Behavior. We all have behaviors. Even animals have behaviors. We all exhibit positive and negative behaviors during our lives. Perhaps in your youth you behaved in ways you are proud of or would rather forget; we all can remember times like this.
When children and youth exhibit positive behaviors, we should acknowledge them. When they exhibit troublesome behaviors, our job is to try to determine the cause of the behavior and help them change their behavior, so they exhibit appropriate behaviors across settings and over time. For students who are gifted, behavior can often be misunderstood.
Students who are gifted often display a wide spectrum of behaviors, from appropriate to inappropriate depending upon the situation and their frame of mind at the time. Some students who are gifted may deliberately manipulate their behavior so the adult response is what the student wants to see, often either a positive or negative response. They are masters at reading clues and weighing the consequences. Other times, students who are gifted become so frustrated with barriers to their intense desire for learning that they act out in inappropriate or challenging ways.
A few parents were talking about their students’ behavior and how challenging it is to interpret. Sometimes their students fall in line with common expectations of school or societal behavior, and sometimes they challenge the rules. In school, sometimes their students may choose to be apart from others and not seek out friends, while other students refuse to do anything without their friends. Still other students who are gifted challenge their teachers about a fact or viewpoint. Are these typical student behaviors? To some degree, yes, but often the intensity of the behavior is what is different. The parents were trying to understand the broad range of behaviors their gifted students exhibited, and trying to choose a response.
One of the parents said that while their gifted child exhibited challenging behaviors some of the time, the parent simply tried to model appropriate behaviors, including how to point out errors and how to disagree with someone while not attacking the other person. The parent also said that he just tries to love his child unconditionally, even on the hard days. All the parents agreed that they would try harder to do that. They agreed to stay in contact to support each other in parenting their gifted child.
Students and parents need a place to be loved unconditionally, a place where they can truly be themselves, especially with all the stress that school and the world can create. Hopefully, that safe place is home. As a Navy wife, we always said, “home is where we are” because we moved so much. For gifted students and their families, home is where they are with people who care about them - their behaviors, their goals and dreams, and joys and challenges. My challenge to you is to continue to make your home a haven for you and your children.
Behaviour, Emotions, Social Development: Gifted and Talented Children
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
A new school year often brings anticipation and perhaps uneasiness because of all the unknowns. For students, questions such as who will be my friends, what will my teachers be like, or will math class be hard this year, may cause them to wonder (and sometimes worry) about the new school year. For teachers, questions such as will my students be willing to learn in class, will I be able to work with parents, or will I have support to help me with all the different student needs in my class, cause them to wonder (and sometimes worry) about the new school year. For parents, questions such as will my child be safe at school, will my child’s needs be met this year, or will teachers work with me so my child will learn, cause them to wonder (and sometimes worry) about the new school year.
Regardless of which questions we consider, they are all things students and adults wonder (and sometimes worry) about at this time of year. One way to reduce the wondering (and worrying) is to open the lines of communication with each other. Teachers who reach out to parents can make a big difference in supporting parents and students. Parents who reach out to teachers can help them get to know their child. Students who talk with teachers can share their interests and other information about themselves; this helps their teachers understand the student both in and out of school.
When individuals talk, share, and support each other, relationships form and we get to know each other as people. These positive relationships are helpful when celebrating successes and when problems arise. Keeping the lines of communication open to listen and collaborate with each other can help the school year get off to a good start.
Here are a few articles about communicating for teachers, parents, and students:.
Teacher-Parent Communication Strategies to Start the Year Off Right
The Power of Positive Communication in a School Setting
Parents’ Top Tips for Partnering with Your Child’s Teacher
How to Talk to Teachers: 10 Tips for Student Success
I wish all of you a wonderful start to this school year. Keep the lines of communication open!
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
August is here, and with it often comes plans to squeeze in the last enjoyments of summer, and laments about starting school again, perhaps too quickly, amidst hopes for more summertime.
What have your gifted students done over the summer months? Have they participated in a camp of some sort, or been involved in activities at home or in the community, gone on a vacation with the family, or done something else of interest to them? Whatever your students did over the summer, these last few weeks of summer vacation provide time for them and the family to do a few final activities, or just to spend time relaxing and enjoying some free time before the busy fall school schedule begins.
A few gifted students shared some of the activities they like to do in late summer before they transition back to school. They said that their parents often do not have the time to plan a trip or formal activities toward the end of summer, so these are activities the students themselves planned. They acknowledged that some of the activities require parental help, such as driving to a state park, but the students said their parents were open to the activities since the students planned the events themselves and the parents didn’t have to take the time to plan.
Here are ten ideas that these gifted students recommended. Try some of them and have fun these last days of summer vacation!
1) Visit a state park or community park near you.
