Tag Archives: Gifted Child Parent Support Group

Giving Thanks for the Whiners and the Braggarts and the Smug

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

Every time I write about my kids, I’m afraid you’ll think I’m a whiner* or a braggart* or smug*. And it isn’t just when I write. I feel the same way when I’m talking with people I know. So I try not to write or talk about their accomplishments. Of course, my fear comes from my own insecurities (my husband tells me I care too much about what people think). But it also comes from the experience of seeing other parents of gifted kids get ridiculed for talking about their children. A neighbor’s child was called “the experiment” because his mother got him extra time in the kindergarten classroom. Blog posts like “Shut Up About What a Burden Your Gifted Child Is” and “I Hate Hearing About your Gifted Child” berate parents for complaining about their first-world problems. Most of the time, I try to ignore these comments, put my head down and quietly work on my children’s behalf. My behavior, for the most part, gets my children what they need. The problem is that it robs me of what I need.

I need to feel connected.

I didn’t expect to find a connection when I ran into a 19-year-old boutique clerk with fuchsia hair. I immediately liked this girl after she recognized me 15 years after attending nursery school with my son. While exchanging updates, I told her about his new major: Storytelling. She got very excited and told me about a storyteller/researcher she admired. On the back of my receipt, in big loopy letters, she wrote, “Ted Talk: Brené Brown, The Power of Vulnerability.” I went home and watched the Ted Talk three times.

According to Brené Brown, connection is what gives meaning to our lives. To be connected, we must be vulnerable. The problem is that vulnerability is also at the core of shame– the belief that there is something about us that makes us unworthy of connection. So, people try to numb vulnerability through drugs, alcohol and food. Less obvious are those who seek to numb this feeling by making what is uncertain, certain; or pretending that what they do doesn’t have an effect on other people. These are the people who are convinced that parents are creating Frankenstein creatures when they get extra time in the classroom for their children. These are the bloggers who are so annoyed by the problems of others that they tell a segment of the population to “shut up.” The beauty of the last two reactions is that they feed right into my insecurities and silence me. I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t always know what to say. My children make me feel vulnerable. Maybe I should just be quiet.

My son is teaching me how to embrace vulnerability. During his ninth grade Identity and Ethnic Studies class, he made a video explaining the feelings he has about his sexual orientation. I was concerned when he posted the video on YouTube, so I checked the entry daily for unkind or cruel comments. Two thousand eight hundred views and two years later, he doesn’t have a single negative comment on his video. He allowed himself to be seen, and people responded with admiration. Fourteen years old and he was already braver than I was at 49.

So this Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks to those people who embrace vulnerability. Thank you to the mothers who share stories of their gifted children’s personal struggles with an audience of people who may not understand or appreciate their pain. Thank you to the parents who face a potential backlash when they confront teachers and administrators to say their gifted child needs more than the school is offering. Thank you to the children who expose the personal details of their lives on the chance that some other child might benefit from their story. Thank you to the whiners, the braggarts and the smug because you make me feel connected.

*borrowed from the comment section of a blog about parents of gifted children.

Where do you find community as the parent of a gifted child? Please share in the comment section below.

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2013-2014 Gifted Child Parent Support Groups

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 free support and community in the midst of the joys and challenges of raising a gifted child.

Next Meeting:

Personalized Learning for Gifted Students
Speaker: Louise Hindle
Thursday, May 1, 2014
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

Institute for Educational Advancement
569 South Marengo Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101

Educational discourse and pedagogy seems fascinated with personalized learning. We see it embedded in the Race to the Top Campaign, we see it interwoven in discussions about the effective use of technology in the classroom; what, however, does it mean in policy and practice for gifted students? This talk will conceptualize personalized learning and define some best fit teaching for learning strategies for gifted 2nd through 8th graders.

Louise Hindle is IEA’s Academy Coordinator. A British import, Louise graduated from the University of Manchester with a B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature and Language, completed her post-graduate teacher training at The University of Cambridge, and has recently completed her dissertation in Educational Leadership and Innovation with the University of Warwick. Louise has 20 years of experience in education as a high school literature teacher, lead teacher, administrator, adviser, and consultant. She is also the parent of three fun and active school-aged children.

Register for the May meeting!

See the full schedule!

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.

Life-Average_or_Memorable

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!

