At the end of December I received an email from Ian Byrd at Byrdseed.com. Do you know about Byrdseed.com? Ian Byrd, a gifted person, spoke at the WATG fall conference a few years ago. He has a website; an e-newsletter; resources; a subscription video site called Byrdseed.tv that offers lessons, videos, professional development; and more. Byrd has a unique approach to teaching and learning for gifted students since he himself is gifted. Because of that, I have followed his website for years.
In the December email, Byrd mentions a reflecting and planning method, Four List, that he uses quarterly. I do not propose using it that often, unless you wish to, but at the start of a new year, it may be a worthwhile endeavor to help you reflect and plan at least for the next few months. The Four List method utilizes four blank boxes on a page. Each box has a title: things that you want to continue to do, continue to not do, stop doing completely, and start doing. Byrd gives examples for teachers, and from his professional life. If you view the video and read the article on the website, he explains a little more about the Four List method.
Gifted students and their parents/caregivers may want to use this method, too. Sometimes students who are gifted have so many interests that they appear to go in many different directions. Others focus extensively on one or two areas. This Four List method may give all of these students an opportunity to reflect on how they spend their time, energy, and effort, and plan for their future endeavors. Parents/caregivers also may want to use the Four List method to help consider prioritizing activities in their busy family, professional, and personal lives. This may help parents feel empowered to say no to adding more activities to an already full schedule.
While some may view the Four List approach as focusing on the negative (not do, stop), rather than the positive (do, start), Byrd makes a good point about being deliberate and selective about what you do that takes your energy, time, and effort.
Only you can determine what is important in your life and what should be a priority for your energy, time, and effort. Perhaps using the Four List method by Ian Byrd is something to consider for students and adults to help make decisions as we seek to manage life in the new year, or any time.
Reflecting and Planning with Four Lists
By: Ian Byrd, www.byrdseed.com
Video, article, and download.
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
The holiday season is here again with holiday music heard only this time of year. Recently, some parents of gifted students were asking about music and its influence on their children who are gifted. For some of the students, their area of giftedness is in music. For the others, their areas of giftedness varied, but they all experienced asynchronous development. Because of this, their students each had stressors that impacted their life. The parents described students with sleeplessness, times of great activity with little down time, and emotional intensity. The parents asked about whether music could help their students relieve some stress and calm their ever-moving mind. Hence, the discussion about music and its influence on people commenced. The parents’ discussion helped support each other; this, in turn, helped their students.
There is a lot of research across decades showing the benefits of music to calm oneself, and to aid in academic learning, among other benefits. For some students who are gifted, music helps them study, learn, and work on their projects and interests. Students whose gifted area is music also benefit from the calming effects of music, apart from their specific musical abilities. A study in 2020 supports what gifted students say about how music helps them relax, focus, release stress, and express themselves (Jais & Farhana, 2020). For example, a student gifted in playing an instrument or singing, can spend hours per day or week practicing to become a better musician and to learn new musical compositions preparing for a performance, even if it is just a student recital. Apart from practicing, listening to music of their choice helps these students find benefits from music to calm themselves, among other things.
Some gifted students listen to music, others write music, others create music in traditional and/or non-traditional ways. One thing the parents shared is that some of them found it effective to stop insisting their students study and do schoolwork in ways that the parents did (e.g., working in silence). Most found that their gifted students thrived when simultaneously listening to music and studying and/or doing schoolwork. Often, their student’s selection of music was not what the parents would choose, but it was effective in calming the student and providing a means for them to accomplish their work and their own personal projects. Some of the parents found that allowing their students to select their own playlist, and listen when they needed to, enhanced the abilities of their students to interact with others and accomplish tasks. Others found that their students escaped by writing their own music, or playing music on whatever device worked for them. This flexibility by the parent was the key for the student who is gifted.
Below are a few music resources.
