Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Gifted and Talented Programs

Monday, December 21st, 2015

 

Applications for the 2016 round of testing for WA’s Gifted and Talented Programs are now open. For more information please see the Department of Education’s website.

You can also find further information here: Gifted Education in Western Australia

Very best wishes to everyone sitting the test :) .

Making Friends

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

“Making friends can be hard for any child, but for socially awkward gifted children or twice-exceptional kiddos, the challenge is only multiplied. While their brains are working on overdrive, and they can have an intelligent conversation with an adult expert in the field in which they are interested, put them in the same room with kids their own age, and all bets are off.”

Many gifted children who are asynchronous have trouble forging friendships – especially with same-age peers. This article,  ’5 Tips for Helping Gifted Children Make Friends‘, offers some great tips on how to help your gifted child navigate the minefield of friendship.

Did you know…

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Did you know that parents are often the most accurate identifiers of their child’s giftedness? Macquarie University’s Special Education Centre advise schools to:

“Take parents seriously if they ask for more challenge or for investigation of their child’s abilities. Some parents are hesitant to make the first move, so invite all parents to give information about their child’s strengths, special interests or skills as part of the school enrolment process or via a note or questionnaire to parents as the school year begins.”

Here is a copy of their recommendation in full :) :

PARENTS IDENTIFYING GIFTEDNESS

KERRY HODGE 

Statement of the Problem: Gifted children need assistance and a differentiated curriculum to meet their educational needs. Some children, especially if from minority cultural or language backgrounds, may not be identified by schools. Some children hide their abilities to meet teacher expectations or to fit in with peers. Parents’ suggestions that their child is advanced or bored are often met with skepticism, typified by the comment “All parents think their child is gifted”.

Proposed Solution/ Intervention: Take parents seriously if they ask for more challenge or for investigation of their child’s abilities. Some parents are hesitant to make the first move, so invite all parents to give information about their child’s strengths, special interests or skills as part of the school enrolment process or via a note or questionnaire to parents as the school year begins. Translations may be necessary for parents from language backgrounds other than English. Interpret parent information with reliable characteristics (and myths) of giftedness in mind.

The Theoretical Rationale – How Does it Work? Effective identification of giftedness uses information from multiple sources rather than a single opinion or assessment. Teachers and parents may see different aspects of the child. Although parents do not always know how advanced or unusual their child’s traits or skills are, they know what interests and motivates him or her outside the school environment. Teachers trained in the characteristics of giftedness can use parent information about relevant strengths not evident in school as a trigger to investigate a child’s ability and achievement levels.

What does the research say? What is the evidence for its efficacy? There is consensus that multiple sources of information about a child allow more opportunities to reveal exceptional abilities. Research has shown that teachers tend to doubt parents’ judgments about their child’s ability and that some parents do over- or underestimate. Yet, since the 1970s parents have been shown to be more effective than teachers in identifying giftedness, especially in young children. Training in the characteristics of giftedness increases the accuracy of teachers’ identification of gifted children.

Conclusions: Teachers and parents have valuable roles in identifying giftedness. Welcoming and being able to evaluate parents’ knowledge of their child assists teachers to identify and cater for gifted children. THE MUSEC VERDICT: USE WITH CONFIDENCE

“Your Mental Health is More Important than your Grades”

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

As the frenzy of exam season arrives here in Australia, and recent research suggests that those most at risk of falling prey to exam anxiety are gifted girls, it’s a good time to take stock and remember that grades are not the bee-all and end-all.

“It’s no joke. A recent report from the American Psychological Association notes sharp increases in severe psychological problems being reported amongst students. Stress is a force to be reckoned with. It eats away at us. It erodes our sense of wellbeing. To say that it can disrupt the learning process is a dramatic understatement. On top of being a major health concern, it is the number one culprit that impedes academic performance and persistence. And this is true for all ages and types of students-from undergraduate to graduate. Stress can make us sick and stop us in our tracks.”

