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G/T Awareness Week Day 2: Parent Perspectives

Apr 02, 2024

Parenting gifted learners is not always easy but it can also be so much fun.  As a mom of gifted learners, I have definitely learned that it's a marathon and not a sprint.  I recently asked parents of gifted learners to share the best advice. They were gracious to share some great ideas and a little about the gifted journey.  And, now, I get to share with you!  See their responses below:

What are some challenges you've faced as a parent of a gifted child?

Parent #1: As a parent of 2 gifted children, I face struggles with their teachers assuming that because my child is GT he doesn’t have any problems, he is perfect, he will do great in school.  When my son was in kindergarten, his teacher put him in the back of the classroom because she figured he would be able to learn quickly but she had kids that were struggling up in front so she could help them.  That would have been ok but my son couldn’t see the board in the back of the classroom and he didn’t tell me until the end of the school year.  However, teachers should not assume because the student is GT that the student does not need help.

Also, some teachers believe that GT kids are the Best students.  My son struggles with organization skills and constantly lost his homework and his graded reflected on his homework but not on his knowledge of the subject.  He usually knows more than most teachers and was “bored” often. 

My daughter had lots of homework when she was in Middle School.  Misconception that some teachers have is if they are GT give more homework.

Parent #2: Balancing challenge with workload. Some seemed to think MORE work was the answer instead of higher level. The needs are different for each child. Tailoring a personalized plan takes a lot of work and collaboration.

Parent #3: Hates school for anything but the social. Bored and sees no relevance. If it wasn’t for athletics I am not sure what we would be doing. Got worse in middle school.

Parent #4:  Keeping up with ever-changing interests and emotional intensity.

How do you support your child's unique learning needs at home?

Parent #1: I allow my children to explore and foster their curiosity.  My son in elementary school and middle school would test experiments in test tubes or burn something outside.   He’s a Biochemistry major at UT now and is doing great.  The sad thing that he said when he was a freshman in college is that, “Mom, I finally feel challenged”.  It breaks my heart to hear that, but I am grateful he was accepted to a school that can challenge him intellectually.

Parent #2: Communication. Home should be a safe place to express frustrations and goals. -Making sure they have time to just be kids. Buying resources that help cultivate and promote learning in their areas of giftedness.

Parent #3: We love to let him try many things and then be all in. When he was younger he loved technology. We would take him to Apple and Google stores and they would joke about hiring him! At 8! We let him lead us in what he loved.

Parent #4: Did my best to supply her with creative materials and experiences - letting her seek out the experiences she was interested in (Teen Leadership Waco, Church Under the Bridge, Theater)

Can you share a proud moment you've experienced because of your child's giftedness?

Parent #1: My son has great spatial and math skills and thus did well with building and design things.  His team went to National during Odyssey of the Mind competition with his team.  He was usually the manager tell the team what to do (in a polite way).  He got accepted to UT with a Biochemistry major all on his own.  No help from parents with application.  Just paying for tuition.  LOL. 

My daughter excels in debate and speech competition.  She ranked 6th out of 200 students in the Harvard Speech and Debate competition.  She is heading to 2024 Nationals Speech & Debate.  She writes beautiful poems and have won competition in poetry when she was in elementary school.

Parent #2:  Several! Watching my 16 year old daughter graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree. -Watching my son graduate from high school WITH an associates degree while also being named athlete of the year. Watching them thrive in music, sports, and friendships regardless of their giftedness.

Parent #3: In 3rd grade he taught himself how to repair Macbooks. He then ordered the parts and repaired the librarians computer. He was 8.

Parent #4: She used her creativity and determination to raise money to buy toys for a children's hospital when she was in elementary school.  She's created some great art, and I like to see her be confident in the theater world because that's her passion.

 What advice would you give to other parents navigating the journey of raising a gifted child?

Parent #1: Let your child struggle and be challenged.  It is good for them.  I had to give my children space!  They accomplish a lot when they do it themselves.

I was a helicopter mom with my first child since he was in elementary school.  I learned the hard way to let him get his schoolwork done on his own.  He’s in College as a Junior and has straight “A’s” .

Parent #2: Let them lead! Listen to what they say they want and need and help make that happen for them. Instead of pushing them to do more and do better, always offer a way out. Both of my kids were so driven to achieve and excel. While I supported them, I made sure they knew that they could stop this path anytime they wanted. If they wanted to go through school like regular kids, I would make it happen. Balance education with extracurricular. They need to be well rounded, not just smart. Make sure they have other activities to enjoy and friends to just be kids.

Parent #3: Accept they will know more than you. They will challenge every answer you give with why. That one is hard. I was taught no means no. But gifted kids need the often need the rationale.

Parent #4: Be brave enough to let them explore all kinds of things.  BE SURE they struggle at something so they know it's not a crisis and it's an awesome way to learn.  Let them be around other kids like them so they don't feel alone.

What misconceptions about giftedness would you like to debunk?

Parent #1: All gifted children are different just like any other children.  Just because your child is gifted doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be some challenges with it.

Some gifted children have intense emotions, professionalism, and other diagnosis that some people do not understand.  Give them the opportunity to develop their gifts whatever it maybe.

Parent #2: It means they’re smart. No. It means they learn more easily. It means they’re book smart. No. There are many forms of giftedness other than academics. It means they should excel. No. Just because a child is gifted does not mean they are supposed to be challenged. Some just want to be average and that’s okay! Test their IQ. No. In all honesty, that number really doesn’t mean much. The child’s desires and goals are what matter most. They’re meant to become doctors, rocket scientists, etc. No. They don’t HAVE to always strive strive strive. They should thrive thrive thrive. Figure out what they want to do in adulthood, no matter if it requires college or impresses people. I told my kids to be happy and self sufficient adults even if that meant their giftedness was not reaching its fullest potential.

Parent #3: Gifted kids will love school. Gifted kids are good at everything. Gifted kids are liked by their teachers.

Parent #4: That all gifted kids make straight A's or don't struggle with anything.  I also think it's important to know that there are lots of ways to be gifted.

I'm so thankful for gifted parents and their willingness to share.  Take some time to think about their responses and how might use one or two ideas to support your own gifted learner at home. 

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