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How Can Parents Nurture the Gifted Student?

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NuturingWinter weather can serve as a reminder of how important parent-children relationships are. As many parents and children find themselves forced together indoors and at home due to the harsh weather outdoors, we can take this time to be reflective of what it takes to be a gifted parent of gifted children. Being reminded of some of these responsibilities can help us make use of the unexpected increase in together time to its best advantage. Here are a dozen questions to consider as parents assess their level of participation in developing the talents, interests, and abilities of highly capable children.

  1. Do you answer all those never-ending questions with patience and good humor and use the content of those questions to guide your child into further learning and exploration?
  2. Do you strive to develop physical, social, and emotional skills, as well as cognitive ones?
  3. Do you avoid personal comparisons, demonstrating that you love your child unconditionally for just being herself, not for any particular skill or achievement?
  4. Do you set reasonable standards of behavior, state expectations, and ensure that he meets them?
  5. Do you provide early opportunities for decision making, with evaluative follow-up of the decisions after action was taken?
  6. Do you find something specific to praise when your child shows you a product? (Generalized praise means very little to gifted children.)
  7. Do you help her find challenging and meaningful reading and other materials, and encourage the pursuit of hobbies?
  8. Do you provide places where he can study and work at projects and hobbies?
  9. Do you provide a place to display work?
  10. Do you go together to places of interest?
  11. Do you enable her to take advantage of classes and activities offered by private organizations and community groups?
  12. Do you teach and model time management, organization, and effective study habits?

What other kinds of questions do you think will help parents make the most of their intimate relationship with their gifted children? What else do you do that might be helpful to parents who suddenly find themselves with an identified gifted child and have not the foggiest idea of what to do now? Remember, schools are only one place where gifted students have the opportunity to learn and grow. As parents, we need to be providing enrichment and challenge beyond the school day so that our children can develop in all aspects of their lives to the extent they desire. Remember, they are gifted, talented, creative, and capable 100% of the time, not just while in school. The best part is, the more we help others grow, the more we grow ourselves!

All the best,

Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
CEO, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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