The learning environment plays an important role in the growth of advanced learners. One of the most salient ideas I learned in the gifted education graduate program I completed, is that advance learners need the opportunity to develop their potential. This requires that parents or teachers create an environment that includes access to challenging materials and experiences.
I noticed early on that my children were curious and passionate about specific topics. Taking time to observe them as they play or to listen them talk about their interests allows me to choose materials that invite them to further explore and learn about a topic. Their intense curiosity is what prompted me to provide them with a place to pursue to their interests.
In graduate school, in Massachusetts, I was lucky enough to take the class, Learning and Teaching, taught by Eleanor Duckworth. My classroom teaching and personal beliefs about learning and teaching were influenced by this class and her book “The Having of Wonderful Ideas” and Other Essays on Teaching and Learning. One of the quotes that has stood out for me is the following,
“The are two aspects of providing occasions for wonderful ideas. One is being prepared to accept children’s ideas. The other is providing a setting which suggests wonderful ideas to children.”
As a parent, I wanted to provide a home where “wonderful ideas” are had.
I created the Guided Learning blog to share how I have learned to encourage the kids’ interests and how having a place “which suggests wonderful ideas” (Duckworth) has enriched our learning and creativity. From time to time I will also write a blog post specifically about gifted learners and their needs. I’ve learned a lot from going back to school for a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction in Gifted Education at Arizona State University and I continue to learn about meeting the needs of advanced learners from my children. They are the ones who have helped me become a better teacher and parent.
You can learn more about advanced learners from the National Association for Gifted Children.