Parenting a Gifted Elementary Child: Build their unshakable foundation!

Parenting

Cornerstone

"One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun."

-Dr. Jane Goodall
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PARENTING

Cornerstone #1

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Amidst life’s chaos, you’ve been tasked with (among myriad other things) becoming your gifted child’s unshakable fortress. It’s up to you to be not only their educational advocate, but also their emotional support system, too. In essence, you are your child’s truest champion.
We know that this is an enormous task, and it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed. No matter where you are in your journey, it’s difficult to know with any certainty which path to take next.
But take heart and rest assured that you don’t have to go it alone. Whether or not you have adequate assistance from your child’s school, you can breathe easy in knowing that we’re here to provide a 360 degree approach for nurturing those extraordinary gifts!

The 3 Most vital Personal Characteristics Parents hope to build in their children

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Percent of parents reporting it is extremely important their child possess these traits as an adult

0 %
Honest & Ethical
1 %
Caring & Compassionate
-3 %
Hard Working

Parents actually care a lot more about their children's values/ethics, kindness, and committed efforts, than them being financially independent or ambitious!

And as a parent it's up to you that your Gifted child strengthen each of these traits through daily practice!

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     Congratulations! You’ve signed up for one of the most difficult and lowest paying (yet most infinitely rewarding) jobs anyone could undertake in their lifetime: parenthood. Though parenting boasts a lower mortality rate than perhaps being a lumberjack, deep-sea fisherman, or Sherpa, raising a child self-possessed with integrity, warmth, and diligence can be even more harrowing! Having a typical learning child can be a challenge in itself, but having a child who is a gifted learner or “twice exceptional” with a secondary disability can create added challenges. Like those Sherpas blazing the path up all 29,029 feet (or 8,848 meters) of Everest, parenting is an epic odyssey!

     Though it’s a learn-on-the-go process, you want to be as proactive as you can to prepare your child to successfully summit those developmental peaks, whether your gifted child is a preschooler, primary, or intermediate elementary student. You don’t have to make a list of 1,000 rules at home. Instead learn to set boundaries that allow your child to know what works for your family, while growing their communication skills, respectfulness, responsibility, and ultimately, personal accountability as a global community member.

     K5 Gifted exists to ready you for those dizzying ups and downs of the parenting road ahead. Here you’ll find a safe haven among others sharing similar struggles and successes. We’re a judgement free zone when you need to vent, and a welcoming place for sharing your child’s accomplishments without fear of “bragging”.

Like those Sherpas blazing the path up all 29,029 feet (or 8,848 meters) of Everest, parenting is an epic odyssey!

     Enjoy our ever increasing supply of engaging blogs, explainer animations, and encouraging articles, as well as interactive tutorials and mini-courses to guide you along your way. We want your child to build the strongest possible framework academically, socially, and emotionally, regardless of whether they are gifted or typically developing.

     To face the task ahead we have to rid ourselves of the fixed mindset saying our children are born with their full potential unlocked and effort doesn’t matter. More than anything effort does matter! With a growth mindset, children can struggle, make mistakes, and learn through failure that practice makes progress but never perfect. Such is the way of life!

     And the daily modeling you present at home makes a significant difference to your child’s worldview. Even more than school, home is the place where they learn to fail and succeed. Learn your triggers and how they influence the way your child thinks and grows.

     But no matter how diligent you are as a parent, your child’s learning is going to be asynchronous, with faster growth in some areas than others. Just because you have a gifted child, it doesn’t mean he or she will be able to write beautifully, cut with precision, and ride a bike like a pro. Those skills may be similar to typically developing learners. And that’s healthy!

     We want you to feel supported as you encourage your gifted children to become their most resilient selves, academically and social-emotionally. Together we’ll climb that mountain.

The task ahead

Questions & Answers:
Parenting Gifted Kids

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Click on each question below to find out more!

Standford University professor Carol Dweck, one of the world’s foremost developmental and social psychologists, advocates for a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. Dive into greater detail in our blog on mindset behaviors!

Develop a relationship with your child that includes healthy boundaries. Whatever is acceptable at home with your child’s verbal interaction with you, is what your child will carry into the school environment. If you let your child talk back to you and push the envelope, your child may speak to the teacher or principal in the same manner. It will come across as disrespectful and will likely result in a phone call home to you. Instead, remember that you are the parent and your child is the child; you aren’t peers or longtime chums. It’s important to teach your child to actively listen by truly hearing what the other person is saying. Teach your child that body language matters. For example, crossed arms mean, “I am not open to what you have to say.” Likewise, turning your body away from the speaker informs them that you’re not actually interested in what they have to say. Just as eye rolling is a sign of disrespect in any culture. By teaching respect and responsibility at home, your child will benefit at school, in personal relationships, and eventually college or the work world.

