Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Posted by Manisha Pandit
I work with children to whom things have come very easily. My job is to have them hit a wall and then show them how to scale it. - W. Buffer, Intervention Specialist, Boulder Valley School District, Colorado
In my last article, I shared my unwillingness to get my child tested for giftedness. Yet, once I realized that her needs were not being met in the classroom and that home-schooling was not an option for us, I found out as much as I could about being labeled as gifted and pushed for testing. I do feel the need to clarify that this series of articles is merely a reflection on our journey and to share some of the insights gained along the way with the hope that it might help someone else out there in similar circumstances. It is most definitely not to say that my child is better than anyone else's.
Every child astonishes its parents in one way or another as it grows. There is innate and latent talent in every child, waiting to come forth. In some children, it is apparent at a very young age and parents are left wondering whether they are meeting their child's needs adequately. In most cases, the child will lead the parent to research and provide appropriate input right from the early years. My recommendation is for parents to enjoy this phase and encourage learning through visual stimulation as well as physical exploration. Reading, simple puzzles, math games, movies - especially documentaries on nature and discovery - will ensure that learning is fun and support your child's creativity.
Once your child is in school, find out what your school district offers by way of after-school enrichment as well as programs for Gifted and Talented (G/T). If the school offers testing, opt for this as soon as possible. There are several reasons I recommend this.
- The first and foremost is that it opens up many doors. Within our school district, for example, there is a mailing list through which information about G/T activities all over the country is shared: events, articles, new findings, invitations to G/T centric seminars, and even invitations from the local universities for classes for special interest groups. I cannot even begin to estimate the amount of time I would have had to spend to come up with even 10% of the information I receive via this mailing list.
- Once on the G/T track, always on the G/T track – for as long as there is a program within the school district. In our school district, the program carries on through high school. Children tested in kindergarten are never tested again. It is up to the parents to decide whether or not the program is of any benefit to the child and take the necessary action. Testing is expensive for the schools and repeat tests even more so.
- Age plays a large factor in how the tests are graded. They are therefore more difficult in the higher grades than in the lower grades, making it easier for a child to be accepted into the G/T program earlier than later.
- Once tested and approved for the G/T program, your child will probably attend an intervention program where his skills are constantly challenged and he is placed in learning situations that are not generally found within the typical classroom: mixed grade instruction, for example. Topics of instruction may range from Greek Mythology to Banking and International Trade to Impressionist Art. There is nothing that a curious and open mind cannot absorb.
- I strongly recommend utilizing all the resources that your school may offer you and push for testing before your child reaches the age of 9 or 10. It has been noted over and over again that gifted children, especially girls, start suppressing their intellectual and lateral skills for social reasons. It is cool to be hip, wear make-up, low-rise jeans with revealing tees, and walk instead of play during recess. It is not cool to be intelligent. Girls are mean and become more ruthless in middle school.
Most of what I have written has been within the context of public schools in the US and based on my experience with two school districts in different states. If there is no specific G/T program within your school, you could evaluate moving to a school that has a relevant program. Before you take a step of this nature, it would be prudent to speak with your child's teacher to see if she can work with you to challenge your child more in the classroom. Teachers are usually thrilled to have a student like this in their class and many will step outside their comfort zone and make an effort.
Another option is to find a Yahoo Group or a Google Group for homeschooling in your area and subscribe to the daily digest. One such group that I subscribe to is the ILHS Announce Group on Yahoo. These are usually very active mailing lists that prove to be an amazing resource for everything from science projects to things to do in summer.
This is the second in a series of articles on giftedness. My next article will focus on board games that depend largely on strategy, rather than luck.
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This Post was written by Manisha of Indian Food Rocks