"Even though your experience is not exactly the same as mine, I feel far less alone if I know that you have had experiences that are reasonably similar."
~ James T. Webb
Providing your gifted child with opportunities to socialize with their peers is an important part of their development. It is easy to forget when so much emphasis is placed on academics and/or talent development.
Socialization can take place anywhere, but it can be difficult for some gifted children. An obvious place where you hope peer interaction is occurring is at school. There are many potential opportunities here if school personnel realize its importance and work to make it happen. Parents’ influence is limited to what is offered by the school.
Some of the possibilities include ability or cluster grouping, pull-out programs, regrouping within the regular classroom for differentiation, and like-grouping in performing groups such as band, chorus, or dance. It is best if this can happen on a daily basis.
Parents can also provide opportunities outside of school in a multitude of ways. Art, music, and dance classes are good places to start for children interested in the arts. Many universities offer summer academic camps, both day camps and residential. Museums and science centers in major cities also offer camp experiences. Parent support groups often set up activities on the weekends. Academic competitions such as Academic Games, Destination Imagination, Invention Convention, Odyssey of the Mind, and chess clubs also provide places for kids to interact.
Outside the U.S., additional opportunities exist in the form of social gifted centers where student can work on special projects, attend movie nights, and engage in reading clubs. Gifted students often express how much more comfortable they are when interacting with their peers.
|Bavarian Centre for Gifted and Talented Children|
Gifted educator, lecturer, and author Dr. Karen Rogers has estimated that this type of social interaction can increase academic achievement by 2 ½ to 4 ½ months every school year.
Every parent wants their child to be happy. Friends are not an assurance of happiness, but many would agree that true “peer” association for the gifted child can be a source of inspiration and camaraderie.