Parenting Gifted Children
Outdoor Activities Nurture a Child's Curiosity for Nature
Raising a Gifted and Talented Child
Being a good parent is a difficult job, being a parent to a bright child is even more challenging because the tendency is to become bogged down in the day to day tasks of raising children and forgetting about their individual needs. All parents want the best for their children but most of us know very little about being parents or how to bring up children. You have to learn as you go and that to say the least, can be frustrating.
Unfortunately for us parents, there is a lack of empirically supported parenting strategies to help parents in parenting their gifted child. Here I am trying to put forward some tips that worked for me, hoping that it can help you. If you have any specific strategies to help your gifted child, please share them with us at the comments section.
The Gifted Kids' Survival Guide
Parenting a Gifted Child
Being a parent to a bright child takes an enormous amount of energy and we have to be patient with our shortcomings. It is not easy to admit to a 5 year old that you don’t know the answers to his questions. But instead of feeling down for it, you should take the opportunity to teach him how to find the answers to his questions –and of course learn the answers yourself on the way! Many times I’ve had to look in the dictionary how to spell a word that one of my children wants to write, other times we had to look together online for answers to more complicated questions and other times I just had to explain to them that not even adults are sure about the correct answer for whatever they happen to be asking.
It is important that you acknowledge that you are not expected to be an expert with your gifted child. You are simply expected to find a way of providing an atmosphere of love and warmth, interest and enthusiasm. It is essential that as a parent you keep your own energy replenished otherwise you become short tempered, argumentative and impatient.
Children are NOT little adults... even if they are very bright
It doesn’t matter how advanced your child is, you need to keep in mind that your child is not an adult. He does not reason, feel, think or experience the world as you do. For instance, your child might be very bright at school but she might still be scared of the darkness in her room at bedtime. This is a normal part of her development and reasoning with her will not ease her fears. The best you can do is reassure her until she passes that stage of her development.
Remember that gifted children can demonstrate greater maturity in some domains but they are still children and therefore need to be treated as such. To a large degree, the needs of gifted children are the same as those of other children.
Extra Curricular activities
To help a gifted child you might want to add some extra curricular activities in a topic which your child shows special interest. On the other hand, if your child is not inclined to extra curricular activities it might be more helpful for her development to just let her enjoy her free time. I remember a friend of mine telling me how his daughter was absolutely loaded with extra curricular activities. One day the little girl just looked at him and said: “All I want is time to play; I never have time to play!”. My friend was shocked at how he had overlooked his daughter’s needs; he stopped the extra curricular activities and let his daughter enjoy herself with her dolls and friends. Consequently, his daughter’s performance at school improved and she looked much happier.
The importance of contact with nature
The French model
In France, Primary school children have Wednesdays free so they can pursue their own interests. Some children go horse riding or swimming, others practice team sports while others prefer to join the chess club or music school. Wednesdays are left for the child to pursue his own interests.
In our first year in France I put my daughter in music school and ballet classes on Wednesdays. After the first few classes she was clearly not happy. We stopped the classes and instead just spend Wednesday afternoons reading fairy tales, playing and drawing. She was much happier and ended up learning how to read and write in Spanish with me as I was spending my time doing all these things with her in Spanish, my mother tongue.
Sometimes listening to your children you will find the answer to your questions.
Enjoying early experiences of Apiculture
How to help a very young gifted child:
- Allow free time for play and do not interrupt your child all the time by asking him what he is playing at or what he is doing. Observe more and intervene less, or even better, let him play alone. Some children are intimidated when adults watch them play and do not let their imagination run wild for fear to be judged.
- Provide simple toys that require your child’s imagination to complete rather than complicated toys. For example, favour a construction toy rather than a complicated computer game. Creative play is essential for a gifted child and it is essential to provide time and appropriate materials for this kind of play.
- Encourage your child to play outdoors. Let him be in contact with nature, play with sand, water, plants and animals. Provide an environment where your child can discover the natural world around him. You don’t need to prepare complicated activities, a simple afternoon in the garden helping you gather autumn leafs can proof very interesting. Personally, we enjoy going for afternoon walks in the woods discovering the wild life around us and the wild fruits available each season. The children take great pleasure in collecting nuts, apples, and wild berries which later we transform into pies and jams.
- Give your child examples of real work so that he can imitate it. Let him help you clean up, cook, put up seasonal decorations and so on. These activities will become integrated into his play and will help him learn about life.
- Teach your child to record thoughts, discoveries, feelings and questions. Before my daughter could write, I used to ask her about the things she was seeing. Now that she can write, I ask her to write brief notes about her visits to touristic places. This way she has started to write longer and longer accounts of her travels as she did in her hub about her trip to Paris.
- Once your child can write, ask her to write her own Christmas cards to her grandparents. Give her ideas to write about what she is expecting for Christmas or how did she spend her birthday. However, do not force her to write more than what she wants to.
- Tell your child stories, particularly fairy stories because they will provide nourishing images that her imagination can build on. Once your children are older, you can ask them to complete the story you are telling them. A fun game that we enjoy is making up a story where each of us has their turn to add a little bit to the story to create a fun happy ever after tale.
- Provide some artistic activities that allow your child to express her emotions freely such as painting with her fingers, a brush or a sponge.
- Limit the amount of time your child spends
watching television, playing video games and other electronic games.
- Investigate after-school clubs and societies, weekend activities, summer schools, and distance learning experiences.
“The challenge presented by gifted children is that of creating learning opportunities appropriate to their ability and age while at the same time keeping them emotionally and socially within their peer structure.” National Association for Gifted Children.
About gifted children
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Supporting a Gifted Child at Home
Give them quality time. Spend some time alone with your child, if you can. I know this might sound as a cliché and that this is often difficult if you have other children and a full time job, but you must find at least a few hours a week to spend with your child, to listen to their ideas and try to share their passions. I personally have learnt to play chess as a way to share one of my son's hobbies, I am not very good at it but it give us time to be just the two of us not only playing chess but exchanging ideas about many other things.
Another activity that we do toguether is reading, sometimes I read to him, others is him reading to me and other times we read toguether as in a play.