I’ve always known that “Little Ricky” is special. From speaking in complete sentences at 10 months old to his photographic memory that amazes me, he has always been a bit ahead of the rest. Like a sponge, he soaks up absolutely everything around him and analyzes it all. My sister is just like him. School and learning came naturally to her while I’ve always had to work hard to get good grades.
As a mother, it’s hard to work with “Little Ricky” because we have the same personality: stubborn, headstrong and a bit of a “know it all.” (Shhh…don’t tell my husband I admitted that!) So we tend to argue when it comes to learning. He is completely independent and has never needed my help in any way. I push him because I want to see him flourish even more than he is on his own. As an educator, I know that the right support outside of the home is important. I trust that his teachers are doing their job, but I want to see him in the type of setting that will be nurturing to his sensitive side, yet challenge him intellectually.
Having a gifted and talented child can feel like a whirlwind when it comes to education and supporting their interests. If you have a gifted and talented child and are not sure of which direction to turn, here’s some help.
Tips for Supporting a Gifted and Talented Child:
#1. Learn What Stimulates Your Child
Learning what helps your child tick will really help you on this journey to support your gifted and talented child. Perhaps your child’s strong point is in music, but they struggle in math. Find a way to incorporate music and math together. Learning what stimulates your child will help them grow beyond measure.
#2. Fight for the Best Teachers
Many schools have specific classes for gifted and talented students. Do what you can to get your child in those classes. Having the right teacher for your gifted and talented student will help them flourish in more ways than you realize. The right teacher can give your child the resilience they need to move past any roadblocks and focus on the educational road ahead. Finding a teacher that views your child as a special gift and not as a bother is important. This goes for any child, not just a gifted and talented child. If you can’t find a public school option to suit your child, it may be time to look into other schooling options.
#3. Accepting the Gift is Important
Believe it or not but every parent does not want to accept that their child is gifted or talented in any area. Sometimes it’s easier just to pretend that a child is “normal” and doesn’t need any extra help. The longer you stay in denial the more your child will suffer with which direction to take. Accepting the fact your child has a special gift will eventually help them also understand that each child succeeds in different areas in life.
#4. Subject Acceleration
If your child is gifted and talented, you might need to prepare for subject or grade acceleration. They may be accelerating in a specific subject or grade level and may be ready to move on. You can support your gifted and talented student by researching various acceleration programs in your school district. A good example of this is a student being in fourth grade math, but they’re ready for 7th or 8th grade math. Sometimes skipping a grade is also a way to help a child reach their greatest potential. The bottom line is you and your child need to choose the right path together.
#5. Provide Different Opportunities
A gifted and talented child needs support more than just at school. You may find that you need additional opportunities outside of school to help your child succeed. Find out what interests your child, even at home. Perhaps they love dinosaurs, use this as a tool to help open up different activities for them to explore at home. Maybe a dinosaur dig in your backyard is in order. Don’t forget that your child needs time to relax and be a kid. Encourage your child to be a kid as much as possible.