The Social Scene at School: 5 Tips to Help Your Gifted Children


Portrait of smiling little school kids in school corridor
Portrait of smiling little school kids in school corridor

Back to school means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some of our gifted kiddos, it means back to the social grind. Many of our gifted children struggle when it comes to making friends. The five tips below can help your gifted children feel more comfortable in the social aspects of their lives:

Healthy Habits: Start off on the right foot by making sure the child is practicing healthy habits that include the following:

  • Rest – no one functions well on little sleep, and while many gifted children need less sleep, it is important that they develop healthy sleep habits
  • Eat well – well-balanced meals are the key.
  • Exercise and relaxation – both are needed in a healthy, well-balanced life
  • Playtime – gifted children are often very serious. Building in playtime, preferably with others, can help provide much-needed balance

Perspective: Teach children how to discern between the things within his control versus those things outside of his control. The Hula Hoop technique can help:

  • Imagine there is a hula hoop on the ground and step into it
  • Everything outside of the hula hoop you have NO control over
  • Everything inside of the hula hoop you have 100% control over
  • The next time you are angry or upset think about the hula hoop. Is this something you have control over, something you can change? If so, make the needed changes. If not, let it go. There is little you can do anyway.

Temperament: Learn the difference between introverts and extroverts (my post earlier this month may help) and help your child determine which one is true for them. This can help in determining the cause and solution for potential problems with peer interactions

Intensities: Help your child deal with their intensities. Here are a few specific strategies to help:

  • Teach children that their feelings are a normal part of his personality.
  • Build activity into the day.
  • Teach relaxation techniques.
  • Allow for creative thinking and creative outlets.

Social Skills: Teach your children these five success tips from 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids (Prufrock Press):

  • You don’t always have to be right.
  • Be a problem solver, not a problem maker
  • Never try to hide your giftedness to make friends – it won’t work anyway
  • Accept yourself and others as you are
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously

These tips will begin to help your children develop the social skills needed to develop healthy peer relationships at school and beyond.

Long Evenings and Good Mornings



The deep drone fills the entire house. I can feel it slightly vibrating the walls. Beep beep beep. I stop what I’m doing and listen for a moment. Then two more. Ah! The alarm has been shut off. The milk I pour into the cup is extra cold and the chocolate syrup takes a while to mix in completely. I put the milk on the table and place a napkin, no, two napkins, next to it.

The bright green digits of the clock on the stove tell me a number of minutes have passed since the alarm was turned off and I haven’t heard any noise from upstairs. At the bottom of the stairs, I pause, listening intently. No movement. I walk up the stairs and peek into the bedroom. A little boy shaped lump, like a mummy made with spaceship-decorated fabric, is laying quietly in bed with the blanket over his head, blocking the light. Asleep.

Loudly, I call to the dog. “Let’s go, Boy! Wake up time!” At the head of the bed, I kiss the round shape at the top of the blanket-mummy and say a cheery, “Good morning” just as the dog jumps onto the bed and starts bouncing him into a wakeful state. I peel back the blanket and give him a kiss on his exposed cheek.

Groggy though my son is, he is still young enough to consider such brash attention first thing in the morning with the good intentions with which it was intended. The dog sniffs his ear and my son starts smiling even though he is not quite awake. To jump start his thinking, I remind him, “Today is picture day! Do you want to wear something special or regular clothes? You have a button down shirt. What about a tie? You can use one of Daddy’s ties. I just have to learn how to tie it.” He surprises me by agreeing to wear the necktie. Google to the rescue.

In only a few years, judging from my experience with my oldest child, such pleasant, if slow, morning interactions will disappear to be replaced by pressing snooze until just enough time remains for the student to throw on (hopefully) clean clothes and dash out the door. All with very little interaction with mommy.

When did I realize our family would never achieve Ozzy and Harriet style fuss-free mornings and evenings? When my kids stopped napping regularly at one and half years old. Sleep, naps or a normal bed time, was elusive. From playing with toes to recounting the entire day and discussing the philosophy of Pokemon—why would anyone want to close their eyes and put a stop to such riveting contemplations? While I like to be understanding, and being privy to the thought processes of my precocious little one makes it easy, we still had to impose silent time.

Rather than wake up when the extra-loud alarm clock buzzes insistently, it is turned off and the morning routine starts to slip. These are the days I hope there is something simple to make for breakfast. I make sure his feet are on the floor and he is supporting his own weight before I go back to the kitchen.