2) Have a splash party in your backyard; set up a lawn sprinkler, run through it, and play games such as keep-away.
3) Pack a lunch and take a local road trip to visit a place in your community or nearby that you have not visited before, or a place you have wanted to return to after a previous visit.
4) Spend a morning or afternoon in your local library exploring activities and non-book resources that are available to use in the library (games, maps and charts, kits, etc.).
5) Take a bike ride around your neighborhood or community, going a little further than you have before.
6) Watch and catalog things near your home – birds, insects, trees, etc. – and learn about them.
7) Hold a frisbee or other yard game tournament; encourage students to make the rules and run the tournament.
8) Have a backyard picnic.
9) Organize a block picnic.
10) Camp overnight in your backyard.
Besides enjoying these activities, just think of all of the things students can learn while planning them!
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
Last month I wrote about gifted children and STEM activities which covered science, technology, engineering, math. This month I’d like to talk about STEAM - science, technology, engineering, arts, math. Why include the arts with the other disciplines? According to the Rhode Island School of Design, “The goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer.” One of the early leaders in the STEAM approach is Dr. John Maeda, a former President of the Rhode Island School of Design and former professor (and student) at MIT, who “has emphasized the idea that design thinking and creativity are essential ingredients for innovation”.https://onlinedegrees.sandiego.edu/steam-education-in-schools/#A
The four skills central to STEAM are critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These are skills that are used in the arts and are also essential in STEM pursuits. The arts in STEAM include music, visual arts, dancing/movement, drama, among others. Following are some activities and concepts you may want to consider.
Many gifted children and youth are innovative; they blend academics and arts when playing, and integrate many concepts together to create something new. Investigate the resources about STEM in last month’s blog post, and further explore turning STEM into STEAM with this month’s resources. Encourage your student to search for more resources in their areas of interest. Allow your gifted student to take the lead on activities, exploration, and study of STEAM, so that they fully experience the breadth and depth of STEAM connections.
As Leonardo da Vinci said: “To develop a complete mind, study the science of art, and study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
Stem to STEAM: Art in K-12 is Key to Building a Strong Economy
By Dr. John Maeda
Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM
STEAM Careers for the 21st Century
Connections: Math & Music
The Kennedy Center
A bilingual site for educators and families of English language learners
Art, Music and Dance: Books for Young Children
Diverse Picture Books for Art and Music Teachers
Dr. Wanda Routier, Former Board Member
WI Association for Talented and Gifted
While working on revising an online course about young children, I came across materials about using everyday activities and resources to teach young children about STEM - science, technology, engineering, math. I thought it was interesting that there are still specific lesson plans, family activities, and a myriad of other resources to help adults focus on teaching STEM skills to young children using normal everyday activities.
Right away I thought of gifted children. Many gifted children naturally explore STEM activities (without knowing about STEM), and many start very early, even as a very young toddler. This often begins with a curiosity of trying to figure out how the world works. They try to explore everything, perhaps taking everything apart, whether or not it can be dangerous (due to small parts or parts that could cause injury or electrical connections). Young children are curious, and young gifted children are even more curious, which is why it is important for adults to monitor what children do, often in the background, so children can explore and play independently, but certainly stepping in when necessary to keep the children safe.
Some young gifted children may build things with blocks, Legos, or household items such as pots and pans. These children imagine great things while they build. Other young gifted children collect items and sort them, sometimes on a continuous and lifelong basis. I have known young gifted children who collect rocks, pinecones, buttons, spoons, stamps, marbles, or many other specific items and count, sort, and showcase their treasures regularly.
All of these activities help young gifted children explore and practice STEM skills. Following are some concepts, ideas, and resources to help young gifted children learn through play while exploring STEM skills.
Resources abound for STEM activities for young children. See below for a series of ideas, books, websites, and other resources related to STEM for young gifted children. It is a good idea to let the play and activity be child-driven, meaning the child decides what to do, and when and how to do it, for it is then that the child is truly engaged in active play to learn about the world around them.
