Chapter 9 focuses on an area of potential challenge for some exceptionally
bright children: social-emotional development. This chapter is necessary
because some exceptionally bright children struggle with forming and main-
The book concludes with one of the most important topics related to
working with exceptionally bright children: how to work with their parents
and families. Chapter 10 offers strategies for helping these families under-
stand their children’s gifts and struggles and for supporting families as they
prepare to guide their children through their primary school years.
Opportunities for Growth
The strategies presented in this book will help early childhood teachers sup-
port and guide exceptionally bright children. The strategies of differentiation,
conversation, and connection are absolutely essential to the development of
exceptionally bright children, who require cognitive stimulation that chal-
lenges them to think with more complexity, depth, and creativity than their
same-age peers. At the same time, these strategies will help create a richer
learning environment for all children in the early childhood classroom.
If we do not take the time to develop specific plans and strategies to sup-
port and guide these advanced learners, the result will be, at best, a missed
opportunity to nurture and engage a special talent and, at worst, the develop-
ment of counterproductive behaviors that will continually disrupt the class-
room environment. When the needs of exceptionally bright children are not
recognized and their talents are not nurtured, they may become withdrawn,
stubborn, and resistant. In fact, the young children who exhibit the most chal-
lenging behaviors in an early childhood classroom are often those most in
need of a true cognitive challenge.
For some children, special talents are grown and developed over time, and
we may not truly know a child’s areas of strength until she is in elementary
school or beyond. But sometimes a talent is demonstrated at a very young age.
When exceptionally bright children are supported and challenged, the result
is children who are confident about their abilities to think and learn, who are
excited about school, and who make creative contributions to the classroom
community. 6 | Introduction