Gifted Children at Home and in the Classroom

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 April 2013 meeting, parent speaker Sharon Duncan presented “Gifted Children at Home and in the Classroom.” This post offers a few of the many highlights from Sharon’s talk.

Gifted Children at Home

Gifted individuals are gifted 24-7. This means that innate characteristics of these children appear both at home and in the classroom.

Gifted individuals are gifted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that innate characteristics of these children appear both at home and in the classroom.

The innate characteristics of gifted children appear in both the classroom and at home. Two of these characteristics, as Sharon points out, are perfectionism and intense intellectual interest.

Perfectionism is a common trait among gifted children, and it can be quite a challenge to deal with at school and at home for both children and their parents. “Learning to fail and learning it is okay not to be perfect are some of the best gifts we can give these kids,” Sharon explains. She suggests playing games of chance with your children to help them learn what it “feels” like not to win.

It is also important to teach our gifted children balance; but as Sharon points out, balance can be very difficult to achieve. Our children have deep, intense intellectual and/or creative interests, and they want to pour all of their energy into what they love doing. While this drive is part of their gift and may lead them to amazing success, they also need to learn how to calm themselves and how not to get themselves into overwhelming situations. Thus, Sharon suggests encouraging your kids to go out and do something physically active when they feel tense or allowing them some down time alone.

See our tips on how to help your gifted youth in school 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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Enriching the Hearts and Minds of Gifted Youth: IEA Academy

By Jen Mounday

Jen Mounday is the Program Coordinator for IEA’s Academy program. Academy provides young gifted students with challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and the application of knowledge.

Academy students and instructors dressed up for Halloween – Nico made his own robot costume!

I was a classroom teacher before coming to IEA to be a Program Coordinator. From my years teaching, I naturally developed a mental catalogue of gifted students and the impressions they made on me over time. My experience in the classroom left me well acquainted with the gifted child: the voracious reader, the classical music lover, the Spanish speaking whiz, the student who challenges, the one who ponders—the child who has the uncanny power to shape you through their own quest for answers and truth. The memories I have working alongside gifted and talented kids are ever in my mind’s eye as I coordinate enrichment programs for this demographic.

IEA’s Academy welcomes kindergarten through eighth grade students into classrooms of like-minded peers. As much as I grouped students homogeneously when I was a classroom teacher, I have realized that there is nothing like an Academy classroom. Observe and you will see astronomy PhDs teaching astrophysics to a group of eleven-year-olds; the students are engaged, asking questions and driving the lesson deeper. It’s the power of the Academy classroom that is meeting a need in our community—drawing highly able students beyond the mainstream classroom framework and up a bit higher.

The 2012 fall quarter for Academy included multiple levels of chemistry and neuro-energy. Students worked with molecular model kits to identify molecular make up. In Neuro-Energy II: Intro to Computer Programming, students learned the basics of Java Script to build a website. I watched in one class as a second grader stood transfixed, looking at the projector screen as the instructor demonstrated how to create digital clocks using code. The student was grinning, captivated, bouncing up and down on his heels, like he’d just seen Santa.

Our classes are unique, much like the students and the instructors themselves. Sometimes the novelty of the program is all it takes to get students excited about the classes. In Academy, there are no limits. Instructors, specialists in their field, encourage as many questions as can be asked and are willing to go off on a tangent or two to satisfy interest. Our students can come, just as they are, to talk literature, chemistry, robotics, or math and be heard, embraced, and understood. And naturally, by the end of each quarter, Academy students build relationships through a process of discovery. Over the course of grappling with content that is typically off limits to their peer group, they become a community.

We do our best to extend this community beyond the classes as well. Last week, we held Academy Family Night here at the IEA office. It was an evening for the families to get to know each other and parents to hear from our president, Elizabeth Jones, on the social and emotional needs of gifted youth. It was an evening of learning and togetherness. Parents shared their experiences of raising gifted children, found support in each other and offered their gratitude for our programs. We will continue to hold parent nights each month through May.

We know that enrichment programs like Academy are often the bright spark in the gifted child’s week. We at the Institute for Educational Advancement are happy to provide that spark for our local community and beyond.

The Winter Session of Academy will run from January 12 to March 7. The schedule and applications are available on the Academy page of our website. Enroll your child today!

What enrichment programs have you found to inspire your son or daughter? Please share with us in the comment section below.

“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 http://expressiveepicurean.wordpress.com)
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.

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