Any parents of gifted children here ?

Parental influence on children in the first 12 years of their lives have a permanent effect. Unfortunately, children come with no user manual. Each child is different from the other. Discuss how to handle emotional and educational needs of your child here.

Any parents of gifted children here ?

Postby tamarind » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:06 am

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gifted
Generally, gifted individuals learn more quickly, deeply, and broadly than their peers. Gifted children may learn to read early and operate at the same level as normal children who are significantly older. The gifted tend to demonstrate high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity, a large vocabulary, and an excellent memory. They often can master concepts with few repetitions. They may also be physically and emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic, and may frequently question authority. Some have trouble relating to or communicating with their peers because of disparities in vocabulary size (especially in the early years), personality, interests and motivation. As children, they may prefer the company of older children or adults.

tamarind
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Re: Any parents of gifted children here ?

Postby ChiefKiasu » Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:52 pm

tamarind wrote:Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gifted
Generally, gifted individuals learn more quickly, deeply, and broadly than their peers. Gifted children may learn to read early and operate at the same level as normal children who are significantly older. The gifted tend to demonstrate high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity, a large vocabulary, and an excellent memory. They often can master concepts with few repetitions. They may also be physically and emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic, and may frequently question authority. Some have trouble relating to or communicating with their peers because of disparities in vocabulary size (especially in the early years), personality, interests and motivation. As children, they may prefer the company of older children or adults.


I think all parents who are thinking of "training" their children to get into the GEP programmes should refer to this definition and see how many of these characteristics exist in their children before spending all that money and getting frustrated in the end. Worst still... their children might get into the programme thanks to the "training" and suffer subsequently in trying to be something they are not.

Talent is in-born. Training is meant to teach the child to nurture and control that talent. All children are talented in their own diverse ways, but sadly, in our society, some talents are much more valued and desired than others. As parents, we must learn to recognise the in-born strengths of our children and help them grow these strengths. We must resist the temptation to force-feed our own concepts of "desired talents" into our children, to the point where they feel like failures when they are not able to achieve excellence in these desired talents.

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Giftedness is not everything...

Postby applepie » Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:42 am

Hi, I have been following this website for some months now. Found it very insightful and interesting.

This topic particularly interests me. My son, who is currently 7, has an excellent memory since young. He is very vocal, a curious learner and possesses great creativity. He has a great hunger for books, and started reading independently (chapter books) since he was five.

However, he's a very self-driven boy, thinks a lot sometimes I feel too much [ he would lie on the bed every nite before sleep thinking of the day's happenings and ask us questions that puzzles him ] and a perfectionist. He will get upset if he can't finish a piece of work on time or if it's not done to his so-called ideal standard.

He is a very emotional, conscious and sensitive boy. He gets easily affected by other kids' comments, especially if it's targeted at him. This causes him to break down easily.

In his Pri one "meet the parents session" a few weeks ago, the teacher has feedback that there is no academic issues with my son, just the emotional aspect of it that we need to look out for.

For the past year, with our constant reminders and talking to him sending out the consistent message that "as long as you try your best, daddy and mummy will be happy and proud of you", he has since shown much improvement in handling his emotions but looking at the long term, we are still worried. Like what Chiefkiasu mentioned, such kids feel that they are a failure when they can't achieve what they expect. I can only think of the worst possible consequences that could happen if he continues to progress in such a "perfectionist" state of mind. He may not accept failures that come along the way in his life.

Anyone can offer any idea how I can help my son?

applepie
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Re: Giftedness is not everything...

Postby ChiefKiasu » Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:41 am

Hi applepie,

The good news is I believe your son would qualify for the GEP programme. The danger is that he is probably aware of that and that may become his obsession such that not getting into it would seem to be a massive failure to him.

Your son has been blessed with a wonderful gift, and you have quite a different challenge from most other parents. You should find out from him what he likes to learn and provide him the opportunities to grow those specific areas. Enrichment for him should be tuned towards honing his skills and nurturing his talents. So you should look for services that grow process and thinking skills rather than cram schools. MindChamps and Logicmills are good services that you can consider.

