Tag Archives: Elizabeth Jones

IEA Summer Spotlight 2014

By Jennifer de la Haye

“I am happy to be in a room of too’s,” said Betsy Jones, IEA President, as we concluded IEA’s Summer Spotlight this year. “We are all too’s – too emotional, too smart, too intense….”

Tuesday, June 8, was a bright evening of community, learning, and friendship as IEA and its community gathered at the University of Southern California for dinner and a time of sharing. Eight IEA Apprentices, who studied Industrial Design under Stan Kong at Art Center College of Design, displayed their impressive concept design sketches – pieces of art that would later become final projects. Posters, books, and sculptures created by Academy students, Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, and Yunasa campers were also scattered about USC’s Vineyard Room, along with plenty of photos of Academy kids at The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens; Yunasa West campers frolicking in Colorado; and CDB Scholars who convened for the Bradley Seminar in April.

IMG_0344IMG_4479IMG_4477 See some of the highlights from Summer Spotlight!

My Child is Gifted. Now What?

IEA hosts monthly Gifted Child Parent Support Group meetings throughout the school year. These meetings are intended to provide support and community in the midst of the joys and challenges of raising a gifted child. At the May 2013 meeting, IEA President Elizabeth D. Jones presented “My Child is Gifted. Now What?” This post offers a few of the many highlights from that talk.


As the parent of a gifted child, you are on the road to an extremely adventurous – and memorable – parenting journey.

You know that your child is different, and you may or may not know why or how. You search for answers and find out that your child is gifted. But what does that mean? How do you accommodate your child’s needs now that you know what they are?

Identifying and Acknowledging Your Child’s Gifts

Because you as a parent know your child best and see your child the most, you are the most likely person to notice your child’s gifts. Parents usually notice signs of giftedness in the first five years of their child’s life. 50%-90% of parents are proficient at recognizing early intellectual advancement in their children. As children near the age of 5, the accuracy improves.

Read more of this post here!

Coping with Tragedy: The Gifted Child’s “What Ifs”

By Elizabeth D. Jones

Elizabeth Jones is the President and Founder of The Institute for Educational Advancement. She has worked with gifted and special needs children and their families for more than 20 years. Her current work emphasizes advocacy and the development and administration of specialized programs for underserved youth. She also consults with gifted children and their families to help them find solutions to meet each child’s intellectual, physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs.

Tragedies make us feel helpless. As adults looking for answers, dealing with heartache and trying to process what has happened, it is vital that we honor the fears and concerns of our children, as well. This can be extremely difficult when we don’t understand the events ourselves. It is hard to grasp entering into a conversation with our children without knowing the answers to who, what, why and if it will happen again.

Children can be extremely affected by catastrophes, whether acts of nature or human infliction. They see adults as the gatekeepers to their safety; but when the adults in a child’s world have no control over a tragedy occurring, children often lose their sense of security. They just cannot understand why.

Read more about common fears and stresses surrounding many gifted youth here

2013 Bradley Seminar: Know Thyself

CDB Scholars spent the weekend learning about themselves, making connections, and exploring San Jose!

Caroline D. Bradley Scholars spent the weekend learning about themselves, making connections, and exploring San Jose!

On February 22-24, 2013, we hosted the 10th annual Bradley Seminar in San Jose, California. The event, funded by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, provides an amazing opportunity for the Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, their parents, and alumni to come together each year for a three-day conference to discuss issues of global importance and personal relevance.

Read more about what happened at the seminar here!

Gifted Child Parent Support Groups

Click here for 2013-2014 Parent Meetings.

Gifted children have a variety of unique gifts, as well as a variety of unique needs and challenges. Join the Institute for Educational Advancement as we explore ways to meet our gifted children’s particular needs and learn more about this extraordinary group of young people. These monthly meetings are intended for parents of gifted children to provide support and community in the midst of the joys and challenges of raising a gifted child.

2012-2013 Parent Meetings:

Speaker: Elizabeth D. Jones
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Special Guest Speaker:
Dr. Patricia Gatto-Walden
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
6:30 pm—7:30 pm

South Pasadena Public Library – Community Room*
1115 El Centro Street
South Pasadena, CA 91030

College Admissions
Speaker: Kate Duey
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Summer Programs
Thursday, March 7, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Gifted Children at Home and in the Classroom
Speaker: Sharon Duncan

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

My Child is Gifted. Now What?
Speaker: Elizabeth Jones, IEA President
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Please RSVP to reception@educationaladvancement.org. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Please invite parents that you feel would be interested.

