Tag Archives: Jennifer Kennedy

A Supportive Mother for a Gifted Kid

By Jennifer Kennedy

Before joining IEA, Jennifer was a kid who understood little of her own giftedness. Now she works as IEA’s Marketing & Communications Coordinator to help other highly able kids and their families understand what it means to be gifted while providing the information they need to find the programs and people to support them.

Image from kidsedustuff.blogspot.com

Image from kidsedustuff.blogspot.com

My mom has been there for me from the moment I came into this world, and I have always appreciated everything she has done for me. Lately, though, I’ve begun to see how different my life might have been had my upbringing lacked certain values my mom implemented – things that made her a good mother to a gifted child.

My mom nurtured my gifts and my passions. She knew I was smart, so she challenged me intellectually. She knew I was driven, so she supported me without heaping more pressure on top of the pressure I placed on myself. Before either of us had encountered the term “whole child,” my mom encouraged me to grow in all aspects of self.

She challenged me intellectually. Knowing I loved reading and was a strong reader, she encouraged me to read above-grade-level books. When I was learning about something in school, she would take me to museums to see the subject first-hand, demonstrating that there is knowledge to be gained beyond the textbook. When it came time to choose my own classes in school, she encouraged me to take the advanced classes, and she accepted my less-than-perfect grades when I challenged myself and faced the demands of a difficult course. She taught me that, no matter how smart I was or how well I did in school, there was always so much more to learn.

She challenged me physically, encouraging me to try a variety of sports and physical activities outside of school until I found my niche. And, when I found what I really liked—dance—she encouraged me to work hard and challenge myself, both physically and creatively.

She supported me socially and emotionally, as well. I always knew I was different, and although I participated in a GATE pull-out program once a week, no one in my life understood that the intrinsic intelligence of a gifted child is usually coupled with other characteristics such as overexcitabilities. It took a lot of patience, understanding, love, and acceptance to deal with my emotional outbursts over ostensibly benign incidents. It also took an insightful mother to realize that dance had become vital to my social life as it allowed me to build relationships with older kids who understood me intellectually and younger kids whom I could take under my wing.

After years of guidance, when the time came for me to lead, my mother followed. She embraced my decision to dance—despite not liking dance herself—even when it meant giving up other things she thought were important. She let me lead my college search, which took me much farther from home than she would have liked. She watched me trek through Europe for a semester without her. She supported my decision to choose a more creative field—communications—over a more practical one (both my parents are accountants).

Without all of this support from my mother, I don’t know what would have happened. Every day, I hear stories of gifted kids who fall through the cracks because they are bored, unchallenged, and misunderstood, and it breaks my heart. If my mother hadn’t instinctually understood that my “whole self” needed support, I might have become one of those unfortunate children.

Thank you to all of the moms who do everything they can to support their gifted children while protecting them from slipping through the cracks. You make a huge difference in your child’s life each and every day. Happy Mother’s Day.

Preparing for a Career that Doesn’t Exist Yet

By Jennifer Kennedy

Jennifer is IEA’s Marketing & Communications Coordinator. Her position includes more traditional communications media such as newsletters and brochures, but it also involves much more modern technology, including email newsletters, the IEA blog and website, and social networks.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 65% of today’s grade school students will end up in jobs that do not yet exist. I can tell you that my job, which includes a great deal of social media and online components, looks very different than what someone in a similar role would have done when I was in grade school. So, how can you prepare for a career field that doesn’t exist yet? I’m going to offer some advice that helped me get to where I am today.

Find a skill that you enjoy and go from there.

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” – Carl Sagan

If you enjoy a skill that can translate into several career paths, hone it. I have always loved languages and writing. So, I took every opportunity I could throughout my education to develop a command of language (English and Spanish for now, but I’m working on Italian and French next, just for fun) and better my writing skills. I entered poetry contests. I kept a “journal” of my thoughts and ideas and often wrote pages of reflections solely for the purpose of writing. My job now may be working with a variety of media that were rare – if in existence at all – when I was young, but at the root of much of my work is writing. I write every single day. It might be as simple as a tweet of less than 140 characters, or it might be an eight-page newsletter. Regardless of the length, the medium, or the purpose, honing my language and writing skills has helped me do my job each and every day.

See more tips to help you prepare for a career that doesn’t exist yet!

Using Twitter as a Resource on Your Gifted Child

By Jennifer Kennedy

Jennifer is IEA’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. She works closely with IEA’s social media to regularly connect with parents and educators of gifted children.


Image by Venspired.com

In a previous post, I mentioned that social media can be an excellent resource on giftedness and discussed the ways in which Facebook can be used in this manner. In this post, I will cover a social network you might not be as familiar with using but that has many extremely helpful applications for you to network and find resources on giftedness – Twitter.

140 characters may not seem like much, but Twitter is a gold mine of information, resources and support for parents of gifted children.

Learn more about using Twitter here!

Using Facebook as a Resource for Your Gifted Child

By Jennifer Kennedy

Jennifer is IEA’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. She works closely with IEA’s social media and connects with parents and educators of gifted children regularly through social networks.

Social media as gifted resources

Social networks seem to be everywhere, with new networks and tools popping up all the time. You are probably using social networks already, but did you know that they are more than just great ways to connect with friends from high school? They are also excellent gifted resources.

Learn more about using social media as a tool for your Gifted Child here!

5 Definitions of Giftedness

By Jennifer Kennedy

You are told your child is gifted, but what does that really mean? There are many definitions of giftedness. None are universally agreed upon, but many share certain defining characteristics. Here are a few:

  1. Some definitions address the “asynchronous development” found in gifted kids. One such definition comes from the Columbus Group (1991):
    “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.”
    This is the definition we use at IEA.
  2. Through the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act – part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – the federal government currently defines gifted students as:
    “Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.”
  3. In Gifted Children: Myths and Realities, Ellen Winner defines giftedness with these three atypical characteristics:
    • Precocity – “They begin to take the first steps in the mastery of some domain at an earlier-than-average age. They also make more rapid progress in this domain than do ordinary children, because learning in the domain comes easily to them.”
    • An insistence on marching to their own drummer – “Gifted children not only learn faster than average or even bright children but also learn in a quantitatively different way.”
    • A rage to master – “Gifted children are intrinsically motivated to make sense of the domain in which they show precocity.”
  4. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) defines giftedness as the following:
    “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).”
  5. Most states also have their own definition of “gifted” for program and funding purposes. To see your state’s definition, look here: http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/52/28/5228.htm. It is important to note that few districts differentiate between the different levels of giftedness. A child who scores in the 130 – 140 range on an IQ test is very different than the child who scores in the 150 – 180 range.

While no two definitions are the same, there are a few guiding principles which can help structure our thinking about giftedness.

  • Annemarie Roeper, who developed the Annemarie Roeper Model of Qualitative Assessment, helps bring together many of the different theories with her conception that “giftedness is a greater awareness, a greater sensitivity, and a greater ability to understand and transform perceptions into intellectual and emotional experiences.”
  • Some believe there are many areas of giftedness, not all of which are what we typically think of as intellectual. The following are six categories of giftedness to which experts and definitions often refer:
    1. General intellectual ability
    2. Specific academic ability
    3. Creative ability
    4. Leadership ability
    5. Visual and performing arts ability
    6. Psychomotor ability
  • While some define giftedness based on IQ score, IQ tests do not always tell the whole story, and identifying solely based on IQ tests can ignore many kids considered gifted by other criteria.
  • “Gifted” is not the only word that can be used to describe these incredibly bright and talented young people. (For an exploration of the various terms most often used, take a look at Stephanie Tolan’s post “What is in a Name?”) The word itself is not what is important. Neither, in many ways, is the definition. What is important is that we identify these highly able young people and help them reach their full intellectual and personal potential.
  • Gifted children, no matter how you define or identify them, have different educational needs than their age-peers. Their education needs to allow them to grow with their unique intellectual development.

Due to the variety of definitions in the field, it is often more effective to use specific descriptions of your child’s abilities and insights. This may make it easier for others to understand your child’s needs.

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Former Industrial Design Apprentices Soar in Ford Competition

By Jennifer Kennedy

Congratulations to 2011 Industrial Design Apprentices David Acosta and Deven Row, who recently won the Ford Motor Company’s “Designing for the Future” competition!

The contest, entered by over 150 students from 20 countries, required entrants to use images and market research to develop products that would meet the luxury transportation needs of a 20-30 year old in the year 2025. David received first place with his “FordBoard” – a skateboard type transportation device – and Deven placed second for his “Euphoria” vehicle.

Industrial Design Apprentices

2011 Industrial Design Apprentices with their Mentor

Last summer, Deven and David joined 23 other high school students from across the country for IEA’s summer Apprenticeship Program. Industrial Design Apprentices, including David and Deven, worked with Mentor Stan Kong at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. They developed key skills like research, sketching, rendering, creative thinking, and model building.

All of the Apprentices spent three to four weeks living in dorms at the University of Southern California, experienced college life, gained real-world experience working with Mentors who are leaders in their fields, and met new people from diverse backgrounds with similar interests and experiences. On evenings and weekends, Apprentices attended cultural events, participated in recreational activities, and explored Los Angeles.

Even before the program, David knew he wanted to pursue a career in industrial design. The Apprenticeship Program helped him gain important skills in the field, particularly researching and designing for a particular consumer, which he used in the Ford competition and will continue to use in the field of industrial design.

IEA’s Apprenticeship Program is held each summer and matches high school students with Mentors in fields such as science, industrial design, medicine, and law.

Does the Apprenticeship experience sound like an experience someone you know would like? There are still spots available for this summer’s Apprenticeship program! 2012 Apprenticeships are available in Los Angeles and San Diego, California. Apply today!  

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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!

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