Parenting a gifted child is a challenge. Regardless of the age of your child, they present challenges that other parents do not understand, and challenges we could not have ever dreamed up. Lest you think I’m being critical, that is not the case. A challenge is not always problematic. Sometimes a challenge makes our true self emerge, and we rise to the occasion, becoming a better person. That is the challenge to which I refer.
Most parents will admit there are many challenges in parenting, and many they could not have predicted or prepared for. Gifted children add a whole other layer of complexity to the mix. Endless questions; the desire to take everything apart to see how things work; enormous roadways, marble or block mazes; artwork on every wall; Lego communities in every room; are commonplace in homes where gifted children thrive. How does a parent explain to a neighbor or visiting family member that it is okay to walk around the things on the floor because that is the latest project being created? Most do not understand, but other parents of gifted children understand. We have a similar experience, and we all have our own story.
When I talk with gifted youth they all have a story to tell, and for most, their story and memories about school are not pleasant. They have a lot to say about what needs to change in order to support gifted students in school. If adults truly listen to these youth they will find concrete answers to many problems schools face. Some of these suggestions we’ve heard before: provide challenging coursework, let gifted children work together with each other, don’t make the gifted student tutor the rest of the class or serve as a teacher assistant. There are other suggestions that may not be so popular: look at all students not only the straight A students because many are not; watch what other students say and do because many gifted children deal with ridicule, or bullying outside of class; AP courses do not satisfy the quest for deep understanding a gifted student craves.
Share your story. Encourage your gifted student to share their story. It is by supporting each other that we feel accepted and learn that we are not alone; there are others who have walked this path before and can help us and our children navigate the pathway.
Ask the Doctor