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Celebrating Every Child’s Unique Gifts

Teacher Kneels At Table With Two Students In Prep Math Classroom

The Prep Approach for Gifted Children

At Prep, we believe that every child has unique gifts, and one of our most important jobs as educators is to help all of our students identify what makes them special. However, many parents seek us out because their child is performing well academically — or has the potential to — but their current school isn’t encouraging their growth.

Children who are traditionally referred to as “gifted” often have different learning needs than their peers, and that can be difficult for some schools to accommodate.

Our Tips on How To Raise Gifted Children

If your child has been identified as gifted, it’s tempting to assume that school will be easy for them. That may be true, but research indicates that roughly 1 in 50 gifted kids drop out of school, and many fail to live up to their potential.

Understand That “Gifted” Doesn’t Mean “Fewer Needs”

We recommend being on the lookout for self-esteem issues, perfectionist tendencies, and an avoidance of trying new things. Gifted kids tend to be hard on themselves, so while it may sound counterintuitive, they may need additional assurance and support. At Saint John’s Prep, we encourage all students to try new things. Sometimes, it’s because we think they may discover a new talent or because we’d like them to get out of their comfort zone and not limit themselves to activities they’re already good at. 

Look for Ways to Inspire Your Child Outside the Classroom

Gifted children may feel frustrated or bored at school. You might try talking with your child’s teacher about opportunities to explore subject matter on a deeper level during class. Some private schools, like Saint John’s Prep, are able to keep class sizes low and can provide more one-on-one mentorship and differentiation in the classroom. However, if switching schools isn’t an option for you, you may need to find activities and resources outside of school that will captivate your child’s imagination and provide additional opportunities for learning.

Challenges Gifted Children Face in Middle School

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During 6th–8th grade, children are starting to define their own identities and navigate more complex relationships. Children who excel academically may have difficulty feeling like they fit in with their peers. And especially in middle school, those who don’t fit in tend to have an additional challenge; they may encounter bullying. Bullying in middle school years is very common: 31% of bullying occurs in sixth grade, more than any other grade level. 

It’s understandable that many children who may have performed well in their classes prior to middle school may consciously start to underachieve. They’re experiencing some of the most significant social pressures they may face throughout their entire lives, and they haven’t yet developed sufficient coping skills.

At Prep, we incorporate social-emotional learning starting in 6th grade. Our students are given multiple opportunities inside and outside of class to work on these important life skills: 

  • communication
  • conflict resolution
  • compassion and empathy
  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • resilience 
  • decision-making skills
  • overcoming personal challenges 
  • setting and accomplishing goals

One of our greatest joys is watching students learn how to celebrate differences — in themselves and in others — and start resolving potential conflicts with teachers or their peers on their own. We also teach important problem-solving skills through an interdisciplinary approach to learning.

What Is Interdisciplinary Learning and Why Is It Important?

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Interdisciplinary learning encourages students to synthesize what they’ve learned from multiple subjects in order to think more holistically — often working through problems that don’t fit neatly into only one subject area or don’t have easy answers. Instead of students being asked to simply regurgitate what they’ve learned, an interdisciplinary approach encourages critical thinking skills and navigating multiple perspectives.

At Saint John’s Prep, we feel that all of our students benefit enormously from an interdisciplinary approach to learning. We find that it’s especially helpful for those students who have more intellectual, creative, or emotional energy, or who may become bored or have trouble staying engaged with traditional teaching methods. 

If you were to visit our campus, one of the things you’d notice immediately — apart from the diversity of our student body — is that in the halls, at lunch, and wherever our students are engaged with their peers, they’re not typically talking about a TV show or what’s happening on social media. They’re usually talking about what they just learned in class!

How Prep Supports Interdisciplinary Learning in Middle School

We support interdisciplinary learning in a number of ways at Saint John’s Prep, starting in middle school. Our 6th–8th graders also can start aligning their schedules with the subjects and activities that appeal most to them.

Individualized Writing Support

Being able to write well is critical throughout high school, college, and beyond. Beyond demonstrating mastery of English grammar, writing also helps students learn to find their own voice, work through complex thoughts and feelings, engage their creativity, and explore a variety of subjects — which is why we offer a robust writing curriculum, with individualized support, beginning in grade 6.

Hands-on, Experiential Learning

We are fortunate to have 2,900 acres of water and woodlands at our disposal. Our science classes are regularly held outdoors where students can interact with the natural world, and it’s also common to see art classes and other hands-on activities to be interwoven with social studies. 

Foreign Language Studies

Beginning in 6th grade, our students also receive an introduction to German, Chinese, and Spanish. Our 7th and 8th graders are then well prepared to experience more immersive instruction in the language of their choice. We also offer a special class for students who are joining us after completing immersion programs in Spanish and Chinese.

In addition to introducing foreign languages at an earlier age, we also help our students experience different cultures through food, religion, and in the upper school, there are opportunities to study abroad

Why We Believe in Starting Early

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We believe taking an interdisciplinary approach in middle school and investing in social-emotional learning allows all of our students to confidently tackle more academic challenges in upper school; they have a head start understanding how they learn best, who they are, and where their talents and interests may lie. 

Later, our students also have an easier time choosing a college or university, and they’re more likely to pursue studies that are in line with careers they will find meaningful. 

If you’re interested in learning more about what we can offer your middle schooler, click the link below to view our detailed brochure!