Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teaching a Gifted Child with a Learning "Glitch?" (Art & More)

When my 8yo was quite young, he had an assessment that included this piece of information...although he was able to identify shapes/properties at a much higher level than his peers (off the chart!) he was unable to replicate the same shapes/symbols above that of an average peer. The tester, an occupational therapist, told us that this would cause him some frustration. At the time, I assumed that he would grow out of this "stage." Presently, I think he's still being affected by it.

I think he has some sort of undefined processing glitch that he may or may not grow out of. While I'm not eager for a label, I do find it a bit frustrating that I can recognize a "glitch" but am not exactly sure what it is or how best to treat it. One example from today in math...he has a VERY difficult time with angles...despite going over and over it. It's like he can't quite interpret what he sees...or if he sees it once, he can't transfer that information to another setting. It's difficult for him to write in cursive because it's hard to replicate the shapes. All this for a child who made the criteria for "talented and gifted" in kindergarten; I think the disparity causes him extra stress. He recognizes that something that should be easy--because it IS easy for him in some ways--can also be frustratingly hard.

Here's an example from today in art...

Art instructors generally teach budding artists to see the lines (straight, curved, etc), texture, etc. that make up an object. For example, in the book Drawing With Children (a good one, only bested by Drawing in the Classroom), children are taught to see the 5 basic elements of shape: dot, circle, straight/curved/angled lines. Eventually, they draw by recognizing them in the environment and replicating them.

At least so far, this does not work for my son. If we look at a simple drawing and I talk him through the parts (see the line? the curve?), he cannot replicate it. BUT if I look at an original drawing, say the parts, and DRAW THEM MYSELF, he can duplicate what I am doing as I do it.

It's crazy how much difference this makes.

He's in the middle of drawing pictures for his dinosaur pop-up book. When he began planning the first page, we located a picture in a book for him to replicate the general idea of a triceratops. I talked him through each piece...  "See how the crest is like an upside down C?" He couldn't begin to make an upside down C--even while I showed it to him on the picture. But when I said the same thing AND drew my own, then he could do it. I talked my way through an entire picture while he drew his own next to me. The results are incredible.

My goal is not to force incredible pictures. My goal is to help him become a better artist. And since the traditional way of teaching doesn't seem to work with him, I'm happy to find something that does.

How do you teach your way through your child's unique needs? Have a gifted child with some sort of learning "glitch?" What's your story?


  1. It's very fascinating, because you just described my daughter to me. She is only 4, and she has the same difficulties in drawing pictures or letters. She can do simple math easily and great in pattern recognition, but then she cannot write down the answer or replicate the pattern. Perhaps, I could try the same technique you try. Sadly, I am a pretty bad artist myself and struggle to even copy an existing picture, so perhaps it's genetic to a degree? My worst subject (I mean B subject :)) was 3D geometry. I had to work really hard to get that B!

  2. Hi!

    I'm not sure that her abilities are unusual for her age. That sounds okay to me. (Maybe a preschool teacher could chime in?) ;) I think it's pretty normal to not be able to draw pictures/letters as a preschooler...before all the fine motor skills check in. Is that a possibility?

    On the art...I'd say the exact same thing about myself. The best thing I ever did was to take a series of classes from Roger Kukes...the author of Drawing in the Classroom. It's amazing how much your art can improve by just following some techniques. I always thought you had to "be an artist" to produce good art. But those classes taught me that every good artist uses certain "tricks"/techniques that I just never learned. I'm still not great...but I'm much improved! ;)

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Is this what they consider twice exceptional? My husband is great with 3-D perspective but have trouble with numbers. I think it may depend on what kind of learner you are. Some things come naturally while other things need more attention to progress.

  4. I've written a post today on my own child's gifted variabilities. If you'd like to see it, it's here:

  5. I think my daughter's challenges go a bit beyong normal preschooler's fine motor skill immaturity. I can see them when I ask her to draw a triangle. She draws two a horizontal line and two vertical lines and then curves them somewhat to make them meet. I did notice that it helps to break the drawing into simple steps, but even then she struggles in unexpected places.

  6.'s those "unexpected places" that get me. And keep life interesting. ;)

  7. I've kept this post starred in my blog reader for a while, today I checked to read the comments, so interesting!

    None of my three kids learns the same, or the way I do exactly - it's all a bumble along and write down what works deal.

  8. Have you ever heard of, Dianne Craft? She has a website, My children have "glitches" and Dianne Craft has been invaluable in helping to correct them. I have run into two other homeschool moms who have applied her teachings to their children with great success. Her methods, while successful, do require a commitment on the parents part. Highly recommend!


Thank you for leaving me a message. I love comments almost as much as I love chocolate! And I do LOVE chocolate. :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blogging tips