Survival tips for parenting a gifted child? Surely, you are on parenting easy street?
Pre-school aged children that may be gifted or talented add a whole new challenge to parenting. They often need to be constantly engaged, can be highly emotional and can find it difficult to wind down as their little brains are always running at full speed- which could be a fantastic attribute in a mini entrepreneur!
Before they take over the world, here are some tips to make your life, and theirs, a little easier.
Encourage their special talent or interest.
Gifted children really are amazing. Let them know! They often have a talent that is a little unusual or far above the abilities of their peers.
They may be interested in dinosaurs. Don’t stop at learning the dinosaur’s names, study famous palaeontologists together and take their interest further. This can then move on to studying geography or geology.
If your child has a love of classical ballet, learn the names of the steps in French and follow the careers of real ballerinas. Many dancers with the Australian ballet have Instagram accounts that show all aspects of a dancer’s day, right down to what they eat for breakfast. Spending time together watching a dancer your child ‘knows’ can bring so much more to the experience. This may lead on to an interest, not only in dance, but in music, set or costume design.
Join a group
Many gifted children find it extremely difficult to interact with peers and tend to prefer the company of adults or older children. Join a group in your area so your child can find friends with similar interests. Once children have reached school age, there are fantastic courses and club that children can join which allow for meaningful interaction with peers, while engaging in a common interest. These can be after school activities or special weekend courses run by specialists in each field. This is also a great way for parents to meet and share support and advice. Many of these programs are also accessible to pre school aged children.
Choose their school wisely
Not all schools are created equal!
Invest some time looking into the school that suits the individual needs of your child. Do they run extension programs, or do children who already know an area of work or finish set tasks quickly end up spending time completing ‘fast finishers’ time fillers and not really learning anything new?
Do they extend children in different areas, or only mathematics? Are children able to access reference books and novels from older grades if their reading comprehension far exceeds their peers?
It is truly shocking how often the answers to these questions is “NO”. Ask to see these extension programs, or speak to the teacher in charge of gifted children before your child commences school.
Gifted children should not have to start school ‘early’ in order to be challenged at school. Children can be extended in their learning and remain with their peers.
Learn an instrument, language or art
A great way to keep a gifted child stimulated and wanting to lean more is to learn an instrument or language. Even very young children can be taught to read music and for a child that enjoys a challenge, this can be a wonderful experience they can carry with them throughout their life. There are many different option available including group or individual lessons. Try a few different things and then pick the one that gives your child the most joy.
Stick to a bedtime routine
Gifted children can find it almost impossible to wind down at night. Their brains can be constantly spinning with new ideas, what has happened that day or what will happen tomorrow.
Gifted children often have heightened emotions and when tired, this is exaggerated!
A good bedtime routine will make life easier for everyone. You could help your child start a journal if they are thinking about things they want to remember for tomorrow or start a dream kit where your child can select a piece of paper with a dream starter on it, close their eyes and start on their dream.
Even just keeping their bedtime routine in the same order can be calming for a gifted child.
Enjoy your adventure with your gifted child. There are so many things they can teach you.
Natalie is an Early Childhood Teacher who lives with her husband, children and border collie on a cattle property in NSW.
Natalie is also the co-owner of Nightie Night Lane. Designing and creating Australian made, organic cotton children’s nightwear that is as comfortable as it is beautiful and available online at www.nightienightlane.com
She is a wife and mum of two and understands the craziness that is the wife/mum/business owner/teacher/ farmer life.