While raising a gifted and talented child can be rewarding, it can also cause anxiety and self-doubt, even for an experienced parent. How can you ensure that your bright, advanced student is receiving enough challenge to make the most of his or her gifts? Try the following:
Once a gifted child grasps a concept, move on! The drill and repetition used to reinforce learning for most students will only frustrate a gifted kid.
Encourage your student to make mental connections and draw conclusions by using broad, guiding questions. You might ask, “What is friendship, and why do we value it?” after watching The Lion King. A walk in the woods might be a great time for questions like, “What role does a dead tree play in its ecosystem?” Teachers use this technique to encourage class discussions, but you can also apply it to spark lively conversations about books, movies, local or national news, family events, and more!
Curiosity and Creativity
Often gifted children generate a seemingly endless stream of questions. While this behavior can be exhausting to an overworked parent, try to encourage the curiosity and creativity behind it. Don’t feel that you must always have all the answers—that’s more pressure than any parent deserves! Instead, coach your child on finding his or her own answers in books and on Internet sites you’ve found to be child-safe. Or, the next time your child asks, “What would happen if…” encourage your budding da Vinci (or Picasso) to show you what he or she imagines!
When a subject captures your talented student’s fancy, let him or her dig in! If your young mathematician is fascinated by the infinite possibilities of pi, let the calculations begin! Or if your future historian is fascinated by George Washington, suggest a biography to read, researching the clothing, food, and lifestyle of his era, or tracing his genealogy.
Encouragement and Exploration
While parents of gifted children dread the science experiment gone awry—or even scarier, a kid who can outwit them! It is important to keep that fear hidden. Your encouragement and support of your gifted and talent child’s explorations of the world are critical to his or her confidence and future success.
Although signing up your shining star for nonstop enrichment activities may seem like the right course of action, resist the temptation to over-schedule! While your child’s brain may be years ahead, remind yourself that your scholar is still young emotionally, physically and socially. So, provide a healthy dose of mental stimulation, but be sure to allow time for your child to play, goof off, make friends, and just be a kid.
Although the challenges of raising gifted and talented kids can be great, overcoming them is always worth the effort. With healthy doses of creativity, patience, humor, good resources, you can rise to the challenge and help your child achieve his or her highest potential!