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Gifted Children Spotlight10

The Struggles of Gifted Children

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Struggles? "Oh come on," I hear some people say. "Gifted kids have it made!"   No. No, they don't.  When people say that, I know immediately that they don't know gifted kids and what their lives are like. Sure, they learn faster and more easily than other kids and therefore tend to get higher grades, but giftedness is about more than  school.  (And don't even get me started on underachievement and the "danger" of straight A's.)

Annemarie Verweij, in her blog entry, Being Gifted is NOT a Gift!!!, explains the struggles of gifted children quite well -- and with a touch of the anger and frustration I often feel when encountering the attitude that gifted kids have it made. Here is what she says about her own children:

My children are very sensitive. They feel everything. They know which people are sad or not, even if these people pretend to be happy. They know when people lie, they know when people say they know what they mean, but actually don't get them at all. They feel lonely.

If you're the parent of a gifted child, you may recognize some of this. If you aren't the parent of a gifted child, take note of what Annamarie said. Too bad, you say? All kids are sensitive? I can hear dozens of responses. However, while all kids may be sensitive, there is a question of the intensity and the depth of sensitivity.

It's not just sensitivity either. If you want to truly understand what being gifted is like, then imagine spending most of your time with people who have IQ's of 55.  Do you think they would understand you? Would they get your jokes? Now I don't mean spending an afternoon with them. I mean quite literally most of the time in your life.

I'll make it easier for you.  You can imagine that some of the people have IQs of 70. We can even mix in some with IQs of 85.  This is what it's like for many gifted children, particularly highly and profoundly gifted children. And it helps explain why they often feel lonely.  If you have an average IQ of 100, then the difference between your IQ and that of someone with an IQ of 55 is 45 IQ points.  That's the same difference that we have between an average person with an IQ of 100 and a highly gifted child with an IQ over 145.

But average IQ's go up to 115 points, so there is sometimes just a difference of 3o points. That's the same as the difference between someone with an IQ of 100 and someone with an IQ of 85.  That's better, right? But what about the difference between an IQ of 145 and and IQ of 85?  That's a difference of 60 IQ points.  That's the difference between someone with an IQ of 100 and someone with an IQ of 40!

Notice that there is no value placed on any group of individuals. No IQ group is better than another. The purpose of those comparisons is to demonstrate what it's like to be gifted. There's more, but it's definitely not all roses. There are quite a few thorns that come with it.

Easter Fun and Games

Sunday April 13, 2014

Families celebrate Easter in many different ways. Whether you are religious or not, it's still a day for the family to spend quality time together. There are several Easter family activities the family can do together, such as watch a movie.  Families can also play some Easter-themed games (or at least games with bunnies and carrots.  Little ones can enjoy reading some books about Easter and the Easter Bunny, including those with their favorite characters like Elmo and The Berenstain Bears.

Is Your Child Gifted?

Tuesday April 8, 2014

I'm not going to make any excuses or shy away from answering that question. Yes, my child is gifted. I will admit, though, that it did take me a while to feel comfortable with that answer. In fact, the first time someone suggested to me that my son was gifted, my response was "All children are gifted." No. They are not. (See Michael Clay Thompson's response to that claim.)

Some people, though, like Melissa Bollow Tempel, continue to make that same claim and say that their children are not gifted. In her article, "My Children Are Not Gifted," Temple says of her children, "Sure, they are smart, but all children are smart." (Um...no, they aren't.) She lists many of the talents and awards of her children and says that they are the result, not of any inherent intelligence or talent, but of privilege.

According to Tempel, her children were simply lucky that they came from a home where both parents work and could afford the enrichment opportunities for her children and get her oldest child into the local middle school for gifted and talented kids. Apparently, she feels guilty about providing those opportunities for her children, and says that she doesn't "think the guilt will ever completely fade."

Here are the problems that I see. First, no parent should ever feel guilty for providing whatever opportunities they can afford to provide for their child. But one's ability to afford those opportunities has nothing to do with whether a child is gifted or not. And that leads to another problem. People still seem to think that nurture is what makes a child gifted rather than nature. The nature/nurture debate is an old one, but we know enough now to recognize that children are not born with equal intelligence and talents.

And that brings me to the final problem. Every child should be nurtured so that his or her intelligence and talents are optimized as much as possible - and that includes gifted children. Our schools, particularly those that serve poor communities, do little to find and nurture gifted children. That means that it is up to the parents to provide enrichment for their children, the parents least able to provide it.

Privilege does not make a child gifted, but it helps parents provide nurturing opportunities. We should be working to see that all gifted children get those opportunities rather than denying that giftedness exists outside of privileged environments.

Is College Right for Your Child?

Sunday March 30, 2014

Just because a child is gifted doesn't mean he has to go to college.  Whether a child goes or not should be determined by whether it is the best fit for him and his interests.  We all want what is best for our child and so we usually think that college is what's best. But is college the best choice for your child?

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