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Treating Every Child as a Gifted Student

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Submitted By Dr. Lynda Crane

When we think of gifted students, we usually think of children who are unusually intelligent. But modern psychology tells us that intelligence is not a single characteristic. In fact, psychologist Howard Gardner has identified at least eight different types of intelligences including: Musical rhythmic, Visual-spatial, Verbal-linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Bodily-kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal and Naturalistic

This only confirms what many parents already know. There is no single most successful way to reach and teach every child. What to do?

A teaching philosophy that arose after World War II, in the tiny town of Reggio Emilia, Italy provides some answers. Reggio encourages children to explore and seek out answers for themselves, and it allows them to use their own unique intelligences to find solutions. But unlike some other philosophies, it also provides the opportunity for especially trained teachers to mentor students in their success. Students and teachers work together to achieve their goals.

In Reggio, the classroom environment itself contributes to learning. It is cozy and home-like, with tables, lamps, couches and rugs, providing a comfortable atmosphere that reduces stress and tension. Yet it is also bright and colorful, and filled with objects—both from nature and human-made— ready for children to solve their project “problems.” Project ideas are suggested by teachers or the students themselves. Through tackling these inherently interesting projects, students master the skills of reading, math, writing, spelling, social studies and science, and they also develop the experience and confidence to succeed in both school and life.

This is just the kind of approach that is often provided only for students formally identified as “gifted,” but it turns out to be ideal for all students. Every child can use his or her own gifts to make a project successful.

Such programs for all students are rare, but in central Florida, we are excited that Creative Inspiration Journey School (CIJS), a publicly funded, tuition-FREE, charter school inspired by the Reggio project-based approach will open in St. Cloud, in August 2019. CIJS is now enrolling students in Pre-K through 5th grade.

Want to learn more? Informational meetings are held monthly at Veterans Memorial Library in St. Cloud, located at 810 13th Street. The next one will be November 28th at 6:00pm in the Fisk Room. You can also contact Patty Marquis, Ed.S., at charterschool@cijsstcloud.org