Supporting Musically Talented Children: Challenging Social and Emotional Roadblocks to Success, SENG, 2/11/21
The Significance of Music to Gifted Students
Md Jais, Ismail, & Azu Farhana
Quantum Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities 9(4), pages 43-44
Arts Integration, The Kennedy Center
Studying to Music Can Put Your Brain in the Right Frame of Mind
9/17/18, Vaughn College
3 Things I Learned from My Most Gifted Students
Alfred Music, 8/24/21
Websites for Kids
Music Teachers National Association
3 Ways to Use Music in the Classroom, Edutopia, 12/3/19
How to Engage Students Using Music Education
6/14/21, Teachers College, Columbia University
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
Have you or your gifted child ever participated in a virtual tour of a museum? There are many resources available to bring faraway places right into your home, child’s classroom, or as the first link says, “tour from the comfort of your own sofa”. It is quite astounding to think that we have the capability to view fine works of art, great architecture, historical artifacts and scenes, or visit other types of museums from around the world virtually. The world really is a small place when considering this perspective. Below are websites your family, gifted student(s), or any child or adult may wish to explore. Allow gifted students to delve deeply into favorite places or topics, and be open to where their curiosity and keen interest may take them. Their interest may even take them to places locally, in the state, or elsewhere to explore a similar topic closer to home or far away. It could even lead to a family vacation! A virtual museum tour may inspire some gifted students to pursue topics that are new to them, which helps broaden their minds and experience, and builds neural connections in their brains.
With colder weather and winter coming, virtual museum tours may be just the thing to keep advanced minds active. Match an activity with a virtual tour and you have a high level of active learning for the student. For example, if you visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and viewed Claude Monet’s Snow Scene at Argenteuil at the National Gallery, London, you could have the gifted student investigate Argenteuil to inform others about it, or to write a poem about the scene and what might be happening next. https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/snow-scene-at-argenteuil-claude-monet/6gG1NjNrhREvdQ?hl=en
Gather your gifted child and family, an Internet device, and some snacks; get comfortable on your sofa and enjoy some time on your virtual museum tour. Happy exploring!
Good News Network Virtual Museum Tours
Be sure to explore the link on the website above for “Text Me Any Masterpiece” where you text a topic, and the museum displays matching artwork.
Dr. Wanda Routier
Past WATG Board Member
Autumn is here with cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, and fall festivals. Even though the COVID virus is still here, and we are still dealing with a global pandemic, most school districts are back in session with face-to-face classes; this is another transition in a series of transitions during the pandemic.
Students who are gifted may sometimes have difficulty making transitions, especially in a short amount of time. The transition from various school situations during the pandemic to face-to-face school this fall may have impacted students who are gifted in ways that are difficult to see, or that manifest themselves in other ways. Students may appear overly sensitive, may have heightened anxiety and worry about illness and concern for others, may have an overabundance of energy, may have heightened awareness of their senses, may dwell on the worst thing that may happen, or hyperfocus their thoughts on a particular topic or topics. Many adults may think these are negative responses, and may indicate mental health difficulties; this may be true for some students, but they may also be a normal response by students who are gifted, and who demonstrate what Polish psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski called overexcitabilities. Dabrowski’s work centers on his Theory of Positive Disintegration.
Overexcitabilities are considered to be inborn, and are an intensified response to stimuli. Students with overexcitabilities are often intense, excited, and sensitive. Dabrowski presented five types of overexcitabilities that may be found in some students who are gifted. They include psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual, and emotional overexcitabilities.
There is research that supports the existence of overexcitabilities, and it can help adults meet the needs of students who are gifted, instead of misdiagnosing a disability such as ADHD when the student appears to be unable to be still. While many view overexcitabilities as negative, many with experience in overexcitabilities view them as high levels of strength or depth in the five areas.
Parents and teachers may observe certain behaviors indicative of overexcitability in their students. These could include hypersensitivity to clothing labels or certain fabrics, an incessant need to move or fidget, an inability to slow down or relax, a tendency to hyper-focus (sometimes viewed as fixating) on a particular topic of interest, or intense worry about crises in their community or around the world. These are only a few possible typical responses of students who are gifted with overexcitabilities that parents and teachers may observe.
The important thing to remember is that students who are gifted often display behaviors that adults misinterpret, including parents and teachers. It is recommended that adults investigate overexcitabilities to learn about them, and to view their students through this lens. Additionally, seeking expertise by someone trained in overexcitabilities is essential to help with students who strongly display these characteristics in order to rule out other possible conditions or causes. The website below for Dr. Linda Silverman is a good place to start.
