Sunday, February 13, 2011

How Much Is Too Much?

Gifted children display many different ability levels … just like any other kid. In fact, intellectual ability is often a bone of contention in the gifted community. Are they really gifted enough to receive special services? Profoundly Gifted … High Ability … Mildly Gifted … or simply High Achiever? This then begs the question, can their needs be met in a school system that requires them to attend 13 years of instruction for which they have no need?

For many gifted students, the answer is an emphatic, “No”! They don’t need 13 years of spiraling curriculum, endless repetitions, and worksheets galore! They do not need to endure hours upon hours of direct instruction on material they already know.

On the other hand, there are exceptions. Students who are athletically talented certainly benefit from the years of practice and playing on teams. So, too, young musicians may benefit from playing in a school band or orchestra. If your child is fortunate enough to attend a school that provides an excellent gifted program or a STEM school with a curriculum they are interested in, it may benefit them to remain there.

But I’m going to take a wild guess that many of you are not satisfied with your child’s educational setting or its requirements. You may cringe when you hear the oft repeated myth that children need to be in school for 13 years of compulsory education because they will miss important social milestones and events such as the prom.

Then what’s a parent to do? There are actually some very exciting options to be explored within some public school systems … you just need to know what they are! Grade skipping, subject acceleration, dual-enrollment (attending college classes while still in high school), and early admission to college are all possibilities. In some locales, these types of programs are actually appealing to school districts who find it more economically feasible not to educate all students for 13 years. Forward thinking schools can also provide gifted students with ways to earn credit for prior learning through testing.

Of course, a parent can also choose to homeschool, charter school, cyber-school, or send their child to a private school. However, many families are not financially able to do this even with economic sacrifice. If you are able to go this route, explore your options early and thoroughly.

When deciding the matter, you must discuss it with your child first. If they don’t buy into the decision, it will not work. As is often the case with gifted children, they usually approach decisions with a great deal of maturity and understanding with regard to their own education that you don’t see in other situations. It is a decision that can make all the difference in the life of a gifted child.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students

Finally, my long awaited review (I gave you a sample several months ago when it was first released) of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students! Although I was privileged to receive an advanced copy, I have received no other incentives to review it. I simply believe that this book will make your life as the parent of a gifted child a whole lot easier.

From author Christine Fonseca, it is the kind of book that you read … fall in love with … hope there is a sequel (there is) … want to give as a gift to every teacher, school psychologist, and guidance counselor who has ever come in contact with your child … wish it had been available 5, 10, 15 years ago (depending on how old your kids are) … and keep on your nightstand for easy reference at the end of the day. YES, it’s that kind of book! Have I read it? Yep. Have I read it more than once? Yep. Have I purchased extra copies for gifts? You betcha!

So, why am I such a fan of this book? Christine Fonseca is not the first person to write about the intense emotions displayed by gifted children, but this book is different. For starters, the author is the parent of two gifted kids. A+ She works as a school psychologist. A+ And, beyond that, she is a hell of a writer … intelligent, engaging, and practical! Need I say more? Why, yes I do!

Perhaps the subtitle of this book is the most revealing reason why it is so important for gifted parents to read – Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings. If your child is not in school yet, you may not have encountered the full force of their potential explosive feelings. But, don’t worry … you will! And when it happens, you’ll be thanking me for telling you about this book.

Is your little dear a perfectionist? Does he or she exhibit extreme mood swings? How about under performing in school when you know they know it? Do you know how to help them manage the stress? Enter Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students. This book will help you answer all these questions and more.

So, what actually sets this book apart from the others? Besides being a good read, Ms. Fonseca includes ‘worksheets’, ‘tip sheets’ and ‘checklists’ for parents as well as ‘notes to the teacher’ throughout the book. She presents strategies that are tried and true. The book is divided into 3 sections – What it Really Means to be Gifted; Great Information, Now What?; and Being Your Child’s Coach – Specific Strategies.

After 19 years of gifted parenting, I thought I pretty much knew it all. I was so wrong and I learned so much from reading this book! Now that my children are almost grown, I intend to use what I’ve learned to help other parents.

Did I mention the sequel? Why, yes I did in paragraph 2. Coming soon, 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids, is intended for your kids. To save time and the angst that may occur should it sell out repeatedly as has Emotional Intensity, may I suggest that you pre-order it along with this book! Trust me … read the book!