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Guiding the Gifted Child

How can you tell if your child is gifted? lHis bedroom looks like a mad scientistís laboratory. lYou never know what you can throw out - was it an experiment or leftovers? lYour van is part taxi, part lab, and a large part Bookmobile. lYour 7-year-old has recreated the Roman Empire in elaborate detail . . . with Legosô. lYour 14-year-old speaks and writes a foreign language fluently . . . one of his own invention. lYour 2-year-old insists on putting together his jigsaw puzzles Ďcolor-side downí so it wonít be so easy. lAt the bookstore you discover your 9-year-old in the check-out line with $500 worth of science books. lYour 8-year-old computes how much interest you owe him on back allowances . . . in his head. lYour 4-year-old cries when she hears news reports about a famine in Africa. lYour outgoing 5-year-old child strikes up a conversation with a stranger on a plane which results in his deriving a mature grasp of negative numbers. You respond, "Thank you . . . I think." lYou told your son that he and his friends must stay outside to play. Later you find that they took the TV and Nintendo up on the roof. He said that they were, after all, playing outside . . .

Perhaps you would like a more formal list of characteristics? This is a partial list of attributes commonly found in gifted children. Certainly most gifted children will not exhibit all of these attributes! In addition, some characteristics may be hidden and, because of a host of good reasons, may not appear until much later.

lDeveloped sense of humor lDoes things earlier than peers lDoes things better than peers lVery different perspective than peers lIntense focus on one or two hobbies or interests lSometimes (but certainly not always) capable and mature for age lSees patterns - both concrete and abstract lPrecocious use of language (If verbally gifted) lPrefers to do math work in head (If mathematically gifted) lActive imagination lExtremely competitive lMay show extreme emotional sensitivity lOriginal thinker - may be a non-conformist. lPersistence

Then there are other characteristics that may be a little more difficult to live with:

lPerfectionism lSuper sensitivity or heightened senses (canít stand the toes of the socks to be on "wrong," requires the tags in shirts to be cut off, or overly sensitive to light or sound or environment, etc.) lVery intense emotionalism lHigh energy levels lMay need little sleep lStubbornness (the extreme side of persistence :-) lUnable to finish all projects begun lDislikes taking time for precision lImpatient with details

Intellectually gifted kids are not always the honors students with the best scores. Some kids donít test well and some gifted kids arenít academically inclined. Add to that: undiagnosed learning disabilities, boredom, behavior problems, hyperactivity, and you can see ó itís not always easy being gifted!

Societyís attitudes It appears to be more acceptable in our society to be athletically, or musically, or artistically, or even socially gifted (leadership), than it is to be academically gifted. Parents need to search out the best in education, resources, and opportunities for their gifted learners, just as they would for their athletes and musicians. Use tact when discussing accomplishments, but donít ignore them either.

All gifted students are not the same

Use what you know about your child in order to guide and motivate him/her. Some students need to be prodded into working to their capabilities, while others are perfectionists and need help learning to lighten up.

There is more to life than just academics

Donít neglect important things like spiritual development, character, service to others, fine arts, etc. Social skills should not be overlooked either. Does your child know how to behave in various situations? Are they comfortable with both peers and adults?

Mentoring Look to families with gifted children who are older than yours. Pick their brains; find out what worked and what didnít. Then, be a mentor to a family with younger gifted kids.

Donít assume others can teach your child better than you can. Gifted programs, classes, and schools may look enticing, but look very closely! There is much New Age teaching and other garbage being used as "gifted programs." You know your student better than anyone else. With prayer and reliance on the Lord you can teach gifted children at home.

More than Text Books Academics are important, but academics means more than textbooks. Use resources and activities that incorporate higher level thinking skills. Examples:

lMaking books and/or keeping notebooks; give them a place to write those important thoughts. Make a field guide using a camera, plant samples and reference books. lHome made games: assign them the task of designing board or card games based on their studies. This is a great way both to learn and to show what youíve learned. lEncourage them to put on a play, write a newspaper, invent, or start a business. lBrainstorm in everyday life: help them to organize thoughts and ideas.

Provide them with plenty of opportunities to learn without making it obvious that itís "educational." For example: conversations with adults, interesting hobbies, good magazines and other reading material (fiction and non-fiction), exposure to other languages and cultures, and free time to pursue their dreams and goals.

Nationally Recognized Gifted Programs

CTY/IAAY: Grades 2 and up. Johns Hopkins University has widely recognized programs for gifted youth. Consists of testing to determine eligibility (it is intended for high-end gifted), camps, workshops, symposiums, newsletters, tutorials by mail, and on-line classes, all created for very gifted kids and/or their parents. Contact: CTY and IAAY the Johns Hopkins University 3400 North Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21218 410.516.0337

Duke has a similar program called TIP (Talent Identification Program) which includes a 7th grade talent search. Duke also publishes a quarterly entitled "Duke Gifted Letter, A Newsletter for Parents of Gifted Children." Duke University TIP Box 90747 Durham, NC 27708 919.684.3847 www.tip.duke.edu/

Other colleges and universities in your area may have testing programs as well as on-line an correspondence courses as well as camps. Investigate carefully, know your childís needs and personality, and pray before pursuing.

Contests and Competitions There are numerous contests available. The hard part is picking the one(s) for which you have time! There are well-known ones like the National Geography Bee, Scripts Howard Spelling Bee and Mathematical Olympiads, and there are a number of other contests that might be great fun and quite a learning opportunity for your student. "Invent America!" for example. There are books available describing academic competitions.

Resources http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HSGifted/ Come join a safe haven for Christian parents to talk about the joys and challenges of raising gifted and talented children.

Gifted Children at Home: A Practical Guide for Homeschooling Families Feeling frustrated in meeting your childís educational needs? This book will encourage you and give a firm foundation for making important educational decisions. This is your guide to searching out the best possible options, resources, and ideas. Written with hard-earned wisdom from women whoíve "been there, done that." Available from Bright Ideas Press. $24.95 Includes: How Do I know if My Childís Gifted? Testing Acceleration and "Skipping" of Grades What to Teach and When Curriculum Choices Preparing for High School and College Apprenticeships National Programs and Contests Reproducible Forms and more

Biography: Maggie and Bob Hogan live in a (formerly) Amish farmhouse in Dover, DE where they began homeschooling their two (now grown) sons in 1991. She is a regular contributor to homeschooling internet sites as well as print magazines like Homeschooling Today and The Old Schoolhouse. Sheís a nationally known speaker and co-author of The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, Gifted Children at Home, Hands-on Geography and other resource books. Involved in local, state, and national homeschooling issues, they both serve on boards of home education organizations in Delaware. Theyíre also owners of Bright Ideas Press, publishers of the award winning: The Mystery of History series, Christian Kids Explore series and All American History series. When not reading or writing, Maggie can be found drooling over scrapbooking supplies and book catalogs.

 Bright Ideas Press P.O. Box 333 Cheswold, DE 19936 Toll Free 877.492.8081 www.BrightIdeasPress.com Maggie@BrightIdeasPress.com

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