Overexcitabilities can be complex in students, and not all students who are gifted display them. However, educating yourself on this topic may provide information to help you advocate for your student.
Below are just a few resources available on the Internet about overexcitabilities.
New Insights into Overexcitability
Linda Kreger Silverman, 2020
Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration and Giftedness: Overexcitability and Research Findings, Sal Mendaglio, William Tillier
Journal for the Education of the Gifted. Vol. 30, No. 1, 2006, pp. 68–87. Copyright ©2006 Prufrock Press Inc., http://www.prufrock.com
Overexcitabilities and Sensitivities: Implications of Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration for Counseling the Gifted, Carrie Lynn Bailey, PDF Download.
Bailey, C. L. (2010). Overexcitabilities and sensitivities: Implications of Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration for counseling the gifted. Retrieved from
Overexcitability and the Gifted
Sharon Lind, SENG, 9/14/11
Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities in Gifted Children
Carol Bainbridge (2020)
Overexcitabilities and Why They Matter for Gifted Kids
Colleen Kessler, 2018
Gifted Students and Overexcitability
Mikey D. TEACH, 6/17/2018
Overexcitabilities: Windows into the Inner World of the Gifted
Dr. Linda Silverman, 10/26/2016
National Talent Centre of the Netherlands-NTCN
Overexcitabilities and Asynchronous Development in Gifted Kids
Ashley Darr, 9/22/20
Dr. Wanda Routier
Past Board Member, WATG
Recently several teachers were talking about how much they were looking forward to this school year. They said their focus is on meeting the needs of their students, even when those needs are very different. I asked how they planned to do that, given the wide range of abilities and student needs in the classroom. Their responses were interesting, but every teacher said they wanted to improve their relationship with all students and their families.
When I asked why that was a priority this coming school year, the teachers said that from the past year with virtual learning, their eyes were opened to the way their students lived at home. Having a glimpse into the home via the computer camera gave them a small view of family interaction, and the impact of the home itself on the learning atmosphere for the students.
The teachers also said that over the past year with school sometimes virtual, sometimes in person, and sometimes both, they had learned the importance of being flexible and accepting others and their ideas more positively to provide more effective learning opportunities for their students. Learning from these two experiences, these teachers realized they became better teachers. They realized the importance of getting to know the students and their families a little deeper than they had before and to value their ideas, rather than assuming the family was there to support whatever the teacher said to do, from homework to sleep schedule.
Next, I asked the teachers about their gifted students and the coming school year. The teachers all said they were looking forward to working with gifted students and their families in a new way because of this new respect for, and desire to work with, the family and the home. They were eager to put into action the fact that no two learners are the same. The teachers planned to enable gifted students to go deeper into topics and share their projects with the class, and to value parent and student insight into the student’s approach to learning. Most importantly, these teachers all said they were more prepared to learn from their students, including from their gifted students, rather than doubting that the students knew more than they did in many areas and needed to be moved ahead in the subject matter.
The teachers were all excited for the new school year and hoped students and their families would be willing to work together to have a year where gifted students thrive. It is a worthy goal for educators, students, and families.
The Power of Parents and Teachers as Partners
How to Foster a Collaborative Partnership with Your “Gifted” Child’s Teacher
Collaborative Conversation with Parents and Caregivers of Black Gifted Students
Collaboration Among All Educators to Meet the Needs of Gifted Learners
Teachers Partnering with Parents
Dr. Wanda Routier, Past Board Member
One of the things some parents of gifted children tell me is that their child “doesn’t miss a thing,” even at a very young age. Parents say their children who are gifted pick up on verbal information, cues, opinions, and statements - and will often remind the speaker of what they said at a later date. Some of the time this reminder is appropriate, and other times it can be quite uncomfortable for the speaker, depending upon the setting. Many children who are gifted also take in vast amounts of information visually. They pay close attention to their environment and analyze what is in the environment, what happens in the environment, who is there, including interactions between people, things, animals, and many other observations. If a child is gifted and also has vision loss, he may utilize his residual sight, and augment it with hearing, assistive technology, and orientation and mobility skills, such as using a cane.
