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Gifted children

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Parenthood is a funny thing: When someone else’s child brings home a piece of A4 showing The Last Supper depicted in purple, green and orange with the disciples dressed as gangsta rappers, it’s hard not to laugh. Yet suddenly when it’s your own offspring, you start to see flashes of genius in every stroke of the crayon. But is your child really gifted? And if so, how do you give them a childhood that’s normal, without neglecting their talent?

Early signs

If your child is gifted, chances are, you will probably know before it is formally identified. Gifted children learn to speak early, and have a large vocabulary. They also learn to read sooner, often before primary school. Chances are, your child will be emotional, sensitive, and have a thirst for learning and new information. They like to be challenged, and don’t like practising and repeating things they already know.

Encouragement

Intellectual stimulation is a vital part of nurturing a gifted child, and as a parent, you can provide this through introducing new experiences such as visiting galleries, museums, lectures and historical places. Some parents arrange extra classes and extra studies, which can all be helpful, although it’s important to ensure your child does not become intellectually burnt out. On the other side of the coin, sometimes the most effective support from a parent can involve giving the child their own intellectual space and free time. The child can then use this time to play, experiment, and nurture their own hobbies and interests. After all, you could leave them alone for an hour and return to find out they’ve invented a perpetual motion machine…

Specialist subject?gifted children

Some gifted children develop an affinity with numbers and logical reasoning, others prefer language and arts. If your child is showing an unusual aptitude for language, support them by reading with them, and discussing in detail what you are reading. If your child is interested in literature, then the local librarian is your friend – the librarian will help expand, broaden and vary your child’s reading taste greatly. Your own suggestions of the Very Hungry Caterpillar may not go down too well, especially if your child has the reading age of a 15-year-old.

If it’s mathematics and numbers your child takes a particular interest in, you can support them by making games, playing games, and talking about problems that involves calculations and conversions. Balance these activities with helping your child acquire new knowledge and new skills, while simultaneously strengthening already-existing skills.

Keep them stimulated

As a parent, it can be a delight to have a gifted child, yet many parents worry that their child needs will not be met sufficiently at school. Will lessons be challenging enough? Will the teachers be able to answer their questions? Or will they be left twiddling their pencil, sitting bored in class? Teachers play an important role in the journey of a gifted child. Once a school is fully aware of a child’s giftedness, a great deal can be done to develop the child even faster, such as grade acceleration. This can also be seen as a constructive and economic a way of helping the child – letting them sit idly in class is not an option.

Every gifted child is unique, and this can make it challenging for schools to provide the correct holistic care. To achieve optimum educational results, schools will use differentiation – check for evidence of challenging work in your child’s exercise book to ensure this is happening. Reassuringly, schools nowadays have monitoring procedures, which ensure talented pupils progress properly through the grades. Some schools make use of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) which involves the class teacher planning extra work for the child.

Speak to school

Being a gifted child is a double edged sword – sometimes parents and schools can expect too much. If you’re concerned about a school or teacher pushing your child too hard or worse, neglecting your child, then firstly, contact the class teacher to register these concerns. If need be, set up a formal review, where you can discuss implementing a new teaching approach.

If this does not resolve your concerns, then it’s time to contact the Headteacher, or the school’s Gifted and Talented Coordinator, if it has one. If the matter is not resolved, then submit a formal complaint to the school’s governing body.

Your child may enjoy ploughing through complex mathematical equations, or French philosophy, but despite this beguilingly adult behaviour, most importantly of all, you need to remember your child is still a kid! Don’t deprive them of social contact with friends, the latest toys or trips to the park to lark around on the swings.

Keep them grounded

It can be tempting to spoil your gifted child an to let them get away with unreasonable behaviour, but this could make them tantrum-prone and ill-behaved. Your seven-year-old may be learning higher mathematics, but no child is above 20 minutes on the naughty step.

A balanced approach in learning, socialising and leisure activities should hopefully mean your child growing up a well-rounded and successful individual.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to laminate my kid’s painting of Mickey Mouse. It could be worth something one day…

 

 

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About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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