How do parents support gifted children?
1) Ensure that your child experiences a rich and stimulating life outside school.
This could include:
- Opportunities to play and learn with other gifted children, older children and adults who have similar interests and can stimulate their imagination, offer new experiences, and challenge them with new areas of learning.
- Lots of first-hand experiences, including visits to museums, zoos, galleries, musical performances and drama, film, outdoor exploration, keeping and studying pets, nature walks, and gardening.
- Providing opportunities for hobbies that offer depth of new learning, for example, collecting rocks, stamps, chess, photography, movie making, astronomy and animation.
- Introducing them to varied ways to respond to learning or present knowledge (e.g. creative arts, drama, video and audio presentations, public presentations etc).
2) Provide opportunities for children to extend their knowledge in areas of special interest.
This might include:
- Project-based work
- Library research
- Digital Storytelling
- Learning a musical instrument
- Learning a new language
3) Introduce a variety of enrichment activities at regular intervals
While it isn’t possible for any teacher or parent to offer individual activities for gifted children, there are many wonderful activities that all children enjoy which can also accommodate the needs of the gifted.
How does FasTracKids support a gifted child?
There are two main approaches to meeting the needs of the gifted.
a) Acceleration – This involves allowing students to complete curriculum faster, or advance through school more rapidly, based on their readiness, motivation and capability. It allows the pace of instruction to be adjusted to meet their needs and, it offers new more appropriate challenges.
b) Enrichment – This involves the modification of the curriculum to allow gifted learners to explore topics in greater depth of breadth, to permit the use of varied skills and generally to promote a higher level of thinking, investigation and exploration. It often involves integration of varied learning areas, creative outcomes and products, and the use of supplementary materials beyond the normal range.
FasTracKids offers children both approaches with accelerated enrichment in the following 11 areas for a total of 88 lessons:
- Natural Science
- Earth Science
- Speech, Drama and art
How do I recognize if my child is gifted?
If you live with a gifted child or have one in your class there is a good chance you will begin to recognize a number of characteristics that tend to differentiate them from most children, even most capable children. While many parents feel their children are gifted purely due to their observations of the pace of their development in the early preschool years, extreme giftedness is much more rare. While some teachers tend to assume that gifted children can take care of themselves and so require less attention, this can be a dangerous assumption. Life for the highly gifted child can be an extremely frustrating, confusing and at times lonely experience if their giftedness isn’t identified and supported. If your child demonstrates, to a significantly greater extent, a large number of the following characteristics, they may be gifted and will need support, encouragement and some adaptation by teachers and parents:
- The ability to invent or create novel or original things, or look at their world in unusual ways.
- The desire and ability to investigate their immediate world, to see the unusual and observe things that others don’t notice.
- Extreme curiosity demonstrated by experimentation, investigation and in depth study.
- Using extended vocabulary, complex sentence structure and varied language forms.
- Understanding and using imagery and metaphorical language at a young age (often under 5 years).
- Exploring varied interests often at depth, well beyond their years.
- Being able to learn rapidly and easily compared to other children.
- Gaining great pleasure and excitement when they are learning new and difficult things.
- Outstanding memory demonstrated by encyclopedic recall.
- A desire to spend time with older children or adults and to learn with and from them.
- Being able to cope with the introduction of many new ideas. Sometimes simultaneously.
- Wanting to spend large amounts of time learning about a favorite topic
- Capable of generating many solutions to verbal or mathematical problems.
- Enjoying and seeking out frequent intellectual challenges
- Demonstrating unusual imagination that is stimulated easily and sometimes independently.
- Ability to generate multiple ideas and solutions to problems.
- Showing preparedness to question assumed knowledge or ways of doing things.
- Often preferring individual work rather than group work and able to work well independently.
- Demonstrating a highly mature and unusual sense of humor.
- Sometimes having expectations of themselves that are too demanding and unrealistic.
- Demonstrating single-mindedness and extreme determination when pursuing interests.
If you think about the above characteristics it should be easy to see how they might well be misinterpreted by teachers and parents who don’t understand giftedness. For example, wanting to work independently could be seen as anti-social, single-mindedness can be seen as self-focused, questioning the assumed knowledge of the teacher could be seen as rudeness and so on. This is why the gifted need to be understood and supported; they are different.