Tutors and mentors can be sought to help supplement and facilitate the learning of
exceptionally and profoundly gifted children. However, this is not always very easy.
Firstly, the family needs to live within reach of such experts (which probably means
within reach of London or a University town/city). Secondly, they usually need to
be able to afford to pay for the tutor‘s or mentor‘s time and/or the commute required
to meet them.
Exercise caution in choosing and approaching a potential tutor/mentor. Even university
staff who possess the depth of expertise required can react with hostility and suspicion
towards the exceptionally or profoundly gifted child, because of a lack of understanding
of their needs and abilities. Realism in the level of contact and involvement sought
will be needed. Some relationships may start out promisingly, only to falter when
the mentor comes under work pressures in other areas of commitment.
Professional tutors can also find the speed of an exceptionally or profoundly gifted
child‘s learning unbelievable and may insist on frequent testing to ensure the child
really does grasp the subject. They may even insist that the child progresses at
a slower rate “so that they don‘t get too out of sync with schoolchildren”. Many
are ex-school teachers too heavily ingrained in the processional routine of ‘textbook-revision-exam‘
to work more flexibly with the child. Their approach, and both party’s expectations,
should be established at the outset.
On the other hand, an experienced school teacher who is happy to work at the child’s
pace and level can be immensely valuable in providing external validation of exceptional
achievement and ability for the home educated child.
One other possibility is the post-graduate research student, who is enthused with
his or her subject and would find it useful to obtain an extra source of income.
There is the additional advantage that he or she will be closer in age to the child
than other mentors/tutors. Again, however, commitment may be a problem.
Finally, public lectures at Universities and Institutes often allow children to attend
- or do not specifically prohibit them. These can also be a useful source of contacts
as well as stimulating for the child. Be prepared, however, to face critical comments
from other members of the audience, not all of whom will be happy to see the child
present. To ensure these people have absolutely no grounds for complaint please make
sure the child is not only intellectually capable of understanding the material,
but is also keen to attend, and most importantly of all, is able to sit quietly and
still for the whole duration of the lecture, even if it turns out to be material
they are already familiar with!
“One of the most valuable experiences a gifted student can have is exposure to a
mentor who is willing to share personal values, a particular interest, time, talents,
and skills. When the experience is properly structured and the mentor is a good match
for the student, the relationship can provide both mentor and student with encouragement,
inspiration, new insights, and other personal rewards.” Mentor relationships and
gifted learners, by Sandra L. Berger
“This guidebook from the Davidson Institute Team specifically designed to help
parents and students interested in developing a mentorship. The guidebook will help
you answer such questions as: Is a mentoring partnership appropriate? How do I locate
a mentor? What kind of relationship is most beneficial? Use as an information guide
to help establish, maintain, and conclude a mentorship.”
This guidebook refers to mentoring in order to accomplish a particular project.