STEM Teaching Books:
Teaching Early and Elementary STEM
Open Resource Book, East TN University
Free PDF download: https://dc.etsu.edu/etsu-oer/8/
Teaching STEM Literacy: A Constructivist Approach for Ages 3-8
Juliana Texley & Ruth M. Ruud, 2018
STEM Play: Integrating Inquiry into Learning Centers
Deirdre Englehart, 2016
The Questioneers, by Andrea Beaty
World Wildlife Fund, Teaching Toolkits, K-12
Smithsonian Science Stories, Smithsonian Education Center
Lewis Latimer House Museum, Tinker Lab, ages 4-10
STEM Picture Books
All About Weather, by Huda Harajli
Cece Loves Science, by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, by Christy Hale
Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? by Patrice McLaurin
When I Build with Blocks, by Niki Alling
Iggy Peck, Architect, by Andrea Beaty
-Resources by STEMRead, Northern IL University
Rube Goldberg’s Simple Normal Humdrum Day, by Jennifer George
-Resource-TinkerLab-Rube Goldberg Machines
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
In recent years, taking time to give students a brain break has become a common practice in many classrooms, at home, and other places. When students work hard or give 100% to a particular task, they are often rewarded with a brain break for a few minutes. This practice may be somewhat controversial; some people may consider the time spent on a brain break to be a waste of time when there are so many important things to teach and learn during the school day and never enough time to cover it all. Others may consider a brain break as essential to the learning process to give students an opportunity to step away, move, relax a few minutes, and come back ready to continue learning. It turns out that research has found that brain breaks serve several purposes and actually help increase recall of material, among other things. During a brain break the brain continues to work.
Students who are gifted have the same need for brain breaks as other students do. Students who are gifted may have brains that appear to never shut off or relax because there is so much to learn in the world, or because they are so focused on their area of interest, among other reasons. These students need brain breaks, too, in order to allow their brains to do the work needed to absorb and recall what is being learned.
An article from Edutopia (below) talks about brain breaks and provides links to several studies. Take a look at the article, investigate the research, and consider giving your student a few brain breaks during the day. In fact, consider taking a brain break yourself - to refresh yourself and your learning.
We Drastically Underestimate the Importance of Brain Breaks
Youki Terada, 4/21/2022, Edutopia
Studies Referenced in the Edutopia Article:
Consolidation of Human Skill Linked to Waking Hippocamp-Neocortical Replay
2021 Study, Buch, Claudino, Quentin, Bonstrup, and Cohen
Open Access: DOI:
Cognitive Fatigue Influences Students’ Performance on Standardized Tests
2016 Study, PNAS-Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Silversten, Gino, and Piovesan,
Rats Dream About Their Tasks During Slow Wave Sleep
2001 Study, MIT News, 5/18/2002, M. Wilson
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former Board Member, WATG
Each year in Wisconsin, February marks the beginning of the school open enrollment period. This is the time when families may apply to other school districts in hopes of enrolling their students. For many families it is a viable and desirable educational choice for their children. Open enrollment includes face-to-face public and charter schools, and virtual public and charter schools.
This year, the open enrollment time frame for the 2022-2023 school year is February 7 to April 29 2022 at 4:00 p.m.
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has a website that provides information about open enrollment and an application for families to complete and submit. There are many rules and deadlines for open enrollment, so be sure to carefully read the website.
Why would a family want to open enroll their gifted student in another school district? The reasons are as varied as the families themselves. Some families pursue open enrollment so that their children can attend school near the place of employment of the parent/caregiver. This ensures that they are close-by should there be a sudden illness or problem in school that needs attention. Other families want a larger or smaller school district for their children. Still other families see different programs offered by neighboring school districts that would benefit their children. If the local school district does not have a robust gifted program or few or no teachers of students who are gifted, the family may choose to enroll their gifted student in the other district which has gifted programs and teachers. There are other reasons for the personal choice to open enroll students, and only the family can make that decision.
If you are considering open enrollment for your child, you and your child should do your homework, then apply by the 4:00 p.m. deadline on April 29, 2022. What kind of homework is necessary? Read the DPI website. Look at all the links in the left menu in addition to the home page. Read the application. Explore what other school districts have to offer your child and talk to parents/caregivers whose children attend that school district. Go to open house meetings, whether in-person or virtual to learn more about the school district or school. Meet some of the teachers. Talk to parents. Many families are very happy with their choice to open enroll their students, and are willing to share their experiences. They can offer things to consider.
Only you and your child can make this decision for your family, and if you do your homework, you can be assured that you are making a good decision. Good luck on your journey!
Dr. Wanda Routier, Former WATG Board Member
(WATG would like to extend its deep appreciation to Esther Vazquez Guendulain of Appleton Bilingual School for translating this article into Spanish for our Spanish-speaking families and educators. The translation can be found below.)
Cada año en Wisconsin, febrero marca el inicio del periodo de inscripción foránea. Este es tiempo en el que las familias pueden solicitar inscripción para otros distritos escolares con el deseo de inscribir sus estudiantes. Para muchas familias es una opción de educación viable y deseada para sus hijos(as). La educación foránea incluye escuelas presenciales públicas y “chárter” y escuelas virtuales públicas y “chárter”.
Este año, el periodo de inscripción foránea para el año escolar 2022-2023 es del 7 de febrero al 29 de abril a las 4:00pm.
El Departamento de Educación Publica (DPI por sus siglas en inglés) tiene una página web que proporciona información sobre la inscripción foránea y un formulario de solicitud de inscripción para que las familias lo llenen. Hay muchas reglas y fecha límite para la inscripción foránea, por eso es importante que se asegure de leer cuidadosamente la página web.
