Monday, 26 March 2012
Raising a gifted child
Raising a gifted child is a real challenge for parents. If you fail to keep his active mind occupied, he may come up with activities on his own, which you will find neither interesting or amusing. The goal, then, is to keep him busy and involved on projects and in programs which appeal to his particular areas of interest. With these children, idle hands can really be the workshop of you-know-who.
One of your most useful allies is the public library. Once your child learns to read, which will probably be at an early age, he should visit the library at least weekly. At first, he may need help choosing books at his level, but soon, he'll be leaving you in the entrance while he rushes in to make his choices. Gifted children should always have books on hand. Besides being sources of information, they provide a leisure-time activity which is both beneficial and restful after a busy day.
It's impossible for one set of parents to answer all the questions his sharp little mind will come up with. Chances are, though, that those answers will be found somewhere in all the resource materials available at the library.
Bright children will also benefit from having access to a computer. It is invaluable for research, and "Google.com" will answer just about any question he has. But, because these children are very inquisitive, computer use should be closely monitored by a responsible adult. Sometimes gifted children become prematurely interested in topics not suitable to their chronological age.
Television viewing should also be carefully monitored, but not entirely excluded. There are excellent documentaries, biographies, and in-depth news programs which bring Current Events classes to life. Through television, children can learn of other countries, cultures and life forms with which they share the planet. Good children's programming, such as the Disney productions, provide entertainment as well as forming part of the culture in which they themselves participate.
These children need a well-rounded education. They should be exposed to as many areas of human achievement as possible. Visits to museums, art galleries, symphony concerts, live theater, a local television studio and other places of interest will add to their store of knowledge. They'll amaze you with how many detailed facts they remember from each excursion. International travel would also be valuable, but not every family has the means or the opportunity to provide this.
If your child shows interest in a sport, encourage him to join a team. He'll develop social skills and learn good sportsmanship by doing so. Sometimes gifted children have trouble relating to other children their own age. They may prefer the company of older friends or adults. The necessity to interact on a sports team in order to win, will facilitate interaction with peers..
Even if sports is not one of his major interests, an effort should be made to keep his body as active as his mind. Every child needs to learn to swim, to ride a bike, to go skating or hiking. Horseback-riding, water-skiing, bird-watching, sledding, even kite-flying will get him out in the fresh air and sunshine for a few hours each day. The secret is to find an activity he enjoys.
Music should also form part of his experience. After introducing him to different styles, forms and artists, he may express a desire to play an instrument. If possible, grant his request. Even a year or two of instruction will familiarize him with the basics of theory. Even if he doesn't continue, he's had the experience. He may learn that music is not one of his greater talents, and that in itself is a valuable lesson.
There are clubs and classes which benefit all children, but especially the gifted: Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, 4-H clubs, church youth groups, interest groups of all kinds. Your job as a parent is to help him go wherever his curiosity and special strengths lead. Ideally, childhood years should be the years of discovery; the time to ascertain where his inclinations and his strongest abilities lie, so that with his family, he can chart a course which will maximize his success and satisfaction as an adult.
Raising a gifted child is a challenge, but it carries with it many satisfactions and rewards. You will stand in awe at the rapid progression he will make in his chosen profession.
You, as his parents, will have the satisfaction of knowing that, through your efforts, the world was gifted with an individual who may contribute much to the well-being and advancement of his community, his country and society in general. For this achievement, you should be extremely proud.