Because I volunteered to learn how to tie a necktie, we’re running a bit later than usual. Just as he comes downstairs, I place a re-heated waffle on the table. I do the morning check: Shoes? Yes. Hair brushed? Good enough. Oops! The shirt is on inside out. He’s a good sport and fixes it.

The time I spent learning how to tie a necktie was probably why we missed the bus. I had the brilliant idea a week ago to get up and cook breakfast 15 minutes earlier. Did it help? No—it took an extra 15 minutes to eat. It was a relaxed 15 minutes, though. It seems, much like projects at work, the task will expand to fit the time available. Ultimately, what works for us is a bit of flexibility; I recognize that we might just need to drive in more than other families.

back-to-school-pop-quiz

Back to School Pop Quiz


back-to-school-pop-quiz

Welcome back to school, everyone! So good to see so many bright and shiny faces! I know we’re going to have a wonderful year, and I can’t wait to get to know all of you.

But first, please take out a Number 2 pencil, put your devices in the Bowl of Integrity on my desk (yes, just like at Trivia Night at the local watering hole), and strap on your thinking caps. It’s a Back to School Pop Quiz!

  1. I am excited to be back to school. T/F
  2. The one thing I am most looking forward to this year is:
    1. Learning all there is to know
    2. Discovering this year’s fundraiser
    3. The new cocktails I’ll concoct to survive the year
    4. Summer Break 2017
  3. The one thing I am most dreading this year is:
    1. Homework and the accompanying battles
    2. This year’s fundraiser
    3. The After-Schooling to feed my child’s insatiable brain-maw.
    4. The second and third jobs I’ll need for #2 and #3.
  4. If Wilson is traveling west on a scooter going 10 mph and Minerva is traveling south on a hovercraft going slightly faster than it takes for a watched pot to boil, what are the pink elephants drinking when they show up at the inevitable meeting we’re going to have about your child? Bonus points for naming the song playing on the ISS at the time, including artist and language.
  5. Please diagram this sentence: Your twice-exceptional child does not test well enough to meet the qualifications for the gifted program at this school; too bad, so sad.
  6. Fill in the blanks:
    This year, I hope my child ___________ and ______________, despite the _________ and the __________. I know the _____________ can be a real ____________, but it’s really in the best interests of the _____________. Ultimately, it’s the _________________’s responsibility that ________________ gets a fair and appropriate education, and _____________, _______________, and ________________ should do well to remember that. ___________ _____________ ____________ ______________ _____________ _______  _____________ _______________ ____ __ ____________ _______________ _________!!!
  7. Are you a robot? Please type what you see in the image below: __________________
    9gbtdvc
  8. Thought experiment: Zombies have come and education as we know it is kaput. You still have a G2e kid. Please demonstrate “now what?” using either interpretive dance, modern art, or twelve-tone serialism a la Schoenberg.
  9. Your teacher is tired of making questions. So if you’ve made it this far choose #1 to get this one correct. Peace out.
    1. YASSSSSS!!!!
    2. Wait, what, really?
    3. That’s it?
    4. Can the whole freaking year BE THIS EASY?
  10. Let’s have a great year! Please write any concerns you may have in the space below:
    _________________________________________

Homeschooling and LD and Falling Through the Cracks Oh My!


eyechartWhen I was a kid, I went to public schools, but they did me no service. I was not diagnosed as having a learning disability until my senior year of college. I knew our girls had strengths and weaknesses, and they needed to be addressed. Unfortunately our experience in the public school realm displayed a lack of recognizing their needs. The school our girls attended seemed to feel that average or within 2 standard deviations of average was acceptable and if you were on the high end, you were fine.  Getting services in public schools can be a challenge; getting services for homeschoolers can be a different kind of challenge.

In schools, getting services for things like dyslexia when your child can still read and comprehend above grade level is near impossible because “she’s within normal range”, “she’s fine.”  We recognize that our daughter needs services even through she reads and tests above her grade level, however we struggle to figure out exactly what services she needs, therefore struggle to know who to ask for help.

So with all this, you may be asking, “Gee Tom, how do you get services for your kids?” Well there is no easy answer to that one. It’s a lot of talking with other parents, hit and miss, trial and error, and referrals from one specialist to another so insurance will cover whatever possible. Families who live in a rural area may not have as many options when it comes to specialists, and that can really suck. We have been fortunate to have found a wealth of knowledge in our support network. We talk to a lot of other parents who face similar challenges and are always sharing curriculum ideas, coping skills as well as therapist experiences.

