Supporting Individual Children with High Learning Potential
Whichever profession you work in, from time to time you may need specialist support in how to work with children with high learning potential. This could include issues like:
- identifying a child with high learning potential
- how to support common behavioural issues in children with high learning potential
- underachievement and high learning potential children
- high learning potential children with special needs or a disability
- common social and emotional issues facing high learning potential children
We recognise that correctly identifying and supporting children with these characteristics is often not straightforward or simple. To support you as a busy professional we can therefore offer you:
Below is a wide selection of fact and advice sheets that covers many of the issues likely to face a child with high learning potential (or the parents/carers or professionals who work with them).
All of these fact and advice sheets are available free of charge as part of the ongoing support package you would receive as a member of Potential Plus UK. More information about the benefits of ongoing support to you is available here.
Potential Plus UK has taken the decision to use the term High Learning Potential (HLP) to describe the children whom we support, instead of the word ‘gifted’ or ‘gifted and talented’ or ‘more able’ or ‘very able’; which are all terms that have been used in the past. This advice sheet describes why we have adopted the term and what we mean when we use it.
In 1988, following extensive research in gifted education, Maureen Neihart and George Betts proposed six profiles of children with high learning potential. The profiles have been widely used in supporting high learning potential children and more recently (2010) they have been revised based on the authors’ experiences in the intervening years. This advice sheet is aimed at professionals who want to find out more information about high learning potential or looking for ways to support and provide for high potential learners in the classroom.
High potential learners share some common characteristics that have been researched by Dr Linda Silverman of the Gifted Development Center in the USA. This advice sheet outlines these characteristics and the research, as well as providing explanations about the individual traits. It is aimed at professionals who work with children of all ages
This advice sheet is aimed at professionals who support children in the early years and provides information on the characteristics and behaviours to look out for when considering children with High Learning Potential. It also gives a framework for observing and evidencing the abilities and strengths of these children.
This advice sheet is aimed at professionals who support children of primary age and provides information on the characteristics and behaviours to look out for when considering children with High Learning Potential. It also gives a framework for observing and evidencing the abilities and strengths of these children.
This advice sheet is aimed at professionals who support children in the secondary years and provides information on the characteristics and behaviours to look out for when considering children with High Learning Potential. It also gives a framework for observing and evidencing the abilities and strengths of these children.
There is a common misconception that children with high learning potential are always high achievers. Unfortunately, in our experience, children with high learning potential children can and often do underachieve. This can be a very difficult situation to handle; it is not only of concern that this child might fail to maximise their potential but underachievement can lead to a range of behavioural, psychological and emotional issues. These can lead to school refusal, exclusion (including self exclusion), anxiety and mental health issues including disorders such as eating disorder and body dysmorphia disorder self-harming and worse.
This advice sheet is aimed at all professionals working with these children and gives guidance about supporting high learning potential children who are underachieving.
High learning potential children are at risk of experiencing emotional and/or mental health issues if their education and health needs are not supported in the right way. This can be compounded amongst those children who are perfectionists and who set impossibly high standards for themselves. We are now supporting families where children as young as four years old are exhibiting signs of emotional health problems and where cases are becoming increasingly more serious for all concerned.
This advice sheet is aimed at professionals who are working with children with emotional and mental health issues to provide advice about how to tackle this issue amongst these high potential learners
Some of the characteristics associated with high learning potential, at first glance, present as behavioural issues amongst these children and, if misunderstood or managed inappropriately, can cause an escalation of problems. This advice sheet outlines common behavioural issues amongst high learning potential children and how to handle them positively.
The main reason for social and emotional vulnerability amongst children with high learning potential is asynchronous development, whereby the intellectual development of the child is ‘out of sync’ with their socal, emotional and physical development. A child who is developing asychnronously is, at times, capable of mature reasoning and can astound an adult with the depth of their conversation, yet at other times can throw a tantrum over a seemingly trivial issue. This can cause a variety of problems as intense emotions and immature behaviour are not always understood in the context of an otherwise highly capable child. This advice sheet is for professionals who are seeking to understand asynchronous development in more detail and how it can present in a child with high learning potential.