You will have great difficulty in finding the right balance between encouraging him to try his best to be the best and telling him that is ok not to take results too seriously. In such cases, it is probably better to err on the latter side, and put more emphasis on the importance of the acquisition of new knowledge than the measurement of how much knowledge one has.

1. NEVER equate your child's results with your love for him. While this applies to all children, it is particularly important for such children. They would have beaten themselves black and blue internally when they get results that are not satisfactory by their own standards.

2. FOCUS on the journey, not the results. Explain to them that life is a continuous learning process, each adding upon the previous, and there is no such thing as being the best in everything. The important thing is how knowledge is acquired and applied, and that exams are only important only as an indicator of how much one has learnt. They should not be the reason to learn. Encourage them to welcome challenges, and to see people who have bested them in tests or exams as partners that they should work with to advance their understanding of the subjects so that they can improve together. Expose them to stories of how even the most brilliant people fail - Einstein, Edison, etc, and how it is only through their dogged determination and learning from failures that they finally make the break throughs.

3. Most importantly, you MUST teach him how to handle failure. The problem with Singapore's entire early childhood educational system is an almost complete lack of such training. The focus is entirely on scoring good grades in exams. That is where the glory is for our young children. Both school and parents permeate this yardstick as a measure of how "successful" students are.

For highly intelligent and self-driven children, not being the best makes them think there is something wrong with themselves, or that they are failures. When that happens more than once, they may totally give up trying and the subject becomes something they hate, even if they are already very good at it by all other standards.

The message must be that there is always a second chance, and there is no such thing as FINAL exam. Focus on the learning opportunities offered by a "failure" to meet expectations. If you didn't top the class in P1, there's always P2, P3, and so on. And it is great that you didn't top the class this year because it gives you an opportunity to learn how you can make adjustments to do better next year. Isn't it wonderful that have intelligent friends in class to learn from? Not doing well in PSLE provides you with greater learning opportunities on how to do better in the more important GCE 'O', 'A's, tertiary education. Peaking later in life is much better than peaking too early, etc. These are some messages you can provide.

The problem with perfectionists is that they are never satisfied regardless of how well they are doing. Like what jedamum said in the other thread, they will spend an inordinate amount of effort trying to get that last 20% to reach perfection. This is not necessarily a bad trait, and is needed for certain classes of vocations, but you could try to get your son to occasionally look back and take stock of how far he has come and to be happy with his accomplishments to date. Teach him to celebrate the journey itself.

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Giftedness is not everything...

Postby applepie » Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:40 pm

Thanks Chiefkiasu for your very valuable advice !

Even though my son may qualify for the GEP programme, we have decided that if he really qualifies, we may just let him continue to be on the normal programme. Less stress for him and for us ! Most importantly, we want him to grow up to be a happy and healthy child :lol:

And yes, we did consider signing him up for Logicmills and mindchamps, especially the former as they have games that hone critical thinking skills. My son loves such games. Will seriously consider only when he finishes his enrichment course come Aug/Sep.

By the way, does anyone have kids in Logicmills or mindchamps? Can share on feedback and the quality of the schools?

applepie
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Re: Giftedness is not everything...

Postby ChiefKiasu » Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:37 pm

Actually, you have to consider carefully if you want your child to even sit for the GEP qualification exams. The problem is that if he sits for it and for some reason did not "qualify", he might start doubting himself and suffer loss of self esteem. Do we really need to have the government tell us if our children are "gifted" or not? Don't we already know? You are already unsure about the consequences of your child getting into the programme and you prefer that he gets to interact with normal children, so why even bother with sitting for the GEP exams? The fact is, all the geniuses that we know of today NEVER graduated from any gifted programmes... Da Vinci himself was vilified as a bastard child from young and had to earn his stripes to rejoin high society by going through apprentice with the guild's master artist.

