Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Indebtedness

My spell check doesn't recognize "giftedness".  It wants to change it to "indebtedness" every time.

I've thought about changing the dictionary through my computer and internet, but I never do.

I think because I appreciate the reminder...

in·debt·ed·ness
Function: noun
1 : the condition of being indebted 
       (being in debt : owing something (as money or gratitude) )
2 : something that is owed

My giftedness is a gift to me, and to everyone I come into contact with throughout my life.  Not everyone gets "the gift of giftedness" (bring on the cheesy word associations).

My parents used to frequently decry "Oh but your potential" back when I was an angsty teenager before scores of experts told us that wasn't good for children.  At the time, they were probably right because it made me even more rebellious and defiant.

But now?

As an adult?

It stuck with me and it stay with me.

"Oh the potential!"

What a burden.

What a privilege...

You can't make someone gifted.  We are born with nontypical neurological functioning.  It is who we are at our very core, basic level.

But what we do with it?

Entirely up to each one of us,

We owe it to the world and to our Creator to do something with this precious gift that was given to a very precious few.  What gratitude we should each feel.  What awe and wonder and anticipation as we each travel life's road looking for how we can use it to literally change the world.

Our potential?

Limitless.

Indebtedness?

Absolutely...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why "Giftedness" Matters



You know that expression, "If anything matters then everything matters?"  That's how I feel about this topic.

If anything matters, giftedness matters.

Quick Time Out: 
Yes, we hate the name.  Of course "giftedness" sounds exclusive like a club everyone wants in.  We parents of gifted kiddoes did not pick it and would change it to something that makes more sense if we could. But it is what it is and we are all stuck with it for better or worse.   Let's move on...

Regardless of what you call it, giftedness matters.

Why?

Because it's real.

Gifted children really exist.

They really do think differently, act differently- are different.

And if you're different it is hard to find a place where you fit in.

"Gifted" is who we are and it defines us.  It makes us okay.  It gives us a safe place to land and a commonality with others that we cannot find anywhere else.

"Gifted" is our asylum in a world that we sometimes feel as though we are war against.

If you take away the word, none of these facts change.  We do not cease to be.

If you give us another name, who we are fundamentally does not change.

But when you give us a name, you validate our existence.

What expectant parents can't relate?  I remember each of my pregnancies, deliberating the name of my children.  When I was expecting my second daughter, we had originally thought we would name her something and call her by a nickname.  About six weeks before she was born, I knew.  Deep inside me with a mother's intuition I knew the nickname didn't fit but the name did.  To this day, I cringe if someone calls her by the nickname because it is not who she is.

Isn't that how it is with giftedness?  Deep inside our core, we know that something doesn't fit.  And then we find out about our giftedness and suddenly our soul sighs.  We have found a quiet place where we belong and can truly be ourselves.

I'm participating today in the GHF Blog Hop.  Please visit the other posters as well to hear more great dialog on this topic.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

When You're Bored

I saw this post on Pinterest recently and thought it was great.


This presumes you have some infrastructure already in place, but that already works for our family.  I like that there are a host of options for a child to choose from, as well as the sense of independence that is assumed.  We are all about independence in our house!

I can look at this and know right away what my sensitive, free-spirited daughter would choose ("B" or "D") as well as my naturalistic, hard-working son ( "O" or "E").

There is a free printable of this graphic that you can download from the link above.

Do you have a built-in system for dealing with boredom in your home?  What activities would your child like if given the choice?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Introducing Depth and Complexity

You may already know this, but gifted children love to be treated like the intellectual beings that they are.

When I was teaching, one tool that I found that helped encourage intelligent thinking were the Icons of Depth and Complexity.  If you are unfamiliar, the Icons of Depth and Complexity are simple visual and verbal cues to help to think more deeply about virtually everything.

Here's a quick graphic to help.



If you struggle with asking your child questions, incorporating the Icons of Depth and Complexity can help you.  Ask your child is interested and engaged, you can draw them out by asking questions such as:

"I here you saying 'plusing'.  What is the language of the discipline?  I think addition is the correct term."