¿Porque una familia querrá hacer inscripción foránea para su estudiante con talentos excepcionales en otro distrito? Las razones son variadas como lo son las familias. Algunas familias buscan inscripción foránea así sus hijos(as) puedes asistir a una escuela cerca del lugar de trabajo del padre/tutor. Esto asegura que estén cerca en caso de que se presentara una enfermedad o un problema en la escuela que necesite de su atención. Otras familias quieren un distrito más grande o más pequeño para sus hijos(as). También, otras familias ven que los distritos escolares aledaños ofrecen diferentes programas que beneficiarían a sus hijos(as). Si el distrito escolar local no ofrece a los niños con talentos excepcionales un programa que sea robusto o no hay o hay muy pocos maestros de estudiantes con talentos excepcionales, la familia podría escoger inscribir a su estudiante con talentos en otro distrito que cuente con programas y maestros para talentos excepcionales. Hay otras razones para la decisión personal de pedir inscripción foránea y únicamente la familia puede tomar esa decisión.
Si usted está considerando la inscripción foránea para su hijo(a), usted y su hijo(a) tendrán que hacer su tarea, y entonces aplicar a más tardar el 29 de abril antes de las 4:00 pm. ¿Qué clase de tarea se necesita? Leer la página web del DPI. Vea todos los enlaces que están en el menú del lado izquierdo además de lo que existe en la página principal. Lea la solicitud. Explore lo que otros distritos pueden ofreces a su hijo(a) y hable con padres/tutores que tienen a sus hijos en otros distritos escolares. Vaya a sesiones de puertas abiertas, ya sea en persona o virtual, para aprender más sobre el distrito escolar o la escuela. Conozca a algunos de los maestros. Hable con padres de familia. Muchas familias están muy contentas con la opción de inscripción foránea de sus estudiantes, y están dispuestos a compartir sus experiencias. Ellos pueden ofrecer cosas para que las considere.
Únicamente usted y su hijo(a) pueden tomar esta decisión para su familia, y si hace su tarea, puede asegurarse de que está tomando una buena decisión. ¡Buena suerte en esta aventura!
Dr. Wanda Routier, Miembro anterior de la Junta de Gobierno de WATG
(WATG extiende su agradecimiento a Esther Vazquez Guendulain de la Escuela Bilingüe de Appleton por la traducción de este articulo al español para nuestras familias y educadores hispano-hablantes. La traducción la puede encontrar también en los bloques de nuestra página web.)
Recently a parent and I were talking about her concern for her high school student who is gifted. Like so many other high schoolers, the student has so many emotions, feelings, questions, concerns, and wonderings about school, grades, friends, dating, the pandemic, future plans after high school, and a myriad of other things. The student is “stressing out” over all these concerns, especially about planning high school courses and the future.
This situation is one that many parents and guardians face with their children, whether gifted or not, in high school or younger. There has been a lot said, studied, and understood regarding the social-emotional needs of children and youth, especially during the pandemic. Great needs in this area can lead to stress, depression, and other serious mental health issues. One way that may be effective in reducing stress and reducing some mental health issues is to learn more about oneself and how that can impact one’s future.
The parent with whom I was speaking said her student had many interests, as many gifted students do, and was having a difficult time considering what to do after high school. Choices included: go to college, get a job, go to a technical school, join the military, etc. This is similar to what many school-aged students worry about for years, especially when so many well-meaning people ask the questions, “What do you want to do after high school?” or “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Gone are the days when people experienced only one job or career throughout a lifetime.
While pondering this, I came across an article by Pete Wright about finding one’s own interests, written by a twice-exceptional successful adult. One of the most interesting parts of the article was the fact that the author took the same two interest tests during his lifetime and the results remained consistent. His experience is compelling when considering how to help gifted students narrow their wide-ranging interests into a guide for selecting courses in school, activities in and outside of school, and a plan after high school.
Though many gifted students are given tests of various sorts throughout their school years, not many are given interest inventories or aptitude tests that are reliable formal tests. These can provide insight for the student (and parents/guardians) into areas that the student may wish to pursue in elementary, middle, high school, and beyond. Taking a more formal interest test may be of value for all students, as it was for Mr. Wright.
All students have their own unique ways of demonstrating what they know and can do, and though reliable, valid tests and inventories do not guarantee 100% accuracy or success, they are one way to gain more valuable information. Of course, each student and family must then make their own decisions. Pete Wright’s article is a place to start a discussion about gaining this valuable information to help plan a student’s future.
Find Your Dream Job: Know Your Interests, Aptitudes, and Personality
By: Pete Wright, 1/24/22
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
Ask the Doctor