Enriching Holiday Gatherings with Intergenerational Interviews

Parent tips and teacher ideas below!

by Emily VR

At holiday gatherings somewhere, perhaps, young children converse quietly with adults and behave just as their parents hoped.  If you’re like the rest of us, you may be looking for ideas to keep your kids from mayhem (or from disappearing with a book) while visiting with extended family.

One solution?  Try connecting children with their older relatives for family interviews.

This fall, a nonprofit group called StoryCorps launched the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” to engage older children in documenting the stories of their grandparents or elders.  Students age 13 and older are eligible to participate, and they can record and upload family interviews to the Library of Congress through a free app.

The “Listen” is designed for high school students, but children can conduct interviews, too – and they don’t need a national project to try it! With guidance from parents or teachers, even young students can learn more about a loved one.  Winter holidays can provide unique opportunities for conversations, and interviews can be conducted at almost any gathering, by children at almost any school age, on a wide range of topics, and with any recording device.  If extended family is far away, phone interviews can be recorded, and a call can warm the holiday of an older relative.

Teachers:  what role can you play, and how might this benefit your students?  Here are some tips from a teacher on including interview assignments in your lesson plans:

  • Language Arts:  One of the exciting challenges of a first-person interview is determining how to present and archive the interview data.  Having to process this raw data into a coherent narrative, for example, is the essence of journalistic storymaking.  One idea might be to have your students study how top periodical sources present interviews, and to use these as a model for a “class magazine” of historical interviews.
  • History:  Interviewing a family elder can help a child understand the social and historical context in which life events occurred.  Unlike a textbook, which provides only a broad, academic take on history, an interview adds a layer of personal experience which can bring history to life, especially when the child sees his own ancestor/family embedded in it.
  • STEM:  Learning how a family member problem-solved and dealt with life’s vicissitudes is a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast the technology available at the time, the scientific understanding which framed the events, and perhaps even “primitive” medical treatments which played a role.
  • Multimedia:  Students may choose to combine the raw data gathered in the interview with family photos and videos to create a multimedia product showing an event or period in history.
  • Common Core Standards:  The process of designing, conducting and archiving an interview touches on numerous Speaking and Listening standards in the Common Core English Language Arts: http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/SL/introduction/

Parents:  if your child hasn’t been assigned an interview at school, you can make the project into a home enrichment activity.  Our test subjects were eager participants, but if your children aren’t, interviews could be part of a scavenger hunt, game, or project in an area of interest.  Interviews can be formal or informal, and you can tailor length and format to your family.  Here are some general tips:

Preparation

Consider recording the interview:  this can allow your child to better focus on listening.  Notes (if needed) can be taken later, from the recording.  Digital recorders can produce high quality recordings, but a phone app can serve the purpose just as well and costs less.

Locate a comfortable spot with minimal background noise and few distractions.  Consider testing your recording device where it will be used; for some devices, an A/C or heater fan (seemingly quiet at the time) can make recordings hard to understand.  Help your child learn how the device works (a lost or inaudible recording can be upsetting), or for a young child, you may wish to operate the device yourself.  Find out if the subject should speak into the device or if the phone/microphone can be placed nearby.  Videos can be wonderful to have, but they may make some subjects more self-conscious than an audio recording.

Interview questions

The StoryCorps Teacher Toolkit and other resources (below) offer question suggestions and advice.  Successful questions can depend on the child’s level of understanding, wording, and the subject’s feelings about the interview and topic.  Some subjects may enjoy opportunities for broad, subjective responses, and others may feel more comfortable with narrower questions.  From the below sources, our favorite questions include:

  • Please tell me about your parents.
  • Please tell me about a teacher or other adult who impacted your life while you were growing up.
  • What did you do during the summers when you were growing up?
  • When you were younger, what did you imagine your job would be?
  • What are your most vivid memories of school?
  • Please share some important lessons you’ve learned in life.
  • Of the family members you have known or heard about, who do you think lived the most interesting life, and why?
  • Please tell me about an accomplishment you are proud of or a challenge you overcame.
  • Do you remember songs you sang as a child, or songs you sang to your children when they were young? Could you sing one for me now?  (A five-year-old asked this question during a Thanksgiving interview, and his great-grandmother sang him a song in a language she learned when young and remembered beautifully.)

Teachers and parents can also guide students in selecting or brainstorming questions related to the child’s area of study.

Tips for a positive experience

  • Allow the child/student to select the interview questions (within reason). If he or she can ask about areas of interest and curiosity, the conversation can be more meaningful for everyone.
  • Remember age-appropriate expectations for interview length: generally, a 10-year-old can handle a longer conversation than a 5-year-old.  Consider taking breaks, especially for younger children –though they may maintain more interest than you expect!
  • Consider helping younger children craft questions likely to elicit shorter answers – the experience can be more relaxed if the child stays engaged throughout the answer.
  • When your child selects questions, if you spot sensitive or controversial topics, you may wish to provide guidance in making adjustments.  If you know of topics likely to trigger a negative or painful reaction, help your child avoid them.  On the other hand, if your subject may wish to discuss hardships he or she faced, such as inequality before or after the Civil Rights Movement, you could share your child’s questions with the interviewee in advance.
  • Consider preparing children to go “off script” when appropriate – they (or you) may wish to ask follow-up questions about interesting or meaningful stories.
  • If your loved one is coping with memory loss, consider preparing your child to ask about subjects or time periods you think the interviewee can remember.  Prepare your child to be able to move on to the next question if needed.
  • Consider taking a photo of your child with his or her loved one following the interview!

Follow up

Young children may need parent help during interviews and in transferring recordings.  If sensitive or politically charged topics arise unexpectedly, parents can offer perspective and context afterward, and children may be inspired to conduct further research.

When finished, your child will have a recording to save and will take away additional benefits.  Few things make history lessons as effective as seeing events through the eyes of people who witnessed them.   Building relationships with older relatives can benefit your child in a number of ways, including the opportunity to explore family traditions (Webb, J. et al, 2007).  Your child may remember time spent with older relatives when he or she reaches the same age — and in the present, your child can help older loved ones to feel valued, to leave a personal legacy, and to relive their memories.  If your child creates a presentation or product from the interview, it can bring joy to the interviewee and become an invaluable piece of family history for future years.