"That is a pretty flower you see.  What are some details that you notice?  Can you describe them for me?"

"That child took your toy?  Let's talk about the ethics of what happened to you.  What was going on morally?"

"That was a good book!  Do you have any unanswered questions based on what we read?  I wonder what happens next..."

"I understand that Tommy wants to play checkers and you want to play soccer.  That's really frustrating.  Let's try and look at this from another perspective."


The more you incorporate the Icons of Depth and Complexity into your everyday language, the more you will see your child doing so as well.  This can be done from a very young age.  I don't think anyone really needs to teach a toddler to respond with wonder and awe.

If you are a homeschooling parent, consider purchasing the Icons of Depth and Complexity magnets for your refrigerator or posters for your homeschool room* as a visual reminder to incorporate higher level thinking.  One nice facet of the Icons is that they can develop a common language used across the disciplines.  As you teach your child science, math, and literature you are able to use the same icons to help draw out each subject.

You can also download the Icons from the J Taylor Education website free of charge in color or black and white for your own purposes.

The purpose here is not to give your child a vocabulary to impress your friends and peers.  While it may seem that way, what's really happening is giving your child the terminology to engage more fully in his experiences and to allow you both to explore them in a greater depth and complexity.  

*This is a free product recommendation.  I am not being compensated in any way for recommending a product that I believe helps children learn.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts

Occasionally my husband and I like a little "brain candy" in the evening and we will watch a popular television show on Amazon prime or Netflix.

(Stick with me, the point is coming I promise.)

When my son had "colic" as a baby (which was actual the start of sensual OE) we got caught up in Friday Night Lights, a show about a high school football team.

The catch phrase of the show was "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts."

After watching several seasons, the phrase sort of stuck even after the show was over.

Recently, we set a goal for our children of looking people in the eyes.  While my young children have never see the show, I have taught them the phrase "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts".

For us, it means looking someone in the eyes so you can really see them.  

Gifted children often have trouble looking people in the eyes and concentrating on what they are saying.  I saw a noticeable difference when we instituted this catch phrase and talked about it frequently.

At first, people were disconcerted when we looked at the and actually saw them.  Now, we're used to seeing surprise first and then excitement that someone is genuinely interested in them!  Instead of having casual, meaningless encounters with people, we have made "short-term friends".  

We met a young man who wears a parachute cord bracelet because he is nervous because his brother is serving overseas.  

We met an actual member of the Cherokee nation who shared her jewelry, explained the symbols and introduced my children to the idea of powwows.

We met a retired college math professor who taught us some quick tricks for mental math.

Even though it was just a monthly goal, my children now do it by route.  They look people in the eye and ask their name, which often leads us to surprising and wonderful encounters just from a silly catchphrase...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Acceleration: A Viable Option

As parents, we are all looking at the best fit for our children.  One commonly debated form of education for gifted children is acceleration.  I wanted to share a graphic from a comprehensive fifty year study done on acceleration by leaders in the field of gifted education.



The University of Iowa shares this summary of the study:

***


A Nation Deceived

Executive Summary

A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students
Nicholas Colangelo, Susan G. Assouline, Miraca U. M. Gross

