Asynchronous Development: Mental and physical maturation that occurs at different rates, the mental capacity (in the case of Gifted/Talented children) distinctly outpacing the chronological/emotional age. An example of this would be a fifth grader doing tenth grade reading.
When I was in second grade, my family was packing everything we owned into boxes because we were moving to a different state. One morning, wearing my yellow pajamas with the feet, I went into my father’s study to ask him a question. He wasn’t there, but I knew he’d be back and sat down to wait. Although most of his books had already been packed, there were still a few stacked up on the table next to me. Bored, I picked one up. It was interestingly small, with a blue linen cover. I opened it and proceeded to read a story about a man who stayed overnight in a haunted house to prove that ghosts were a myth. After watching a child’s footprint form in the dust and enduring other equally terrifying incidents, he realized that ghosts weren’t a myth at all.
So did I! I understood every word perfectly, but was it appropriate for a second grader to be reading Edgar Allen Poe?
Similarly, should a nine-year-old be required to read a disturbing story involving a boy who bleeds to death after falling on an axe? Many gifted/talented teachers commonly select books for the classroom that were never intended to be read by children of the ages they teach, in an effort to provide a challenging read with appropriately complex vocabulary. Emotional age is rarely considered in the selection process. As a result, students are regularly exposed to content that is developmentally inappropriate and/or psychologically disturbing.
Where the Red Fern Grows is a classic, and if an eighth grader picks it up, he’ll have a thought provoking read. A gifted fourth grader, however, is more likely to have nightmares and develop a mysterious aversion to axes.