Hypersensitivity or extreme sensitivity in one or more of the senses is common amongst high learning potential children and which can cause considerable distress not only to them but also their parents/carers and the other professionals around them. This hypersensitivity can often lead to the misdiagnosis of a high learning potential child as having a special educational need or disability such, even where other characteristics are not present. This advice sheet looks at hypersensitivity and ways to address common issues found amongst children with high learning potential.
Many children with high learning potential have perfectionist personality traits which can cause problems related to their relationships with others around them, their work and their attitude to learning, especially when linked to fear of failure and lack of resilience when things do go wrong. This advice sheet outlines some of the issues children with high learning potential can face due to their perfectionism and offers some suggestions to professionals about how to address them.
In the UK, the term Dual or Multiple Exceptionality (DME) is used to describe those who have one or more Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) and also have high ability. Potential Plus UK has produced this fact sheet to inform, support and advise teachers, professionals and parents/carers of DME children. Issues related to educating, parenting and supporting a child with DME are covered in this fact sheet. Treatments for specific special educational needs are covered in other Potential Plus UK Fact Sheets relating to particular diagnoses.
Some children seem to struggle with an area of their learning and yet leave you in no doubt that they understand exactly what was covered in the lesson. Others, you feel, may have a special need but just do not quite fit the classic profile and leave you wondering exactly how to support them as a professional. You may identify still others as having a learning need but are just too bright for the support programmes you can offer. Have you ever considered that these children might be what are called dual or multiple exceptional (DME)? This advice sheet explains what DME is, how it can affect a child, what you can do to spot the signs of DME and how to develop a strategy for supporting children with DME within your professional practice.
This information is aimed at professionals working with children of all ages. The term ‘dual or multiple exceptionality’ is used in the UK to describe children who have high learning potential but who also have one or more special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). Potential Plus UK has compiled a list of characteristics of dual or multiple exceptional children through our work in supporting parents, professionals and DME children. Not all of these characteristics will relate to all DME children. The check list is meant as a starting point for professionals looking to support these children.
Some children are not able to easily demonstrate their ability or potential in a traditional way and this can lead to them being missed, making it highly likely that they will not maximise their potential and may face behavioural, emotional or mental health issues along the way. Here we will look at various approaches that can be taken to ensure that these children do not fall through the net.
Parents and carers often make the decision to pay for a tutor for their child at home. This information sheet is aimed at tutors who provide this service and explores how these children can be tutored effectively and identifies common problems and difficulties which tutors may experience and offers suggestions about how these can be addressed positively.
Professionals often assume that working with a child or young person with high learning potential can be the same as working with other children and treat them accordingly. However, many high learning potential children, even from a young age, will often talk like a mini adult with ideas and concepts to match and yet at the same time have the social and emotional maturity of a child of their birth age. This asynchronous development can make appropriate support quite difficult to put in place for these children. This advice sheet outlines common issues you may face as a professional working with these children and how to get the best from your relationship with them.
Parents/carers may be coming to you because:
- they have been recommended to do so by an outside agency such as a school or medical practitioner
- they want to pay for your services to solve an issue they are facing with their child.
This advice sheet is aimed at all professionals and addresses how to work positively with parents/carers to get the best for the child with high learning potential.
As a professional working with a child with high learning potential, you may be working with other professionals to provide a holistic support package for the child and his or her family. This advice sheet is for professionals working with others and outlines how to get the best from them for the benefit of these children.
Potential Plus UK supports professionals working in the education, health, medical and related fields to provide practical information, advice and support. We support a wide variety of issues that professionals may face in working with a high learning potential child. Examples of common issues we support include:
- a child who has high verbal skill but is underachieving in school
- anxiety about schoolwork
- anger management issues
- handwriting issues
- Support in drawing up Education Health and Care Plans
There are several options open to professionals who are looking for support for individual children or with a specific issue:
- Free access to the Webchat Service
- A one-off discussion with a consultant (at cost of £30 for a half an hour appointment)
- An ongoing support package for you as a professional that includes telephone information and advice (at just £50 a year)
- Customised support packages including preparing for and attending hearings regarding individual children
Web Chat Services
Our Web Chat Service is free of charge and is staffed by trained and accredited volunteers. It can provide information and advice to professionals on a range of topics relating to supporting a High Learning Potential child. Our Web Chat service is accessed from the bottom right-hand corner of our website. If it is not currently active, you can leave a message that will be answered the next time it is staffed.
