Tag Archives: strategies

Why Radiating Possibility is a Powerful Message for Gifted Youth

By Jen Mounday

Photo from Knowledge@Wharton http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2537Radiating Possibility is an inspirational video highlighting the insight of Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. In partnership with his wife, Rosamund Zander – an executive coach and family systems therapist – he created five key steps to radiating possibility. The short film gives viewers the opportunity to witness Ben in action as he conducts his orchestra and individually tutor musicians in a very unique way. He draws his students out of the competitive mindset of performance and, instead, pushes them to experience life in their talent and a real connection to their skill. His dynamic instruction, combined with Roz’s therapeutic intuition, opens up a vibrant world of possibility that lies beyond fears, habits and assumptions. Viewers discover that every human being brought into the world of radiating possibility will be encouraged to keep their song going.

For the gifted child, Radiating Possibilty is the perfect conduit for self-discovery in a world often times wrought with competition and pressure. At Yunasa, we presented Radiating Possibility on the first night of camp and used it as a touchstone each day for accelerating the pace of interaction among peers. The goal was to give campers the courage to open their hearts and enter the dance, to drop the assumption that people aren’t interested in what they have to say.

The Zanders offer the following five steps to radiating possibility, each of which can be applied to help gifted children embrace themselves and their potential:

  1. Sit in the front row of your life. Participate!
    After a rousing clip of Ben conducting his orchestra with so much gusto that the musicians around him grin from ear to ear, he exclaims, “Throw yourself into life like a pebble in a pond and notice the ripples!” Gifted children may feel pressure from themselves or their peers to minimize their focus in a particular field because it is “too much” or “too intense.” They often receive verbal and nonverbal cues from the community around them suggesting they hold back or “rein in” their passion, enthusiasm or contributions in order to fit in with the group. But when gifted students are inspired to participate, with whatever skill sets they bring to the table, they are given an outlet and a means of giving back to their community, their peers and their families.
  2. When you make a mistake, say: “How fascinating!”
    Many gifted children struggle with perfectionism. Gifted children are well above average in certain areas, but they are still bound to make mistakes as part of being human. When gifted children practice looking in the face of failure; raising their hands, their voices and their eyebrows and shout, “How fascinating!”, they learn not to waste time dwelling on mistakes and to use mistakes as learning opportunities.
  3. Quiet the “voice in your head.”
    When Ben is instructing a student, he says he is “dealing with the student and the person standing next to the student” who whispers statements of doubt and fear in the student’s ear. We can’t necessarily get rid of the voice in the head, but we can choose how we respond to it. Ben suggests we say, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m busy,” to that negative voice. When gifted children focus themselves on being a contribution, they are able to achieve great things. Giving credit to the voice in the head only conceals their special talents. The gifted community can benefit greatly from self-talk as a means to overcoming these negative voices so they are free to perform, showcase and contribute in a way that holds nothing back!
  4. Live in radiating possibility. Become part of the song!
    The realm of possibility is all about dreams. In the dream world there are no barriers. The gifted mind is naturally full of possibilities and creative dreams. Allowing oneself to radiate in those possibilities takes practice. Practice begins with acting as if no barriers exist.
  5. Invent a new game: “I am a contribution.”
    Ask yourself, “How will I contribute today?” In the classroom, in group settings, in peer relationships, gifted children should see what they have to offer as a contribution, not just evidence of individual talent. Whether it’s playing an instrument, competing for a title or even earning grades, each act of will viewed as a contribution builds on the feeling of being fully alive. When gifted children think of themselves as contributing to something bigger than them, rather than measured as an individual success or failure, they strengthen their emotional and social muscles and discover a renewed sense of energy.

Gifted people radiating possibility become powerful forces in our society for good. Let us be the parents, teachers, family and organizations that help silence the voice in the head and become part of the song!

Have you or your kids tried any of these steps? How did they work out? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter

Underachievement in Gifted Children

This post is a part of SENG’s National Parenting Gifted Children Week Blog Tour. We encourage you to browse the list of participating blogs to find more posts about parenting gifted children.

You learn that your child is gifted; maybe he or she even mastered up to 50% of the year’s curriculum before school begins (Ross, 1993) (Brulles, et al., 2010). So school should be easy, which means good grades, right? Not necessarily.

One of the greatest frustrations for parents is the assumption that giftedness means performing well in traditional school environments. Gifted children are not intrinsically motivated by good grades; they are more passionate about the acquisition of knowledge than performing rote tasks. This causes a problem when the school structure and grades rely on repetition and memorization.

With budget cuts, growing class sizes, and an emphasis on standardized test scores, it is difficult for educators to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of every student in the classroom. Often, it is the gifted students who are short-changed because they already know much of the material they need to demonstrate on high stakes tests.

Bored, unchallenged students are often a result. Many check out of the learning process, which can lead to underachievement and even academic failure.