If your children are having difficulties getting along, give them some space, but set some definite boundaries about what is acceptable. Gifted or not gifted, good communication begins at home, and relationships begin with family. Children practice and reinforce social behaviors via their families, and doubly so should they have siblings. Boundaries should include limits to name calling and physical interactions. Feelings are always okay, but the behaviors following feelings are not always acceptable. Don’t referee; they need to learn to work together within the boundaries. When they are not calm, teach them “I statements”. For example: “I don’t like it when I don’t get my fair turn to go first.” “I need my part of the room to stay clean. That means no dirty clothes left on my floor.” Even if that isn’t perfect, it’s still much better than, “You are a big fat slob. You are just like a pig and you never pick up your nasty, smelly clothes.” Learning to more effectively communicate will serve your child well at home, school, in personal relationships, and even with a future spouse. 

You might find out from your pediatrician or your child’s preschool teacher that your child is beginning to demonstrate exceptional advancement in their learning. They may be getting milestones early. Your child may already be excelling physically in gymnastics. You may notice your little one standing out via their swimming, piano, or academics. It’s also very possible your child has started to teach his or her self to read or use phonetic spelling to write stories. Your child may already be thinking like a mathematician and has early math reasoning skills. Embrace all teachable moments to encourage your child in their areas of interest and exceptionality. 

If your child is chatty, which is very common with young children, embrace it! This is a time when your child is learning more rapidly than they will at any other time in their life. You want to find time when you are not distracted that you can listen and answer their questions. Encourage your child to journal, to express their thoughts through pictures, symbols, and words. Find out from your child, if he or she wants you to respond in writing or pictures to their questions or comments. 
 
Be sure to check out our blog about teaching your child about math and science through neighborhood nature walks or bike rides! Also, check out our instructional blogs that help you connect with your child and learn math through a cooking connection! Cooking is a life skill that everyone needs. And who knows, they might be the next big celebrity chef! More than anything though, by connecting learning to their daily activities and passions, you increase their likelihood for sustained growth.

Some gifted children are more different than others, while some are more adaptable and better adjusted. In psychology class, you may have learned about the Bell Curve. It shows that average IQ ranges from about 90 to 109. Gifted IQ is significantly above that range. State guidelines vary, but 130 is a good number to consider giftedness. Above 140 is considered highly gifted. The further your child goes up the scale on the Bell Curve, the more unusual the social skills and advanced academics may be. Famously, Albert Einstein didn’t speak until the age of four, and as an adult would go on to forget his home address on occasion. No matter the IQ, the conscious brain only has so much room for thought, and those were some of the things that ended up on the cutting room floor for ol’ Al.

Gifted children can be gifted in all academic areas, but don’t be surprised if your child is not. Each child usually has a leaning toward math/science or reading/writing. They either prefer to think mathematically about the world or think through words and symbols: left-brained versus right-brained. I’ve encountered gifted children exceptional in a combination of reading, writing, and math. Some begin receiving service in one or two areas, but through working on challenging curriculum, they are able to develop exceptionalities in other areas. Students can develop their science and social studies via STEM activities. I have expanded that system from STEM to STREAMS: science, technology, engineering design, arts, math, and science, integrating all areas.
 
Your child, when tested, may earn points in creativity, but maybe not. I work with gifted and highly gifted children who don’t always receive high marks in creativity. The tests we use involve a draw-start type performance or movement for younger children. All children don’t show creativity in that way. My mathematicians may show creativity through mathematical thinking vs. pencil/paper or movement. My language arts children often show creativity through pencil paper or movement. They think through drawing or words, theater, or movement. It seems easier for them to show creativity through our traditional approaches to testing. If your child is an avid dancer or gymnast, the creativity may show in a more physical-kinesthetic way. 
Family dynamics definitely keep things interesting if you have a gifted child who is psychologically older than a sibling but chronologically younger. This may cause frustration, bitterness, and friction. If you have a special needs child, then you have another level of challenge. Remember, fair doesn’t mean always receiving the same thing; fair means getting what each individual needs. 
 
A question I often get asked is if one sibling at school is tested for gifted, and doesn’t qualify, should you have your other child or children tested. Of course, provide each child what he or she needs. That said, while you may need to deal with hurt feelings at home, you don’t want to deny a child getting the services they need. Fair is each child getting what each child needs, and ensuring that everyone is receiving an proportional level of individualized challenge.

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