Parenting for High Potential

F is for Fit and Flexibility

Dr. Joanne Foster

The focus of this feature is fit (between a student and learning opportunities) and flexibility (on the part of all those involved in nurturing a child’s development).

Foster individual abilities and facilitate foundational supports, and children will flourish!


Fortitude – spunk, a venturesome attitude, and the drive to forge ahead—all of which fuel the fire that sparks high-level ability

Future – it‘s unknown—like potential…

Friendships – relationship-building is not always easy, and children may need guidance when learning to navigate the social landscapes of classrooms, playgrounds, activity groups and so on—in search of one or more friends with whom to share time, ideas, interests, activities, and fun

Formal identification – the traditional approach of identifying, labeling, and then segregating children on the basis of general intelligence or academic test scores (usually based on performance at a single point in time), is very hard to defend.  A child’s learning needs are better determined by means of multiple measures, including ongoing assessment that is individually responsive, integrated into instruction, and subject-specific. (That said, standardized tests can be useful for providing additional information and objective confirmation of teacher judgment and other assessment data.)

Flow – a state of being wherein one is totally immersed in an engaging task (like a perfect a fit between person and project) such that realities like time or fatigue, or daily distractions seem to fade away, and a sense of satisfaction prevails

Foresight – taking a thoughtful, discretionary approach will likely to lead to sensible decision-making (for example, about educational choices or program options)

Fairness – gifted learners don’t need or want more work—they need and want relevant and appropriately challenging work. Encourage children to become actively involved in planning their learning experiences, and in setting reasonable standards for which they can then be held accountable.

Fulfillment – a fine feeling; one that’s felt when the learner-learning fit is fruitful

Feedback – timely, appropriate, and honest feedback stimulates further inquiry, and motivates children to progress to the next level in their learning

Falling short?– countless excellent teachers offer wonderful learning experiences—differentiating programs, challenging students , and empowering them to become life-long learners… (Fabulous!) However, imagine how fantastic it would be if more teachers tapped into professional development opportunities in gifted education, and adopted programming methods designed to facilitate high-level learning for all children.

Fast-tracking – a term that implies moving ahead at a pace that is quicker and presumably better suited to high-ability learners, and which may take different forms such as advanced programming, acceleration, or more sophisticated curriculum content

Findings – research continues to enlighten as to how children learn, and what parents and teachers can do. Let’s focus!

Followers – there are two types of people—those who lead and those who follow. Be a leader. Or follow someone or something meaningful and good.


Forces of nature – there are many things we cannot control in life. We have to learn to accept what is feasible, fix what is flawed, and live flexibly—and teach children to do likewise.

Failure – fizzle, flunk, fiasco, flop, faults, fumbles, folly—any of which can frustrate—or lead to growth and further learning. It’s important to recognize that learning is about making mistakes. Whoever said success was foolproof?

Family dynamics and values – a supportive family is formative—advising, enriching, encouraging, and caring

Funding – educational systems require funding to function; however you can find many exciting learning options that don’t cost a fortune

Fixed mindset – the inflexible and unfortunate belief that giftedness is fixed or innate (no, it’s not), and that it cannot be furthered with learning provisions and effort (yes, it can!)

Feats – accomplishments come in different formats, fabrications, and fashions; achievements don’t have to be flashy or foremost to be first-rate… (And, flaunting and flair are not necessarily fortuitous.)

Feelings – they frequently fluctuate—and so parents have to stay attuned to the various factors and influences that affect children’s emotional functioning

Fun – learning can be fun—and challenging—and inspiring. In fact, fun is just the beginning…

Faculties of education – where teachers learn the fundamentals of teaching…  And where, ideally, there are fully-attended course offerings in gifted education!  (Fact is, these are too few, and far between…)

Fast workers – not all high-ability learners fly through tasks. A fastidious approach (slow, steady, thoughtful, and purposeful) can be better than flurrying…

Fact and fiction – understandings of giftedness run the gamut between what’s true and what’s false; what’s fine and what’s feared; what’s real and what’s presumed. It’s important to be accurately and well-informed about gifted-related issues.

Fuss – don’t fret about children’s giftedness – just embrace it, have faith in their ability, and let it be fulfilling!

Fate – chance, luck, fortune, destiny… unfathomable unknowns that accompany hard work and favourable opportunities—and that can lead to future success and well-being

About the Author – Joanne Foster is co-author (with Dona Matthews) of the award winning book Being Smart about Gifted Education, 2nd Edition (2009, Great Potential Press). She is also a parent, teacher, consultant, researcher, and education specialist. Dr. Foster has over thirty years experience working in the field of gifted education. She has written extensively about high-level development, and has presented on a wide range of gifted-related topics at conferences and learning venues all across North America. She teaches Educational Psychology as well as Gifted Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. She can be reached at


This article is part of a series entitled ABCs of Being Smart, featured in the National Association for Gifted Children’s journal e-issues of Parenting for High Potential. Published with permission. Rights reserved.


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