One of my earliest questions about the whole gifted education thing was how do I talk to educators about my child’s needs - without alienating school personnel? Without sounding like one of ‘those’ parents? Without triggering the “Oh, no! Here she comes again!” response?
When my kids started school, I prepared for those conversations by calling my mom. It helped that she’d raised some likely-but-never-formally-identified gifted kids. It also didn’t hurt that she was an educator certified in Gifted Education and taught a gifted magnet classroom. And Mom wasn’t afraid to tell me when I should push for more or when I should tone down a particular request, or at least the way I was presenting it.
I went on to expand my ‘panel of experts’, developing relationships with gifted resource teachers, classroom teachers, gifted coordinators and other parents of gifted kids. So before I went into a meeting with my child’s teacher, I usually ran my points past at least one of these wonderfully helpful people. The educators helped by decoding educational jargon. Parents shared what worked - and didn’t work – in their classroom conversations. They all enabled me to take the emotional edge off so that we, as parents and educators, could get to the crux of the matter and more productively address the problems we were seeing.
In hindsight, I found it helps to acknowledge that the INTENSITY found in gifted kids is also often undeniably present in their parents - myself included. Because of my own intensities, this step of getting a third party to hear out the issues before meetings with school personnel was a necessarystep so I could enter those meetings calmly, and therefore more ready, to work productively WITH my child’s teacher to find solutions that helped my child.
Recently I came across some interesting web posts that address this topic of communications from both sides of the school conference table. Here are a few that really caught my eye:
Tips for Working with Teachers echoes so much of the good advice I’ve received over the years. Tips such as being thankful, tactful, thoughtful and truthful – they all go a long way toward productive collaboration with your child’s teacher. The article is, as of this writing, bonus content from available for free from NAGC’s Parenting for High Potential. If you are a parent member of WATG, you can join NAGC at a discounted rate and receive this publication eight times per year as part of your NAGC Parent Associate membership. See this page for more information. This blog entry by Gail Post also addresses how parents of gifted kids can better communicate with their children’s teachers.
And while there are parents of gifted kids that fit that stereotype of being pushy and demanding helicopter parents, this 7 Myths Surrounding Parents of Gifted Children by Lisa Conrad counters those stereotypes and fairly accurately describes the majority of parents of gifted kids that I know. Rather than seeking labels and accolades for their children, my experience is that most parents of gifted kids simply want their children to be appropriately challenged by educators who ‘get’ them so they can learn how to work hard at something while maintaining their innate love of learning