Resources for Parents of Gifted Children
by Carolyn K.
(Editor’s Note: This piece by SENG Director Carolyn K. is part of the 2012 National Parenting Gifted Week Blog Tour. Be sure to check out the full schedule of blogs and follow along!)
Whether you’re brand new to giftedness, or you’ve been around the block for a few years or a few decades, there are many great resources to help with whatever you’re facing right now.
There are tons of free online resources but the best starting point for new and experienced parents is James Webb, Janet Gore, Edward Amend and Arlene DeVries’ book, A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children. The first thing you’ll notice is that all the authors are past SENG board members and pioneers in the gifted community. But more important is the content of the book. Starting with terms and definitions, characteristics and identification, and OverExcitabilities (OEs), this book covers everything gifted parents need to know. Social-emotional issues, grandparenting, siblings, twice exceptional children? It’s in there. And A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children is not just for beginners. I’ve reread this book several times since its publication in 2007, and I learn something new every time.
Once you’ve got the basics covered, the question becomes What do I need to know next? That’s where Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page comes in. (Disclaimer: Carolyn K. is also the director of Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page.) If you want to learn more about every aspect of parenting gifted kids, heed this warning: Hoagies’ Page is the world’s largest online resource for giftedness. Feed the kids, walk the dog, and make sure you have nothing urgent coming up… you can get lost for hours! Here are just a few highlights.
Find a group of gifted parents facing the same issues and pressures that you are, or find a place where you can brag without worrying about the responses of others. Gifted Community is an invaluable resource for you and for your kids. For mailing list communities, subscribe to TAGFAM or GT-Families. TAGFAM offers lists for parents of gifted kids (TAGFAM), parents homeschooling gifted kids (TAGMAX), and parents of those “more than just plain gifted” kids (TAGPDQ). GT-Families also offers a list for parents of gifted kids (GT-Families), and adds a list for parents of twice exceptional kids (GT-Special), that is, kids who are both gifted and something else (Learning Disabled, AD/HD, Aspergers, etc.). On all of these communities, you will parents to share with and learn from.
For Facebook community in addition to SENG and Hoagies’ Page, check out Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF). GHF includes support lists in the California Bay Area, plus national resources including articles, resources, and even online classes for gifted homeschooling students. Institute for Educational Advancement and NAGC offer more resources and information for gifted parents. Click on the Facebook pages that these groups link to, to find lots more great Facebook communities for gifted families!
There are also Twitter gifted communities, and interactive Tweet-chats on gifted education each week. If you Tweet, visit these gifted Tweeters: @ByrdseedGifted, @Cybraryman1, @Frazzlld and @BegaBungs, among many others. Check in on Fridays for the Tweet chat #gtchat, now sponsored by Texas Association for Gifted & Talented (TAGT). There’s a new topic every Friday (6:00 p.m. CDT), with a topic selected through a weekly poll posted by @TXGifted.
Articles and Research
For articles and research, favorites are SENG and the Davidson Gifted Database (DITD). At SENG, find resources focused on social-emotional side of giftedness. Visit SENG’s Complexities of Successful Parenting page to learn about parenting from experts and parents of underachieving gifted kids, gifted teens, culturally diverse gifted kids, Spanish-speaking gifted kids, and much more! In Peer Relations, DITD offers articles by Miraca Gross, Deirdre Lovecky, and by gifted kids themselves, among others. DITD’s Recommended Readings on Friendship offers many great readings for parents.
Social and Emotional Reading
For social-emotional conversations, “Competing with myths about the social and emotional development of gifted students” by Tracy Cross is a great place to start. When school acceleration is mentioned, social-emotional concerns often go into high gear. “From ‘the saddest sound’ to the D Major chord: The gift of accelerated progression,” by Miraca Gross offers perspective into the realities of the effects of acceleration. If you have a membership to NAGC, you may read this great research for free,”The Socioaffective Impact of Acceleration and Ability Grouping: Recommendations for Best Practice,” by Maureen Niehart. You can find tidbits of Neihart’s sage advice in “Cause for Concern, or Reason to Celebrate: Maureen Neihart Discusses her Research on the Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children“: “Many parents do not want their children to experience any distress. Parents often intervene too early when they sense that their child is experiencing difficulty, instead of letting their child persevere through the challenge. Parents need to learn to support through the challenge instead of removing it.”
