Recognize, Nurture, Support
Nana, does a dog have a uterus...?
Asks my 3 year-old Grandson.
His Great Grandmother called to tell me that when he was with her last week, she asked him to name a shape in a drawing that he had made for her, “It’s a spiral GG.” And when asked if he could name another spiral shaped object he replied without hesitation, “Escargot.”
Has your child asked you similar questions? Have you been told stories of the unusually advanced responses your child has given when out of earshot? When your baby was young, were you sure -down in your gut- that this was a unique child? It’s likely that you were right!
Beginning with an unusual alertness in infancy: his turning toward voices, studying faces, mimicking expressions in the first few days, smiling in the first 2 weeks... followed by an ability to make connections before he could speak: searching for a book he knows has a picture in it that corresponds to an overheard conversation... an advanced use of language and then reading by the age of three... these abilities will arouse you, alerting you to the potential for giftedness in your child.
Using a balance of the familiar and new, play games suited to your child’s abilities in a comfortable, supportive environment where you can respond to his particular patterns and needs. Your job begins on Day 1 (and actually never stops): Talk, talk, talk to your baby. Read, read, read, repeat the stories you like and tell him why... And don’t forget to sing and dance together! He needs stimulation, paced to his development, to arouse his curiosity, where growing challenges are met with enthusiasm and successes and failures are praised for his use of problem solving, creativity and resilience. This model should follow you and your child throughout your lifetime together. Let it guide you in your educational choices and in your home as you usher this precious human out into the world to make a difference.
TOYS Building Sets/Puzzles
LEGOs, Tinker Toys, Magna-Tiles, blocks of all shapes and sizes, a box of tongue depressors or popsicle sticks... You can begin by simply counting them, separating by color or building a tower. Large piece puzzles... there are family puzzles with large sized pieces on one side, gradually moving into smaller ones and you meet in the middle. All of these toys will grow with your child, stimulating different areas of mathematical and creative thinking at different stages of development.
Seize teachable moments
As you go about your day, keep your child involved and content with a fascinating, old, unplugged keyboard to explore as you work on your own. Talk about fractions as you bake cookies together... While shopping, explore the packaging designs and the use of money... Encourage observation of details and use sophisticated words to develop a rich vocabulary. Check out a museum or watch an interesting street full of trucks and pedestrians and sounds. Share a conversation.
Look for ways to provide enrichment that you cannot provide for him in your home. Enroll him in a language immersion preschool, an exercise class, attend art shows and concerts, dance with street musicians.
Your smart baby/toddler/child may not understand the words or concepts now but after hearing and seeing them a few times, in context, he will soon make them his own, in his own endearing style.
Work together with your curious child
Give your child access to new ideas and information by including him in discussions at the dinner table, during family trip planning sessions or proposed educational opportunities. Engage his depth of thinking, his ability to make connections, or his desire to contribute original ideas. Allowing him to express himself within this comfortable family group provides a firm foundation on which to build self-confidence. Provide choices and alternatives as much as possible and acknowledge your child’s efforts to be heard as part of the decision making team.
Make Connections for your child and YOU
Finding other parents of gifted learners using social media platforms and gifted education websites locally, nationally and internationally will connect you to like-minded parents and educators. These connections with individuals who have a passion for passionate learners are your support, your guides to understanding your unique child, your gifted child, your asynchronous learner, your poppy. They will validate and appreciate the fact that raising gifted children is a challenging responsibility.
“National Parenting Gifted Children (NPGC) Week takes place during the 3rd week in July each year, as listed in the National Special Events Registry. NPGC Week celebrates the joys and challenges of raising, guiding, and supporting bright young minds.” sengifted.org
You will find several outstanding organizations and private enrichment tutoring services on the internet along with SENG... the Davidson Institute, NACG, Hoagies Gifted Education Page, IMACS, the Greer-Meister Group... to name a few. You will find search engines and solutions, alternate schooling opportunities and communication strategies to implement with the traditional educators who educate your child.
You are your highly creative child’s primary educator, his chief advocate, responsible for ensuring his health, well-being and education, as well as your own. It’s a full-time job keeping him happy, challenged and purposefully occupied.
I am a firm believer in getting support from experts in their fields as soon as I know that there’s someone out there who knows more than I know.
During National Parenting Gifted Children Week reach out to education experts and to educated parents to increase the support you your child are currently receiving. You will find someone who appreciates your child’s uniqueness, someone who can provide insightful guidelines that will allow you to feel more secure and happy knowing that your has child the freedom to explore, create and direct his own learning.