Having a gifted child can be frustrating and gratifying in equal
measures. Gifted children are often a joy to their parents -- bringing home
stellar report cards, talking precociously and enthusiastically about a variety
of subjects, and receiving loads of praise and recognition from their teachers
and other adults. These are the scenarios that often come to mind when one
pictures life with a gifted child. If you happen to be the parent of one,
however, you know that these children can just as easily struggle as succeed.
Meeting the special needs of gifted children can be especially challenging
since many times, their needs are under-recognized. Although the people around
them, including (at times) their teachers, may not acknowledge their unique
needs, it’s your job as a parent to ensure that these needs are met, both
inside and outside of the classroom.
To help you do so, here are seven strategies you can use to guarantee
that your gifted child receives the special attention and resources he or she
needs to succeed in school and in life:
or not your child has a specially trained teacher or is enrolled in a special
education program for gifted children, you still need to make it your
responsibility to be your child’s number one advocate. Although the teachers
and administrators at your child’s school have the professional skills
necessary to provide your child with the services he needs and is entitled to,
they don’t have the natural instincts that comes only with being a parent. You
know your child better than anyone else, and you can sense when he’s thriving
and when he’s not. Use these instincts to advocate for your child. Make it your
mission to ensure that he receives the proper balance of enrichment and
challenge that all gifted children require in order to excel and reach their
full potential as learners.
that your gifted child has special needs is the first step, but it’s only the
beginning of the process. Since gifted children often require more attention
and instruction than their peers, it may be necessary for you to participate in
their education a bit more than you would otherwise. Take charge of your child’s
learning, and if you see that her curriculum is not adequate to meet the
special needs of gifted children, then take some initiative and step in to fill
in the gaps. This may mean providing books that are more appropriate for her
reading level or doing hands-on science experiments at home to accommodate her
curiosity and learning style.
as it may sound, one of the best things parents can do to meet the special
needs of gifted children is to engage them in conversation on a regular basis. Don’t
limit the discussion to school subjects only. Talk to your child about issues
at work, the government, the economy, and the like. In other words, talk to
your child like you would an adult, censoring where necessary of course, and
encourage him to ask questions about the things he doesn’t understand.
Constantly stimulating your child’s curiosities is the best thing you can do to
promote ongoing learning.
most well-funded programs for gifted children often fall short of providing adequate
resources for every child. After all, each child is unique and has diverse
interests. As a parent, you can leverage these interests to create learning
opportunities for your youngster. If your child is into sports, provide him
with some biographies of famous athletes. If she likes animals, take her to the
zoo and then follow up with a research project on one of her favorite animals.
Providing these resources and experiences for your child will help her expand
her learning outside the boundaries of the school curriculum.
the most common areas of difficulty for gifted children is social engagement.
Trouble socializing and developing interpersonal relationships is one of the
special needs of gifted children because they are often very aware of how
different they are from other children and sometimes become self-conscious as a
result. Teach your child about the similarities and differences amongst all
people -- not just gifted children -- and then facilitate friendships by hosting
parties, play dates, and other social activities. Engage in role play with your
child before and after such events to help him further hone his social skills.
your community to find other resources for learning outside the walls of the
classroom. Take your child to museums and art galleries. Sign her up for music
or dance lessons. Take advantage of summer camps and enrichment programs.
Remember, not all learning experiences need to directly relate to math, social
studies, or other core curriculum areas. Life is a playground for learning, so
help your child take advantage of every opportunity available.
children are particularly sensitive to their environment, and if there needs
aren’t being met, they will find a way to let you know it, even if it’s in a
subtle way. Monitor your child continually for signs that he needs some extra
attention or instruction. If she loses interest in school, for instance, or
becomes withdrawn, then it may be time to take a closer look at the situation.
The special needs of gifted children aren’t something to be ignored or
taken lightly. It’s easy to look at the row of “A’s” on the report card and
assure yourself that your child is doing fine. Before you take their success
for granted, however, make sure that you’re looking at the bigger picture.
Completing school assignments and achieving good grades is only one part of the
equation. In order for your child to meet his full potential and embrace
learning as a pleasurable part of life, she needs to be challenged and
supported. Use these seven strategies to ensure that your gifted child
continues down the path of success throughout her school career and beyond.