Looking to grow smart, happy, well-adjusted gifted kids and adults? You’ll find many answers here. No matter what you read, remember Terrance Tao’s wise advice in “Advice on gifted education“: “Education is a complex, multifaceted, and painstaking process, and being gifted does not make this less so. I would caution against any single ‘silver bullet’ to educating a gifted child…” Arlene DeVries offers concrete suggestions in “Appropriate Expectations for the Gifted Child.” A great resource for parents is the SENG Model Parent Group (SMPG), a gathering of local parents to discuss parenting issues and positive solutions, helping each other along the way.
Wondering why your child’s scores vary from school achievement tests to out-of-level (Talent Search) testing, or from group ability tests to individual IQ tests? Need to know how to prepare your child for testing? Want to learn more about levels of giftedness? The book Parent’s Guide to IQ Testing and Gifted Education offers the details all gifted parents need to know. Heading into testing for the first time? Aimee Yermish’s “How Can I Prepare My Child for Testing?” offers great answers. “Use of the WISC-IV for Gifted Identification” defines the NAGC position on gifted identification, including the use of the GAI score in addition to the full scale score, an oft misunderstood detail. My essay “Why do my child’s test scores vary from test to test?” explains the phenomenon when gifted kids’ scores go up or down depending on the test, whether individual or group tests, achievement or ability tests.
Fun, Games, and Books
When it’s time for fun, find a list of Movies Featuring Gifted Kids (and Adults!). More than just being called “nerd” or “geek,” being a gifted kids is a good thing! These movies and documentaries follow gifted kids through the challenges of being themselves and finding happiness.
Gifted kids love to play games. Mensa Mind Games selects the top new games each year during a weekend event. Check the Mensa Mind Games Winners for the best games of all times according to the Mensa judges. Each year, NAGC’s Parenting for High Potential (PHP) journal offers their picks for the best games for gifted children. Visit Games, Toys and Gifted Children to view past year’s lists. Hoagies’ Smart Toys offers fascinating games from small companies, games that our kids don’t outgrow in a day or a week.
Whether your kids are early, avid, non-fiction, or reluctant readers, there’s a reading list for you. And books are a great way to talk about social-emotional and other sensitive topics with gifted kids, through bibliotherapy. Judith Wynn Halsted’s Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Preschool to High School includes not only great reading lists, but details on how to use books in bibliotherapy and topics that occur in each of the books. Guiding Gifted Readers is a great resource for parents and teachers! College Board offers us 101 Books for College Bound Readers. For younger kids, start with “Best-Loved Books: A Unique Reading List for Gifted Students in Grades 6-12.” The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) offers lists of Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books. For a different kind of reading list, visit Hoagies’ Hot Topics, where reading lists are organized by topic first, then by reading and social/emotional levels with the youngest selections at the top. There’s plenty of reading for all kinds of gifted kids!
The most important thing to remember when parenting gifted children is… You are not alone!
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Carolyn K. is the founder and director of Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and Hoagies’ Kids and Teens Page. She is a software engineer by training and trade, with bachelors and masters degrees in software engineering. She developed an interest in gifted education a few years after the birth of her first child, when she noticed how different her daughter was, and how the ‘normal’ path through education didn’t seem to fit her. Since 1998, she has written for gifted newsletters and journals around the world, including Our Gifted Children, Gifted Education Communicator, Hollingworth’s journal Highly Gifted Children, SENG‘s newsletter, and a variety of state and local gifted newsletters. She frequently speaks at conferences including National Association of Gifted Children, Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, Nebraska Association for the Gifted, New Jersey Association of Gifted Children, Washington Association for the Education of Talented and Gifted, Kentucky Association for Gifted Education, Beyond IQ, National Association of Gifted Children in Malaysia, and others.