StoryCorps operates year round.  In addition to preserving history, its website shares another mission:  to “provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.”  According to StoryCorps, sharing and listening can remind us of our shared humanity, can build connections, and can teach the value of listening.  The project aims to weave a message into the fabric of our culture:  everyone’s story matters.

For us, that message resonates this holiday season.  With a little help, younger children and students can learn to listen to life stories, as well – and they might benefit the most from the experience.

Sending warm wishes for connections and peace, from our families to yours.

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Many thanks to Ben Koch for the above teacher tips and expertise.

We are proud this post is part of the Surviving the Holidays Blog Hop on Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page!

Hoagies December

Blog Hop graphic by Pamela S Ryan – click above for more Blog Hop posts!

 

Resources and Further Reading

Apps for recording in-person interviews:

Outside StoryCorps, we tried out five separate apps (with kids!).  Below are our initial impressions.  Different environments may yield different results, and we recommend testing any app or recording device in your location.

  • iTalk: Our favorite:  easy to record, users can choose recording quality, shorter audio files were easily transferred to a computer by e-mail, and both the recording quality and volume seemed the best from our sessions.  The interviewee’s voice sounded crisp and clear. Longer files cannot be e-mailed, and require an extra step to transfer (dropbox, iPhone transfer).  We did not edit sound files for any of the apps used.
  • Audio Memos, and the iPhone (included) “Voice Memos” app: These tied for second favorite.   Audio Memo playback sounded a bit muffled, and when held from the same distance as iTalk, the interviewee’s voice did not sound as clear in these.  The interviews were still easy to understand, and easy to e-mail to a computer.
  • Super Note: Our recording sounds clear when played back within the app, but we haven’t yet had success opening the file on a computer outside of iTunes.
  • Audio Note: Audio Note allows the user to type notes while either recording or playing back, and the files were easy to transfer.  When our (unedited) recording was played back on a computer, however, at least from this recording environment, our Audio Note file seemed to have the lowest volume and sound quality.

Additional apps and reviews can be found online, along with programs for preserving phone interviews.  To record by phone, we recommend checking applicable laws and getting permission from everyone on the call.

StoryCorps and the Great Thanksgiving Listen:

Teacher resources:

Interview tips and questions:

Intergenerational Relationship Benefits:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncharted Territory: Early Milestones and Educational Planning

by Emily VR

When parents watch developmental milestones, they usually think about delays.  If a baby seems to be on track, or even hits milestones early, parents breathe a sigh of relief.  One less thing to worry about… right?

Imagine, for a moment, that parenting books carried the following warning:

If your child reaches milestones significantly ahead of schedule, contact your pediatrician for a referral.  Some early milestones may be normal, but they may also be signs of a condition known as “giftedness,” which can cause educational and emotional challenges if not addressed.  If identified early, accommodations may increase chances of optimal development, and may decrease risks of negative outcomes.    

How might our views of education change?

Not all experts agree on how to define or measure giftedness, but a number of psychologists have studied early signs of advanced development.  In Deborah Ruf’s book, 5 Levels of Gifted, characteristics are provided for each level, including some signs thought to be present shortly after birth.  For example, before school entry, children in levels two and three were found to demonstrate strong memories, advanced vocabulary, and comprehension significantly ahead of typically developing children (Ruf, D. L., 2009).  There is disagreement on the reliability of IQ testing in preschoolers and in diverse populations, but in general, most experts in the field seem to agree that children later identified as gifted demonstrate early signs of advanced, rapid development.  Unfortunately, according to child development theories still taught when many classroom teachers received their degrees, toddlers and preschoolers were said to be incapable of grasping some of the advanced concepts now known to be demonstrated by gifted children — and few if any exceptions were noted (example: Berk, L. E., 1989).

Today, for those parents who notice early differences and know what to research, no shortage of material exists. Risks from the fictional warning above are cited in numerous sources. Still, this information does not always reach mainstream books or training for the people on the front lines, often unaware of what they are missing: the majority of parents and teachers.

What happens when young children with unusually advanced cognitive development enter school?  Teachers without support and training can have a difficult time keeping these students busy and learning. Some gifted education experts, in fact, consider young gifted children to be a special population needing identification and assistance (Karnes, F. A. & Stephens, K. R., 2008). Meanwhile, parents coping with unusual development and intensity (another characteristic of giftedness) may have already searched frantically through child developmental books, such as this resource (otherwise excellent!), without answers:

AAP Book
  one of the author’s oft-used reference books 

To further complicate matters, gifted-identified children often exhibit asynchronous development:  the same 6-year-old who likes division and reads 4th grade chapter books may struggle with writing.  She may also wear out her parents with typical 6-year-old behavior.  In school, many gifted children do not thrive when faced with lessons a year or more below their level.  At best, they may fail to develop skills needed for future challenges – at worst, they can disengage and develop negative coping strategies, confusing parents and teachers.

Awareness of potential ability/curriculum mismatch can better prepare parents and teachers to find solutions.  In states where gifted services can vary significantly between districts or schools, early awareness can help parents make better informed school choices.  Since advanced development exists in all populations, and since care must be taken to avoid missed identification in diverse populations, all teachers of young children need awareness to identify needs.

In states with large classes and inadequate school funding, educators must triage.  Federal requirements help protect students with identified disabilities, but students with advanced, asynchronous development receive few to no accommodations in some states.  Researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that contrary to popular myth, these students will not “be fine” on their own, and without intervention, face increased risks during their teen years.

The needs of children with all learning differences must be taken seriously.  Just as we must provide an environment in which children with disabilities can learn, we need better access to information about preventing typical problems faced by young children with advanced development.  Twice-exceptional children have both advanced development and an area of disability, and they suffer when either area is overlooked.

From a parenting perspective, whether a child is exhibiting advanced development or developmental delays, identifying and supporting a child’s unique strengths is critical for self-esteem and motivation.

Looking beyond IQ:  how might early identification of additional abilities benefit parents and teachers of all children?  Psychologist Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences includes strengths in a wide range of areas:  linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist, and existential (Karnes & Stephens, 2008).  Parents may discover and develop some talents without having heard of Gardner – and most experts agree that preschool children need play more than anything else – but when children do enter school, better awareness of strengths can help educators keep students engaged.