Here’s the article the above quote is taken from. It’s worth a read and includes some tips on how to help students overcome exam stress :) .

Neglecting Our Brightest Students

Monday, October 19th, 2015

“The smartest kid in class, by contrast, is not an expensive problem. A boy or girl who finishes an assignment early can be handed a book and told to read quietly while the teacher works on getting other children caught up. What would clearly be neglect if it happened to a special-needs child tends to look different if the child is gifted…”

This article is from 2014 but is worth a read :) .

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/sunday-commentary/20140321-are-we-neglecting-the-education-of-gifted-children.ece

Giftedness: The Word That Dare Not Speak Its Name?

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

 

Many people, including educators and academics, state that we should not use the term ‘gifted’. To be honest, there are better words that I believe suit gifted children: asynchronous, cognitively advanced, and so the list goes on! However, whilst ‘gifted’ is a loaded term, and one that is unfortunately all too frequently associated with elitism and academic hothousing, it is not simply a word that we can take or leave. It is a label that many children are stuck with, for lack of common consensus regarding a better alternative.

 

After researching this area for many years, I agree that the gifted label can be damaging, as can any label. However, such labels considered in an educational setting are little more than shorthand for conditions that may require modifications in the academic and/or social setting. They provide us with a ‘go to’ list of possible accommodations and suggestions that may help our children. Importantly, labels can also generate greater levels of self-understanding and acceptance relating to why as individuals we may feel, act and behave the way we do. In short, labels can be positive or negative depending on how we respond to them. However, as soon as a child builds an identity around nothing other than a label, any label, we are in trouble. Labels are reductive and limiting. No person should be defined by the subtotal of his or her diagnoses.

 

It is, however, concerning that some educators and academics believe that perfectionism and other unhealthy characteristics are a result of a child being labelled gifted. This isn’t necessarily true. Many parents only learn their child is gifted after seeking help for their child’s anxiety and/or perfectionism, or other concerns. These are in fact factors which come about as a direct result of these children all too frequently being robbed of the opportunity to develop resilience and self-regulation skills due to a lack of challenge in the school setting. To blame the process of labelling itself is far too simplistic. Instead, we sometimes need to use labels to aid our understanding, particularly at a given point in time. Yet we must, of course, also ensure that our approach to a child’s development is holistic. Furthermore, we would be better served by taking a more dynamic approach to labels in the wider context.

 

Is ‘gifted’ a good, or even accurate, label for cognitively advanced kids? Due to the ingrained sense of hypercompetitiveness that is prevalent in society, sadly not. Although, it is interesting that our greatest athletes are supported and lauded in school communities across the country whilst our brightest kids often struggle to simply be accepted. ‘Giftedness’, then, is a label that has become loaded with a secondary evaluative meaning since it was first introduced by Leta Hollingworth as a descriptive term around one hundred years ago. What we need to remember is that the misconceptions relating to giftedness are often a matter of semantics. Most importantly, this all too frequently derided label is not the fault of the children who receive it – children who often desperately need our support.

 

Can we meet a gifted child’s academic, social and emotional needs without the label ‘gifted’? Sadly, I believe not – at least not in our current education system. Schools may be a good fit for those who are neurotypical – those who fit inside a box, according to their chronological age. For those who do not, for whatever reason, the results can be catastrophic. To silence or stigmatise the voice of these children and to ignore their needs because they are stuck with a label that they did not choose is wrong.

 

Many gifted children and their families are embarrassed to use ‘the ‘g’ word’. They will often refrain from using the term or even admitting the precocious nature of their children for fear of being ostracised. However, the more parents keep quiet about their child’s giftedness the easier it becomes to ignore that gifted children even exist. Yet, to ignore the needs of gifted children makes us negligent. Negligent towards a population of children who need to be considered as special needs within the school setting. At this point in time, the label is necessary to ensure these kids have the best possible chance of having their needs met. In a system that groups children by age alone it is frequently the outliers that may struggle the most. It is not until we have an educational system that we can categorically state meets the needs of each and every child that we can claim that labels are not necessary, ‘giftedness’ included.

