Educational Psychology: How can gifted students be managed in the teaching environment?

CHAPTER ELEVEN

THE EXCEPTIONAL LEARNER

11 b i). Provide ways which a teacher can use so as to be able to effectively manage gifted children.

How to manage the gifted children

Many suggestions have been put forward.

Some people feel that the gifted children should be put in classes according to mental age rather than chronological

They could be allowed to skip grades. This approach would solve one problem but create another problem for the gifted child. If a child skips grades he is removed from his social emotional peers, which may later affect social adjustment later. For these reasons some approaches have advised that the child should be retained in class with his age mates but be given additional work or material. This is the concept of enriching the regular classroom by allowing the gifted child to conduct independent research, offering them additional learning and even offering them extra curriculum activities.

The mentally handicapped children

According to the American Association on mental deficiency (AAMD) Mental retardation refers to the substantial limitations in present intellectual functioning which is characterized by sub average intellectual functioning existing concurrently with related limitations in two or more of the following; applicable adaptive skill areas e.g. communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self- direction, health, safety, functional academics, leisure and work. Mental retardation manifests before age 18.

Causes of mental retardation

Mental retardation could be caused by the following factors

Inborn errors of metabolism for example in the case of phenylketunoria (PKU). In PKU the child is born with a genetic defect, which interferes with the ability to metabolize protein. When protein is not completely broken down, it causes poisoning in the child’s body. The poisoning interferes with the physical development and the baby fails to thrive physically. The poisoning also causes damage to the central nervous system causing severe mental retardation. As a result the child has very low I.Q. and may not acquire language nor any self help skills and may require life-long care.

Chromosomal abnormalities, for example; Trisomy 21. As you know, chromosomes occur in pairs. However there are cases when the chromosome 21 may have three chromosomes instead of two. The three chromosomes in chromosome number 21 causes mental retardation called Downs Syndrome or Mongolism.

Prenatal factors; Diseases like rubella, conditions like Rh factor, malnutrition and even drugs taken by the mother during pregnancy are known to cause mental retardation.

Perinatal factors; these refer to conditions surrounding the birth process for example; injury to the central nervous system during the birth process. Anoxia which is the deprivation of oxygen to the baby’s brain during the birth process. Prematurity is also conditions known to cause mental retardation.

Postnatal factors. These are conditions existing after the birth of the baby for example infections e.g. meningitis

Categories of mentally retarded children

Mentally retarded children are classified as follows The profoundly methods retarded; with I.Q. below 30 The severely mentally retarded I.Q. 30-35

Children in these categories cannot be trained in self-help skills like dressing, feeding or toileting. They cannot be trained in socialization or economic usefulness and they need life long care.

The trainable mentally retarded I.Q. 35-50 These children have potentialities in three areas.

1.They can learn self care like feeding, dressing, undressing; Toileting and sleeping 2.They can learn to adjust in the home and the neighbourhood

3.They can learn economic usefulness in the home

The educable mentally retarded I.Q. 50-79. These children can do writing, arithmetic and reading at a very slow rate. If they are given all the help they can get, they can go up to Std 3 or 4. They acquire numeracy and literacy skills very late. They are slow in specific intellectual functions needed for schoolwork, they lack concentration, have a short attention span and they have many problems with social behavior.

The educable mentally retarded children have some capacity for school adjustment to a point where they can get along independently in the community. They can acquire minimum occupational adequacy, which will enable them to support themselves partially or totally at a marginal level.

The slow learner I.Q. ranges from 80-90

This is a borderline category of learners who have problems in catching up with the rest of the children in class academically. They are capable of achieving a moderate degree of academic success at a slower rate than the average child.

 

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