, & Grigorenko, 2011). This generates the question of how can the supportive environment match the genetic potentials and offer facilitative conditions to interact with the giftedness and produce high-level achievement. The gift comes from people as nature gives no gifts, but it does transmit some genetic potentials unfolding in interaction with stimulating experiences structured by parents, family, home, schools, teachers and curricula (Sternberg & Davidson, 2005).
Empirically, an individual cannot creatively surpass ones existing knowledge limits if one never discovers the nature of those boundaries. At the same time, memory for facts without the ability to use those facts is really useless both to the individual and the society at large (Sternberg, Jarvin, & Grigorenko, 2011). However, identifying and teaching gifted children to translate into improved performances are two facets, though interrelated, are difficult to attain. In particular, teaching for successful intelligence requires individualization to many patterns of abilities, which is impractical, because one cannot know all students’ abilities, and in a large class one even may not know any students’ patterns of abilities (Sternberg, Jarvin, & Grigorenko, 2011).
Recently, it is well accepted that early intervention to harness the potential of children requiring special attention is vital to ease their cognitive and affective development. In particular, early intervention programs for toddlers with disabilities have demonstrated immense progress in the performances emerging from educational success in nurturing and engaging settings such as Head start, IDEA and infant-toddler programs (Guilbault, 2013).However, this is the same requirement for the gifted children demanding appropriate development services to nurture their highest potential through early intervention. With the number of recognized children rising annually, studies demonstrate that when gifted are provided a responsive learning environment during early enrollment in Kindergarten on the basis of intellectual, academic and social readiness, they perform as well as or better than their older classmates (Guilbault, 2013).
Historically, intellectual styles are perceived as vital factors explaining and predicting learning achievement in the environment. Obviously, no individual is outstanding in all perspectives, but gifted children present a markedly superior quality in indicative giftedness, varying in personalities. Firstly, successful gifted personality involves the potential of high achievement in academic aspect. Secondly, the challenging type is exemplary creative, often bored and rebellious in instances of disaffection. Thirdly, underground type in gifted children is never identified owing to their quiet profile and often drops out from programs meant for gifted individuals. Additionally, dropout personality poses resistance when the current educational system fails to address their explicit requirements leading to anger and depression. Furthermore, the double-labeled children are unrecognized due to their physical or emotional distress affecting their learning ability as adults fail to focus on areas they are less able and never recognize their giftedness. Lastly, autonomous gifted children are continuously self-confident, independent, and successful academically; goal oriented and requires no space restrictions as they are highly responsible (Kondrat, 2013).
2.2 Inclusive Supportive Educational Environment
Finding out about the gifted children, trying to define their differences, identifying and developing their talents, understanding how they feel and what they need to thrive and succeed ─ these are all pieces of the intricate puzzle facing many parents and teachers of gifted children (Vasilevska, Urban, & Hewton, 2009). Factually, gifted children portray higher ability of performance relative to their age mates and thus require appropriately challenging educational experiences to develop their potential. For that reason, providence of the right supportive setting is a shared responsibility and concern for stakeholders including family members, educator and the society in general. When referring to school situations, gifted children’s personalities appear different from the norm because of their advanced, adult-like vocabulary or a sophisticated sense of humor that is beyond their peers (Porter, 2008). Finding the best educational setting for the said children is no simple solution as many operating variables must be considered. Such variables may include the level of understanding of the parent, areas of giftedness, the advancement of the kid in the specific area, is the kid moderately gifted, barely gifted, or highly or profoundly gifted and presence of weakness that need strengthening (Gore & Amend, 2007).
The contribution of the parent in nurturing the potential of the gifted children is essential rather than trust the existing school programs identify and impact the performance of the child. In particular, though contemporary schools are incorporating advanced learner’s curriculum to cater for the multiple intelligences, they often suffer inadequacy and are minimal when they exist. Consequently, parents have the primary role in enhancing the potential of their children in three aspects. Firstly, the parents should observe common traits exhibited by their children when exposed to various areas. Secondly, they are to maintain a mental record of the behavior of preschool children. Lastly, parents of older children are to provide after-school enrichment opportunities, in which they observe how quickly the child learns and how much interest does the kid demonstrate in various areas (Gore & Amend, 2007).
Ideally, education is perceived as an essential cooperative venture with the home setting to nurture the potential of the children in social, cultural, and mental growth. However, exceptional abilities in children demand exceptional settings too, different from the typical experience to reach their potential (Smutny, 2010). As Donald Treffinger asserts, placing the children in a school tolerating gifted educating is never enough, as the administration should genuinely support the teaching system which ought to be stimulating and challenging (Gore & Amend, 2007). Providing the best possible education for all pupils should acknowledge their giftedness in a learning atmosphere that: recognizes their particular needs and special abilities, further develops their talents and potential capacity, assists with promoting their optimum development, builds upon their existing levels of learning by engaging, inspiring, motivating and challenging them (Department of Education and Training, 2010).
Many a times, the typical educational environment fails to generate a receptive engagement allowing social and emotional comfort for the gifted children. In particular, this emerges from the mismatch of personality characteristics of gifted children exposing them to vulnerable atmospheres and potential bullies both from the curriculum policies and the immediate society members alike. For example, emphasizing mastery of a concept repeatedly is torturing the giftedness in the children. However, enhancing learning environments for the young children especially on preK-2 has frequently been overlooked in most district schools. As Joan Smutny asserts, providing supportive environments of the children should revolve beyond the curriculum to address both the physical space of the classroom, social and emotional comfort using biographies, community resources, child-friendly institutions, and local cultural programs (Fremd & Smutny, 2009).
A supportive learning environment is best enhanced through enrichment programs to create academic rigor appropriate for the higher capabilities of the gifted children. Essentially, an enrichment program for the preschools is meant to add breadth to the typical curriculum to accommodate a challenging environment. In practice, enrichment may take a variety of supportive forms. Firstly, enrichment in a classroom environment involves stepping out beyond the educational box and provides exploratory forums challenging enough for the high-level thinking. Secondly, utilization of the resources in pull-out programs involving an extension of what is learnt in typical learning environment by developing challenging activities for them. Additionally, a supportive climate may demand using ability grouping in elementary education systems where children of a similar potential are grouped with their peers during learning sessions. Furthermore, a cluster grouping works best for the gifted when placed with specialists with requisite knowledge of handling and enhancing the ability of the gifted children rather than force them to fit in the typical educational setting leading to isolation and forceful camouflaged abilities (Gore & Amend, 2007).
As most would expect, supportive environment ought to offer the best climate to harness the potential in the gifted population through academic enrichment programs. However, this may never be the case with the young, gifted and likely to suffer for it (Freeman & Barbieri, 2010). Although popularly used in the enrichment environment, the pull-out programs suffers with several limitations. First, gifted children maintain their intellectual capacity throughout, not just in the few days they visit resource rooms. Second, the supportive system assumes that gifted specialists readily provide all care of the gifted learners especially in the preschools with intent of integrating the tender mind in the right environment. Also, academic rigor is prejudiced when the enrichment project is short-lived and extended projects are difficult for the children for the entire program fit the time frame required (Gore & Amend, 2007).