Do you have a child who started reading from an early age? Who has an intense interest in a variety of topics? Is creative? Loves puzzles? Is highly active and alert?
These are some of the many characteristics gifted children can display. Your child may show a range of these at home.
Schools play a major role in encouraging the development of your child’s gifts into talents, but as their parent, you can also do plenty of things at home to support them.
Foster their interests
If your child has an interest in dinosaurs, black holes, numbers or sketching, let them explore! Take your child to the local library, enrol them in a learning group with like-minded children or watch some good quality documentaries together. All these activities can encourage learning, while also connecting with other people who share the same passion.
Many gifted children have difficulty making mistakes, being incorrect or not knowing as much as they would like.
Research notable people (possibly in your child’s field of interest) who have made mistakes on their path to success, to help normalise the idea. Encourage your child to see mistakes as an opportunity for learning on the way to achieving goals.
Find like-minded peers
There are many great interest groups that run during school hours, after school, on weekends and even online. Enrol your child in one of these groups to help challenge them academically. As an added bonus, these groups can be wonderful for developing social and emotional skills. Many gifted students struggle to find friends who share their intellect and interests. Take the time to help your child find like-minded peers beyond the schoolyard or their particular class.
Be an advocate for your child
You are your child’s number one advocate. Make sure you inform the school of your child’s gifts, including strengths and areas of need. Follow up on any testing that needs to take place. Michael Sayler’s Checklist for Parents is a great starting point to help you share information with your child’s school.
By showing your child you believe in them, they will feel more confident to turn their gifts into talents.
All children are different. Often people assume all gifted children are intelligent in every subject, highly successful compared with their peers and do not need time to master anything. This is not the case. Not all gifted children can perform everything they do at a high level.
Foster your child’s gifts without comparing them to those of other children and help to build their self-confidence.
Support your gifted child
Many gifted children also have areas of weakness. They may struggle with fine motor skills, be highly sensitive or a perfectionist or have a labelled disability. Even if your child has areas of need, they are still gifted. As a parent you can support your child by using positive talk and spending time with them to work on these areas.
Skip the drill and practice
Many gifted children do not need to practise their spelling words or times tables, as they already know them. It’s not helpful to ask them to do it more quickly or with their eyes closed. Instead, use their knowledge and embed it into a different activity. Better yet, let younger children play, research more or just explore the world outside!
Your child could complete a research project at home, linking their knowledge to real-world events and current research. Ask them to share their skills with you or someone they trust. Drill and practice can be upsetting for gifted students who just want to learn more, not practise more. Encourage creative thinking, problem-solving and applying it to real-world information.
Your important role
Parents play a vital role in the development of a child’s gifts into a talent. The more positive influences your child has in their life, the more likely their gifts are to develop into talents. Invest time to support your child, help grow their self-confidence and their independence so they can flourish.