How Should I Treat a Child who has been Labelled Gifted?

1.  A child labelled gifted is a CHILD.  He or she is a child, first, last and foremost.

2.  Do not punish her for being labelled gifted by:

a)  Heaping more work on her

b)  Saying things such as “I expected more from someone like you i.e. someone who is smart”

c)  Telling everyone that the child is gifted

d)  Refusing to accomodate her giftedness until she earns it (by behaving better, working harder, doing better)  Would we do that to a child with ADHD or dyslexia or visual impairment?

3.Remember that he has been tested and found guilty ONLY of academic talent.  That is, he does well on tests of math and verbal skills.  Should he show other talents, be delighted.  If he is interested, encourage him to develop them.  If not, don’t pressure the child!

4.Her talent does not include any kind of unusual maturity of character.  Your six year old will still have tantrums and your thirteen year old will still have a healthy urge to make out with an object of his or her desire.  Your seventeen year old will think it is most unfair that the car has an 11:00 p.m. curfew when hers is 1:00 a.m.  And you are still the parent or the teacher no matter how smart the child is!

5.Every child needs down time just to mess around.  This is excellent use of every kind of beautiful mind.  It also:

a)  encourages creativity

b)  encourages the fun of exercise

c)   allows time to nurture the friendships that will nurture the child in turn

6.  Do not load him down with after school activities.  That is not enrichment. Sign him up only for activities that he requests.  A good rule of thumb is two, one of which the child can walk to.  No activities are fine, too.

7.  If your child asks for music lessons or anything else that requires practice, insist that you must not be expected to nag (except, perhaps, when the February doldrums hit).  This is a tough one.  Sometimes a parent can get around it by saying, “Remember, I am not expected nag”, however as you have a bright child don’t expect to get away with it more than twice in six weeks.

8.  Expect her to finish the term or year of an activity before she can switch to something else. She was the one who chose, she must be the one to see it through.  This teaches commitment but also allows her to try many things.  If you have a butterfly child who switches from horse riding to ballet to karate to chess, don’t despair.  She is checking out possibilities now, instead of waiting until the post-secondary years when butterfly lifestyles become more expensive.

9.  Do not excuse him from homework but do not allow him to work past his bedtime.  And he should have a bedtime.  Teach him time management and model it yourself.

10.  A good rule of thumb for homework, if she must have homework, is ten minutes per grade.  Ideally it should start with reading to parents or practicing something that needs to be memorised.  Homework in the primary grades is probably unnecessary, but opinions vary.

11.  Encourage him to give you reasoned arguments when he wants something he knows you disagree with.  Let him know that you will also listen to a compromise that meets your concerns.  Make sure the child knows you reserve the right to say no, if you are not persuaded.  If you have asked for his arguments, then respond with your reasons if you must say no, but keep it short.  Do listen carefully because more often than you think, your child or student will persuade you or offer a reasonable compromise.  This is good use of her skills.

More Posts in this Blog on Giftedness and Related Issues:

Gifted and “Education for All”

Mistakes: Consider Them a Learning Experience

A School for Scientifically and Technically Talented Students

Words, Names and Labels in Education

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