Children with advanced development are found in all populations, and public school is the only option for many families.  For all children to receive a free, appropriate public education, we must embrace differences which can be identified before school entry.  To avoid gaps in meeting needs, parents and teachers must know what to watch for, which strategies should be used, what might go wrong, and where to get help.  Information about both strengths and needs can be used in supporting and developing the individual abilities of all students, regardless of academic aptitude.

If we can better equip parents and teachers, we can better identify learning differences in all students. When we see the world through the eyes of students — including students with differences — we can better reach and inspire all children.

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We are proud this post is part of the Ages and Stages Blog Hop on Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page!

Blog Hop graphic by Pamela S Ryan – click above for more Blog Hop posts!

Author note:  This discussion is not in any way intended to make light of struggles faced by parents of children with special needs, the experiences of parents investigating milestone delays, or the continuing need for improvement in services for children with disabilities.  My hope is that increasing numbers of advocates for gifted education will include Special Education and learning disabilities in their efforts. Working together, I believe we can improve the education of all children with differences.

Sources and Further Reading

The nonprofit SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) offers publications and brochures designed to raise awareness about advanced development needs.  Several are free for download or order, and can be provided to pediatricians or schools:  http://sengifted.org/resources/seng-publications

Farmer, D. (1996).  Parenting Gifted Preschoolers.  Agustega Information Services:  Davidson Institute for Talent Development.  Retrieved from http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10106.aspx

Francis A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies (2015).  Gifted Preschooler.  Retrieved from  https://www.usm.edu/karnes-gifted/gifted-preschooler

Gardner, H. (2011).  Multiple Intelligences (web). Retrieved from http://howardgardner.com/multiple-intelligences/  

Karnes, F. A. and Stephens, K. R. (2008).  Achieving Excellence: Educating the Gifted and Talented. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

Neville, C. S., Piechowsky, M. and Tolan, S.  (2013). Off the Charts: Asynchrony and the Gifted Child.  Unionville: New York.

Renzulli, J. S. (2002).  Giftedness and High School Dropouts:  Personal, Family, and School-related Factors.  The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented: University of Connecticut.  Retrieved from http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/nrcgt/reports/rm02168/rm02168.pdf

Ruf, D. L. (2009).  5 Levels of Gifted.  Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.

Ruf, D. L. (2009).  Preschool Behaviors in Gifted Children.  Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented.  Retrieved from http://mcgt.net/preschool-behaviors-in-gifted-children

Shelov, S. P. and Altmann, T. R. (2009).  Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, Fifth Edition.  American Academy of Pediatrics: Bantam Books.

Berk, L. E. (1989).  Child Development, Fourth Edition.  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

The Oxygen Mask: Gifted and 2e Parenting

by Emily VR

Despite decades of research and advocacy, misconceptions about gifted students persist. Among the myths listed by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), this one may be the most damaging: “gifted students don’t need help; they’ll do fine on their own.”

The same myth could be used to describe parents of gifted children.

Fortunately, help is available. A number of organizations and university programs offer parenting resources. The nonprofit SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) was founded after the suicide of a gifted teenager, and it works to support families and raise awareness about gifted differences and needs.  Several states require gifted programs or accommodations for gifted-identified students. A few states require IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) for gifted students – just as for students served by Special Education. A number of gifted parenting books offer advice for home and school, and local enrichment options are often available. For families living in areas without gifted programs, online resources continue to expand for gifted homeschooling and enrichment.

Even with help, meeting the needs of a student with differences can be complicated and exhausting – especially if your student is twice-exceptional (gifted with other special needs), is highly to profoundly gifted, or belongs to another special population. In many ways, gifted parenting is similar to coping with other learning differences. It often requires school advocacy. It requires learning about a label and recommendations, and about how characteristics manifest in your individual child. It may require keeping up with research, and searching for outside resources, evaluations, and/or therapy. It can involve misconceptions and assumptions, and you may feel isolated. It requires educating others about your child’s differences and needs – year after year. It requires – well, dealing with your child. On a daily basis.

When encouraging parents to practice self-care, experts sometimes use the example of an oxygen mask. In airplanes, flight attendants tell parents to put on their own oxygen masks before helping their children. Just as children are more likely to survive a plane emergency with conscious parents, children are better equipped to handle life’s challenges when parents take care of themselves emotionally. Dr. Ann Dunnewold, psychologist and author of several parenting books, uses the metaphor of a pitcher of liquid, or of an emotional bank account. When parents constantly give of themselves emotionally, if they never pause to replenish, they eventually run on empty.

For parents of children with special needs, self-care often seems like an impossibility.  There is always more for a parent to do – more to research, more recommendations to follow, more interventions to try. Yet carving out time to care for your own needs isn’t a selfish act: it can recharge the energy you need for your children. It can make you more efficient and effective.

It can make you a better parent.

So, when you have a gifted or twice-exceptional child, where can you find your oxygen mask?

• Seek support from other gifted parents. If your area doesn’t have a local parent group for gifted families, you can ask if a group for special needs will embrace gifted parents.  You can also begin a group.  SENG offers local and online parent support groups, and a number of gifted organizations offer discussion forums.

• Take a day or weekend for yourself, if you are able.  In her book Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Lunch Box, Dr. Ann Dunnewold notes that Maya Angelou recommended getting away for a day, regularly, to put one’s life in perspective.

• Take care of your physical and mental health.  Several sources offer advice on finding practitioners experienced with gifted children and adults.  In A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, for example, Dr. James Webb’s chapter on “Finding Professional Help” offers tips which can apply to both gifted children and adults.

• Cut yourself some slack.  Perfectionism can take a toll on both parents and children. Dr. Dunnewold suggests a paradigm shift. Instead of trying to be “perfect,” you can focus on being “perfectly good,” on being yourself, and on accepting your human limitations (more tips in June Cleaver).

• Pursue your passions!  Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element explores the potential of finding where talents and personal passions intersect, and the journey of seeking fulfillment.

• Protect free time. A rush-free parenting approach may ease stress and allow for unstructured time and creative pursuits.

• Nurture your needs through books!  Bibliotherapy can be effective for both gifted children and adults.

• Learn about your own intensities. A growing number of articles and books address issues facing gifted adults.

• Seek friends who support you.  Some parents, sadly, engage in “mommy wars” and relational aggression, which is similar to childhood bullying.  As noted by Dr. Dunnewold, parenting is not a contest, and you do not need to tolerate this behavior. You can find parent friends who appreciate you and your children for who you are.

• Frustrated with gifted education? Help make it better.  Many educators of gifted children wish they could do more for their students, and they need parent support. Groups and individual parents can volunteer to help teachers, schools, and state or national nonprofit groups.  They can advocate at the district and state level. Getting involved may help some parents cope with feeling powerless, and can make positive change after a difficult experience or year.

Parents facing your same challenges may be few in your area – but they are out there, looking for support. You are not alone.  Not every strategy works for everyone, but we can all find our oxygen masks. Whatever yours may be, remember to use it, to breathe, and to include yourself in your daily care.

If we want our children to take good care of themselves, and to seek help when they need it, we must lead by example.  In the meantime, our self-care helps our children: it gives them happier, more fulfilled parents.

Hoagies Help

We are proud this post is part of the How and When to Ask for Help Blog Hop on Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page!

Blog Hop graphic by Pamela S Ryan – click above for more Blog Hop posts!

Resources:

November 2014 Hoagies’ Blog Hop on Gifted Self-Care:
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_gifted_self_care.htm

Myths about Gifted Students, National Association for Gifted Children:
http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/myths-about-gifted-students

Gifted Education by State, National Association for Gifted Children:
http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/gifted-state

Your True North: A Course on Sir Ken Robinson’s Finding Your Element, by NuMinds Enrichment: http://numien.com/online-courses/

Books by Ann Dunnewold:
Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Lunchbox: Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Still Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting (2007).
The Motherhood Club: Help, Hope, and Inspiration for New Mothers from New Mothers (2002), with Shirley Washington.

SENG Model Parent Support Groups:
http://sengifted.org/programs/seng-model-parent-groups

SENG’s 25th Anniversary Conference: Reflections on SENG’s History by James T. Webb
http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/sengs-25th-anniversary-conference-reflections-on-sengs-history

Finding the Right Mental Health Provider for Your Gifted/Talented Child, by Tiombe-Bisa Kendrick:
http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/finding-the-right-mental-health-provider-for-your-giftedtalented-child

Tips for Selecting the Right Counselor or Therapist For Your Gifted Child, by James T. Webb: http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/tips-for-selecting-the-right-counselor-or-therapist-for-your-gifted-child

Can you hear the flowers sing? Issues for gifted adults, by Deirdre Lovecky
Retrieved from Davidson Institute for Talent Development:
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10229.aspx

Review of Searching for Meaning by James Webb:
https://thefissureblog.com/category/books-and-movies/

Ode to a Rush-Free Childhood

by Pia K. Ruda

As parents, we are constantly playing catch up in several fields at once, trying to keep up with the others. Almost two months before the new school year started, I was already too late to sign up for library duty at my son’s school.  More efficient and organized parents had taken the shifts, on the first day of sign ups.  To get the optimal time slots for piano lessons, tennis, or art classes, you have to be on it.  I am an outcast in this game.  In fact, I am growing to celebrate it.

I’ve seen many kids pushed into too many activities by perky parents, but especially by parents of endlessly curious, high ability children (code for gifted).  These parents sigh that their offspring is “just so interested in everything.”  They say that their kids insist on being a part of all those activities.  Gifted children do often have natural abilities in several areas:  sports, acting, music, or art, to name a few. Luckily, many fields can be explored in unstructured ways that do not require long-term commitments.  A pursuit does not always have to give your child a certificate of achievement or a medal at the end.  

Luckily, many fields can be explored in unstructured ways that do not require long-term commitments.  A pursuit does not always have to give your child a certificate of achievement or a medal at the end.

Choosing the rush-free path can be especially hard with the multi-talented gifted child. What if he could be the next big thing in something that we rule out?  What if he misses out, if he doesn’t reach his potential?  Well, then, I guess we will never find out – and I choose to take comfort in that.  I believe that true passions are not so easily silenced, and that they will thrive even in less optimal conditions.  I believe that they will grow, much like resistant wildflowers between the rocks, without all that top-of-the-line fertilizer and weeding.  Boredom makes healthy wrinkles and cracks in our kids’ perfect lives.  Through those cracks, creativity and new ideas flourish.

I believe that they will grow, much like resistant wildflowers between the rocks, without all that top-of-the-line fertilizer and weeding.  Boredom makes healthy wrinkles and cracks in our kids’ perfect lives.  Through those cracks, creativity and new ideas flourish.

Having moved to the U.S. a little over a decade ago, it has been interesting to observe parental roles and expectations in this country.  Here, filling a child’s life with as many structured activities as possible seems to be one of the key measuring sticks of successful parenting.  Families aim for perfectly planned and balanced schedules with a great variety of activities.  These tightly packed days start in toddlerhood.  I remember watching my boys’ classmates getting hastily transported to activities after Pre-K, shoving down a snack in the car.   They ran to karate, ballet, violin, baseball, art, or gymnastics – a different activity each day.   “You want them exposed,” parents would say.  “You want to give them all these choices.  You don’t want them to miss out.”

But what if they miss out on their own childhood?

A gifted child, especially one with the perfectionism monster lurking on his shoulder, can get anxious with the pressures and demands. Some gifted kids base their self-worth on their achievements, on what they measurably do.  Especially for these children, it can be beneficial to consciously shift the focus towards celebrating learning itself.  They need awareness of their own discoveries, their new connections and thoughts, and the feelings found within themselves, through the exploration of a new field. In order to give room for character development, I firmly believe in allowing our children breathing room.  They need space to discover who they are, and what is truly important to them.  They need unstructured time, to discover their inner world, without too much push-and-pull and direction.  

Social-emotional growth and well-being need both time and space.

Cultural reflection is where I spend a lot of my own time.  From my perspective, I see this game – scheduling and programming our children and youth – in the revealing Arctic light.  In my native country, little Finland, things are different.  We have no school sports teams, no cheerleaders, and no prom queens or kings.  In Finland, college admissions are solely based on academic success in high school, as well as subject specific entry exams.  As a result, the kids are not required to have inhumane numbers of recorded achievements from a variety of extracurricular activities.  In Finland, kids spend their afternoons playing, with a hobby of their choice, or sometimes just getting bored.

We Finns are a nation of complete slacker parents compared to the U.S. – yet Finland has gained positive publicity over the past years, shining at the top of international comparisons of learning results. Critical thinking is valued high.  You can’t analyze if you are over-scheduled – with too little time, you just take information in, without digesting it.  I see the rush-free childhood as a right, much like recess and school lunches.  These are children’s rights, not privileges.  For me, this is closely linked to “instinct parenting,” which gives the parents the right to follow their own safe instincts when parenting their own children, instead of religiously following the manual of the moment.

We Finns are a nation of complete slacker parents compared to the U.S. – yet Finland has gained positive publicity over the past years, shining at the top of international comparisons of learning results. Critical thinking is valued high.  You can’t analyze if you are over-scheduled – with too little time, you just take information in, without digesting it.

So, I’ve decided it is just fine not keeping up with it all, and I think we’re still going to be just fine in the end.  I have never heard an adult complain bitterly that he had too much time to play as a kid, or that he spent too many hours reading books and riding his bike.  I have, however, heard bitter adults share memories of parents making them play a certain sport, or practice an instrument for which they themselves felt no passion.  

Yes, my boys are missing out on so many activities in which they could potentially shine.  But I would rather have them not miss out on their own childhood.  I want to give them space to find themselves, and not force-feed the ingredients of the ideal overachiever. That is where my priority lies. With the long American school days, and excessive amounts of homework, it is hard — but I try to give my sons the leading parts in their childhoods. Now is the time, for there won’t be any dress rehearsals.

Gifted 101: The 6 Gifted Profiles

Help for both parents and teachers — free parent resources also below!

by Emily VR

The situation:  It’s the first month of school. You’re a teacher, and your class includes a few gifted-identified children. You’ve worked hard to plan and differentiate your lessons.  All of your students seem engaged, except… one of your gifted students. He’s not doing his work, and you don’t know why. Another of your gifted students won’t attempt challenges – it’s like she’s hiding her ability. One more gifted student shows incredible insight during discussions, but he seems to struggle with reading and writing. (You’re surprised that he qualified for gifted program services.) At least one of your gifted students is wonderful – she gets straight As, and it seems like she doesn’t need anything from you!

Can all of these children be gifted? How do you cope with their mysterious differences?

Thankfully, in 1988, two leaders in gifted education provided some answers for both teachers and parents.  In their “Profiles of the Gifted and Talented,” George Betts and Maureen Neihart identify six profiles of student behaviors, helping adults to better understand student feelings and needs.  A child may fit more than one profile at once, and can change profiles over time, depending on internal and external factors. No profile is limited by gender or family background, though some characteristics can occur more frequently in certain populations.

Let’s examine the profiles and help some students!

Type One: Successful

This student does well in school! She rarely gets in trouble. She may be a perfectionist, and she is “eager for approval from teachers, parents and other adults.” She is sometimes perceived as not needing anything special. If she is not challenged, however, she may learn to put forth minimal effort – and may not learn the skills and attitudes needed for future creativity and autonomy.

Recommendations for Successful-type students include opportunities for challenge, risk-taking, mentorships, and independent learning, as well as time with intellectual peers.

Type Two: Challenging / Creative

This student is creative, stands up for his convictions, and may question rules. If he isn’t challenged and engaged, he can exhibit inconsistent work habits, boredom, and impatience. Teachers may feel frustrated with him, and he can have low self-esteem. If his abilities are not understood and supported, he “may be ‘at risk’ for dropping out of school, ‘drug addiction or delinquent behavior if appropriate interventions are not made by junior high.'”

Creative students need tolerant adults, support for creativity and strengths, placement with appropriate teachers, in-depth studies, and opportunities to build self-esteem. In 2010, Betts and Neihart renamed the “Challenging” profile to “Creative,” reflecting these students’ potential.

Note: Though the curriculum is designed to challenge the majority of students, typical differentiation may not reach levels needed by some gifted students, holding them back in subjects or entire grades.

Type Three: Underground

An “Underground” student may start as Successful, but she later conceals or denies her abilities. Looking for social acceptance, she may drop out of her gifted program, resist challenges, struggle with insecurity, and allow her grades to decline. She may be a middle-school aged girl, may belong to a population facing added obstacles, or could be any student facing pressure not to achieve in school.

Recommendations for this type require balancing. Underground students “should not be permitted to abandon all projects or advanced classes,” but may benefit from permission to take a break from G/T classes. These students need to be “accepted as they are.” Adults can provide alternate ways to meet academic needs, the freedom to make choices, and help with college/career planning.

Type Four: At-Risk

An “At Risk” student may feel angry, resentful, depressed, and/or explosive. He may have a poor self-concept, act out, and have poor attendance, yet he may have interests and strengths outside of school. He may feel “angry with adults and with [himself] because the system has not met [his] needs for many years.” School may feel irrelevant and hostile to him, and he may feel rejected.

Recommendations include individual counseling, family counseling, out-of-classroom learning experiences, mentorships, and a “close working relationship with an adult they can trust.”

Prevention of the “At Risk” profile is one goal of meeting the needs of other profiles, especially the Creative profile.

Type Five: Twice-Exceptional

The Twice-Exceptional (“2e”) student is gifted, but she also has other special needs. She may have a learning disability, autism, a processing disorder, ADHD, or another area of disability. She can feel powerless and frustrated, and may have inconsistent, average, or below-average school work. She often feels confused or upset about her struggles, and others may see only her disabilities, not her strengths.

To avoid low self-esteem and achieve their potential, these students need emphasis on and challenge in their areas of strength.  They also need advocacy from parents and teachers, risk-taking opportunities, and support for their disabilities.

To meet gifted needs, they may further benefit from G/T support groups, opportunities for exploration and investigation, and alternate learning experiences.

Type Six: Autonomous

An Autonomous learner exhibits some Successful characteristics, but instead of performing only the work required, he creates opportunities for himself. Self-directed, independent, and generally confident, this student is able to take appropriate academic risks. He may assume leadership roles, but can also suffer from isolation.

Autonomous learner recommendations include opportunities related to the child’s passions, development of a long-term plan of study, friends of all ages, mentorships, and when possible, removal of time and space restrictions for their studies.

Applying the Profiles

As you can see, it can take detective work to support gifted students!  The Six Profiles can help immediately with:

  • Identifying effective interventions, some of which may be new (an underperforming student might actually need harder work!);
  • Increasing empathy for students’ feelings;
  • Bridging communication gaps in student/teacher and parent/teacher relationships;
  • Avoiding harmful comparisons: if parents and educators view giftedness through a single lens, and if they expect all students to behave in a certain way, they may fail to recognize the abilities and needs of students at risk for negative outcomes.

Other factors can alter student behavior, as well: gifted children can struggle with asynchronous development, overexcitabilities, higher levels of giftedness, and obstacles faced by special populations.

Despite all these differences, gifted students do have needs in common: they need opportunities to pursue interests, challenging work, positive relationships, and understanding from adults.

When we can decode their behavior, we gain respect for students’ feelings and perspectives.  As parents and educators, we can also improve the chances that gifted students will stay in school, continue to love learning, and achieve their potential – our goals for all children.


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Have you found the Six Profiles helpful in your teaching or parenting? Do you have success with other strategies?  We would love to hear from you!

Source of Profiles and quoted text:

Betts, G. and Neihart, M. Profiles of the Gifted and Talented. Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Reprinted from Gifted Child Quarterly, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) 1988. Web. July 2015. http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10114.aspx

Printer-friendly version: http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_print_id_10114.aspx

The updated 2010 matrix of Profiles and recommendations is available online.

Further information:

NuMinds Enrichment offers Professional Development exploring the Six Profiles in more depth, in addition to information about other gifted needs and teaching strategies. For details on NuMinds professional development for teachers, visit http://numien.com/professional-development/

For a free NuMinds vodcast for parents on using the 6 profiles as a tool to better communicate with teachers, see below:

We are proud this post is part of the Gifted 101 blog hop on Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page!

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The Power of Special Connections: Gifted/Special Needs Friendships

by Emily VR

When you open books about gifted-identified students, you will usually find discussions about the social needs of gifted children.  Experts frequently discuss students’ need for friendships with other gifted students, with older intellectual peers, and with adults.

There is another relationship, however, which has been equally important to our family:  friendships with students who have special needs.  A few sources mention these connections, but I hope to see them explored further, both in G/T resources and school programs.

The first time our son learned about developmental differences, it was accidental.  At age three, while boarding an amusement park boat, he noticed a much older child who was visibly agitated about the ride.  The boy had special needs.  When we explained that the child’s brain worked differently, our son walked over and sat beside the boy.  Our son talked to the child, explaining why he didn’t need to be afraid of the ride, and continued to comfort the child until the ride ended.  (The ride staff noticed, and gave our son a note, to help him remember that day.)

One of our son’s preschool teachers gave him another opportunity.  A child in the classroom next door had been diagnosed with selective mutism – the child spoke at home, but could not speak at school.   The teacher asked our son if he would be the child’s buddy on the playground, when classes were combined.  Both children seemed to enjoy their time together, and our son took his responsibility seriously.  The teacher said that my son gave her reports: “‘I think we’re making progress,’” he told her.

During elementary school, our son has had multiple friends with differences.  One year, he came home distraught when he felt that a classmate’s needs were not understood.  He spoke up for a friend with special needs.  Outside of school, both of my sons enjoy time with their friends, including differently-abled friends.  At the beginning of one school year, one wonderful teacher sent home questionnaires about students; after learning about my son, she let me know when she saw him helping a classmate.

He came home happy.  He had helped his friend write a thank-you note.

As much as I love my son, and love that he makes these friendships, he isn’t alone in this respect.  We know of other relationships like these, and they can mean the world to gifted students.  Why?  Just like children, the reasons can be unique, but I see at least two themes.

The first:  I think the best friendships involve acceptance without judgment. Too often, children learn hard social lessons early.  Not all friends are loyal.  In efforts to fit in, classmates can succumb to cliques and gossip.  In our family’s experience, children who struggle with significant challenges can be more genuine and less judgmental in their affection toward others.

The second:  these groups of children can have a lot in common.  Like students with special needs, gifted students are often aware that they’re different from their age peers.  In same-age general education classrooms, depending on the type of disability, both groups may learn and/or think differently from classmates.  In order to learn, both often need curriculum or classroom modifications – and they can’t help it.  Both develop differently from average, in some way, and both may be learning to cope with unusually intense feelings.  Both may sense or perceive the world differently, and may process information differently.

Both know what it’s like to be misunderstood by classmates, and sometimes, even, by parents and teachers.

Readers familiar with G/T and Special Education policies may note that classroom grouping cannot ignore academic needs or accommodations.  Books on gifted students further note that students should not be used as tutors in lieu of appropriate level work (also, not all advanced students have the ability to teach).  Opportunities for friendships do not require group work, however.  My son was glad just to be seated near his friends with special needs.  Friendship opportunities can be provided outside of class or school, as well:  students in self-contained G/T and Special Education programs may enjoy combined enrichment and volunteer opportunities, either informally or as part of a school program.

As a parent, I cherish these memories, and they also have personal meaning.  My cousin had autism and significant developmental delays.  She was nonverbal, but she knew how to give hugs, and she could show love better than most of us.  Because of her, in high school and college, I researched autism and took Special Education coursework.  Following her unexpected death, a friend helped me find a place to volunteer through a nonprofit, monitoring care through visits to a state-run residential facility for disabled adults without families.

In school, it can be hard for differently-abled children to find friends.  Some children rarely receive invitations to outside events.  Not all children and adults understood and welcomed my cousin, though she was an incredible person.

As a parent or teacher, please consider making opportunities for friendships between students with differences – especially for young children.

When students with differences spend time together, it’s okay to be different.  

In learning about one another, children can gain perspective, and can see the world in new ways.   They can celebrate the unique strengths in each of us.

Our family loves all of our friends, and we love our friends with special needs.  My sons never met my cousin, and I want them to know and love children with different abilities.  I want them to feel proud of everything their cousin accomplished.

I hope that she would be proud of them, as well.

Further reading for children:  The Junkyard Wonders, by Patricia Polacco.  I learned about this book from one of our amazing G/T teachers – it is a true story about a class of students with special needs, about their connections, and about potential.  Our family loved it.   http://www.patriciapolacco.com/books/junkyard/index2.html

blog_hop_gifted_relationships_smallWe are proud this post is part of the Gifted Relationships blog hop on Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page!

Helicopter vs. Free-Range: How the Parent Label Debate Hurts All Parents

by Emily VR

Sometimes, in parenting, labels are helpful. When we research to understand diagnoses or challenges, and when we search for others with similar circumstances, labels help us find communities and support.

Sometimes, however, labels don’t help. When we categorize the parenting decisions of others – decisions we know very little about – this can be divisive and hurtful.

One current example: references to “helicopter parenting” in the “free range” debate. Parents who support “free range” parenting generally self-identify with the label, and favor less parental supervision than their local norm. “Free range” can describe a child’s unsupervised play in local public places, such as a park, or unsupervised walking/biking between locations. Some parents use the term more loosely, simply calling for a return to the days of fewer precautions and more unstructured time.

One mother-turned-author describes the label on her website:

“Free-Range Kids is a commonsense approach to parenting in these overprotective times.” www.freerangekids.com/faq, May 13, 2015

Free range parents raise issues which concern most of us: the need for children to learn independence (yes), and the harm caused by excessive scheduling and stress (yes, yes!). Unfortunately, a few free range choices come into conflict with local safety expectations, and sparks fly. More unfortunately, in defending their choices, some free range advocates have gone on the offense, labeling not only their critics but other parenting styles: “over-involved,” “overprotective,” “helicoptering,” and so on.

The “helicopter” term is not new; years ago, it described parents who “hovered” over adult children in college, complaining to professors about grades. In today’s parenting discussions, however, the label seems fair game for a wide range of parenting decisions, from playground etiquette to educational advocacy – almost anything deemed excessive by the person invoking the term.

Strangely absent from most “free range” and “helicopter” discussions are exceptions for children with physical, psychological, and developmental differences.

It should be obvious, one might argue, that these debates don’t cover special needs.  When the parent of a child with diagnosable differences comes across lists of “helicopter parent” offenses, and the parent sees that he’s committed most of those offenses – should that parent assume that we all know which families don’t count, for purposes of the article?

Judging others’ parenting decisions involves assumptions. As my son observed in preschool: our friends who have autism don’t look different on the outside.  Diagnoses of special needs don’t come with neon signs, but they usually require extra supervision or intervention, in public and/or at school.  These parents often don’t have the luxury of making many “free range” choices. They must monitor and intervene to keep their children learning, healthy, and alive.

What types of situations, then, deserve exemption from the “helicopter” label?

  • Food allergies: up to 8% of U.S. Children
  • Developmental disabilities: approximately 1 in 6 children
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: 1 in 68 children
  • Children receiving Special Education Services: about 13% in 2010-2011
  • ADHD: 11% of children ages 4 – 17 in the U.S. in 2011
  • Dyslexia: 1 in 5 people
  • Auditory Processing Disorder: about 5% of children
  • Mental or addictive disorder causing impairment: up to 21% of children ages 9 – 17
  • Asthma: about 10% of children in the U.S. in 2009
  • Sensory Processing Disorders: 5 – 16% of school-aged children, impacts coordination, behavior
  • Temperament: impacts intensity and activity level; different parenting strategies are needed for different temperaments
  • Cognitively gifted children: 2 – 5% of children, as measured by psychologists, have specific needs and characteristics; unmet needs can result in negative outcomes. Some gifted students have additional special needs/disabilities, increasing difficulty at home and school.
  • Lifelong medical conditions: diabetes, epilepsy, immune deficiencies, and more.

Some of these categories can overlap.  Some can be compatible with many “free range” practices.  Yet each diagnosis requires parental action that wouldn’t be needed without the diagnosis.

Back to parenting labels: if we set aside self-identified “free range” parents and “average” parents, and we then set aside special needs – who’s left? Is it possible that we’re wrongfully labeling families who struggle with misunderstood or undiagnosed challenges?

In schools, negative labels can cause damage. Parents of children with differences must make requests of overworked teachers and administrators. Educators struggle with large class sizes, state testing requirements, and insufficient resources – and must then think about federal and state laws (and in an ideal world, best practices) for students with special needs. These needs can be difficult to diagnose and meet, and despite best intentions, students can fall through the cracks. Parents must navigate paperwork and meetings about disabilities and learning differences, and must request to follow the recommendations of doctors or psychologists. When educators have limited training in specific conditions, parents must unexpectedly become experts. These parents need our understanding, not judgment.

In our efforts to become better parents ourselves, it can feel reassuring to embrace a branded parenting philosophy that works for us and our children. When that happens, I believe it’s important to use language carefully, and to remember that not all children are like our own. Some free range advocates hold the media responsible for the ugly side of this debate, and for the labeling and criticism of so-called over-parenting – yet many still contrast their own decisions with “helicoptering” and “hovering.” I admire parents who advocate for better understanding and flexibility for their own parenting choices – but not at the cost of furthering stereotypes about the decisions of other parents.

This, then, is my request: please keep an open mind about and show respect for the experiences and decisions of others. If we can do this, perhaps we can set an example for our children to do the same.

The importance of that, I think, is something we can all agree on.

Sources:

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/8-Percent-of-US-Children-Have-Food-Allergies.aspx 8 Percent of U.S. Children Have Food Allergies. American Academy of Pediatrics. Web. June 4, 2015. Data and Statistics. CDC. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/features/birthdefects-dd-keyfindings.html Key Findings: Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U. S. Children, 1997–2008. CDC. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html Data and Statistics. CDC. Web. June 4, 2015.

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/pdf/Indicator_CGG/COE_CGG_2013_01.pdf Children and Youth with Disabilities. National Center for Education Statistics. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html New Data: Medication and Behavior Treatment. CDC. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/MDAI/ Multicultural Dyslexia Awareness Initiative. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/ears/central_auditory.html Auditory Processing Disorder. KidsHealth. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://www2.nami.org/Template.cfmSection=federal_and_state_policy_legislation&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=43804 Facts on Children’s Mental Health in America. National Alliance on Mental Health. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/asthma/ Asthma in the U.S. CDC. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2013/07/107316/breakthrough-study-reveals-biological-basis-sensory-processing-disorders-kidsi Bunim, Juliana. Breakthrough Study Reveals Biological Basis for Sensory Processing Disorders in Kids. University of California San Francisco, July 9, 2013. Web. June 4, 2015.

http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/wwb/wwb23.html Allard, Lindsey T. and Amy Hunter. Understanding Temperament in Infants and Toddlers. Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Web. June 4, 2015.

Research on the psychology, education, and challenges of the gifted can be found through multiple organizations. Some of my favorites: SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted, http://sengifted.org), NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children, http://www.nagc.org), The Gifted Development Center (http://www.gifteddevelopment.com), and in Texas, TAGT (Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented, http://txgifted.org).

Searching for Meaning: A Parent Book Review

by Emily VR

When your kids worry about the meaning of life, what do you do?

We all ask ourselves existential questions at some point.  When those questions come from my kids, sometimes I’m prepared.  Sometimes I’m not.

 “But how do we know for sure that the universe and heaven go on forever?  Everything has an end.”

I try to give reassurance.  We talk about science and faith.  Unfortunately, sometimes, religion and science aren’t enough.  Sometimes, the unknowns can cause sadness: real, palpable, sleepless worry.  A hug and kiss don’t always make things better.

 “Why did kids have to die in the earthquake?”

Some questions don’t have answers.

Thinking back on these conversations, I can see the faces of my sons, vulnerable, waiting.  Their eyes are windows.  At some point, between now and the end of adolescence, I know those windows will develop protective shutters – at least temporarily.  Right now, their private thoughts still come out at bedtime, and those windows are wide open.

 “I don’t understand why we are alive.  I mean, what is the point of the world, and of people existing?”

As a parent, how do you reassure your child, while he or she still looks to you for answers?  Can we help our kids build resilience?

A new book offers support, and it’s become one of my favorites:  Searching for Meaning:51MJ2taSDXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope, by James Webb.  Dr. Webb is a psychologist and expert on gifted children, and co-founded the nonprofit SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) following the suicide of a gifted youth.  Psychologists find that bright youths ask difficult questions early in their lives, and often struggle with perfectionism and disillusionment. Searching for Meaning isn’t specifically for parents, but it gives reassurance to anyone who can identify with these worries.

The book begins with the roots of idealism – both nature and nurture – and discusses challenges faced by idealists, internal and external.  Webb provides an overview of gifted characteristics, since those individuals are often at higher risk, and he then delves into difficulties faced by idealists.  Depression is discussed in a frank, compassionate manner.  Throughout the book, Webb provides statistics and definitions in addition to the feelings of experiencing these challenges.

Webb also explores existential concerns through multiple lenses.  Existential theories, religious beliefs, and psychological theories are covered, and references are given for research, allowing curious readers to explore further.  In particular, the Theory of Positive Disintegration, by Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski, gives readers encouragement:  according to Dabrowski, grappling with disillusionment is the first step toward heightened development, though questions may continue throughout the life span.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms are covered with compassion and honesty, and Webb provides healthier alternatives.  Readers can discover methods to find happiness and hope:  cultivating positive relationships, evaluating goals and values, becoming involved with causes, spirituality, humor, life scripting, and bibliotherapy, among others.  I found the solutions respectful, and flexible enough to incorporate spiritual beliefs, though no religion is promoted.  The book embraces the unique needs of each reader:  Webb states, “The examples I’ve presented… are only suggestions; each individual must find what works best for him- or herself.”

The overall text seems best suited for adults and older adolescents, but in my family, I found the chapter on “Healthier Coping Styles” perfect for reading with my older son.  In an attempt to answer one of my 9-year-old’s questions, I pulled down this book.  It became a nightly ritual.

 “Mom, can we read more of that book together?  The one about ways to deal with my stress?”

Webb uses the acronym HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) to describe triggers for negativity and stress, and it’s been helpful in our house.  We’ve increased “hug time” (feeling connected), we make conscious efforts to think positively and plan for the future, and we talk about how it’s okay to think and feel the way we do.  We’ve read and re-read passages, and we discuss how we can use them in our lives.

For my part, I realized that one of Webb’s coping strategies is how I best handle stress:  I work with causes to find solutions.  In this, I see myself in my sons:  at ages 4 and 9, in their own ways, I see them driven to right wrongs, to speak up for truth, and to help those who suffer.  Earlier this year, our church devoted several weeks to a similar theme, titled “Follow Your Heartbreak.” Our pastor explained that to find your passion, you can think about what breaks your heart about the world.  This seems to be how our family was meant to live our lives.

Webb’s book gives idealists both encouragement and motivation, and I believe it can help us lead happier lives.  I can’t protect my sons against all doubt and pain, but I’m glad for a resource in letting them know that it’s okay to question.  I want to show them that there is nothing wrong in asking for help, when they suffer.  That they can find peace, especially in pursuing their drive to never, ever stop trying to make the world better.  That as long as I’m alive, I will be here for them, doing the same.

Just like my children, I’ll be searching for meaning, and for hope.

Dr. Webb’s book can be found through Great Potential Press or online booksellers:

http://www.greatpotentialpress.com/searching-for-meaning

10 Books to Nurture Your Gifted Child

In this vodcast from a series of parent talks by NuMinds, we give a working definition of bilbiotherapy and focus on its ability to support gifted needs.

Realizing there are infinite books and just as many issues able to be addressed through bibliotherapy, we chose to focus on 10 books. These books were selected for their abilities to support issues facing the gifted (Gifted Profiles, Social Emotional Needs, Mindset).

The presentation involves a little interactivity using the course handout. You can download the free handout at goo.gl/f3w31F