Our Web Chat Service is usually staffed during the following hours in school term times:
Becoming a Web Chat Volunteer
Potential Plus UK is always looking for high quality volunteers to train and who can work for two hours a week on our Webchat Service.
What can we offer to you as a Webchat Volunteer?
- Online professional development workshops
- Two free in depth training courses a year
- Access to Potential Plus UK’s Accreditation Programme
- Enrolment on Potential Plus UK’s Associate Programme on successful completion of Accreditation Programme
What are we looking for in return?
- A commitment to a two year professional development programme
- A regular commitment to a weekly two hour Webchat slot
Any questions? Please contact us on 01908 646 433
One Off Discussion with a Consultant about a Specific Child
If you are concerned about a specific child and have an issue related to High Learning Potential which you wish to discuss with a professional but you are not sure whether you would find ongoing support useful, you can book a 30 minute telephone appointment with one of our consultants to discuss the issue. Not only do we have a wide range of skills and experience in this area but we also have links with other professionals as well as information and advice at our fingertips.
You can book and pay for this appointment on our secure system either online or over the telephone during office opening hours.
At time of booking, you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire to provide more information about your concern. You will not be required to divulge details of the child beyond their age, gender and school situation and this information will be stored securely and passed onto the consultant taking the call.
Any advice sheets which are mentioned during the call will be emailed to you free of charge as part of your call and if at the end of your call you feel that ongoing support would be of some use to you as a professional you will be given a discount on your booking.
If you have any further questions please contact us during office opening hours 01908 646 433
Specialist Assessment Service
Potential Plus UK provides a comprehensive assessment service that details the learning profile of the child, together with recommendations and an action plan for professionals, parents and carers and, if appropriate, the child or young person themselves.
The High Learning Potential Assessment is administered by experienced Potential Plus UK Associates. Their own professional development includes qualifications in such things as psychology, occupational therapy, teaching, mental health and family support. They have also been trained and accredited by Potential Plus UK to enable them to work with children with High Learning Potential and their families and they bring with them a wealth of personal and professional experience in this area Our assessors have been approved and licensed by the test publishers to administer the tests.
The tests are only part of the service we offer. Once the assessment has taken place, we offer a package of ongoing support for the family to make sure that they and their child with High Learning Potential is supported every step of the way.
Potential Plus UK firmly believes that early identification of high learning potential is crucial to a child’s future.
We believe that in identifying high learning potential early on, professionals are better placed to spot signs of underachievement and missed potential, for example of children who have both high ability and a special educational need or disability (also known as dual or multiple exceptionality) or children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who may lack the strategies or opportunities to demonstrate their ability in the classroom. Being aware of the areas of strength or talent of a child means that professionals are better able to ensure the child has the necessary support and challenge to help them thrive.
More information about:
We are always developing the service we offer and are keen to work in a variety of ways with those professionals who share our values and approach towards working with these children. Examples of partnerships we actively seek include those with professionals to provide:
- ongoing support (eg through tutoring, therapies etc) at a local level for children and their families
- services which augment what we are able to offer ourselves either because of location or specialism.
There are two ways in which this can happen, by becoming a:
Potential Plus UK Professional Partner
A Potential Plus UK Professional Partner is an individual or organisation is affiliated to Potential Plus UK and has been accredited as offering a high quality service of relevance to High Learning Potential children and their families.
Potential Plus UK Accredited Associate
You can become a Potential Plus UK Accredited Associate to update your skills and knowledge and receive certification as a professional with an excellent understanding about both high learning potential children and those with dual or multiple exceptionalities.
Customised Support Package
As the support needs of children with High Learning Potential become increasingly complicated, professionals need to know that Potential Plus UK can be with you every step of the way.
How we can help you
Our experience shows that there are several areas where a more tailored solution may be useful for the busy professional:
- Providing regular and long term support on a specific case as part of, for example, an Education Health and Care Plan
- Providing a specialist service for an organisation or group of professionals
- Attending cases to enable the drafting of support plans involving High Learning Potential
- Providing service-wide support
However, there are numerous ways in which professionals can contract with Potential Plus UK to provide a specialist service to support High Learning Potential children.
If you are interested in discussing a more tailored solution for your business, please phone our Chief Executive on 01908 646 433 to discuss this in more detail.