Understanding Underachievement

Friday, September 25th, 2015

 

Underachievement in gifted children is often an enigma. There are many reasons why a gifted child may be underachieving. This article helps to explain the various reasons why a child may not be happy and engaged in their learning: http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10040.aspx.

Giftedness and Mental Health: How to Find a Professional That Can Help

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Sometimes trying to differentiate between giftedness and mental health diagnoses and/or learning disabilities can be remarkably difficult. Just like the milestones in baby books, things can get a little more complicated when giftedness is taken into consideration, or, more often, when it is not. So, how is it possible to tell if your child has adhd, high-functioning autism, bipolar disorder etc. or if the symptoms they’re displaying are a result of giftedness, lack of accommodation and/or environmental factors? How do you find a medical professional that will take their giftedness into account? One who will look at your child holistically and provide a thorough and complete consideration of their needs – and take a detailed case history that will be comprehensive enough to provide the thorough differential diagnostic process that your child requires? The answer starts with you and self-education. When it comes to your child you really are the expert.

Before you refer your child for a mental health assessment it’s thoroughly recommended that you read James Webb’s book Misdiagnosis and dual diagnoses of gifted children and adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, depression, and other disorders. This book takes Webb’s many years of experience of working with gifted individuals within the field of psychology, and packages it all into one book that is both accessible and indispensable for anyone with a gifted child who is going to be assessed within the mental health system.

Also, think about your child in light of endogenous and exogenous factors. What would you describe as their natural state, without external influences? How do they behave in different environments and situations? How were they prior to starting school, for example? Could their irritability and uncontrolled outbursts be a result of anxiety, rather than simply defiance? Their impulsiveness due to boredom? Or could their social problems be a result of their giftedness interfering with their ability to relate well with kids who are the same age as them? Together, with your mental health professional, questions like these are ones that are important to consider. A gifted child’s interpretation and reaction to the world is often very different to same-age peers.

If you are more desperate for help, or just want to know some quick suggestions for how to find a professional who will work well with you and your family, you may find this leaflet, written by SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), of use. It outlines the questions you should ask any health professional who is going to work with your child. And this interview with James Webb is also packed full of information.

Most importantly, acknowledge that this is an area where medical professionals may not have a wealth of knowledge. However, as is the case with advocating for your child at school, self-education will empower you to find a mental health professional who will work with you to provide the best possible support for your child.

For further information in this area, also see the page ‘misdiagnosis and dual-diagnosis of the gifted‘ and its associated links.

 

Parenting Gifted Children

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Lots of gifted kids are, well, intense. Parenting them is a rollercoaster and some days, especially the ones when you feel outsmarted by them, can be downright exhausting! So, what can you do to help the journey become a little simpler? Hopefully some of these tips may help.

1.) Stay below the emotion presented – Chances are that if you live in a gifted household there may be more than one of you who is a little on the intense side! As hard as it may be, try to resist entering into an argument with your little lawyer. Be firm but calm when trying to get your message across – even if that means temporarily removing yourself from the situation before re-engaging with your child once you have calmed down. Once their emotions are in overdrive it can be hard to bring a gifted child back down!

2.) Be consistent – Gifted kids often have memories like elephants. If you say that you are going to do something then do it. This includes when it comes to discipline. If their behavior is unacceptable and you decide on a consequence ensure you follow through on that consequence. Banning screen time or saying you are going to cancel a play date but then giving in demonstrates to your bright spark that they can wrap you around their little finger. The rollercoaster can be a whole lot harder when they’re running the show!

