Monthly Archives: March 2012

Imagine the Impact of Gifted Programs

By Jessica Houben

Emily was six years old and a first grader in elementary school. Most of her classmates were still learning to read. Emily had read all of the Harry Potter books before she began first grade. Every time she would sit through reading lessons, she would skip ahead and finish the story before her classmates reached the second page. The teacher would ask the class what they thought would happen next, and Emily had all of the answers. Her teacher came to her desk and looked at her disapprovingly, telling her that she was not to read ahead. This was not the first or last time Emily felt like she did something wrong, just because she was more advanced.

Emily’s mother looked for outside opportunities to challenge her daughter. She saw a flier for enrichment classes offered in her neighborhood through IEA’s Academy. When Emily joined the Academy, she made friends quickly with the other children. They were just like her! She was able to talk to these children about all of the stories she read, because they had read them, too! Her Mythometry class taught her to read stories that challenged her to analyze and think critically. She began reading college level material, and she was even encouraged to write her own stories!

IMAGINE THE IMPACT if Emily’s teacher had allowed her to be herself and read ahead in class. Imagine if students were told to move as fast as they’d like through school, instead of moving at a pace where they become bored and disengaged and are told to slow down for the sake of the group. For most Academy students, their enrichment classes are where they can be themselves, learn at their own pace, and be challenged to rise to their greatest potential. Imagine if gifted students were able to get experiences like this in school, where they learned with other advanced students and were challenged on a daily basis. Imagine if programs like this were available to all gifted students, nationwide, both in and out of school. Imagine what those children would achieve.

What experiences have your gifted kids had in school? Let us know in the comment section below!

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter

“Keeping Track of the Who”

On March 5, 2012, IEA Senior Fellow, Newberry Honor Award winning author, and renowned gifted expert Stephanie Tolan spoke to a group of parents in South Pasadena, California, as a part of our Gifted Child Parent Support Group series. This post offers some highlights from Stephanie’s talk.

Fighting for Gifted

In America, it is okay to be a gifted athlete. But in terms of intelligence, academics, and creativity, many believe that every child is gifted. “You don’t look around a whole class full of kids and say every one of those kids could be Michael Jordan . . . but there is this concept in the world that every child is a gifted child. It’s like saying every child is tall.”

“All human beings have gifts of some kind,” Stephanie acknowledged. “But that’s not like saying every child is gifted because gifted is by definition outside the norm.”

“Those who deal with highly to profoundly gifted kids – kids along the far right edge of the bell curve – those of us who deal with those kids know that giftedness is innate to the person. We know that no kid who is not gifted is going to be able to leap ahead at the rate that these kids just naturally move.”

Theoretical Curve of Distribution of Intelligence

Theoretical Curve of Distribution of Intelligence (via
The highly and profoundly gifted kids Stephanie mentions lie on the far right edge of this bell curve.

While many organizations choose to focus on talent development (which is equated with achievement), there are many kids who are gifted but do not achieve. Therefore, it is important to IEA that we focus on giftedness.

Stephanie’s Advice for Keeping Track of the Who

When parents define their kids by their differences, they are focusing on the “what.” What their child is good at. What their child does differently. Stephanie urges parents, however, to remember the “who” – the being-ness of the individual child.

  • “Help [your kids] see themselves first as a who and then a who who does stuff.”
  • Embrace who your kids are, including remembering that what makes them happy is important.
  • Allow your kids to explore their options. Let them decide what is important to them and what they like. “Multipotentiality is part of the package.” Your kids don’t have to be stuck on one track forever. Encourage them to learn what they love through exploration.
  • “Part of your child’s job is to play.” Just because your kids have a gift doesn’t make play and down time any less important.
  • Let your kids have an interest of their own, something you don’t coach them in, like the music they prefer or the games they play. “It was important that [my son] had something I didn’t have.”
  • Remember that this is a balancing act.
  • So often as parents of gifted kids we are concerned with achievement of potential or of specific goals, but don’t forget the child’s happiness along the way.
  • What you are paying attention to grows. Focus on the good things!

Stephanie Tolan is author of the Newbery Honor Award-winning novel Surviving the Applewhites. She is a well-known lecturer and advocate for highly gifted young people. She has also written Listen!, Flight of the Raven, Welcome to the Ark, and Ordinary Miracles and is co-author of Guiding the Gifted Child. As an IEA Senior Fellow, Stephanie and the other Fellows facilitate Yunasa each year. Stephanie will also be at the new Yunasa West camp this year.

IEA hosts free monthly Gifted Child Parent Support Group Meetings throughout the school year in the Pasadena, CA, area.  These meetings often feature a special guest speaker and cover a variety of topics. If you are interested in receiving more information about these meetings as they are announced, sign up for our email list and include your Los Angeles area zip code.

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter

The Many Faces of Gifted: Trevor

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted child has a unique story. The following story is the first in a series of posts highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs, depicting the many faces of gifted. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.

Trevor was an IEA Apprentice and is now a Resident in Dermatology.