Regardless of how children who are gifted interact with their environment and others, they often pay close attention to details in their world and are thorough in their exploration of it. This can be a positive or a negative, depending upon how it is used by the child and perceived by adults. In school, teachers may not recognize that a child who is gifted and is doing several things at once (multi-tasking) might be using this strategy to help pay attention. Teachers should not judge or misinterpret what the child is doing when multi-tasking, but rather, ask them to summarize what was just said, or to review the lesson that was just taught. Many teachers are very surprised when these children can explain in detail what the lesson was about while they were seemingly busy doing something else.
At home, parents can help their children develop creative ways to use their attention to detail skills wisely - to further learn new things, to help people, and to positively channel their skill. For example, children may need to learn not to confront a speaker, but to engage in higher order thinking discussions about a topic.
Additionally, there is a difference between attention to detail and perfectionism. Attention to detail may be said to be a practice of being thorough, accurate, and knowing what is being said, done, and completed, whereas perfectionism is often about avoiding mistakes, fearing imperfection, constant seeking of acceptance/approval by others, and living up to an artificial standard of accomplishment.
Paying attention to detail is an important lifelong skill. It is needed in school and college to learn, read, understand, and complete assignments thoroughly, correctly, and on time. It is needed on the job to get the job done efficiently and figure out ways to do it better. In life in general, attention to detail helps one to problem solve, create new things and procedures, and more. Attention to detail is essential in some fields. We certainly want a physician who pays attention to details in our body. We certainly want engineers and scientists who pay attention to details when building things, solving problems, and creating new things in our world. By encouraging our children who are gifted to channel their attention to detail for useful purposes in life, school, and employment, they learn to use these skills for the benefit of our world.
Attention to Detail
Indeed: Attention to Detail
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
This summer we take a break from the intensities of the past year and enjoy some time together with our families, neighbors, friends, and others. Gifted students often use the summer to explore special camps or programs for gifted students and really enjoy being with others who are like them. There is freedom in being able to be oneself among peers who share similar abilities and interests.
For families who do not send students to camp, or for times at home other than camp, there are a myriad of activities that students young and old can do during the summer. One book series that can prompt hours of fun and learning activities for children, youth, and adults is the Backpack Explorer Series. There are five books in the series that provide activities to explore our world:
1) On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find?
2) Bug Hunt: What Will You Find?
3) Bird Watch: What Will You Find?
4) Discovering Trees: What Will You Find?
5) Beach Walk
Grab a backpack, a few items for safety, and have fun exploring!
Other activities bring fun and learning near your own home. Have you ever explored the town where you live? Be a tourist in your own hometown. Does your student like art? Create art on the sidewalk with chalk. Write stories (ghost stories or another genre) to tell later around a firepit or campfire. Participate in the local library’s summer programs. Help someone in your family or a neighbor. These activities are local and have little or no cost.
During and after these activities, gifted students may want to delve deeper into certain topics, activities, or create their own spin-offs of activities. Summer is the time for them to create and use their imagination. See what your gifted student will enjoy this summer and give them the freedom to do so!
Dr. Wanda Routier
Past WATG Board Member
Este verano tomamos un descanso de todas la intensidad del año pasado y disfrutamos un tiempo juntos, con nuestras familias, vecinos, amigos y otros. Usualmente, los estudiantes con talentos especiales utilizan el verano para explorar campos especiales y programas para estudiantes con talentos especiales en donde disfrutan realmente el poder estar con otras personas que son como ellos. Hay libertad al poder ser uno mismo entre compañeros que comparten habilidades e intereses similares.
Para las familias que no envían a los estudiantes al campamento, o para esos momentos en el hogar cuando no están en el campamento; hay una gran variedad de actividades que los estudiantes, jóvenes y mayores, pueden hacer durante el verano.
Una serie de libros que hará que el tiempo se vaya rápido con horas de diversión y actividades de aprendizaje para niños, jovénes y adultos, es "Backpack Explorer Series". Hay cinco libros en esta serie que proporcionan actividades para explorar nuestro mundo:
1) On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find? (En el sendero de la naturaleza: ¿Qué encontrarás?)
2) Bug Hunt: What Will You Find? (Búsqueda de insectos: ¿Qué encontrarás?)
3) Bird Watch: What Will You Find? ( Observando las aves: ¿Qué encontrarás?)