Although there are many reasons gifted kids underachieve, the most common are

  • A mismatch between students and their classroom environment
  • Disinterest in content
  • Poor self-concept and fear of failure
  • Learning disabilities
  • Lack of self-regulation and study skills

It is important for underachievement to be spotted early, when possible, and addressed quickly. If your children think that learning and school require little to no effort, they may continue to slack off and may not ever learn to challenge themselves and work to their full potential in higher level thinking (Winner, 1996). If this is a problem your children encounter, it is important that you work with their school and challenge them whenever possible.

Start this process by finding out more. Why exactly is your child bored? A teacher will not be able to make the necessary accommodations without this knowledge. Is it because the class is struggling to understand division, to which several days of class have been devoted, but your child has perfectly understood division for six months and has nothing to do while the teacher continues to explain it? Approach the teacher with this specific challenge and ask for an accommodation to solve the problem.

"You don't have the moral right to hold one child back to make another child feel better." - Stephanie TolanWhen speaking with your child’s teacher, you may have to combat misunderstandings about giftedness and underachievement in gifted children. Be prepared. Bring support to show your child’s gifts (test scores, GATE qualification, assessments, etc.). Many parents also find it helpful to bring research and journal articles to meetings like this to support your concerns and give the teacher the opportunity to learn more. You can also provide the teacher with several potential solutions, including some form of acceleration.

Remember that a good relationship with your child’s teacher or a school administrator is crucial to receiving special accommodations, so do your best to show how this can be a mutually beneficial relationship. Approach the teacher in a positive manner. Acknowledge that the teacher is the expert in education, and you trust his or her expertise there. However, you are the expert on your child, and you can offer the teacher some suggestions on what will be positive or negative situations for your child. Once you’ve discussed the problems, you can try to reach agreements with the teacher on how to mitigate these challenges. Also explain to the teacher that you are available to discuss your child at any time. The better your communication is with the school, the more your child will benefit.

Outside of school, give your child an environment that encourages inquiry and critical thinking. Provide access to supplemental programs geared towards your child’s intellectual ability and pace of learning. The more opportunities you provide for your child to be challenged outside of school, the more you will emphasize that hard work does pay off, even if that isn’t being demonstrated in school. You should also help your child develop communication skills so that he or she can effectively communicate with you and teachers if school is not challenging or engaging enough.

Understanding, spotting, and addressing factors that lead to underachievement early can help your children learn to challenge themselves and work towards their full potential.

What has your experience been in addressing your child’s underachievement or unchallenging work at school? Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below!

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter

Would you like more articles about giftedness like this sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for our email newsletter!

15 Strategies for Managing Your Gifted Child’s Intensities

Help your gifted child achieve balanceEverything that makes your children intellectually intense also makes them emotionally intense. These intensities can be difficult to manage as a parent. Once you understand what intensities are and where they come from, you can start implementing strategies to help your child manage these overexcitabilities.

There are many strategies to help your children manage their intensities. Most importantly, it is crucial to help your children achieve balance. Balance does not mean equal time spent. Gifted children do not need to spend equal time on each school subject or on sports and art, but they do need to be able to achieve balance among these activities. Balance can be achieved through exposure to and participation in a wide variety of school subjects, physical activities, and creative endeavors. Whatever helps them achieve balance among their complex intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs is beneficial.

Here are a few ways to help your child achieve balance and manage intensities:

  1. Encourage a mind-body connection. Yoga is excellent for this.
  2. Implement quiet reflection time for the whole family. Whatever name you need to give it for it to have a positive connotation, a “time-out” is a good thing for everyone in the family to be able to have.
  3. Encourage non-competitive physical activity.
  4. Always remember your child’s answer to the question: “What brings you joy?” Let that guide how you handle situations.
  5. Help your child practice visualizations. Spinning Inward by Maureen Murdock provides good visualization exercises, especially for young children.
  6. Teach and model meditation and relaxation techniques.
  7. Encourage a connection to nature.
  8. Seek opportunities for growth for your child in all areas of Self: intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
  9. Encourage your child to develop a range of interests outside of the academic sphere.
  10. Praise your child, but make sure it is specific and sincere. Gifted children can tell meaningless platitudes from sincere compliments, so make the praise as specific as possible. For example, when praising artwork, say things like, “I like the colors you used in that painting.”
  11. Talk about emotions with your child early to develop a common vocabulary. This will help communication when intensities become a problem.
  12. Help your child understand his or her own escalation scale. Know what pushes their buttons and what pushes yours. Gifted children often know very well how to frustrate you. Knowing what pushes your buttons will help you see it coming and be ready for it. Practicing and modeling such self-awareness helps your children, as well.
  13. Keep calm during emotional outbursts. I know this is easier said than done, but it is very important.
  14. When things get out of control, keep it about your child’s emotions, not yours. When the situation is over, you can walk away and reflect on your emotions.
  15. Plan ways for your family to relax, reflect, redirect, and retire.

Every child is different, so some of these strategies may work better than others for your child. These are just a starting place as you begin to understand what helps and what doesn’t.

Implementing some of these strategies to achieve balance and increase communication will help your child manage his or her intensities.

What strategies have best helped your children manage their intensities? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Like this post? Sign up for our email newsletters to receive more like it!