Dr. Trevor Muirhead
IEA Apprentice in 1999
Resident at Henry Ford Hospital, Department of Dermatology, Michigan

Trevor Muirhead didn’t know what he should do the summer before his senior year that would stand out on his high school resume. It was Trevor’s school counselor at Long Beach Polytechnic High School that pitched him the idea of applying to the Institute for Educational Advancement’s brand new Apprenticeship Program.

We introduced our Apprenticeship Program to Southern California high school students with one class in the summer of 1999. Robotics was being mentored by K.G. Engelhardt, a former Manager of Robotics for NASA and Director of the Center for Human Service Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University.

The one week residential session was held at the University of Southern California (USC). The Apprentices worked closely with Dr. Engelhardt to research, design and develop four wheel “service” robots using robotic kits and computer chips.

"Do something you enjoy and enrich your education."In addition to classroom time, the Apprentices visited some scientific and cultural landmarks in Los Angeles. One of the highlights for Trevor was the trip to the MarsYard at JPL in Pasadena. This sandy outdoor environment simulated the Martian landscape and was used to test different robotic prototypes. The Apprentices also visited museums and a local hospital where robots served patients their meals. To mark the end of the class, the Apprentices were given the task of programming their robots to dance in sync with each others’ robots.

Trevor graduated Valedictorian of his high school class in 2000 and went on to spend eight years at USC, completing his undergrad and medical school education there as part of the USC Baccalaureate/M.D. Program. Trevor’s college path enabled him to continue studying in areas he found interesting besides medicine (he double majored in biology and history). Trevor explained that in today’s med schools students are taking majors other than just science. “Do something you enjoy and enrich your education,” he said.

In 2003, he and two other USC undergrads won the top Humanities prize in the school’s Undergraduate Research Symposium (a university-wide scholarly competition) for their recreation of the ancient city of Troy. The team used photography, 3-D graphics, drawings, videos, web links and literature to develop an amazingly realistic replica of Troy that is still available for viewing at Trevor said that in addition to the scholarship money he received by winning this prize, he was invited to visit George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California. There was also an article written in The New York Times about the Troy Project.

After graduating USC’s Medical School, Trevor interned at Olive View Hospital in Los Angeles in Internal Medicine. After the one year, 80-hour-per-week internship, he moved to Michigan to begin the three year Residency program in Dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital. As a Resident, Trevor works about 50 hours a week and spends a lot of outside work time studying and researching. His Residency involves treating all types of skin ailments including cancers, growths and infections of the hair, skin and nails. After finishing his Residency and passing the National Board Exams in Dermatology, Trevor plans to move back to Southern California and join a private practice later this summer.

“The Apprenticeship Program certainly played a significant role in influencing my education path, not that I pursued Robotics, but it fostered scientific exploration which I applied to other fields,” Trevor said. “Also, the Apprenticeship Program introduced me to USC, and without it I very well may have attended another university which would have likely altered both my career and life paths.”

An interview with Trevor and his classmate about their Troy project is available here:

Does Trevor’s summer experience as an IEA Apprentice sound like something your gifted high school student would enjoy? Applications are currently being accepted for Apprenticeship.  Apply today!

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter

Considering Summer Camps and Programs for Your Gifted Child

By Jennifer Kennedy

Yunasa Campers

Summer opportunities allow gifted kids to connect with others around shared interests and experiences.

It’s time to start thinking about your kids’ summer plans!  There are great summer opportunities available for gifted children, and many have applications due in the next month or two.

There are several types of summer opportunities to consider, but the two most common are:

  1. Day Camps and Programs
  2. Residential Camps and Programs

IEA offers summer programs in both of these categories.

  • Academy is a day enrichment program in South Pasadena, California, that provides high-achieving elementary and middle school students with challenging classes that focus on exploration and application of knowledge. Courses this summer will include favorites like Chemistry and Rocket to Calculus, as well as brand new class options.
  • Apprenticeship is a three or four week residential program that matches gifted students from across the country with highly-regarded mentors in fields like science, industrial design, math, and medicine. This year’s program will be offered in Los Angeles and San Diego.
  • Yunasa and Yunasa West are week long residential camps for highly gifted 10-14 year olds. The camps are facilitated by renowned experts in the field of gifted education and are devoted to teaching campers techniques for integrating the intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical aspects of their lives.

Because each child is unique, the ideal program for each child will vary, so consider your child’s personality before deciding on a camp or program. As Dr. Bob Schultz of the University of Toledo points out, you may want to keep in mind that intensities in gifted children will have an enormous impact on their experiences at an overnight camp, so the set-up and focus of residential camps are important. NAGC’s Parenting for High Potential has a list of questions to ask about camps and programs in order to help match your child with the best summer opportunity for their strengths, needs, and interests.

Once you have decided what type of program is best for your gifted child, there are many resources available to help you find those opportunities, including the following:

  • IEA’s Gifted Resource Center allows you to search for summer programs for gifted kids using specific criteria such as location, keywords, and age group.
  • Hoagies’ Gifted has an extensive list of summer programs for gifted kids by state.
  • The National Association for Gifted Children also has a database of summer programs searchable by state and keyword.
  • The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented has a list of summer programs specifically for gifted kids in Texas and throughout the U.S.

Good luck with your search!

Have any more tips for finding summer camps and programs for your child? Let us know in the comments!

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter