For some parents, learning that their child is gifted, is like learning they have just hit the jackpot. This, to them might mean, a great shortcut in their child’s learning journey
However, this is not as clear cut as it might seem. Having a gifted child in the family might be seen as a blessing, but it is not without its challenges. This is due to the fact that they will need to be supported to ensure they reach their full potential. This goal might be slightly more challenging, seeing as their child will have a bit more potential than most children their age. Bearing this in mind, there will be that fine balancing act to perform on the parent’s part.
So, on hearing the news, the initial joy might be dampened a little by the concerns of how to manage this new situation.
There is certainly quite a bit of information to help support a child’s learning, but most of it is geared towards gifted children in their early learning stages. The question then becomes, how does one cope when the child becomes older?
We have listed out some suggestions to help you navigate the situation. These tips can be used to help you support and encourage your child every step of the way.
On recognising that your child is gifted in some particular area of talent or intellect, it might be challenging getting the school system to recognise that special ability in your child. In general, mainstream schools are designed to accommodate the “average” range of children. As a result, mainstream schools are obligated to provide a need that meets that standard. This is because most children do not fit into the category of being gifted or special needs in that respect.
One of the outcomes of being gifted and thereby ahead of the rest will be boredom. When others are working at a level much lower than a gifted child, if not regularly challenged, your child might become bored with the current level of work being done. They will complete it in record time and not know what else to do with their time. This will need to be managed carefully. Encouraging them to do things they are not as good at, will take them outside of their comfort zone and serve as new learning curves for them. This can help to keep them grounded – to know that it is ok to not to be as outstanding at everything. They might find fun in the activity, even though they don’t excel as much as they normally do in other areas. This will help to bring about that much-needed balance
This is something that you would do for any child, regardless of their level of ability, but for gifted children, it can take a bit more thought. In many cases, it can simply mean a bit more independence, such as a library card and the freedom to read whatever they like (and if that means twenty books on the same niche subject in a row, so be it). It may mean peace and quiet to get on with their studies or to take a break from working hard. It may mean the museum visits or talks that you would consider to encourage any child’s interests, but at a higher intellectual level than you might naturally choose.
Find ways to further facilitate your child’s special skills. This could mean granting them access to more sessions to stretch them a bit more than is the case at school. Or introducing topics/sessions that could complement and feed into what they are currently learning, with a view to enhancing their knowledge/skills in those areas.
Signing your child up for camps that offer activities for gifted children, will enable your child to build on his/her skills. This will also give your child the opportunity to meet other gifted children.
Trips to places of interest – to inspire and boost their current knowledge levels, would also be great. These could be museums etc.
One thing that we should be doing as parents, is to have regular discussions with our children about how they are faring at school. This does not always have to be about the academic side of things, but should also cover the social aspects too.
Being gifted will certainly have its downside as well as the perks. These do need to be addressed in order to maintain that balance in your child’s life. Your child might start to compare him/herself with the other children in the class and (maybe) not understand why child A takes so much more time to complete a task that your child gets done in a fraction of the time. They will ask questions that you should be prepared to answer in the best way possible.
On the other hand, other children might be the ones scratching their heads trying to find the answer to this ‘tricky phenomenon’. In this case, they may resort to certain unsavoury techniques to express this, which might adversely affect your child. Again, a discussion will need to be had.
This might even happen closer to home – amongst the siblings.
There will be days where you may not know how best to cope or what next to do. This is where groups and forums may come in handy. You will meet other parents in the same situation, with whom you can get tips from, and bounce ideas off of. Always a good idea to take advantage of such opportunities.
Being gifted should generally be seen as a blessing. But it can very quickly become a burden (for all involved) if not managed well enough. Hopefully, the tips above will steer you in the right direction, to help you and your child enjoy the situation.
Need help managing that gift…? No Problem. Our Programmes, though curriculum-based, are taught at a much higher level than in mainstream schools. So there is every opportunity for your child to not just benefit from our sessions, but to improve, excel, and go on to lead the pack!
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