3.)  Let them feel involved – Consistency is important but so is compromise. If your child is partially responsible for their own discipline there is a fair chance   that they will be more likely to comply when their behaviour starts to go a little pear shaped. In a quiet moment, why not sit down and discuss what your child believes may be a reasonable consequence for poor behavior. Even at a young age it’s possible to have a discussion and throw some ideas around. Once you reach an agreement, write it down. It’s much easier to be consistent when you have a plan in place, and much more likely to work than losing your cool and yelling unreasonable punishments. It’s also much harder for kids to argue against a consequence that they have already agreed is fair.

4.)  Teach self-monitoring skills – Regulating emotions is a big deal for many of these children. They just think more, feel more – everything is more. Sometimes a self-monitoring system may help. So, you could teach a child to label their emotions and learn to recognise them before they reach fever pitch. You could try a colour scale, or even a tornado scale, running from a gentle breeze to a full scale Wizard of Oz twister. Gifted children are often remarkably capable of learning to recognise when their emotions are taking over, and subsequently learning techniques to calm themselves down.

5.)  Stay aware at parties and social gatherings – If your child is intense then take them outside to calm down at the first sign of them losing their calm, or even better just check in with them at regular intervals to gauge how they are coping. Become aware of certain triggers that you know may cause them to become over-stimulated. Take earplugs to a party if your child becomes agitated by loud noises for example, or pack your own snacks if you know that party food will likely result in your already spirited child becoming completely unruly. And if you have a little introvert, take a book and some paper and colouring pencils. Then approach the host about a quiet place that your child can go if things become too much and they can feel a meltdown coming on. Knowing there is a place they can escape to can ease an anxious or introverted child’s worries immensely.

6.) Try treating your child as if they are their intellectual instead of their chronological age – Imagine being 14 and someone talking to you as if you are 9. Of course, there needs to be a balance, but don’t forget – these kids are asynchronous. Parenting books aren’t generally targeted at helping to raise kids who are ‘many ages at once’, so may be of limited use when it comes to gifted kids. A bit like the milestones in baby books!

7.)  Listen, listen and then listen some more – Poor behavior is often a sign that something is not right in your child’s world. Frustration and anxiety can be hard for a child to articulate and what you may see may only be the acting out. Tantrums by overindulged kids are not a result of giftedness but if your child’s behavior seems out of context according to the child that you know then consider whether it could be a response to their environment, not simply them being awkward or manipulative. If there is no material gain to be had, chances are they could be feeling emotionally overwrought. Also, be aware that gifted children can also be masters at masking learning differences such as dyslexia, to name one of many. Unidentified learning disabilities can also be the cause of frustration and resulting tantrums.

8.)  Practice self-awareness – Be aware of your own emotions. Gifted kids are often perceptive. Really perceptive! Chances are if you’re anxious or frustrated you may be unconsciously projecting your own concerns onto them and they will return them in kind. Be positive and consistently demonstrate problem- solving abilities in front of your child. Try not to set-up a co-dependent relationship, and be aware of feeding each other’s worries or anger. Sacrificing yourself to focus 24/7 on your child is not healthy. Taking care of your own needs is one of the best things you can do to demonstrate the importance of self-love and acceptance to your child. A friend of mine likens this to putting on your own oxygen mask first. No matter how intense your child, you can only be an effective parent if you can breathe yourself!

If you’d like more information on parenting intense kids then Michael Piechowski’s Mellow Out They Say, If I Only Could is worth a look. For parenting ‘spirited’ littlies, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s Raising Your Spirited Child is a useful guide to calming down and working with emotional little people without squashing their spirit. Finally, Living With Intensity (edited by Daniels and Piechowski) is a fabulous resource to help understand and work through how it feels to be different due to being gifted.

Free Handbook all about Gifted Children

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Got some time to spare or want some bedtime reading? Here is a free 120 page handbook all about giftedness. From early signs and identification through to career planning and everything in-between, including help with perfectionism, underachievement and depression. Happy reading!