Welcome to a collection of thoughts, questions and interesting links relating to giftedness ..............
You may also like to check out my website where you will find more information for children, parents and teachers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Advocacy and how to make progress

As Term 2 is about to begin, many parents are preparing themselves once again to speak to teachers and to advocate for their gifted child. Many find it a daunting task, and worry about how they will be received. Being well prepared is important but equally, so is how you approach the task. Taking charge of advocacy is like taking charge of your life.
Danielle LaPorte is a savvy 'life guide' whose focus is on authenticity, creativity and meaningful work. Many of the comments in her Credo for Making It Happen apply neatly to advocating for your gifted child. In fact they fit in many of them echo what you will find in Gifted and Thriving at School: How proactive parents can get the education that fits their child.

Have an attitude of ‘I’ll figure it out’. Avoid at all costs asking yourself ‘What am I going to do?’
Do you see the difference? One leaves you feeling like it is all too hard and doubting yourself, the other builds your confidence and reminds you that you don’t need to have all the answers before you begin. Tell yourself that you will ‘figure it out’ every time you are faced with a problem or dilemma regarding your child’s education. You can do it.
‘A beginner's mind is an open mind’
This is not to say that if you are some way along your journey into giftedness, you are not a beginner. Think of it more as a comparison with the ‘expert’ mind you are going to meet with (the teacher or the school).

Research suggests that as we become more expert in an area we tend to be less flexible in our thinking, relying more on what we have seen that works and spending less time thinking of other ways it could be done. An open mind innovates, so a novice or beginner is more likely to see with fresh eyes, to see different ways things can be done, and be less stifled by what has not worked in the past. If you hear ‘this is the way it is done’, you can be sure you are not talking to an open mind. This is why it is important for parents to bring something to the discussion with teachers, some ideas that they think might work. Don’t worry that your ideas might be outlandish in the eyes of the ‘expert’, it just might be what makes the difference for your child. By bringing fresh ideas you may also stimulate a teacher into looking afresh themselves.

‘Respect your fear’
It will help keep you alert. While managing emotions when your child is involved is an ongoing challenge, fear is a sign that we are not complacent. Just as in other situations, it will help you learn quickly and help you refine your approach. Remember also that courage is not an absence of fear, it is taking action despite it.

‘What are you going to give up to get where you want to go?’
Keep in mind that ‘giving something up’ doesn’t only mean things you like or enjoy. Think about the negatives that you will say good bye to (or at least reduce) if you can get the education that fits your child. No more Sunday night stomach aches, less insomnia, tears, arguments over mindless tasks and homework-for-the-sake-of-it. Think about what isn’t working and use that to help guide you to where you want to go.

‘Aim for passion’
Identify what turns your child on, what they are passionate about and try to get more of that in their life. If it can't happen at school, work out what opportunities there are out of school.

'Balance is a myth’
Balance is perhaps better thought of as a big picture concept, not one to be found in any given moment. Our interests and needs necessarily shift from one thing to another and so long as no area of life is completely neglected, the 'balance' is likely to shift over time. It might be that you need to overlook balance in the short term to re-engage your child. Focus on maths if that is what lights their fire, and work from there to other areas that need attention over time. Or focus on their social needs, or mixing with like minds without undue worry about academics for the time being. 

‘Declare it and share it’
When you declare what you are trying to achieve, you will be able to find people who can help you or support you on your journey. They could be within the school, or in support networks in the community. Other parents will almost certainly have been there too. If you are able to get a written plan in place for your child, progress can be measured as the efforts of all those involved can be monitored.

‘Don’t let perfection become procrastination’
Better to start the journey and refine it as you go, than wait until you think you have it perfect. Chances are by then, things will have changed.  It is sometimes enticing as parents to put off having the meeting, or raising concerns if you are not sure exactly what you want done. Sometimes just making small changes while you work out what comes next can make all the difference. Make use of collective wisdom, other parents will have experiences that help you step in with confidence.

Launch and learn
Have the meeting, see what happens, make a note of what worked and what didn’t go so well and use that knowledge to help you be more effective next time. It will inevitably be an evolving journey.

Keep it pointed where you want to go.
Decide upon your goal and use that to guide your decision making along the journey. Check your compass periodically to make sure you are on course. Focus on your child’s needs rather that what someone did or didn’t do.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Looking for a guide book to giftedness?

Oh dear, time has slipped by. My apologies for the lack of posting, but I have been immersed in finishing the correcting and last bits and pieces of editing for The Beginner’s Guide to Life on the Bright Side. It has now been sent off to the designer for her to work her magic on the layout (while I find the things I inevitably missed).

It has taken much longer than I anticipated to get this book finished off, but I know it will be worth waiting for. It is much larger than Gifted and Thriving, about 3 times the size and it has grown from the questions parents ask as they start out on their journey into understanding giftedness.  It is designed so that you can read it from cover to cover if you want to, or you can dip into the sections that are most relevant to you at this moment, and come back and look at other sections later. 

What will you find inside?

Part 1  A Gifted Child
What does a gifted child look like?
The Early Years

Part 2 The Needs of the Gifted
Friendship and the social side of giftedness
Sensitivity, intensity and the emotional side of giftedness
It’s all in the Family
Gifted for Life 

Part 3 Measuring Intelligence
Understanding Intelligence Tests
Do I need to test? 

Part 4 Twice-exceptionality
Understanding 2E
The 4 D’s – Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia
Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder 

Part 5 Success
Succeeding in Life
Motivation and success with learning 

Part 6 Advocating for your child
Do I really need to?
Meeting with the School
Choosing a school 

Part 7 For Teachers
Gifted children in the classroom 

Currently I expect to have it available around the middle of May.
Check the website for more information and to pre-order in a few weeks.

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