The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide
by Judy Galbraith.
Library section 10 D: Youth (Gr. 6-8), Character Building.
This book for gifted and talented (GT) kids aged 11-18 helps them understand what giftedness is, its advantages and disadvantages, how to deal with it, how to find curricula and school programs for gifted and talented teens, and the rights they deserve.
Gifted kids often feel isolated from peers because of the label itself, because they learn with greater ease, or because of visible talents. Peers may tease, bully, or withdraw from gifted kids to the point that GT kids may find it less hurtful and more interesting to spend their time with caring adults who respect their abilities but allow them to kick back and just be themselves.
In addition GT kids may feel pressured to perform perfectly. Such high expectations are unfair and stressful. Sometimes they just want to do less than perfect work, especially in subjects of little interest, or in what they feel are their weaker subjects. Gifted kids are often very tuned into world problems, and they may worry about nuclear war or the global warming. If not in gifted school programs, they may find school boring and tune out or even quit school early.
On the good side, gifted kids can be highly creative, finding unique ways to solve problems. They may feel human injustice keenly and work to alleviate it. They often have a facile sense of humor, understanding jokes peers do not. The speed with which they learn can make it challenging for parents and teachers to keep up.
Yet gifted/talented kids are still kids. They need and deserve help dealing with their abilities. Luckily more and more schools have gifted programs where fast learners are grouped by ability, which is necessary in order to keep them engaged and challenged but not overwhelmed. This book will help gifted/talented kids cope with their abilities and their unique challenges. It helps them feel they are not alone and that someone understands their needs and skills.
Some ways to tell if your child is gifted or talented might be: being able to read well prior to kindergarten; a very early interest in a musical instrument or singing; loving to paint, cut paper and manipulate art materials; “inventing” things; wanting to take machinery apart to see how it works; animal habits or an interest in nature; having fanatical or unusual interests in particular subjects. If that kind of energy, interest and ability keeps up, get them tested in kindergarten or first grade either through school auspices or privately. An IQ test can reveal whether they belong in gifted/talented classes. Either way, parenting is a challenge, no matter your child’s interests and abilities.
It is up to us as parents or educators to give all kids, but especially GT kids, as many opportunities and experiences at age–appropriate levels as we can, to allow them to develop their interests and skills. Such experiences need not be costly. Low cost experiences can be Sunday School, scouting, 4-H, community sports teams, theater and concerts by college students at nearby universities, public libraries, free concert series at churches, community theater, local and state parks, museums, parades, historic sites like battlefields, forts, and presidential homes, shadowing a professional for a day or two, animal sanctuaries, beaches and lakes, and national parks. More expensive options include music or dance lessons, overnight camp, photography, travel in the US and abroad, visiting world class museums of particular interest to the child (art, air and space, natural history, etc.), auditing college summer classes while in middle or high school, visiting relatives in a distant city, learning how to use public transportation like metros, trains and planes, and hobbies that take special equipment.