Dates and topics later in the season may change. Please contact IEA for an updated schedule.

*This activity is not sponsored by the City of South Pasadena or the South Pasadena Public Library.

Want to stay updated on future parent meetings in the Los Angeles area? Sign up for our email newsletters and be sure to fill in your zip code!

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Parents, Please Take a Seat at Our Table

By Elizabeth Jones, IEA President and Co-Founder

Parents of gifted children, please take a seat at our tableIn reading the article “Is There a Place at the Table for Parents” a few days ago, I began to reflect on and evaluate how we at IEA invite parents to take a seat at the table.

I decided to discuss the topic with our staff. Kate Duey, a parent of 3 gifted daughters and a consultant for IEA, was in the office and had a few compelling comments about how she felt as the mother of gifted children.

She said that she did not feel particularly “included” in most of the past gifted organizations in which her daughters participated. “At one large summer program for gifted kids, I dropped my daughter off at the dorms, and that was pretty much it,” Kate recalled. “No one who administered the program was available for me to talk to. I got to talk to her dorm advisor for a few minutes that day, but that was it. When the program was over, I was to just pick her up and take her home, nothing more. I had no opportunity to speak with anyone running the program nor a way to learn about what happened while she was in attendance. I was a means of transportation more than anything.” That was disconcerting for her, and this was not an isolated incident.

I wanted to see what she would say about us – after all, she is a consultant here to assist our organization. She said, “At IEA, the parents are included in everything from the Apprenticeship presentations, to the Bradley Seminar, to talking with the staff and Fellows at Yunasa, to parent support groups, and parents are even on the Board of Directors. I even have been here when you call a parent to see how class went on Saturday or to see how a child was doing in school that week.”

At IEA, we support the whole gifted child – intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Parent input is crucial. The folks that live with these darling, amazing, and sometimes frustrating little guys have ideas and questions! We know that these children do not operate in a vacuum and that their parents are the life-line to their success.

We want parents to take a seat at the table. We want them to feel involved in our organization and the ways in which we serve their children.

We know that parenting a gifted child is not easy. Other parents, and often even teachers, don’t understand what you are going through. It is difficult to find information, resources, and support to help you raise your gifted child. Your child needs support, but so do you.

Because of this, every program at IEA has some parent component. For example:

  • On the first day of Yunasa, parents get to meet and learn from the Fellows, renowned professionals in the social and emotional development of gifted children.
  • Parents of high school Apprentices are invited to attend the Apprentices’ final presentations, in which all participants share what they have accomplished while working with their Mentor over the course of the program. A closing picnic for all hosted by IEA staff members follows.
  • Academy families are encouraged to speak with staff before or after classes. We are starting Academy Family Nights, where families have the opportunity to connect and build community. We are also using parent feedback to create new classes – parents asked for a young girls’ book club, so we are going to start one this winter.
  • Parents of Caroline D. Bradley Scholars attend the annual Bradley Seminar, a weekend of community and learning.
  • All of our programs solicit feedback from students and their parents. Information gleaned in these evaluations has assisted us in honing our services to better meet the changing needs of our constituency.
  • IEA staff members frequently speak with parents regarding their individual child, even if that family has not participated in one of our offerings.

But are we doing enough? Probably not.

We try to be an open resource for parents looking for support for their gifted child. We offer consulting services. We host several parent support groups throughout the year to provide support, community, and information on topics of interest to parents of gifted children. We have asked Stephanie Tolan, a Senior Fellow, to speak about her experience parenting a gifted child. We have an active social media presence – here on our blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook – all of which provide an open forum for discussion and questions.

Yet children and their parents still go unheard in the gifted community.

We want to learn, we want to help, we want each parent to feel heard and hopefully helped.

Parents of gifted children often contribute to this blog to offer parent perspectives on raising gifted children. A parent of one of our program participants is currently helping with our strategic planning. We ask for parent input, and we take it seriously.

