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Carol Bainbridge

Gifted Children Blog

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Fun things to do and learn about in June

Saturday May 31, 2014

My son, like many gifted kids, had his favorite subjects to learn about, but we were still always looking for something new to study.† All the holidays and special observances every month gave us ample opportunities to find new topics to explore.

If you, too, look for new subjects for your child to explore, then take a look at the special days in June.† Your child may have already developed an interest in dinosaurs, but that doesn't mean he can't learn more about them on Dinosaur Day.† There are plenty of other special observances as well, like Magic Day and Meteor Day.

Some observances last for a whole week or even the entire month. National Camping week is a great time for the family to go camping, even it it's in the backyard.† Or the family can spend time gardening, going to an aquarium or a zoo. After all, June is Perennial Gardening Month and Zoo and Aquarium Month.

Gifted or Hard-Working?

Friday May 30, 2014

I really do wish people would better understand giftedness and the issues it brings with it. I just read an article from the Huffington Post called Gifted or Hard-Working? Which is Better for Long-Term Success for our Children? It makes some excellent points, but then fails to demonstrate a real understanding of the problem.

Take the opening sentences:

Giftedness is revered in our culture and viewed as a guarantee to a child's future success. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. Giftedness is no guarantee for success.

We might quibble over whether giftedness is actually revered in our culture, but we know that giftedness is no guarantee for success. So far, so good.

But then Sherrie Campbell, the author of the piece, goes on to say things like "Gifted children are treated to believe their gift makes them more special, important or better than others." And "If your children are gifted don't tell them. It puts an unnecessary pressure on them, makes them feel different or more privileged than others and they may begin to count on it for favor, love and recognition."† And "As gifted children age they reach a level where everyone is successful." And "Teach your children that if they work hard enough they can achieve all their dreams."

First, I disagree that gifted children are treated to believe their gift makes them more special. Who is it that treats them that way? Parents? Teachers? In my experience, I found that teachers often treat gifted children in the exact opposite way to prevent gifted kids from thinking they're special.

Second, I disagree that we shouldn't tell our kids that they are gifted. There are definite reasons to tell kids that they're gifted, but it should be done in a way that discusses what it means to be gifted.† Third, gifted children grow up to be gifted adults. While non-gifted peers may end up being successful, those peers will never be gifted. Giftedness includes other traits that are not all about intellect and knowledge.

Finally, parents often try to teach their gifted children that they need to work hard to succeed. However, that is often a difficult lesson to teach when the school refuses to provide work that is appropriately challenging.

Are you an introvert?

Thursday May 22, 2014

I am. No doubt about it. When I take those tests that measure introversion and extroversion,† my score invariably ends up as far in the introversion range as it possibly can.† But it's always good to see that I'm not alone and that other people understand us introverts.

The other day I ran across a great article about introverts: 23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert. I read each one of those signs and thought "YES!"† Number 21, for example, is that we've been told to come out of our shell. My nickname in high school was turtle. You can figure out why.† I was rather surprised to learn that introverts tend to have low blood pressure.† Yup.† That one applies to me, too.

Do you have a child that you think is shy? It could be that your child is actually an introvert. There is a difference between being shy and being an introvert. Introverts may also be shy, but they aren't necessarily shy. Introverts just have different needs than extroverts have.

If you have an introvert, you might want some tips on how to raise an introvert.† It's easy! Just understand introversion and let your child be who he is.

Photo Contest for Oceans Day

Wednesday May 21, 2014

World Oceans Day is a while away - June 8th. But it's not too early to think about it since there is a photo contest!  Yes, that's right. A photo contest. If your child loves the oceans and photography, this is a great opportunity.

Contestants can enter photos into one of five categories, the last one being open to kids  under the age of 16 (as of April 1, 2014). The categories are as follows:

  1. Underwater seascapes
  2. Underwater life
  3. Above water seascapes
  4. Human's positive interaction/experience with the ocean
  5. Youth: open category, any image of the ocean - below or above the surface

Adults (and kids over 16) can enter a photo in the other 4 categories. For more information, check out the World Oceans Day Photo Contest page.

If your child loves the ocean, but isn't ready or able to take photos for this competition, give her some books to read about the ocean and all the forms of life within it. Many of these books contain beautiful photographs.

Destructive Gifted Kids

Sunday May 18, 2014

No, I don't really mean gifted kids are destructive. Maybe a better word to use would be deconstructive.† If you have one of these gifted kids, you know what I'm talking about.

Deconstructive gifted kids are the kids who have to take everything apart. They have an intense curiosity about how things work and to find out, they take things apart. How does that CD player work? Maybe if I take all those screws out, I'll figure it out.

It doesn't always matter what the object is - as long as it has parts and does something, it's fair game for being taken apart.† Parents often try to discourage this behavior. It does, after all, start getting expensive to replace all those deconstructed items. But I say, encourage it! You never know what your child will learn or where that curiosity will take him. There are some guidelines, however, since you want your child to be safe. Other than that, let the fun begin!

What Percentage of Kids are Gifted?

