I spend Monday morning hanging out with 50+  11-14 year-olds, conducting a focus group as part of the research for my current project, 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids. Over the hour I spent with them, I asked about their life as gifted kids – touching on their feelings about school, friends, their parents and the good, the bad and the ugly about being identified as gifted.

The group was dynamic, insightful, and completely honest in their feelings. I had them write down some advice and “tips” they had for your GATE kids. Their feedback was amazing.

Yesterday, I went through the information from that focus group.


I knew while I as speaking with them how amazing they were – but to read the cards, their advice, recommendations and tips….it blew me away and completely motivated me to finish up this project. 

Here is just one of the anonymous “letters” someone wrote to a younger kid newly identified as GATE:

Dear Student:

You’re going to have a lot of fun being in GATE. It’s a real honor. At times, though, you are going to get really stressed nd think people don’t understand you. Don’t let that get to you. Learn to relax and just breath through the stress. After all, it really will be okay.

Advice all of us could use!

I have 6 more focus groups to complete my research (in addition to the 300+ surveys I had completed internationally) for this project. It has been a great lesson in research for me as I have learned the right questions to ask to illicit strong responses.

And it has made me think of the research I do for fiction as well. I have met with focus groups when writing stories – asking them what they like in stories and what they don’t (see my post on this here). After Monday’s experience, I assure you it is something I will again. Not only did I get fabulous insight for my current book, but I got an uninterrupted opportunity to observe these guys too.

I meet with a High School group this afternoon – Can.Not.Wait!

What about you guys? Have you ever done (or considered doing) some sort of focus group to get more in touch with your readers?


24 thoughts on “Out of the mouths of kids…

  1. I’ve never done anything like this, but it sounds like a unique opportunity. The anonymous advice to a younger GATE student, was right on the mark. Not to mention, startling comprehension for one so young. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. For my “real” work, we have focus group studies occasionally. We have one going on for brand image later this week where we pull in 2 groups of 8-10 consumers who fit specific target markets and we have them go over brand recognition, tag lines, and that sort of thing, but it’s done more in a “clinical” fashion and I don’t get to be the one interacting with them. I’d really enjoy talking with so many kids about giftedness and feel the potential synergy in the room. 🙂 I’m very jealous of you and your work Christine. 😉

  3. Sounds like you had an amazing experience. I’m always surprised by the unguarded things that will come out of their mouths 🙂

    I love talking to kids. They have such great energy and enthusiasm. I’ve never lead a focus group but I’ve worked as an aide, a substitute teacher and soon I’ll be leading a writing club. Yay!

  4. This is fantastic Christine!

    Sorry I haven’t been around much for the past week. I shifted some priorities and have been out of balance ever since, ya know? I’m sure you know. 😉

  5. I haven’t met with any teenaged focus groups yet, but I have been wondering how I might manage to observe teens in their element.

    I do chat with a couple of fashionista friends occasionally about one character who is very fashion conscious, because I have no knowledge in that area – does that count?

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