We parents raise our children with an eye to the future. We have plans and dreams that we hope they achieve. The decisions we make are designed to help them grow into happy, healthy adults; a daunting task under the best circumstances. Throw giftedness into that mix and you have parents who are often parenting in uncharted territory. Our children don’t match the developmental stages written about in parenting books, they are far above their peers in some areas and simultaneously far below in others. When my son was seven he understood and expounded on math theories I couldn’t even get my head around, yet at the same time he often told me he was going to marry me when he grew up. They can be unpredictable and hard to categorize. We often have to navigate a minefield of sensitivities and twice exceptionalities. Circumstances that might normally delight a child, such as a parade or amusement park, can be a nightmare of unexpected meltdowns caused by everything from sensory overstimulation to fears generated by too much knowledge of potential hazards.
Sometimes dealing with the daily emotional and social needs of our kids can be all consuming; but like all parents, we also have to try to figure out how best to meet their educational and intellectual needs. The majority of school settings don’t work well for our kids and we are often left scratching our heads trying to figure out how to help our children reach their intellectual potential. There are no government programs or funding to ensure our kids get their special needs met because the prevailing attitude is that if they are smart they can succeed. Add to that the negative stereotypes that swirl around how we parent our children and it often feels like you are being attacked on all fronts. The funniest (and most misguided) question I was asked about my children was if I had, “flashcarded them from birth.” Those of us who are raising a profoundly gifted child can tell you that we do not push our children to learn; we try to keep up with them. Most days I feel like I am holding on to a speeding freight train with one hand while trying to shovel coal into the engine with the other!
In my practice I see so many parents who feel overwhelmed with the task of figuring out a proper educational path for their child. That path for a gifted child is like a trip up the Himalayas; steep, difficult, and filled with treachery. So unless you have a Sherpa guide by your side the whole way, the best advice I can give you is to stop trying to see the top of the mountain. Take your child’s education on a day-by-day basis, look at the small successes along the way, and study how to avoid the little pitfalls each day. I’ve seen gifted children blow through a whole year’s carefully designed curriculum in a few weeks or months; so don’t try to plan a long-term linear path, it will most likely leave you feeling incompetent. Try to let your child guide your decisions about their education. Gifted children thrive when given choices about how, when, and what they learn. Often times they know what will work best for them, so let them charge ahead and feed their intellect. While they are stuffing their brains, your job is to facilitate their learning and to figure out how to fill in any holes that open up along the way. Whether your children are public, private, or home schooled, you will face multiple challenges along the way. So don’t be afraid to drop what isn’t working, look at things from another angle, and adjust your plans along the way. There is no “normal” for gifted kids, they are all wonderfully quirky and unique, so put your long term goals on hold and follow them up the mountain.
I welcome any specific questions you may have, please see my website www.solutions4students.com, for contact information.