I often get asked, “what can I teach my child? they learn so quickly, what topics should I be teaching them? they could learn anything and I don’t want to miss anything!”
Gifted kids have an amazing capacity to learn and they love it!
It’s like breathing.
The temptation is to keep pouring facts and figures and information on them because it’s bliss.
I’d say there is a balance between encouraging a love of learning and well-roundedness. Well rounded adults are successful in life and we want to help our kids to grow up into successful, happy and content adults.
How do we do that?
The best advice I ever got from my son’s psychologist was that successful highly gifted children are ones that had a well-rounded childhood, plenty of ‘being a kid’ time.
Our gifted kids need to have their educational/cognitive needs met and the right school or educational environment is vital in ensuring this need is met, outside of that, plenty of opportunities to play.
Down time from ingesting information to learn about the world around them.
Our temptation is to fill their heads with facts and figures because they want it and they suck it up but it’s ok if he re-visits the periodic table multiple times in his childhood because each time he is a bit older and he’ll get something else out of it.
The comparison she gave me is that if you had a child who was a great athlete, say a prodigy swimmer or golfer, well you don’t let them play golf 24/7, they still need school and friends and other activities in their life to become well-rounded.
She said, individuals who were child prodigies often aren’t successful in their field as adults because they’ve not had the opportunity to learn about life skills if they solely focused on that obsession during childhood. The successful ones had the opportunity to become well-rounded individuals.
The same is with these intense gifted kids, yeah they would sit and read and learn all day (that’s my son!) because it’s like breathing to them.
But they need to put down the book and go play or go to Scouts and it’s ok if he reads the same book at 5 that he then reads again at 7 and 9 because he will see something different in it each time.
As a parent, it is overwhelming to have the responsibility of someone who has so much potential, someone who is years beyond their peers in their area of interest, or an amazing capacity to learn.
We want to do the right thing.
It’s also hard to restrain yourself as a parent when you know they would be good at music, good at dancing, good at… well just about anything and everything they try, so shouldn’t they do it all?!
We have to help them find the balance.
I think it starts with getting permission to chill out. Not just our kids, us too!
We need to take the pressure off and know that it will be ok, our kids can be kids and they will be better for it and as a parent, I can feel less pressure to have to fill that insatiable brain.
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