Wednesday May 14, 2014
If you are familiar with Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegone, you'll know that it is town "where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."† And if you are at all familiar with statistics, you'll know that is impossible. It is impossible for all children to be above average - just as it is impossible for all children to be gifted. It's not even possible for half of the children to be above average, let alone gifted. If you understand that as I do, then you will be as puzzled as I was when I read this opening line of an article by Jessica Brown:
"More than half the students in the Indian Hill school district are considered gifted - the highest percent in our region and fourth highest in the state."
How can more than half the students in one district be gifted? And it's not even the highest percentage in the state. In fairness to Ms. Brown, the article isn't about the high number of gifted kids; it's about the number of gifted children who receive services, and in this case, it's five percent. Considering that the gifted population is somewhere between three and five percent, five percent being served isn't so bad. Of course, the question is whether that five percent consists of the kids who are truly gifted. But that's my question, not Ms. Brown's. Ms. Brown rightly points out the problems encountered when getting gifted children the academic services they need, including problems with identification.† Her article, "Gifted kids may not be well-served," is actually quite good, so I'm not complaining about it.† The first line just made me think. While some towns may have a greater percentage of gifted kids than other towns, none will have fifty percent of its children be gifted. What is important is that all children get the academic services they need. That is as true no matter how many gifted children there are in a community.   Gifted kids may not be well-served.

Misdiagnosis of Gifted Kids - ADHD Again

Sunday May 11, 2014

I remember years ago starting around the time my son was 5 years old - also the time he started school.† I was told more than once that I needed to have my son "tested" because he had ADHD.† (He was evaluated, and he didn't and doesn't have it.)

Once when I was checking out some books at the university library, a patron was discussing giftedness and ADHD with the librarian, who said, "Giftedness and ADHD go hand-in-hand. That's right.† The librarian was telling the patron that if a child is gifted, he most likely has ADHD.† I jumped in to set the record straight.

That was nearly 20 years ago and I, along with others, still have to jump in to set the record straight on giftedness and ADHD.† Laura Ungar, of the Louisville Courier-Journal, just wrote about this same issue a few days ago in her article, "Is it ADHD or giftedness?" She was just introduced to the issue herself, and to her credit, she wrote about it.

As Ungar points out, doctors aren't generally educated about giftedness nor does the topic often come up in pediatric journal articles. I would add that in general most teachers don't get much instruction on giftedness in their education studies.† If they do, it is usually a very small part of instruction on all special needs students. It's not surprising, then, that we still have to jump in to set the record straight.

In fairness, it can be difficult to distinguish between ADHD and giftedness since the characteristics are similar.† But really... after so many years, shouldn't we have more understanding of giftedness than we do?

Labels and Elite School Systems

Wednesday April 30, 2014

"Labels. They determine if something is healthy or unhealthy, good quality or poor quality, and if someone is intelligent or unintelligent. Labels determine if we succeed or fail. Labels are dangerous."

That's how Brigit starts her article"Why Our Elitist Public School System Hurts Everyone. "I don't agree with her.† Sure, some labels can hurt, but some can be helpful. Labeling a child as "gifted" can help get that child the academic services he or she needs.

Are our school systems elitist? I guess that would depend on how you view elitism. If some schools are better off financially and can afford programs for gifted children, does it make that school elitist?† Whose fault is it that not all schools provide services to gifted children? Just because some schools do it doesn't mean the schools are elitist.† What do you think?

Who Wants a Gifted Kid?

Monday April 28, 2014

One of the remarks I hear all the time is "Every parent wants their kid to be gifted."† I suspect that the reasoning behind this remark is that parents who claim their children are gifted are just saying that in order to get praise they don't deserve. In other words, they want people to think they are special because their children are somehow special.

When parents are expecting a child, they may hope for a gifted child, but in this case, what they are really hoping for is a child who does well in school and will be successful in life.

In both cases -- people saying that "every parent wants their kid to be gifted" and expectant parents hoping their child is gifted -- the people involved don't understand what giftedness is or what it is like to be the parent of a gifted child. As the parent of a gifted child, I can assure you that while I hoped for a healthy, happy, and successful child, I certainly didn't hope to have to fight with teachers and schools to get them to accommodate my child's academic needs, and I definitely didn't hope to get snide remarks from other parents and a complete lack of empathy.

So do all parents want a gifted kid? Some parents *think* that's what they want - before their child is born, but no parent wants a complicated life. We all want the same thing: a happy, healthy, successful child. But we also love the child we have. My life as the parent of a gifted child has been a roller coaster ride, but it's also been a fun and exciting adventure.

 

Most parents of gifted children just roll their eyes at that remark (even if they politely do it in their heads).

Amen, Mike Osborn!

Friday April 25, 2014
My introduction to gifted children and their education came when my son entered school. Until then, I was blissfully unaware of the difficulties these children face in school. I'm sure that sounds quite insensitive to some people.† After all, how can these bright children face difficulties in school? What about special needs children? Those are the children who face "real" difficulties in school. I don't know any advocates for gifted children who want to take anything away from the services offered to special needs children, but I would suggest that it's insensitive to claim that gifted children have no special needs. As Mike Osborn wrote in his Albuquerque Journal opinion piece, Gifted students belong in special education framework,
"The belief that gifted students can make it on their own, cream will always rise to the top, has been shown to be a myth. A great deal of research, beginning in the 1920s, has confirmed that gifted students are often at a serious disadvantage in the usual school setting."
Adams goes on to elaborate on the special needs that gifted children have. Why are we so willing to ignore the special needs of one group of children? Shouldn't we be doing all we can for ALL children?

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