Dr. Beth Maloney
Teaching and Learning Consultant
Gifted and Talented Education - GATE
CAN MY CHILD BE BOTH GIFTED AND AN UNDERACHIEVER IN SCHOOL?
Frequently Asked Questions of the National Association for Gifted Children
Many intellectually and
creatively gifted children do not achieve to their abilities in school.
Although parents and teachers are typically aware of how bright these
children are, they are puzzled by students' lack of motivation and
productivity. Furthermore, as school performance declines, even parents
and teachers begin to wonder whether the students are as capable as
test scores and earlier performance indicated. Frequently, the children
themselves lose confidence in their ability to perform in school.
What are some signs of academic underachievement?
young people will become immersed in learning of their choice, will read
continuously, or escape to computers rather than complete school
assignments. They may be active but selective learners and refuse to do
required school work.
When should underachievement be considered a problem?
bright kids should not be expected to receive "A" grades in everything.
In facts, students who complete almost all their work perfectly may not
be sufficiently challenged. All students should be expected to have
strengths and weaknesses, as well as subjects they find more and less
interesting. Underachievement should be considered a problem if it is
severe (achievement well below grade level), is long standing (occurring
over more than one school year), or is causing the student distress.
NAGC thanks Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D., for developing this FAQ
brochure. Dr. Rimm is a psychologist, clinical professor at Case
Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and Director of the
Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio
Copyright 2008 National Association for Gifted Children
What causes gifted children to underachieve?
has complex causes, so it is important not to over-simplify the
problem. Gifted children may not themselves understand why they are
underachieving. Usually school and home causes combine to set the
pattern in motion.
Possible School Issues
Possible Home Issues
Many children do overcome their underachievement; others continue similar patterns throughout adult life. If the pattern has continued for more than one school year, it is important to get help. It is easier to change a pattern if you identify it early. Following are some suggestions for getting help: