Sunday, February 28, 2010

The ABCs of Parenting Bright Children

Lately, I’ve been doing some early spring cleaning…cleaning out and reorganizing units…eliminating some of the paper that seems to go along with teaching gifted children.  It is amazing what you can accumulate in 13 years of teaching—and I am not one to keep everything; I refuse to be a pack rat!  Whenever I do this, I find some tidbits of forgotten wisdom or some wonderful activity that I forgot I had and haven’t had a chance to use.  This time was no exception: I came across a packet from a class that I attended back in 2000.  It was called Invention Studio and it was put on by KIDS Work Studios.  KIDS stands for Kids’ Ideas Developed Successfully.  They don’t exist today (at least their site doesn't).  I checked.  The domain name is now for sale, if you are interested.

Back in 2000, a group of people were trying to get a creative invention fair going for kids in the area.  The idea was that it would be a competition for 4th-6th graders who would come up with an invention and then present it in a Science Fair type of setting.  Kids had to go through the entire process of inventing something—from coming up with a problem, to finding a solution, to creating a prototype.  I incorporated the process into a unit on Inventors and it was a big hit.  My kids participated for 4 years before Hurricane Katrina shut down Edgewater Mall—where the fair was normally held—for many months.  I don't think the fair ever came back after Katrina.

Anyway, while looking through the info, I came across a list called The ABC’s of Parenting Bright Children.  I remember thinking that this was a great resource to give to my parents when they asked what they could do to encourage their gifted child to reach his or her potential.  A lot of the items are common sense and I am happy to say that I was already telling parents some of them.  But I thought that it would be good to hear this list again.  We, as parents and teachers, need to internalize these suggestions and use them whenever we can.  As you can imagine, there are 26 items on the list, so I will break it up into a couple of blogs.  Here goes part 1!

A-Give them your love.  Remember, they are still children.  They need assurance, encouragement, controls, and discipline.

B-Help them become familiar with their surroundings, neighborhood, and community.

C-Encourage them to assume responsibility for their own actions—put away what they get out, pick up what they spill, give and take messages correctly.

D-Read to your children and encourage them to read to you.  Early verbal expression, music, art, poetry, and reading are valuable beyond measure.

E-We retain more strongly what we learn in our youth.  Therefore, answer all questions as accurately and as honestly as you can, to the depth required.

F-Encourage your children to have healthy bodies.  Let them learn to play ball, swim, ride a bike, and develop good physical motor ability skills.

G-Children need one or two good friends.  Playmates with similar interests or capabilities are advocated, but not to the exclusion of others.

H-Parents must take the initiative in taking children to museums, art galleries, educational institutions, historical places, etc.  Open their world to encompass as many and varied experiences as possible.

I-Become familiar with your Public Library.  Help your child locate great books in the areas in which he or she expresses interest.  Open their minds to the Internet with guidance and purpose.

J-Avoid pushing a child to perform at a level he or she is not ready to achieve.  There is a difference between pushing and intellectual stimulation.

K-If you can, give your child the advantage of private lessons in some skill in which he or she expresses an interest, or excels.

L-Avoid overstructuring your child’s life.  Children need time to be alone, to rely on their own ingenuity, to choose what they want to do, and contemplate or daydream as the mood strikes.  They cannot be expected to perform at top capacity at all times.

We, as parents and teachers, need some downtime, too.  So go have some fun with your children and with your friends.  You will be a better person, and a better parent, for it!

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