New Zealand Association for Gifted Children

How to start a support group for gifted children and their families

Most branches start as support groups. This sounds a lot less imposing and overwhelming than a branch, which has much more formal connotations and is enough to put people off who want support, but do not think they are in a position to start a branch.

One of the most important aspects of a branch is the contact with like-minded people, which is the basis of any support group. Not only do children need to mix with other like-minded children but the parents need to know other parents who are going through, or have been through, the trials and tribulations of parents of gifted children.

Gifted children give their parents many moments of joy, happiness and pride but they can also cause headaches.

Some children need nothing extra and their parents are not looking for help, but those who are, are very relieved when they find that other parents are going through the same difficulties that they are. In these cases, parents are often forced to look for answers.  This is where support groups are invaluable.

If there is no support group in your area you may feel strongly enough to set up your own.  How you go about it can depend a little on the community that you live in.  Smaller communities often have networks in place that make communication with the members in the community easier.  In larger communities other forms of communication are required.

What can you do?

  1. Once you have decided that a support group is what you would like to have, decide what you would like to get out of it.  If you have already spoken to other parents, discuss with them what they would like.  It is important to have some idea of the direction that you would like to go, even if this is not the eventual direction the branch will take.
  2. Call a meeting with interested people.  This may be parents only, teachers and parents/whānau or for whole families.
  3. If you have adults only, an evening is better but if you have whānau then have it in the daytime on a weekend. Have someone to be with the children to do low-key activities such as kite making, story telling, board games etc. This way you can talk without interruption.  However, you can also include the children in the discussion about what they would like. This is obviously dependent on the age group you attract. 

What form should you group have?

  • Small groups would have an informal basis. Arrange to meet monthly, perhaps at someone's place or a supportive school.
  • The meetings can be a chance for the children to mix and for the parents to get support from others and find that they are not the only one with a particular problem.
  • Dependent on the number and the ages of the children, some activities can be organised. This may be a speaker or a workshop or maybe ask everyone to bring along a game and these can be shared. There are many people in every community who have skills and resources to share.
  • Social activities are also a good glue for the group, especially for older children.  They feel very comfortable with other children with similar abilities.
  • Recommend that all people in the group join the National Association of NZAGC.  This gives them access to member benefits.
  • Once you have enough members, you can look at forming a NZAGC Branch.
  • As a support group, you should only have user pays fees. For example: payment for speakers; equipment hire; room hire etc.  
  • You may need to charge administrative fees depending on what support you are offering. Or you could look at getting a local firm to sponsor you.
  • We usually find that if a small fee is charged then more people attend than if it is free of charge.

Suggestions on how to make contacts and build a network 

  • Speak to the Learning Support Coordinators/Gifted Coordinators/SENCOs at your local schools. They should be able to put you in touch with local gifted families.
  • Hold an initial public event with a speaker.  NZAGC's National Council can help you with some suggestions.
  • Put up a notice on the gifted Facebook pages and in local networks, for example school newsletters and at the local library.

We hope that some of these ideas can help start a group that can provide you and your community with what you need. Contact with just one other family is the first step in forming a support group.

Members of NZAGC can access more information on running branches on the Member's Area.


Contact us

Membership queries

Mel Wong

membership@giftedchildren.org.nz

General enquiries

Brooke Trenwith

president@giftedchildren.org.nz

Tall Poppies & Letters to the Editor

Alanagh Stone

tallpoppies@giftedchildren.org.nz

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software