America's schools routinely avoid academic acceleration, the easiest and most effective way to help highly capable students. While the popular perception is that a child who skips a grade will be socially stunted, fifty years of research shows that moving bright students ahead often makes them happy.
Acceleration means moving through the traditional curriculum at rates faster than typical. The 18 forms of acceleration include grade-skipping, early-entrance to school, and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. It is appropriate educational planning. It means matching the level and complexity of the curriculum with the readiness and motivation of the student.
Students who are moved ahead tend to be more ambitious, and they earn graduate degrees at higher rates than other students. Interviewed years later, an overwhelming majority of accelerated students say that acceleration was an excellent experience for them. Accelerated students feel academically challenged and socially accepted, and they do not fall prey to the boredom that plagues many highly capable students who are forced to follow the curriculum for their age-peers.
For the first time, this compelling research is available to the public in a bold new initiative to get these findings into the hands of parents, teachers, and principals. The report is available at no cost to schools, the media, and parents requesting copies.
You'll find information about entering school early, skipping grades in elementary school, the Advanced Placement program, and starting college ahead of time. You'll read the comments of accelerated students, Deans of Colleges of Education, a school superintendent, and a school board member. Every sentence in this volume is culled from the research of America's leading education experts. If you'd like more research information, see Volume II of this report.
With all this research evidence, why haven't schools, parents, and teachers accepted the idea of acceleration? A Nation Deceived presents these reasons for why schools hold back America's brightest kids:
  • Limited familiarity with the research on acceleration
  • Philosophy that children must be kept with their age group
  • Belief that acceleration hurries children out of childhood
  • Fear that acceleration hurts children socially
  • Political concerns about equity
  • Worry that other students will be offended if one child is accelerated.
This report shows that these reasons are simply not supported by research. By distributing thousands of copies and launching a public-awareness campaign, the Nation Deceived report provides teachers and parents the knowledge, support, and confidence to consider acceleration.
The cost of the report, both online and print, has been covered by the John Templeton Foundation. A Nation Deceived hopes to change the conversation about educating bright children in America. This website has been established to encourage dialogue across the nation.
***

You can also download both volumes of the study to read in more detail.

Monday, September 8, 2014

How do we Speak to Gifted Kids?

I just finished both a book study and a training that focus on this topic.  It has really challenged me to think about how I talk to children in general and gifted kids specifically.  It is not that the information is new to me, just that I needed to be reminded again. . .

When I was teaching first grade, one of my students was invited to visit the principal as a reward.  Returning to the classroom, he discussed his conversation with her, finishing with, "And then I told her 'I know what sarcasm is...'"

I think about that often.  Gifted children tend to prefer the company of adults but this is not a hard and fast rule.

Gifted children tend to prefer the company of adults who are intellectual peers.

They do not prefer the company of adults who are condescending or belittling.  Really, who does?

I am constantly amazed at the ways adults infringe upon children.  People tickle my daughter's toes.  They get in my son's face.  They crowd children's personal space.   My son is introverted as well as gifted which only adds insult to injury when they refuse to respect his boundaries or laugh at his declarations.

The one that gets me most is the way that they talk to them when they are trying to engage them in conversation.  I gag when I hear people "dumb down" their conversation.  I roll my eyes when they change their tone of voice and go babyish to make meaningless observations to children.  I just have to sigh when they make up ridiculous and pedantic explanations instead of answering their questions matter-of-factly.  I think the most frustrating is when adults mock children subtly, thinking the child doesn't understand.

(And don't get me started on people who tell stories about their children when they are standing.right.there.  Seriously, what if you were standing next to me and I proceeded to tell someone else a story about you as if you weren't even there?!)

It's good for all children, but it's necessary for gifted children.  You cannot gain their respect without effective communication.

People frequently comment on my children's "adult vocabularies" and laugh at the way that they use sophisticated vocabulary.  It's really not that complicated.  When we talk to them, we talk to them as people.  People capable of rational thinking and comprehensive answers.  While they may not take it all in, I am always pleasantly surprised at what how they do in addition to the ways they incorporate that knowledge into play and learning.

We talk to our children as if they were our friends. People with whom we enjoy conversing.  While they are children and may have childish conversation at times, more often than not deeper thoughts are at the heart.  They may not always articulate those thoughts as clearly as an adult would.  However they are learning the art of communication.

At the same time, we are also able to maintain our position as their parents by having boundaries on topics, of course.  Talking to them as people is not the same concept as treating them as adults.

It is our privilege to be their guide, teaching them what meaningful dialog looks like as we go.  Instilling a respect for other people's opinions regardless of age.  Modeling active listening as well as related responses.  Teaching them to play the devil's advocate and to respect different view points.

When we talk to our children as if they are people, they become people with whom we delight to hold conversation.