I’m going to use a word that seems to be really unpopular, and can almost instantly create waves of eye rolling. The G Word. Gifted. It’s amazing the looks and comments that word brings, which is why I rarely use it. But, fact of the matter is, I have a gifted child. A highly gifted child. And at some point I’ve realized that if I am afraid to utter the word, I’m sending her a message that it’s something to keep a secret or be ashamed of, and it’s not. It’s just a fact – she has blonde hair, brown eyes, is tall for her age and is gifted. Plain. Simple. Matter of fact.
Here is my take on gifted – it doesn’t make you better, it doesn’t make you worse, it just means you might be wired a bit differently, and therefore act and think a bit differently. Again, not better, not worse, just different. And anyone who has parented a gifted child knows that it can be very amusing, but is also very exhausting – staying one step ahead of someone who at age four can reason better than you at thirty something, can wear one out. Anyone who thinks that a gifted child must be easy, cooperative or super motivated at school, probably hasn’t spent much time with gifted kids.
People are often surprised when they find out how we discovered our daughter was gifted – we didn’t go looking to have that title attached to her, as so many assumed. We thought she had ADHD or some other issue, and through that assessment process we came across what made her beat to a different drum (one that plays double time). We didn’t work with her, use flash cards or teach her to read early. She was tested at age four, when her only form of education had been a warm and loving play based preschool. When told that she would need special academic accommodations, we sort of wrote it off, telling ourselves she was just a normal kid, she didn’t need to be in some “gifted” classroom. Ah, hindsight – it truly is 20/20.
It is a big part of your world when it’s a big part of who your child is. Just like my daughter with special needs is different, so is my daughter who is gifted. We are very fortunate to live in one of the best possible school districts in our state for gifted education, and she is able to be in a self contained rapidly accelerated class that lets the kids move at their own pace. It also allows for them to have a true peer group with which they can identify – something that is a blessing equal, if not more than, having advanced academics. I can (and in the past have) accelerate her work at home, but I can not make her fit in and be accepted by other kids. To anyone who might read this who is considering a self contained program (or something similar), you can not underestimate the value in these kiddos having a group of peers who also have great ideas, strong wills, intense personalities and want to be in charge. As they say, it is priceless.
I will be talking about raising a gifted kiddo here, as it’s very much a part of my life and the issues I address each day. Dealing with the intense and persistent personality, the perfectionism and frustration that comes when something doesn’t come easily and the fact that she can out argue me, which is certainly a parenting challenge. I don’t chat about it much in my day to day “real life”, so this is where some vents, frustrations, celebrations and revelations may show up.
Here are some websites about gifted kids that I recommend…