When our daughter was in school and we were told that she would grow out of her letter reversals, we accepted what the experts were saying rather than follow through with our gut instinct. We delayed her services a couple years and now she struggles more than she probably should.  If we had kept her in school, she would have slid through the cracks though. At home, we know better than to say “she is performing above grade level, so she must be fine.”

When one of our daughters began losing interest in reading and said the words were blurry, we had her checked at the eye doctor who said she was fine. We were not satisfied and went to our support network to find a better optometrist. We had to travel a bit farther and we’re glad we did.  They ran a functional eye test and we learned that she was not “fine.”  This is very typical of how it works in our house: we keep pushing to find the help we need.  I think this is typical of most homeschoolers and public schoolers alike.

So as this school year starts I say, stay strong and keep pushing for help if your gut says it’s needed.  Trust your gut – it’s usually right.  And look in every corner.  You never know where you might find help for various needs.  I would have never guessed that an optometrist could help us beyond the blurry vision.  I would have never guessed an optometrist could say her vision issues are causing her to skip lines and that might be why she’s not understanding what she reads. Help and answers may show up where you least expect them.

 

5 Back-to-School Tips for Gifted Introverts


School child writting on blackboard.

Happy Labor Day to my US friends. As we enter this new week, most of our kids are back in school. This can be a hard transition for some, including introverted children and our gifted introverts (which many are).

Before I get into a few tips to ensure a great year, let me take a minute to define introversion. Introvert is a term that refers to how someone processes their energy and renews. Different from “shy” or “behavior inhibition” – things that can change over a lifetime, introversion relates to the way you interact with the world. Introverted children (and adults) renew through solitude and quiet, while extroverts tend to renew through social connections. For this reason, the social milieu of school can often be overwhelming. This can be particularly true for our gifted introverts who naturally feel things at a highly intense level. The constant push for collaborative projects, speaking in class and social interactions can leave our gifted children exhausted. And most of us who parent gifted children know that their exhaustion almost always leads to intense behaviors.

Here are a few tips that can calm some of the social apprehension many of our gifted children feel as they start a new school year, as well as ease some of the behaviors that often come at the beginning of the year:

  1. Prepare Your Child For the Year – Most introverted children struggle with transitions. So, curtail the difficulty with sufficient preparation: If your child is attending a new school, be sure to visit and walk the campus. Make sure he or she knows where to find things like the bathroom, the library, and the classroom. Don’t assume the campus tours are enough. Also, practice morning and homework routines. If you haven’t maintained these practices during the summer months, be sure to go over your expectations with your children. Include them in the development of the routine for even smoother transition. The more prepared your child is, the better the transition into the school year.
  2. Create a Partnership With School – Get to know the school personnel early. Speak with the teacher and find out what he/she expects regarding group work and oral participation. Talk with the teacher about your child and the impact of both giftedness and introversion. Work together to ensure that your child has safe zones – places they can go when they become socially overwhelmed or need an energy break. Also, work with the teachers and your child to develop a way for your child to advocate for him/herself with the teacher. Whether the concern relates to the introversion or the giftedness, the sooner your child learns how to get his or her needs met, the sooner these things become less of a problem in your child’s life.
  3. Avoid Afternoon Small Talk – Have you ever noticed how hard it is for your gifted introvert to talk about the day? This is often because the child hasn’t been given sufficient “downtime”. As I mentioned earlier, introverts require time to decompress after the socially draining school day. Avoid the habit of immediately asking your child about his or her day the second they get home. Give your child space and time to veg out after school. This will allow your child to restore his or her depleted energy and avoid energy-low behavioral outbursts. A natural conversation at dinner or before bed will often yield more complete answers to the “how was your day” question.
  4. Don’t Panic Over Friendships – As parents, we want our children to have lots of friends. However, most gifted introverts will only have one or two close friendships at any given time. Introverts, by nature, prefer deep relationships with one or two individuals. Gifted children, too, often prefer deeper friendships at a much younger age than their typical peers. Allowing and guiding your children toward the development of natural friendships without putting too much pressure to be overly social will enable them to recognize their particular social habits as normal instead of yet another thing to feel shameful about – and trust me, gifted kiddos feel plenty of shame without adding to it!
  5. Stress Healthy Habits – Las but not least, create life-long important habits by stressing healthy eating, exercise, and plenty of play and sleep. Introverts process energy differently than their extroverted friends. This extends to physiological functions like digestion too. Meals with balanced protein and slow-releasing sugar (like most fruit and veggies) are keep to help gifted introverts stay in balance. Exercise can keep the gifted introvert from becoming too detached and laid back, not to mention it helps them connect to the physical world and get out of their head a bit. Appropriate sleep (remember, many gifted kids need less sleep), and plenty of play are also important for balance.  Developing these important habits will go a long way to prevent the more negative aspects of an overwhelmed temperament and avoid behavioral blow-outs.

