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Some children, despite their high intelligence, struggle with certain aspects of learning and development. The child who loves to be read aloud to and has an advanced vocabulary, yet struggles to sound-out words, the child who gets excited about complex math problems but “hits the wall” when required to memorize the times tables, and the child who expresses himself exceptionally well verbally yet struggles to express himself in writing, are examples of students with such profiles. The struggles of this type of learner may be overt and noticed by teachers or parents, or may be undercover, operating at a “stealth” level “under the radar.” Bright and gifted students with subtle learning difficulties may appear to be of “average” ability when in fact they have exceptional peaks of strength and valleys of weakness camouflaged within their profile. By understanding and working with and around these strengths and weaknesses, a plan can be developed to address frustrations, improve underperformance, develop strengths and interests, and help these learners achieve their considerable potential.

Many bright students grow especially frustrated when they are out-of-sync with school and age-peers cognitively or academically. They may feel different from others socially and emotionally. For an advanced student, requiring that they study material they largely already know with age-peers, opportunities for intellectual, social, and emotional growth are lost. Learning may stall. It may be difficult for the student to develop true friendships with others who are not their intellectual peers. Behavioral or emotional problems can develop, and students may even lose enthusiasm for school and learning altogether.

Although I have specific expertise in the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional students, I believe that most children can benefit from the kind of approach I take. An emphasis on uncovering strengths and interests can be particularly meaningful for a child who does not naturally excel at school. Every individual has a unique profile of strengths and weaknesses, and it is by understanding one’s abilities and learning how to work with and around them that we find the potential for growth. A learning plan tailored to a child’s unique mind is a powerful tool for enhancing development, and a valuable gift from parents to child.