I've been reading Judith Halstead's "Some of my best friends are books" looking for guidance for my 5 yr old highly gifted daughter, especially with reading. She suggests gifted children need to understand their giftedness so they realise why they feel or work differently to their peers. We have always avoided using the 'g' word but now she has started school and is experiencing some difficulties with socialising and feeling that she is learning nothing I feel now may be the time to talk to her about it. Any advice from others who have helped their child 'identify with themselves' would be great.
Today we my son was talking with me about the age you have to be to go to high school and one way and another I ended up saying he was a bright cookie, to which he reponded, "Am I, am I a bright cookie? I didn't know that until you said that just now". No wonder when we saw what he's doing in class, he must feel like he's dumb, because they treat him like he doesn't know anything at all! Sigh. I think it is good to talk about it, although it can be difficult. Then they can start to see why there are so many discrepancies in their world between what is and what they need. Which can offer the opportunity to build their self esteem instead of having it crushed as seems to be so often the way especially at school.
We made the decision to tell our son when he was 8. He was having a lot of behavioural problems and was deeply unhappy at school. He'd got a pretty good idea when he went through 7 hours of testing over 2 days anyway!
We used a car analogy to describe the bell curve. We explained that most brains are like Toyotas - they're reliable, reasonably economical on fuel and get the job done. We described our son's brain to him as a Maserati - capable of going at phenomenal speeds, needing lots of fuel and liable to need lots of rest and repair. But.... it would only work if he put the key in and drove!
We explained to him that most people have things that they are good at, and that although he had a brain that could go fast and absorb lots of information, it didn't make him better than anyone else - just different. He got that, describing a friend who could run really fast and always won any races at school. He asked if that was his friend's gift.
It really helped him knowing that his brainpower was the reason why the other kids didn't like his complex, rule laden games and why he got so fed up in class when he'd 'got' it and was ready to move on and the rest of the class was still working.
It was helpful to read your comment. We have not told our almost 8 yr old yet. He just thinks his test was a wonderful holiday programme that he would love to repeat (a damn expensive 1.5 hour holiday programme as my husband reminds me). I am starting to think this could be quite helpful as just recently his behaviour has become a lot more challenging and socially he is having trouble fitting in with his peers. Did you find your son was able to get on better with his peers, it does sound so?
Not really. Unfortunately social adeptness is not in our son's makeup. He either tries too hard and goes too far, or he can't be bothered acknowledging other kids. He's been described by his pediatrician as 'on the autistic spectrum', but doesn't have a diagnosis like Aspergers. I think they just say that about all the gifted kids who are a bit different!
The main benefit for telling him was in his self awareness and self knowledge. He now had a reason why he preferred, and sought out the company of adults rather than children. There was a good reason as to why the other kids didn't like his games etc
He has made some friends now that he is accelerated though, but they were made when he was in Y6, and unfortunately they aren't in his house at school. He also has another friend completely outside of school - who is in fact home-schooled, and that friendship has endured nearly 4 years now with lots of playdates and sleepovers.
I told my son early on when he came home from school very self deprecating because of his differences, and because though he knew the maths answers without overt working and couldn't articulate it to the teacher though his answers were always right, he kept failing as he couldn't tell her how he got them, just 'knowing' wasn't accepted, therefore he believed he was dumb and stupid.
My son also knows that he is colourblind, why is it I wonder that we are happy to inform our children of their 'deficitis' so they understand why they struggle with some things, but when it comes to telling them of their strengths we feel so uncomfortable?
My son takes it all in his stride, he likes to be different and accepts that this means he will have issues fitting in at times, but he also knows he has great strengths, and this can help offset some of the rougher stuff.
I remember being at a talk by Lynn Beresford and what I remember her saying with regard to telling a child they are gifted was...'but they already know'.
With the depth of self awareness that these children (and ourselves) have, having a cognitive reason to understand why they are different to others can be really useful, so they don't come to erroneous conclusions. A frame of reference to interpret the world.
I have just found out that my 6yr girl is gifted and although we knew she was advanced, the testing has confirmed this. however i am in mindfield of how to tell her and support. i suspect she knows and has been hiding it in class, which the test also pulled out. my challenge is to reinforce to her it's ok to be you, i have told her that she has a smart brain and different people are good at different things, she dosn't want to go to one day school, she dosn't want to stand out, and this is so very sad for me to see her hiding the wonderful girl she is
We've been through this as well. You seem to have a good understanding of what she needs; good luck with it.
Is she able to do any activities where she can 'be herself' without having to hide, where it's okay to shine? She needs an environment that is *not* anti tall-poppy etc. How does the teacher handle the different abilities of the children? It's so important for all kids, and particularly one who feels she has to 'hide' who she is, to learn acceptance of the different abilities etc. Personally, we've told our kids about their giftedness. They know they're different from many peers and it helps with their understanding of how they relate to others and the world. They also know of the similarities with their peers.
If you've just found out about giftedness and haven't already done so, have a browse through this forum. There are many old threads on similar issues, with all having different opinions and experiences. Take from them what you think fits you and your family. Also check out www.hoagiesgifted.org