The start of the school year can be an exciting time. Help your child make it a great year by considering both the giftedness and their temperament.How do you prepare your kid for school? I’d love to hear from you!

For more ideas on supporting introversion and understanding both introversion and extroversion, check out Quiet Kids, available from Prufrock Press.

Getting the Band Back Together…


Hey there – I am so excited to bring you today’s post! After attempting to blog by myself and getting lost in the creative weeds, I decided that I really missed my group blog. So, I have pulled the team back together. Jen Merrill and Tom Furman have graciously agreed to come back to this blog and post on things related to the world of gifted children. Kim McNeil is joining us as well. Along the way, we may have a few guest posters from time to time. The idea here is to create a community where we can talk about some of the issues related to the world of giftedness and offer insights where we can.

Each month we will embark on a different theme. We’ll be posting on the theme a couple of times a week – Monday and Thursday. This month we are focusing on gifted children and school. September can be an intimidating month for parents and kids as they enter back into the routine of school. Whether you are homeschooling, private schooling, or utilizing public educational systems, few things cause more angst than the school setting.

I’ll get us started on Monday with the topic. We hope you enjoy everything and share your thoughts too.

 

Thanks!

New Things Coming


3d4ac-excitement

Wow! Has it really been over six months since I last blogged here. Yikes! Thank goodness I am switching things up again.😀  I am changing this blog again. Actually I am going back to what it was a couple of years ago – a group blog to talk about giftedness, intensity and the quirks of living an intense life. Five bloggers, including myself, will start blogging in a couple of weeks.

What does this mean for all of you?

Quality posts on a regular basis. FINALLY! I am so excited to bring this back! I will post more about this in the upcoming weeks.

WOO HOO!!!

What kind of topics would you like us to blog about?

#EverydayEmpathy


Wow! I’ve been a bad blogger. It’s been three months since my last post. Oops. My only excuse – all the fun I’m having in my fictional worlds and with the new job.

Speaking of the new job, one of the things I love about it is my chance to create new content. In particular, I’ve been part of a group that has created a campaign to teach and promote the development of empathy on school campuses. This campaign, fittingly called #EverydayEmpathy, builds on the work from the Start Empathy organization  and brings daily activities that promote the development of empathy.

I invite you to checkout the website for this campaign on the Collaborative Learning Solutions website. Maybe there are a few activities you’d like to try.

Looking for a “gifted” coach?


Did you know that emotional coaching is a highly effective way to reach gifted children? Not only that, but parent coaching can provide parents of gifted children with the insight they need to meet the needs of their gifted kiddos.

When I started working with families of gifted children nearly 2 decades ago, I became increasingly aware that teachers, parents, and students all needed more resources and more support than was available. That is a large part of the reason why I wrote Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students and 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids.  

As the years went on, I realized that the books weren’t enough. I could do more to support our gifted population and those that serve them. My consulting and coaching business grew from that desire. Now I am a regular speaker at school districts and other venues. My audience includes parents, educators, and students. Topics include the social-emotional needs of gifted students, understanding the role of temperament and using social-emotional learning competencies to coach gifted children. Speaking events can be presentation or workshop style.

In addition to my speaking events, I also provide coaching for gifted children and their parents. Different from counseling or therapy, the coaching I provide is centered on understanding giftedness and how to maximize potential through empowerment and embracing the positive aspects of giftedness while managing some of the difficulties. I work with clients on goal-setting, specific strategies to address areas of concern, and other skills to help them fulfill their goals.

If you or your organization would like more information about speaking opportunities or coaching, please contact me through my website by clicking HERE.

For 2016, I will be looking for more ways to support the gifted community, as well as anyone living an intense life. If you have ideas about what you’d like to see from me, please leave me a comment and let me know.

Thank you for the ways you supported gifted individuals.