I grew up under the label “Gifted.”
I’m not entirely sure how I got there, but I can tell you what the public school offered me did not go much beyond the label. I was pulled from a few classes to attend sessions where I sat amongst other gifted children as we worked on brain teasers and other such Mensa-endorsed foolery. The real education came from my parents and not from the school system.
I am now the mother of 2 children who would be considered “Gifted” by the public school system.
Sometimes those children frighten me.
I don’t think I am wrong in saying that any homeschool parent, gifted themselves or not, feels rather overwhelmed at the thought of teaching a gifted child. Don’t they need special classes? Don’t they need the stimulation of other gifted peers? Don’t they need someone other than me?
Let me bring you back to my childhood…
Remember I said,
The real education came from my parents and not from the school system.
My parents fostered in me exactly what I needed as a “Gifted” child. Neither one of them had a college degree in gifted education. In fact, neither one of them had a college degree at all.
So, what have I learned from my parents about teaching Gifted Education?
1. In everything there is an opportunity to learn. My dad was a farmer. I would often ride along with him in the tractor. He used to laugh about how I would read the tractor manuals. But what was even better than me reading a dusty old manual was the fact that if I came across a word I didn’t know or a concept I didn’t understand, he would explain it to me. He was a whiz with mechanics (prior to WWII, he had been in college for mechanical engineering), and he had a knack for explaining things in a way that made them seem simple (he taught gunnery school during the war). Nothing was too silly or too over my head for him to explain to me. Even though it seemed like boring old every day stuff, it gave me what I needed…
2. Vacations are always educations. I cannot remember a single vacation where we didn’t go to a museum of some sort. Vacations were never just lay around do nothing all day events. Yes, we relaxed, but because my parents had to often pull me from school to go on vacation (my dad served on several different boards and liked to attend the national meetings), they felt it was imperative we do some sort of “school” while away. Besides, my parents loved museums, and as a result, I did too! They seized opportunities and gave me what I needed…
new things to explore.
3. There is always someone out there who knows more than you do. Sometimes gifted kids get a chip on their shoulder. That is one reason I am not an advocate of IQ testing. I don’t know a single human being who is an expert on everything, yet I do know lots of people who have niches they know quite a lot about. My parents were people who loved to learn and would never hesitate to take a class or listen to a speaker who might be able to offer them (and me) their expertise on a subject. I was always encouraged to seek out people who could help me grow and to put myself in positions where I was not always “the best.” By doing this, they gave me what I needed…
4. You can always give them more. There is a good reason I own a small library. It is because my parents owned one. My childhood memories are filled with pictures of my mom sitting and reading. She always had a book in hand, and even today, despite the fact she has to close one eye to read, she always has a book with her when she comes to visit. If I had an interest in something, there was always a book I could go to in order to learn more. My mom took me to the library long before I could read, and she taught me a love for the written word. She also filled video cassette after video cassette with useful documentaries and educational programs she taped off the television. To this day, she continues to fill my life and my children’s lives with these video tapes. She cuts things out of newspapers, she forwards emails and websites, she looks for museums for us to visit as a family. She knows exactly what a gifted child needs…
Raising a gifted child isn’t rocket science. It’s open eyes, loving arms, and a willingness to keep giving them what they need.
Amy can be found writing at Raising Arrows.