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Unlocking Potential (Part I): The Importance of Consistent Structures for Twice-Exceptional Students

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

In the diverse landscape of education, where each student possesses unique strengths and challenges, twice-exceptional (2e) students stand out as a remarkable group. These students are gifted and talented in specific areas, yet they also face learning disabilities or neurodivergent conditions. Supporting their growth and harnessing their exceptional abilities while addressing their learning difficulties requires a delicate balance. At The Lang School, one critical aspect of this support is the establishment of consistent structures and routines.

Understanding Twice-Exceptional Students

It's critical to first understand the complexities of twice-exceptional students. These students often face a unique set of challenges. On one hand, they possess remarkable talents, such as advanced problem-solving skills, creativity, or a deep passion for a specific subject. On the other hand, they may struggle with issues like dyslexia, ADHD, autism, or anxiety, which can hinder a school’s ability to to support their needs in a traditional classroom environment.

Imagine a child who demonstrates exceptional mathematical aptitude but finds it challenging to sit still and focus for extended periods, at times creating noises and movement that might create distractions for others. This child might be mislabeled as disruptive or unmotivated, rather than recognized for their untapped potential. It's within this context that consistent structures become indispensable.

At Lang we spend weeks and months establishing routines and structures at the start of the year that are consistently reinforced. It can feel repetitive at times but that repetition is key to ensuring clarity for all students about our process and expectations that supports us in times of challenge.

Creating a Safe and Predictable Environment

Stability and predictability are paramount for 2e (twice-exceptional) students as they navigate the complex intersection of their exceptional abilities and learning challenges. These students possess both extraordinary talents and learning disabilities, making their educational journey a unique one. Establishing a stable and predictable environment in both the home and school settings is crucial.

Consistency in schools and home can support students in several ways:

  1. It allows 2e students to develop a sense of security and emotional well-being, which are fundamental for their overall growth. When they know what to expect, they can better manage anxiety and stress, which often accompany their learning differences. At Lang all classes begin with the review of the agenda for each class allowing students to gain an understanding of what is to come.

  2. It enables educators and parents to tailor support strategies effectively, ensuring that the strengths of 2e students are nurtured while addressing their specific needs. At Lang students understand the various support structures available to them and we provide opportunities for students to choose what is best for them. For example, if a student needs a quiet atmosphere they understand the expectation to choose a quiet nook where they can work alone or to put on headphones that will help reduce the sound.

  3. It enhances executive functioning skills in students by providing a structured foundation upon which they can develop organization, planning, and time management abilities. At Lang, students can anticipate their daily routines and expectations, which reduces cognitive load and allows them to allocate cognitive resources more efficiently. This, in turn, fosters the growth of executive functions, leading to improved self-regulation and overall academic success.

In the realm of education, no two students are alike. Twice-exceptional students, with their unique blend of talents and challenges, require special attention and support. The importance of consistent structures in schools for these students cannot be overstated. Next week we will explore how consistent structures can support the fostering of a growth-mindset.

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