Gifted Student Lacking Social Skills...HELP! - ProTeacher Community


Gifted Student Lacking Social Skills...HELP!
Old 03-06-2006, 08:54 AM
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I have a 2nd grade student who is very bright. He is reading high school level books & doing high school level math. However, he cannot tolerate working with any of his peers. He has no patience for anyone slower than him, & often gets mean with them ("You're stupid" etc.) He refuses to work with partners or do any team-building activities. He is on a daily behavior report sheet, but the parents do not communicate well in English & it has been difficult to express to them the importance of teamwork & cooperation. We'll keep working on our efforts to communicate with them, but here are my options in the classroom:

1) Put him off to the side, working independently on higher-level material. His educational needs will be met, but there will be no lessons on social skills & cooperation.

2) Force him to stick with the rest of the group. He will be learning social skills (or trying to), but not using challenging material.

ANY SUGGESTIONS as to how I can best meet his educational needs AND teach him some valuable social lessons???

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MizLottie MizLottie is offline
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Give Him Some of the Responsibility
Old 03-06-2006, 11:43 AM
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I don't claim to have all the answers to this situation, because it must be frustrating for your student to have to wait while others "catch up" to his high level of thinking. A couple of ideas come to mind however.

1) Have him do some thinking and brainstorming about the situation, role playing, and coming up with ideas about how it would feel to be called stupid, and then have him work out some problem solving strategies. It sounds like their are cultural differences with this boy and his family, so teamwork may not be as highly valued in his country or community. Maybe it's more of a "every person for themselves" attitude (this might be something you'll need to check out with his parents or someone who is familiar with the cultural roles from this child's background). So you may want to develop a mini-lesson about cooperation and look for children's literature that deals with cooperation and teamwork and introduce that entire topic to the class, stimulate discussion, and have the entire class work on classroom policies on working together.

2) I know that my son liked to do role-playing and fantasy play with friends, but often wanted to be the one to direct the storyline, and didn't like it when his peers wanted to change the story their way. One of the ways that I handled this was to come up with time slots where each child got to be the "leader" and during that time they could have the storyline go "their way" (as long as it was safe, non-violent, etc). It may not have been the ideal situation for my son, but it did help him learn patience and sharing and also to know that his turn would come around in X number of minutes or at X time.

Maybe you could have this child take on a leadership role with certain activities, so he is working with the group, but being able to be more "in charge." Of course, you (and the students) need to set the ground rules for this activity, too, but it might give this child to work with students and then it can work into more of a cooperative routine, where other students take the leadership role, too.

3) Maybe start small and find out if there is one person in the class who can work with this boy (maybe someone he would be willing to try working with). I just attended a workshop where the performer taught us string figure tricks to use with a story telling theme. She said that even the most at-risk students responded to learning the string tricks and then teaching younger students. I am not sure if the dexterity is there at 2nd grade, but you might think of some hands-on project that two students could work on together, where brain-power and manual dexterity can be combined together to create a "hands-on" project, and perhaps this would introduce the student to the idea of cooperation.

4) How about getting the student to work cooperatively with an older "buddy" student at least for awhile, to help teach teamwork skills. Perhaps this 2nd grader would respond better to a 5th grader in working together. Or perhaps you could develop a 5th grade buddy class that works with all the students in your class, and the boy can work with a 5th grader and a 2nd grader to help take the focus off the one-on-one work the boy would have with just his 2nd grade peers.

Hope some of these ideas are helpful or generate some other comments! Good luck!
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summersoff summersoff is offline
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Worried about social skills with this one
Old 03-08-2006, 02:13 PM
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Don't worry if you don't "challenge" this smart young student. If he's reading and crunching numbers at the high school level, he can forget more than you can teach him and he'd still be years ahead of the others academically.

But DO WORRY if he can't cooperate or be polite to others. This will devastate his future. Who's going to give this boy a job? Who'll create a family with him? This behavior is crippling to him. I like the idea posted about finding one child in the class he can work with. Even if for a few minutes a day. Then build from there.

He's been told he's so smart all his life. Intelligence does not excuse his behavior. Don't put him on any "independent project" pedestals. If he gets put off to the side, what kind of a message does this send to his classmates? It's okay to be mean if you're smart?!?

Academics isn't everything. . . good luck and keep us posted.
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clarkestep clarkestep is offline
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It may be something he can not help
Old 03-12-2006, 02:47 PM
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I say this because it sounds like an Autistic Spectrum disorder called Asperger's Syndrome. These people are EXTREMELY bright but have no or very little social skills. My step son is being tested for it now at age 21. Some of the signs are:
male 5 to 1 ratio
cannot make eye contact when talking
obscessed with certain topics of interest
routine oriented freak out if things change
they speak their mind and have no tact (thus what you said)
no empathy for others
they have normal development as a small child (motor skills, verbal)
they only focus on the present, not future minded at all
they have a hard time reading social clues and facial expressions
they may have nervous tics
can't relate to cause and effect, like natural consequences
they can be oversensitive to smell, touch, light, or sound

Humm, there's more but I forget them all. There is a website called brain talk communities that has forums for all kinds of disorders. There is one for Asperger's and Autism that may give you more help. I think the website is I also have a brochure that I downloaded off line that I could email you if you'd like. Just let me know.

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