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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


High IQ Scores and Mismatched Academics - Correcting the Anomaly

By Andrew Loh

Children with very high IQ scores are more likely to display mismatched academic abilities for many reasons are yet unknown to many parents. For many years, this phenomenon has baffled both parents and researchers as they could not attribute a solid reason for the so called anomaly. However, it could be attributed to some lack of characters that are more do with children's lack of focus and self regulation skills. The most important dilemma that many parents face is a failure to understand why their gifted and talented children fail to realize their inner potential. Too often, talented and gifted children who often display greater academic potential simply fail to perform at a grade that matches their inner abilities (Two authors, Siegle and McCoach conducted their research on this vital aspect). According to these authors, many talented and skilled children might lack:

  • Self efficiency

  • Goal-directedness

  • Self regulation skills

  • In sufficient educational conditions or ambiance

Giftedness and high scores are common to gifted children. However, in many cases it is also accompanied by a condition known as gifted underachievement. Defining gifted underachievement is a difficult task as there is no universally definable definition for it. However, educators like Wolfe (1991) and Reis and McCoach (2000) agree on one common definition of gifted underachievement. According to them gifted underachievement is defined as “a notable discrepancy between ability and achievement”. In other words, the so called abilities that gifted and high IQ score individuals possess might not match or translate into satisfactory academic achievements.

What are the causes of mismatch between high IQ scores/giftedness and actual academic achievement?

Several reasons are attributed to a perceived mismatch between high IQ scores/giftedness and academics and some of them are as follows:

  • Possible physical, cognitive and emotional issues

  • Low self-esteem and self-motivation, lower self-regulation and reduced self-efficacy

However, the above-mentioned factors are caused due to three main issues that the child is likely to experience in his or her life. These three issues are as follows:

School factors

Many school factors play an active role in hindering a gifted child's ability to match high IQ with academics. Boredom and lack of accelerated learning opportunities are two of the important reasons while some children may not keep up with a mismatched curriculum that does not correspond to their extraordinary capabilities. In addition, their learning styles may show a conflict with the current teaching style. Peer group pressure and a lack of extracurricular activities may also hinder development of academic abilities. Poor academic ambiance and disappointing teacher expectations and attitude may also affect a gifted child's ability to show excellence in academics.

Family factors

Unclear and unrealistic expectations from parents are often an important factor that might hinder optimal academic achievements. Lack of parental support and emotional involvement are the other two reasons. Low emphasis on educational effort and differing parenting styles may also play an active role. Parental behavior and their unpredictability are the two other reasons that act as impeding factors for disappointing academics.

Personal factors

Often, emotional and behavioral disturbances act as disabling factors to prevent gifted children from learning in an optimal manner. Poor self image, self-esteem and self-concept are the other issues that are known to result in a mismatch between potential and performance. Possible fear of failure and fear may also play an active role. However, gifted children who have higher IQ scores tend to be very resilient and tough minded in their nature. They are extremely resilient too.

When children with very high IQ scores feel that they cannot match their intelligence with academics, they tend to exhibit the following characters:

  • Extreme frustration with a perceived inability to acquire the minimum possible academic skills.

  • An air of learned disappointment or helplessness.

  • No self-motivation.

  • Disappointing and disruptive classroom behavior.

  • Lack of perfectionism.

  • Extremely sensitive.

  • Cannot complete assignments and projects.

  • Lack organizational and self-governing skills.

  • Lack of concentration and listening skills.

  • Poor memory and perceptual abilities.

  • Poor in setting self-expectations.

  • Poor social and peer association skills.

However, children with high IQ but a mismatching academic ability usually show highly advanced skills and abilities like:

  • Very good vocabulary skill.

  • Great analytical abilities.

  • Very good creativity and problem solving skills.

  • Can offer solutions to difficult problems.

  • Good in specific aptitude tests like music, art and mechanical areas.

  • Good in memory and efficient in showing commitment to certain tasks.

  • Extremely versatile spatial abilities.

With all those multiple setbacks and challenges, a child is unexceptional with high IQ scores, may display an inability to cope up with an exceedingly demanding academic environment. Continue to read Matching High IQ Scores and Academics - Numerous Tips to Rectify Anomalies


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