Raising a gifted child can be challenging. Like any other parent, you’d like your child to reach for the stars, and with a gifted child, actually getting there is more than just a matter of luck. When mothers help gifted children realize their potential by supporting them, growing their self-confidence, and enabling their independence, their children will flourish. Of course, a good school will be well-equipped to foster a gifted child’s will to learn. And you can try to get your child into the best schools. By the time they’re ready for tertiary education, Harvard admissions might even be on the cards. But teachers still have many other children to attend to. How can you, as a parent, help?
1. Help Them to Learn More About the Things they Love
Children, and especially gifted ones, are inclined to ask parents challenging questions on things that interest them. Don’t feel that you need to have all the answers at your fingertips. There’s always the internet or the local library to fall back on. But, you’ll soon see that, although your child is interested in most subjects, there are one or more special favorites.
Help them to explore these topics, choose books that will help them to delve deeper into them, watch documentaries together, and see if you can arrange visits to subject matter experts who are willing to share their knowledge with a youngster.
2. Teach Them That Making Mistakes is Part of Learning
Gifted children often find making mistakes almost unbearable. Learning that it’s ok to be wrong is a big step in the right direction. You can even look for examples of famous geniuses who made huge mistakes. For example, Einstein believed that the Universe was in a more-or-less static space. When the Hubble space telescope proved him wrong, he admitted that the cosmological constant he had formulated based on this fallacy was his “biggest mistake.”
Mistakes help us to learn. They’re really an opportunity, and gifted children will need to understand this if they’re to be flexible in their thinking and tolerant of their own, and others, mistakes.
3. Accept That They Won’t be Good at Absolutely Everything
Gifted kids aren’t necessarily good at everything. A musical prodigy, for example, might struggle with mathematics, or a mathematical prodigy may struggle to get along with other children. Even though your child has demonstrated brilliance in several fields, there will be weaker areas. Accept this and help them with any skills they are struggling to master.
Never compare them to other children. All children are different. By all means, praise their achievements, but be ready to maintain a positive attitude when they don’t do all that well.
4. Don’t Make Them Practice What They’ve Already Grasped
Kids in general, but particularly gifted children, soon get bored of repetition. Once they’ve learned something, they shouldn’t need a great deal of repetition to remember it, so spare them practice that might only serve to put them off the subject in question. A sensible exam revision timetable should be more than enough to check that learned knowledge is properly remembered.
5. Keep it Normal
Even when your child’s brilliance is remarkable, he or she still needs the ability to get along with peers. Singling children out, constantly telling them that they’re “better” than other children their age, and boasting in front of other kids and parents could affect their ability to cope socially. Always remember that kids are kids, and though your child is gifted, he or she will benefit from a normal upbringing.
Find like-minded peers
There are many great interest groups that run during school hours, after school, on weekends, and even online. Enroll 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.
Skip the drill and practice
Many gifted children do not need to practice 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 practice 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. When mothers help gifted children realize their potential by supporting them, growing their self-confidence, and enabling their independence, their children will flourish.