Social Interaction and Children with High Learning Potential

Young child standing isolated from a group playing on grass in front of him
Credit: Charamelody 4757913318 on Flickr CC by NC 2.0

Many children with high learning potential find it hard to develop friendships with their peers. This is often because their cognitive abilities, being advanced for their age, mean that they are functioning at a different social level to children of their own age. This is most pronounced as preschoolers but continues throughout childhood.

Being in the top 2-5% of the population means that there is not likely to be another peer functioning at the same level as a child with high learning potential in their class, or even in their school. This is why children with high learning potential often gravitate towards playing with older children. In addition, having advanced reasoning ability means that children with high learning potential do not progress through the social development stages in the same way as other children their age and may find it hard to understand the behaviour of other children and the testing of boundaries that is sometimes unfair.

As children with high learning potential have these social difficulties and can seem odd to their peers, they are prone to bullying from other children. Because they are sensitive, their reactions to taunts can be extremely intense and felt deeply.  Difficulties with social relationships, bullying and being misunderstood all contribute to a sense of isolation.

Find out more with our advice sheet PA603 Friendships and High Learning Potential Children and download the following advice sheets for children to read

Boy sitting with his head in his arms

Friendships…Why Don’t I Fit In?

Not all children with high ability have difficulties socially, but many of them do. They can spend much of their lives isolated and lonely; alone even in crowded places, places that shouldn’t be lonely, places that should be happy and fun spaces to be a part of like in the classroom or the playground.  Find out how to help support young people socially in our blog Friendships…Why Don’t I Fit In?

Being Me Booklet

The Being Me booklet was published by Potential Plus UK in collaboration with Kidscape and has been written to help support children with high learning potential to flourish in school. It highlights the misunderstandings and bullying that can take place for children who are different because of their ability.

Download a pdf of the Being Me Booklet

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