Monthly Archives: August 2014

Becoming Anything You Want to Be: Career Exploration for Gifted Students

By Mark Erlandson

Mark Erlandson, the parent of a gifted student who presently attends a boarding school out East, is a former lawyer and public high school English teacher from Wisconsin starting a new business as a legal writing consultant.

Career exploration for gifted students

An IEA Apprentice does lab work during her experience learning about a career in cancer research.

“You can be anything you want to be” is a cliche we all will probably tell, or have already told, our children at some time in their lives. For the gifted child, this statement may be closer to the truth. But having too many skills and abilities and multiple interests can be overwhelming, and what exactly does “anything” mean? How do we help the gifted student to understand what the “anything” is and to find the right career match?

To begin, two caveats: technological innovation and economic globalization have brought about swift change to the practice and outlook of many occupations and will continue to do so. Therefore, the goal of much early career planning should be to explore and understand the nature and variety of work available, not to choose a specific career. At most, paint in broad strokes and identify career areas that a child may want to enter.

Second, children’s interests often change as they mature. What once lit that flame of enthusiasm in 8th grade may have diminished by junior year of high school. That is natural. Expect your child’s passions to ebb and flow as he or she ages, becoming exposed to and participating in life’s experiences and learning more about themselves.

Read Mark’s advice for helping gifted students explore career options!

Reflections on Apprenticeship 2014

By Min-Ling Li

Min-Ling is IEA’s Apprenticeship Program Coordinator. IEA’s residential summer Apprenticeship Program 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. These life lessons in personal and intellectual development are invaluable to their growth and assist them in making pertinent connections for the future.

High School Apprenticeship Program

Min-Ling (far left) with the four- and seven-week Apprentices

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

I had the honor of spending seven weeks – a time that has magically flown by – alongside wonderful students whom I could not get enough of. Their passion and diligence radiated all around them, and I watched each of them grow over the course of the summer. I feel privileged to have been witness to not only their physical growth (hair and height) but to the development of their perseverance and the bloom of their self-confidence.

As an IEA Apprentice, students must possess an innate desire to learn and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Driven by these characteristics, each Apprentice worked alongside eminent professionals, becoming a vital part of a research team and/or project. These opportunities posed challenges that gifted students typically do not face in the classroom. The unique difficulties posed by the need to acquire as much knowledge of a subject as possible in an effort to become a productive contributor and by entering into professional cultures they had not yet experienced helped each student develop a newfound maturity. Doctors, research scientists, lawyers, and I comprised the team of mentors who committed to providing support for the Apprentices as they began to mature intellectually and socially, and we provided opportunities for them to learn and to succeed on their own laurels.

Apprentices cultivated relationships with each other and found the acceptance and the strength they needed to conquer the challenges they faced. After each arduous work day, dinner was the time when they shared their struggles to comprehend complex science jargon, algorithms, design techniques, and intricate medical procedures, all the while discussing their experiences with hot wire cutters and petri dishes. Somehow, dinner conversations always culminated in discussions about who they were rooting for on MasterChef or the games they planned to play back at the dorm.

During the evenings and on weekends, Resident Advisers and I engaged the Apprentices’ teenage selves. In an effort to bridge asynchronous highly able minds with their adolescent emotional and psychological needs, we played Pictionary, bowled, went ice skating, and attended a baseball game. Many of the kids also completed summer AP assignments, and many watched a Harry Potter marathon. Astonishingly, I watched each of the Apprentices achieve balance.

At this time last year, I could only dream of these young adults, who have now exceeded all of my expectations. It is now time to plan for next year’s program, and I can only imagine who the phenomenal students will be that take part in Apprenticeship 2015.

See photos from Apprenticeship 2014!
Apprenticeship2014Photos

Do you know a gifted high school student who would benefit from Apprenticeship? Sign up for our email list to stay updated on our 2015 offerings!

Yunasa 2014

By Jennifer de la Haye

Jennifer is a recent addition to the IEA staff and attended Yunasa for the first time this summer. IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camps unite highly able youngsters with experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children. Campers explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of their lives.

Whole-camp

Yunasa 2014 left me breathless – perhaps because this was my first Yunasa experience, or perhaps because Yunasa is a special and unique hub of safety, growth, and unparalleled camp-magic. The afternoon of Sunday, July 27, campers began to filter into the conference center of Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan; some brows were knitted, some smiles were uncertain, some faces looked thoughtful. Several of the kids seemed to float, others skipped, many hugged with excited ferocity, quite a few squealed and jumped up and down as they spotted a friend. The older campers – deemed either EL for ‘Emerging Leader’ or CIT for ‘Counselor in Training’ – whose bonds with one another are indurate after years of Yunasa, dispersed to welcome the younger campers, show them to their rooms, and initiate ice-breaking exercises. Kids who seemed a bit apprehensive were directed to the table of Yunasa Buddies, cuddly stuffed animals donated by staff and campers meant to offer a bit of comfort throughout the week.

Group-table

On the first night of camp, Newbury Honor Award winner and IEA Senior Fellow Stephanie Tolan led a group discussion on her work, Flight of the Raven, the second book in a series about four gifted youth who combine powers to save a violent, troubled world. I was immediately struck by the depth and intelligence of the conversation; the questions the campers asked were interesting and insightful. And so mature. Was I sitting in on a college literature course or was I watching a summer camp unfold?

See more highlights from camp!

Friendship and the Gifted Child

Friendship-Banner

Does your gifted child like to spend recess alone? Does she only have one or two friends? Does he have one very intense friendship? Does she only have friends that are significantly older or younger than she is? Does he only make friends in his extracurricular activities rather than at school?

These are common behaviors of gifted children, and it is not unusual that parents of gifted children have concerns about their child’s friendships. Gifted individuals possess a unique combination of characteristics that can influence how and why they establish friendships.

The gifted child may only have one or two friends, but they will likely be very deep friendships.

gifted friendsGifted kids may have an extremely close connection to one or two people rather than a large group of friends. This is okay. It does become a problem, however, when there is a falling out with one of these very close friends, which can cause great distress in a gifted child. It is important to be sensitive to this, to help your child navigate through this difficult experience, and to help him or her understand that there are other friends out there.

Learn more about gifted children and friendship.