At IEA, we do advocate for gifted children in a way similar to what Lisa describes in the article, but we do our best to bring parent feedback into it. We often provide educators and other organizations with tools to serve gifted children. We do involve parents in our organization, and we believe we are supporting their needs. Our table maybe small, but it is well built.

Please know that you can always come to IEA for support, guidance, information, and resources. We want you to have a seat at the table. We can always build a bigger table.

As an organization that dedicates itself to connecting bright minds and nurturing intellectual and personal growth, we know that parents of these bright minds are integral in this process. Please take a seat at our table.

Do you feel that parents have a seat at the table in the gifted community? Please share with us in the comment section below.

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The Gift of Gab

By Elizabeth Jones, IEA Co-Founder and President

I have had the privilege of learning from gifted and highly gifted students for over 20 years. During that time, we have worked with schools, trained teachers, supported students, provided fun, engaging learning experiences, guided parents and listened to kids.

The anecdotes that follow demonstrate some of the most common characteristics of intellectually precocious youth, such as advanced vocabulary, curiosity, deep empathy, rage to master, keen observation, humor and the articulation of apparently logical theories.

Although these incidents are all unique to different children, if you have had the benefit of spending time with these amazing young people, you will inevitably relate to similar comments or events.

“Who knew? School is not a place you go to learn; it is where you go to make macaroni necklaces.” – 5-year-old boy

“There are 532 dots in the ceiling tile over my desk. I know it is a weird number but it is the number. I know because I count them every day when we read together in class. I think they should make the tiles with 576 dots or 484 dots. Why? Because it is easier to do the square root.” – 7-year-old girl

“Can I be my 8-year-old self this afternoon? I had to be my 15-year-old self all day.” – 8-year-old girl

“I learned something new in school today: you get in trouble if you tell the teacher she is wrong—even if she is wrong. That is not right—it is wrong!” – 7-year-old boy

“In my school, we have gifted kids called ‘nerds,’ and we have good athletes we call ‘jocks.’ I think we need a word for gifted kids who are good athletes—like ‘jerds!’ Ha! I am a total jerd!” – 11-year-old boy

“I just feel better when I eat only white food. What is the problem?” – 6-year-old girl

“I remember, when I was young, I cried when I saw the leaves on the tree in the back yard fall off. I thought it must hurt the tree. So I went to hug the tree, and she told me it was okay, it didn’t hurt, and new leaves would grow back. It took such a long time, but it happened. I love that tree.” – 6-year-old girl

“Home is safe; I have my books, my computer, my snuggle bunny and mom. Why should I go to some strange house to ‘play’?” – 8-year-old boy

“You are right; if you do your math work sheet upside down, it is a lot more interesting.” – 10-year-old boy

Gifted children are not better than other kids, they are just different. They think differently, learn in unique ways and they have a wonderful sense of humor. Imagine a world that celebrated all these kids have to offer! What a wonderful world it would be!

What things have your kids said to you that demonstrated a characteristic of giftedness? Please share in the comment section below!

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Breathing in I Calm My Body: Intensities in the Gifted

Caroline loves to read — not as a pastime, but as part of her lifeline to the world. She once told me that when she was forced to stop reading in class, it was like her lungs were collapsing, and it was difficult for her to breathe. This seven-year-old has been described as extremely intense and sensitive. The loss of something that comforts her and intellectually feeds her manifests itself in a physical reaction.

Children who feel things with great intensity experience the world in a different way. Gifted young people are often more aware, stimulated, and affected by their surroundings. Emotional or physical reactions to events can last longer than expected and are often replayed in the child’s mind.

Intensities can be characterized by:

  • Extreme feelings: positive or negative feelings; complex emotions; connection with the feelings of others; grand laughter and tears
  • Physical reaction to emotion: stomachaches and headaches; blushing; rise in body temperature
  • Strong affective memory: re-living or re-feeling things long after the triggering event; nightmares; elaborate daydreams connected to actual events

Psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski studied the mental health of gifted youth and adults. He described the areas of heightened stimulation observed in gifted individuals as “overexcitabilites.” The five areas of overexcitabilites are:

  1. Psychomotor: extreme physical activity and movement; rapid talk; pacing; use of hand gestures
  2. Sensual: perceptiveness of sensory experiences; unusual awareness and enjoyment of sensation
  3. Imaginational: clear visualizations; metaphorical speech; dreaming; magical thinking
  4. Intellectual: need to question or analyze; delight in the abstract and theoretical; puzzle and problem solving
  5. Emotional: intensity of feeling and relationships; natural empathy and compassion; susceptibility to depression, anxiety, or loneliness

Dr. Michael Piechowski, who studied alongside Dabroswski, has dedicated much of his life to researching the emotional and spiritual aspects of gifted children. In his book Mellow Out,’ They Say. If Only I Could: Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright, he stresses the need to “give voice to the emotional life of bright young people, to show how their intensities and sensitivities make them more alive, more creative, and more in love with the world and its wonders.”

Piechowski, along with other gifted experts, teaches gifted children a variety of techniques for coping with their overexcitabilities. For Caroline, this required her teachers, parents, and siblings to understand and embrace her overexcitabilities. At the same time, Caroline learned exercises to calm her senses and help her focus.

Guided imagery and meditation are excellent tools for those like Caroline learning to master their sensitivities. A good place to start is with a simple exercise. Have your child close his or her eyes, breathe deeply, and say with the breath,

“Breathing in I calm my body,
Breathing out, I smile.”

Learning to use the mind to control the body through exercises like this — along with overall awareness and understanding — is an important step in mastering intensities.

For more strategies, see our post 15 Strategies for Managing Your Gifted Child’s Intensities.

Does your child experience any of these overexcitabilities? What coping techniques have worked for you? Please share with us in the comment section below!

We are excited to share this post as part of the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour. Gifted children worldwide share many unique characteristics, including intensities. It is important for those who are in the lives of these gifted individuals to better understand these characteristics in order to help nurture and support their intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional, and physical growth.

#NZGAW Blog Tour

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Too Fast, Too Slow, Just Right – Acceleration for the Gifted Child

By Elizabeth Jones

Kyle started to read when he was two. He carried the first Harry Potter book with him to preschool and proceeded to finish the book in a week. His preschool teacher told his parents that he needed to skip kindergarten, but the school district said it was against policy and that he should start kindergarten with his age peers. Kyle started to cry every morning and would try to negotiate ways to get out of going to school. He had few friends and was extremely emotionally intense. Reading was the only thing that made him happy. Knowing that something had to change, his parents pleaded with the district to do something. They worked with experts to assess their child and to learn coping mechanisms to help him deal with his intensity. Eventually the child was offered a grade skip, but the policy was not changed and the family was told not to discuss the issue.

In an ideal world, schools would identify and address the intellectual, creative and personal needs of all children. However, large class size, lack of funds, philosophical differences, inadequate teacher training, wide variety in student abilities and a myriad of other issues prevent this from being a reality.

Many gifted children only have the option of participating in advanced extracurricular programs. While a lifeline for highly able students, these classes are held after school and on weekends, which means students remain unchallenged during the traditional academic school day.

Research is clear on how to best meet the needs of gifted and highly gifted children in school, and it involves some form of academic acceleration. Acceleration is a program, service or administrative decision that shortens a student’s time in a course of study. Schools that offer services for gifted students are usually comfortable with subject area acceleration, curriculum telescoping and compacting. These forms of differentiation are good ways for students to remain engaged in learning.

Unfortunately, many parents are met with resistance when advocating for services for their bright young children. As experts in gifted education, we continually advocate for change to ensure that all bright, curious kids have a chance to be successful. Unfortunately, lasting effective change in our schools can take years, and these brilliant floundering students need challenging and enriched learning opportunities now.

Acceleration in the form of grade skipping is most common in early years of elementary school because it is often easier to determine basic mastery of content and skills. Research has demonstrated that, with solid planning, a grade skip is a positive solution to meeting the needs of highly able students.

Grade skipping

  • Requires limited financial resources
  • Positively impacts academic progress
  • Strongly improves social adjustment
  • Results in higher self esteem

Tom Southern and Eric Jones share that high ability students who are accelerated are actually more likely to make friends with students who have similar academic interests and are more socially mature.

study published in 2001 was conducted on 320 adults who were accelerated as highly gifted children 10 years earlier. The study found that more than 70% had no regrets about the experience. Of those that reported regret, 20% indicated they wish they had been accelerated more.

