The benefits of challenging students through advanced study

Children can accelerate their learning in a number of ways and whether a child is deemed as 'gifted' or not, they can still benefit from activities that are targeted at this group.

Howard Gardener, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, created a theory of multiple intelligences and according to Deborah Eyre, in the 2001 publication An effective primary school for the gifted and talented, schools need to foster these individual talents.

"If as Gardener suggests, ability exists in a variety of possible domains, then children need to experience opportunities to operate within those domains if their ability is to be revealed," stated Eyre.

Parents and teachers can support this process in a number of ways, for children of all abilities. A 2007 Department for Education and Skills publication confirms this idea: "Improvements to the quality of provision for the most able benefit all pupils and provide strong evidence of the delivery of Every Child Matters."

Using the DARTS (Directed Activities Related to Text) model will help children to critically analyse the material they are reading. The British Council lists the following DARTs activities on its website, which it argues can improve 'reading comprehension':

  • Text segmenting and labelling (Break the text into meaningful chunks and label each chunk)

  • Table construction (Draw a table. Use the information in the text to decide on row and column headings and to fill in the cells)

  • Diagram construction (Construct a diagram that explains the meaning of the text. For example, draw a flow-chart for a text that explains a process, or a branch diagram for a text that describes how something is classified)

Numeracy and Science
"One way of allowing children to provide evidence of their higher-order thinking skills is to include a 'bright ideas' slot in lessons….Discussing big ideas and thinking deeply can provide more enjoyment than finding the right answer, " (QCA, online).

Debating world issues such as global warming and mathematical theories of shape and space will encourage pupils to think at a more advanced level and, as a result, may produce more in-depth investigations.

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