Discussion paper about the viability of setting up a mentoring program for gifted children
The idea behind mentorship programs for gifted learners is to connect these students with content experts who are able to work with and structure learning experiences tailored to the child’s needs. We already know that outside school learning and activities contribute significantly to gifted children’s development. Retrospective studies of eminent adults have shown that mentors in particular can play a pivotal role in this development. By establishing a mentor program children can be provided with an opportunity to study and engage in disciplines more in touch with their particular needs and areas of interest. Research into mentorships for gifted children is quite sparse but a recent synthesis has demonstrated the potential for mentorships to enable up to three fifths of a year’s academic gain for participating students. Mentorship research also demonstrates “social adjustment and self-esteem gains in the specific area in which the mentorship takes place. Whilst much of this research has focused on high-school students engaged in one year mentorships it is well worth considering as the findings could be equally applicable to younger children. Much of the research points to the value of longer mentorships over short term ones. Mentor programs can offer specific help for underachieving gifted learners and twice exceptional students by showing them what they are capable of. These students often show high levels of ability in their specific areas of interest. When paired with a mentor their frustration felt by lack of academic achievement is allayed and they begin to realise their potential as their skills and knowledge in their areas of interest are increased during the mentorship.
Specialist Studies in Education