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Some bright 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 “hit 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 all 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 uncovering these strengths and weaknesses, a plan can be developed to address frustrations, improve areas of underperformance, develop strengths and interests, and help these learners achieve their considerable potential.

Many gifted and bright students are frustrated when they are out-of-sync with school and age-peers cognitively or academically. They may also feel different from others socially and emotionally. By requiring that they study material they largely already know with age-peers, at a minimum opportunities for intellectual, social, and emotional growth are lost. Learning may stall, and 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 some students lose enthusiasm for school and learning altogether. An insightful assessment identifies strengths, weaknesses, and interests in order to provide recommendations targeted to help the child find more satisfaction in learning, both in and outside of school. Social and emotional needs need to be addressed to serve the whole child.

Although I have specific expertise in the needs of twice-exceptional, gifted and bright students, I believe that most children can benefit from the kind of approach I take to assessment, and I have worked successfully with children at all ability levels. The identification of strengths and interests to nurture can be particularly meaningful for a child with lower overall cognitive ability. 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.