In our experience, the students who have the most satisfying experiences with acceleration are those who are performing well beyond their grade level peers, have an IQ score above 140 and have demonstrated frustration with the level and pace of instruction in the classroom. We have also noted that highly able students who are self-directed, excited and focused when presented with rigorous new challenges, have multiple interests and are somewhat socially mature do extremely well with grade skipping and advancement in single subjects.

Thoughts on what schools should do to accommodate the needs of highly able youth

  1. Develop policies to address acceleration, including
    1. Criteria for grade skip, subject area acceleration and telescoping
    2. Credit or placement based upon performance
  2. Train parents and teachers on forms of acceleration and strategies for success
  3. Offer advanced placement and honor classes to student in middle school and high school
  4. Provide information on early admission to college or dual placement

It is important to continually monitor the success of student progress academically, socially and emotionally. Kyle was accelerated again in third grade and entered junior high when he was ten. He participates in advanced enrichment classes, sports and music programs after school. For now it is a good balance. He is happy and is still interested in learning.

How does your child’s school respond to the need for acceleration? Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below!

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Imagine the Possibilities: 2012 Bradley Seminar

By Elizabeth Jones

Caroline D. Bradley Scholars

Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, parents, and alumni met in Atlanta, Georgia, for the 2012 Bradley Seminar.

March 23 – 25, 2012, we hosted our annual Caroline D. Bradley Seminar in Atlanta, Georgia. The event, funded by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, provides an amazing opportunity for the Caroline D. Bradley Scholars and their parents to learn and grow intellectually and personally in a unique community.

Each Seminar deals with a theme that focuses on looking inward and challenging ourselves to grow, not only intellectually, but also personally. We all could benefit from time to reflect on things like core values, the importance of resiliency, good and evil, and how to open our minds to possibilities.

Scholars, parents, and CDB alumni participate in cross-generational conversations that tackle these challenging topics each year. This year, the theme was “Possibilities.”

Using the video “Leadership: An Art of Possibility” by Ben and Roz Zander as a starting point for the conference, the group discussed aspects of opening up your world to possibilities.

Quiet the Voice Inside Your Head

One of the major points of the video was to “quiet the voice in the head” – the inside voice that is always talking to us! “You are not prepared,” or “that was a silly thing to say,” or “really, you had to eat the whole thing?” all come from that voice.

It was fascinating to hear what voices played in the heads of each age group. They really are not all that different. That was a revelation to many.

Rule #6

Another popular take away was rule # 6. In the video, Ben Zander tells this story:

Two prime ministers were discussing issues of state. A field aid enters the room franticly waving his hands. “Sir, I am sorry to interrupt but…” The prime minister stops his trusty aid and says, “Remember rule # 6.” The aid smiles and leaves the room.

A few minutes later, another staff member enters the room clearly upset, hair disheveled saying, “Prime minister, I really need to speak to you. You see…” He, too, is stopped and told to remember rule # 6.

When the meeting is interrupted a third time with the same outcome, the visiting prime minister is overcome with curiosity. “What may I ask is rule number 6?”

Beaming, his colleague answers, “Rule #6 is don’t take yourself too seriously!”

“Well, that is great – what are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any!”

Cross-generational discussion

Attendees participated in cross-generational discussions about possibility, including rule #6.

The Possibilities Imagined

I am always amazed at the caliber and depth of discussion at the Seminar. Adults and kids alike ponder life-changing or affirming issues. These discussions among future thought leaders provide a foundation that builds confidence and tolerance.

Over the weekend we discussed how to examine old assumptions and explore new ways to approach familiar situations. We reflected on how to quiet the negative voice in the head and to remember rule #6. Armed with these and other tools, participants left realizing they have the ability to reshape or rewrite their future. Often that means stepping into unfamiliar territory and taking a risk.

If we can let go of unproductive habits – open up our mind, our heart, and our will to new possibilities – we can impact who we are and strive for what is possible, not just what is likely. It takes looking at something in a new way and being ready for the future. I believe the importance of this concept is that it not only articulates what a leader should do, but also who the leader is.

We have been given a gift of a country filled with bright young minds. Teach them to think. Help them embrace all that is possible.