4) Discovering Trees: What Will You Find? (Descubriendo árboles: ¿Qué encontrarás?)
5) Beach Walk (Caminando por la playa)
¡Toma tu mochila, un poco de artículos de seguridad y diviértete explorando!
Otras actividades brindan diversión y aprendizaje cerca de tu casa. ¿Haz explorado alguna vez la ciudad donde vives? Conviértete en un turista dentro de tu propia ciudad. ¿A su estudiante le gusta el arte? Crea arte en la banqueta con un gis. Escribe historias (historias de fantasmas u otro género) para que las cuentes después alrededor de una fogata o en una noche de campamento. Participa en los programas de verano de la biblioteca local. Ayuda a alguien en tu familia o en tu colonia. Estas actividades son locales y de bajo precio o gratis. https://www.additudemag.com/summer-activities-for-teens/
Durante y después de estas actividades, los estudiantes con talentos especiales podrán querer profundizar en ciertos temas, actividades o crear sus propias actividades con ciertos efectos. El verano es el tiempo en el cuál ellos pueden crear y usar su imaginación. ¡Vea lo que sus estudiantes con talentos especiales disfrutan hacer este verano y dé a ellos la libertad de hacerlo!
Dr. Wanda Routier
Past WATG Board Member
(WATG desea extender su profundo agradecimiento a Esther Vazquez Guendulain de Appleton Bilingual School por traducir este artículo al español para nuestras familias y educadores hispanohablantes . La traducción puede encontrarse también en el blog de nuestra página web.)
As we reach the end of the school year, we can look back and reflect upon a full school year unlike any other. While the 2019-2020 school year suddenly stopped and changed in March, it impacted only the last quarter of the school year. The 2020-2021 school year was different for the entire year, from August through June. Many people, including families, students, and teachers, are looking forward to the summer to enjoy some activities and/or travel that have been limited over the last year. It is a welcome diversion from the intense situation that we have all experienced - in our work, school, or home.
This summer, why not try some family endeavors at home or on the road that start with a book and lead to a fun family activity? Research is clear that reading aloud to a child is one way to greatly improve their literacy skills. It builds reading skills, and improves vocabulary skills, among other things. So, why not read a book together, and do some fun activities with some learning benefits at the same time? Since gifted children tend to like to investigate things in a deeper manner, and to learn answers to the endless question of “why,”these books and activities are perfect to do together. This allows children to independently pursue some specific investigation of their interest from the book, and brings everyone back together to share their findings and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
In May we lost two beloved contributors to children’s literature. Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert passed away. Carle is the author of many, many children’s books including The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He was a prolific author and illustrator and introduced a new way to write and illustrate children’s literature. Carle’s stories taught values, and centered on learning themes such as colors, counting, shapes, opposites, rhythm, and rhyme, to name a few. There are many resources on the Internet about Carle’s works. Here are a few to explore:
Official Eric Carle Website
(Has booklists with books in several languages, activities, downloads, etc.)
Interview: Eric Carle Discusses 50 Years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle Reads: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The second person important in children’s literature, and featured in this article, is Lois Ehlert, illustrator of the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Did you know that Ehlert was born in Beaver Dam, WI? While Chicka Chicka Boom Boom may be her most popular work, it is not her only work. Ehlert wrote other books, including some that teach skills such as colors and the alphabet in a garden setting.
Here are a few Internet resources that explore Ehlert’s work, with ideas for follow-up exploration and activities learned in the books.
Lois Ehlert Biography:
Video Interview with Lois Ehlert
Growing Vegetable Soup
Children’s Read Aloud Picture Book
Read by Mr. Chad
**Activity-Cook vegetable soup together
Pie in the Sky
Video Read Aloud
**Activity-Make a cherry pie with your family.
The recipe is part of the text of the book.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Video: Story Time at Awnie’s House
Alphabet-upper case and lower case.
**Activity-Keep the beat by snapping in rhythm to the story.
A few other books by Lois Ehlert:
Planting a Rainbow
Eating the Alphabet
Lots of Dots
In My World
I hope these books give you a place to start to enjoy these two authors/illustrators who are no longer with us, but whose works will remain favorites of children and parents everywhere.
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
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