I recommend that you watch the movie "Finding Forrester" to get a flavor of what the academic world for the elite could be like.

Actually, I have no problem with the stated intent of the GEP which is to help identify gifted children and ensure that their needs are taken care of. My issue with the GEP is how it is implemented, and how it has grown to become a badge for parents to lust over.

On a separate track, my son is finishing off his course in MindChamps in another 6 weeks. I will provide another update on that course then. I have a preliminary review here. There is a thread on Logicmills in the forum.

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Postby tamarind » Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:16 am

applepie,
Thanks for sharing :D I am just curious to know, did you send your boy to any enrichment classes before primary school ? Can you share how you are teaching him at home ?

My 5 year old girl is also a very fast learner. She has excellent memory, and very good fine motor skills. She is now reading chapter books like "Charlotte's Web", which used to be my english literature text book in secondary school. I never drill her, never use flash cards, and never send her to any "right brain" classes. So far she only attended one phonics class(once a week one hour) at 4 years old. Now she is only attending Berries Chinese class once a week. It was only from the beginning of this year, that I start to make sure she do some reading and writing every day, at most 15-20 mins each time. Before this I have time to teach her only 2 or 3 times a week.

She loves to draw, and she draws with intricate details. Here's one of her drawings.
http://bp3.blogger.com/_w1nyHWTEh94/SEz ... CF4123.JPG

If she makes mistakes, I simply correct her mistake, I try not to use the word "wrong", instead I tell her "the correct way is...". Then I still praise her for the other good things she has done. When reading, if she does not know how to read a word, I immediately teach her how to read it. I only give positive comments, and try not to give any negative comments at all. In other words, I only praise her, I never criticize her work. So I think she is not afraid to make mistakes, and she has not become a perfectionist.

She used to be a very shy girl. But now she mixes well with her classmates in her PCF kindergarten. Her class has 14 girls and only 4 boys. I think it is because her classmates are mostly very nice girls, and her teachers are very good. So the environment is very important. She still will not speak a single word to strangers now. But at least she has many good friends in class and I am happy enough with that.

Sometimes I feel guilty about not putting more effort into developing her. But I really don't want to drill her academically. I want her to maintain the passion to learn on her own, and I think this is a very difficult task.

tamarind
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Re: Giftedness is not everything...

Postby tamarind » Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:24 am

ChiefKiasu wrote:Actually, you have to consider carefully if you want your child to even sit for the GEP qualification exams. The problem is that if he sits for it and for some reason did not "qualify", he might start doubting himself and suffer loss of self esteem. Do we really need to have the government tell us if our children are "gifted" or not? Don't we already know? You are already unsure about the consequences of your child getting into the programme and you prefer that he gets to interact with normal children, so why even bother with sitting for the GEP exams? The fact is, all the geniuses that we know of today NEVER graduated from any gifted programmes... Da Vinci himself was vilified as a bastard child from young and had to earn his stripes to rejoin high society by going through apprentice with the guild's master artist.

I recommend that you watch the movie "Finding Forrester" to get a flavor of what the academic world for the elite could be like.

Actually, I have no problem with the stated intent of the GEP which is to help identify gifted children and ensure that their needs are taken care of. My issue with the GEP is how it is implemented, and how it has grown to become a badge for parents to lust over.

On a separate track, my son is finishing off his course in MindChamps in another 6 weeks. I will provide another update on that course then. I have a preliminary review here. There is a thread on Logicmills in the forum.


ChiefKiasu,
Thanks for your insightful comments. I also have doubts as to whether to let my girl sit for the GEP exam, because I am not sure whether the GEP is well implemented. What do they actually learn in class ? How are they taught in class ?

I read in a magazine about students in gifted class being taught "haiku", or a form of Japanese poetry. What if my girl dislikes "haiku" ? Why make her study something she dislikes ? I remember hating english literature when I was in secondary school and it was such a torture for me to study the subject.

I think if a child is really gifted, he/she should be given more freedom to learn whatever she wants. I don't think she should learn what the school wants her to learn.

tamarind
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Re: Giftedness is not everything...

Postby mintcc » Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:57 pm

applepie wrote:Thanks Chiefkiasu for your very valuable advice !

Even though my son may qualify for the GEP programme, we have decided that if he really qualifies, we may just let him continue to be on the normal programme. Less stress for him and for us ! Most importantly, we want him to grow up to be a happy and healthy child :lol:



Hmmm I believe we shd always encourage our kids to achieve their highest potential. If your son qualify for GEP and wanted to go into GEP let him try. Many years ago, I qualify for SAP but my mum thought that it might be too taxing for me and discourages me. I was a child then but this day I regret that I did not try go for it...erm and is still a tiny bit upset with my mum for not encouraging me to be all than I can be. After all, I qualified, which mean I could do it. I think to some extend it makes me less motivated in my school work.

Whether it is a governement program, can it really train genius or if your child is really genius doen't matter. Important thing is that if he so desires, he is given an opportunity to experience an environment where kids learn a greater range of things. (I also stand that for GEP programme the teacher student ration is much better than normal classes)

Just to share. I was part of the Art elective programme in secondary school. Suppose to be the ART equivalent of GEP then. In our class of 19 students, non of us became an artist. Some of us made our careers in totally different fields but the exposure and experience are fond memories in our adult life and what we have learn enriches our lives even if it may not directly benefit our careers.

In the end, learning is a journey and the process is what enriches us and shape us.

So is it better to let your child go for GEP? It all depends on the ability and temperament of the child. If they have the ability and want to achieve, don't kill it when they are young.

mintcc
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Postby wwcookie » Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:57 pm

I have a 7 year old son who is ‘gifted’. He learns very quickly and has excellent memory. I had him assessed a year ago as I wanted to use his results to get into the primary school of my choice :oops: But that’s another story altogether.

The thing that concerns me most is the emotional issues these children face. My son, like your son, applepie, is very sensitive emotionally and gets very affected by his friends’ comments. Although we have never told him about his ‘gift’, he seems to understand that he is different from his peers. He often commented sadly that ‘his friends don’t understand’ this or that. He prefers to talk to older kids as he feels he can ‘click’ better with them. I think the important thing for these kids is to let them have the opportunity to mix with other kids who are similar to them so that they will not feel so ‘isolated’ and ‘different’. Like it or not, our kids feel ‘different’ from their peers and this can really hurt their self-esteem :cry:

Re. the GEP program – let me share this. My son is very bored and de-motivated in school cos to him, the subjects are too easy. Recently, I hired a tutor to occupy his hours after school (Im working fulltime). The tutor feedbacked that he gets very distracted and moody when she gave him P1 assessments to do (btw, she’s supposed to play the many interesting ‘thinking’ games that I have bought for him during the session but I guess she’s just trained to do assessments after assessments with her ‘tutees’ :roll: ) but perks up and became very interested when she let him try the P3 enrichment worksheets that she got from her other stint at an enrichment centre. So you can imagine how bored he is in class and how good it will do him to be put in some accelerated program. Besides, I believe there are more such kids in the GEP so I think they’ll be happier there, don’t you think, to find other kids like them and who understand them?

These children are considered ‘special needs’ too and needed differentiated learning just like the autistic or dyslexic children. I have read that if these kids are not suitably challenged and their needs for learning not met, they can ‘switch off’ mentally and their potential will never be realized. So to me, my son will have to ‘endure’ for three long years before his needs are met and assuming he gets into the GEP, which may not necessarily be so given that so many parents are ‘hothousing’ their kids to get in.

My son has just attended the Logicmills free games day two weeks ago and he thoroughly enjoyed it cos they play the kind of games that he loves. Im also thinking of enrolling him in the program but really can’t find the time on Saturdays.

Perhaps we can meet up one of these days to let the kids get to know each other?

wwcookie
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