Gifted Pointers

This is a cut-back version copy of an original post you can find here.

It has been four-and-a-half years since the "G" word was introduced to us by an observer outside the family. I felt somewhat prepared because my lovely sister (teacher and early childhood qualified mother of 3 "g" kids herself) had pointed out a few times where November was ahead of the usual milestones.

The Gifted issue brings up a lot of fear in a lot of people. Here are a list of places we have "been" online that are not fearful but celebrate what is a truly wonderful "gift" - a clever child!

Email lists - subscribe to receive a daily digest of posts/messages
Here are some gifted email lists that have been terrific for us. If you need advice, reassurance, or a sounding board these are the places to tap into.

Though some are in Australia, and some in the USA, all nationalities seem very welcome all over. Most of these lists require applying to join, which is very straight forward. I usually select the digest option to avoid being swamped by individual emails flowing into the inbox:

Gifted Families email list

Queensland Gifted and Talented Children Discussion Forum

egpg-gifted e-list is an Australian support group for parents of exceptionally and profoundly gifted children

A starting point for three very active gifted lists - TAGMAX TAGFAM and TAGPDQ

Homeschooling Mensans is an e-list for gifted families (who are not necessarily members of Mensa)

Must visit web sites
Your first stop should really be Hoagies - but don't get lost in there - it is huge! Here are a few favourite links:
Hoagies' Gifted Education Home Page

Hoagies - an article from the wonderful Michael Clay Thompson "All children are gifted"

Hoagies - On a Lighter Note - funny anecdotes, retorts, BTDT

Is it a Cheetah? by Stephanie Tolan. For us, the first article that turned on the lights!

Homeschooling Highly Gifted Children - a short succinct article by Kathi Kearney

Profoundly Gifted Guilt - by Jim Delisle on Davidson Gifted website

One Profoundly Gifted Kid's - Now Grown Up - Story by Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D
who also put together the following guides to giftedness levels
A quick and accurate (in our case) estimate for where your child fits in the Bell Curve

The Five Ruf Levels of Gifted (Levels 1-5) plus Average & High Average levels and their associated IQ ranges.
 Testing and Assessment - an IQ score is not just a score, it depends on the test itself (among other things)

World renowned and much respected SB5 testing psychologist Fiona Smith and colleagues

There are many books and articles on gifted kids, interventions, educational strategies etc but the most resonant for us were written by Miraca U.M Gross PhD. Here is an excerpt from an address given by her on the importance of differentiation in educating gifted students:

From “the saddest sound” to the D Major chord:
 The gift of accelerated progression.

 Miraca U.M. Gross, PhD

Keynote address presented at the 3rd Biennial Australasian International Conference
on the Education of Gifted Students,
Sunday, 15 August, 1999, Melbourne, Australia.

In her book Counseling the Gifted and Talented, Linda Silverman (1993) proposes an interesting exercise.
“Imagine that you live on another planet in another solar system in which everyone is convinced that in order for children to have appropriate social adjustment they must be grouped with children who are of similar height. That way no one feels bigger or smaller than anyone else, and it is easier to play team sports.  You happen to be extremely short.  In fact, you are in the bottom two percent in height, so you have been grouped with children three years younger than you who are the same height. You are nine years old and they are six. You will be with this group for the next 12 years. There is no way out of this situation because everyone on the planet agrees that this is best for your social adjustment.
What does this feel like to you?
What do you do to survive?
(Silverman, 1993 p. 295)
I regularly lead teachers through this exercise in professional development inservices.  Some teachers are so appalled at the prospect of a child being subjected to such as a serious grade misplacement, on such inappropriate criteria, that they find it difficult to engage in the task. In general, however, the task groups come up with responses very similar to those that Silverman encounters when she herself asks teachers to engage in this exercise.
The more mature child will have to learn:
(a)  How to explain ideas in simple terms that the other children can understand
(b)  How to wait patiently while the others struggle with concepts he or she has known for some time.
(c)  How to delay the gratification of answering all the teachers’ questions, so that the others have the opportunity to participate.
(d)  How to fit in socially with children whose games are uninteresting, and who play by rules that seem crude and unfair.
(e)  How to live without any real friends or understanding from others.
At the close of the exercise Silverman reveals the truth of the scenario through which she has just led us. This is not a story about a 9-year-old misplaced in a class of 6-year-olds - a scenario which would scarcely exist in real life.  It is a story about a highly gifted 6-year-old with a mental age of 9 - misplaced in a mixed-ability class of 6-year-olds with a mental age of 6.  And the frustration, the days after days after days of “waiting for something to happen”, the loneliness and the feelings of profound difference, indeed of alienation, are exactly what many gifted children experience in such a situation.
These children spend much of their schooling feeling like fish out of water or, more tellingly, like the captive bird in Simon and Garfunkel’s El Condor Pasa which, tethered to the ground, gives the world its saddest sound.

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