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Providing Pathways – Why Being “Gifted” is About the Parent, Not Just the Child

Parents of gifted children often experience challenges in raising a child who differs from other children their age. These challenges include strategic planning for the child’s future, matching intellectual and social development milestones, and ensuring that educational opportunities will accommodate their child’s needs. The role of parents as advocates for their children, is therefore particularly important in the case of gifted children.

Gifted and talented will often be interested in experiences and activities that differ from other children their age. The more parents understand about gifted children, gifted education, and the needs of the gifted, the better prepared they can be to safeguard their child’s talents and happiness. Here are just some reasons why being “gifted” is about the parent, not just the child.

No-one knows your child better than you

While gifted children may appear more independent than other children, important early life and learning decisions must still rest in the hands of a parent. A gifted child cannot make decisions alone about the best schooling options or activities to pursue. Whilst it is important to ask for the input of the gifted child throughout these decisions, a parent who understands their child’s needs, is much better placed to have the final say regarding these important choices.

Children need to feel they are safe and protected, regardless of the child’s talents. Gifted children can often be pushed into accelerated classes with older students. Whilst this can be beneficial for a child who is developmentally and socially ready, it can cause additional stress and unhappiness in a child who is not ready for such a step. Parents are therefore key authority figures, in safeguarding the appropriate balance between a child’s intellectual abilities and social development.

Education transcends the schoolyard

It is important for the parents of gifted children to  be actively involved in their children’s education. Finding the right educational fit for a gifted child can be difficult. It is therefore the duty of parents, to take steps to advocate for appropriate accommodations that your child may need. Working collaboratively with the teachers of gifted children, ensures that your child will receive the programs that meet their needs.

Some of the most significant educational breakthroughs in a child’s academic career, will occur outside of the classroom. Parents play a key role in providing stimulating books, magazines, encyclopedias, charts and other aids to home learning for gifted children. Parents can also take initiative in organising visits to museums and other educational institutions, in order to enhance the background learning of a gifted child.

Children need to feel understood

As gifted children become older, they can often begin to notice the difference between themselves and other children their age. These children, who differ from the norm and who are therefore experiencing many things differently to others, need help to understand why.

Parents play a key role in ensuring that gifted children feel understood and that they “fit in” with their friends. By communicating openly and honestly with the child, parents can ensure that gifted children understand their situation, and be comfortable with some of the differences they will experience. Some people worry that informing a child of their gifted nature, will lead to a “big head” or know-it-all attitude. However, it is parents that play the key role in ensuring that their child remains humble, and sees themselves the same way as their friends and fellow classmates.

The education of a gifted child revolves around an important partnership between both  parents and teachers. As the primary caregiver of the gifted child however, parents therefore play the most important role in fostering the gifts of the child, and ensuring a normal and happy childhood.