Visit Prufrock Press at the NAGC Conference
If you will be attending the annual conference of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in Charlotte, NC, this weekend (November 1-5, 2006) please stop by our booth (booth #139) and say hello. The NAGC conference offers attendees a great opportunity to hear experts from around the world discuss what is happening in gifted education. It also provides a chance for educators and parents to network. Prufrock always has a strong presence at the NAGC conference. We like to use the conference as a way to meet our customers and hear what is on their minds. Please stop by our booth (you can't miss us, we are the first booth as you walk in the exhibit hall door). I would enjoy meeting you.
SAT Preparation for Gifted Middle Schoolers
It makes sense to me that preparing for any test can only improve one’s chances of earning a higher score. It helps to understand the construct of a test—what types of questions and types of knowledge will be included. Understanding these things also gives an individual more confidence, ameliorating test anxiety. It’s a “practice makes perfect” (or at least better) mentality.
Test preparation programs have long been popular for SAT and ACT preparation, but some recent college graduates have come up with a new way of doing this and the program has now been extended to help middle schoolers—and specifically gifted middle schoolers—prepare.
The online prep program is described in the article 'Tweens Study for SAT with First-Ever Test Preparation Designed for 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-Graders. Younger students sometimes need to take the SAT to gain acceptance into special gifted programs run by universities such as Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Northwestern University. PrepMe has a specific program for gifted students called the Precocious Program. After a student completes a diagnostic test, the results are analyzed and a customized program is created for the child.
The student is then assigned a personal tutor from either Stanford University or the University of Chicago. Each of the Precocious Program tutors has received special training on working with gifted students.
An article at CNNMoney.com
, tells about the initial launch of the PrepMe company in January 2005. The company was started with $20,000 in prize money from a business plan competition at the University of Chicago.
Unlike the giant SAT prep companies that teach a single test-taking methodology, PrepMe offers several ways to work with students. First it gives the student a diagnostic exam to identify his or her weaknesses. Then it uses relevant, repetitive drills to conquer those weaknesses. PrepMe also provides 20 to 60 hours more preparation material for about the same price as the larger companies. In addition, it offers live essay coaching via e-mail, instant messaging, and phone.
The company's curriculum is based on the test-taking approaches of top scorers and the use of tutors close in age to their target customers.
The original PrepMe version for high schoolers
was founded by three very bright students from the California Institute of Technology/Oxford University, Stanford, and University of Chicago. The founders have won numerous awards for the program, including a business plan contest at the University of Chicago, the Fortune Small Business first prize of $35,000, as well as SAP Business One and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2004 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
PrepMe bills itself as a premium college admissions and test preparation service that not only emphasizes the material on standardized tests, but also how to best prepare for the tests mentally and physically. The company prides itself on employing college students who have scored high on the SATs and were admitted to premier colleges.
Because the Precocious Program was only launched yesterday, it does not have a track record; however, the concept is certainly worth considering.
On Being a Desperate Parent of a Young Gifted Child
I have a preschooler who is extremely smart. Most people say he is too smart. He is having a lot of behavior problems both at home and at school. The director at his school thinks he is gifted. Many others have said he is probably ADHD
, but I don’t believe it.
Can you please point me in some direction to have my son tested and also to find schools that specialize in gifted and talented? I am lost. I am a desperate mother with a beautiful and bright child who just needs some special attention.
Being a parent is never easy. There are no magic answers. It sounds, however, like you would benefit from two things: a professional evaluation of your child (both intellectual and behavioral) and information for yourself.
Like every other area of life, you will find that the more you learn about giftedness and gifted education, the more you will realize there is to learn. It is not an exact science and much of it is driven by polarized opinions and philosophies. Start by going to the National Association for Gifted Children State Affiliation Association Websites page
where you will find a list of gifted associations by state. Browse not only your own state’s website, but those of other states. For instance, California has a lot of good resources listed, no matter where you live. Click on various links and you will learn about magazines and journals to which you might want to subscribe, conferences to attend, contacts, etc.
By browsing these different areas, you will learn about some of the many different definitions of giftedness and you will learn that it is also possible to be both gifted and have ADHD (or any other learning problem). You will find parenting suggestions as well. The people listed as contacts at your state’s association website may be able to recommend psychologists in your area who test for giftedness and behavioral issues and who also offer appropriate counseling. By having your child evaluated, you will better understand his needs and where to go from there. If you do find that your child is gifted, you can go back to your state association and ask for help in locating schools in your area that specialize in gifted and talented.
Gifted Education Web Resources for Fall 2006
The Web resources below originally appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of Gifted Child Today.
This popular journal offers teachers and parents the practical information needed to create a successful education for gifted children. Visit the Gifted Child Today homepage
to download sample articles or to order a subscription to Gifted Child Today
-- the nation's most popular gifted education journal.
It's the new craze! Sudoku is a puzzle that is solved by logic. Players enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces so that every row, column, and 3 x 3 square of the puzzle contains one of each digit. This fun site offers Sudoku puzzles with four levels of difficulty. A JigSawDoku link takes the visitor to an interactive game that is timed and offers hint and help features. Visitors can play as much Sudoku as they want on this Web site. If that's not enough, customized Web Sudoku eBooks of various sizes, difficulty levels, and styles can be ordered for $2.95.
Music to My Ears
This is a wonderful interactive resource for kids where they can learn about music's great composers and even compose their own music. There is a musical dictionary that offers pictures, audible descriptions, and sounds of the different instruments. The Composer Time Machine, Rockin' Rhythm Master, and Note Name games teach youngsters about music in a fun way they will love. Also, the site offers teaching resources based on National Standards for the Arts and state Academic Content Standards for Music. This is a great way for the young Mozart to be immersed in classical music!
The Stock Market
It's never too early to learn about disciplined investing. Edustock has tutorials on how the stock market works, what a stock is, and how to manage a portfolio. There are also profiles on select companies to help visitors get started in making wise investing choices. The Web site even features a free real-time stock simulation.
The Big Mac Index
Ever wonder why certain items are more or less expensive depending which country you are in? How about the Big Mac? McDonalds has restaurants all over the globe and uses the same ingredients in all countries, so the signature Big Mac sandwich should cost roughly the same price anywhere you go, right? Take a look at the Big Mac Index to find out. This Web site offers an explanation of exchange rate theory via a short video. The site includes some indexes of hamburger and Starbucks coffee prices around the world. For access to the full index, you must subscribe to the Economist
magazine, but the free introductory materials offers much ... um ... food for thought.
Have you ever made a snowman or wondered where snow comes from? Caltech's physics lab offers information on how snow crystals form and why they take different shapes. The Guide to Snowflakes gives details on the different types of snow flakes. This fascinating Web site also offers movies of snow crystals forming!
Do you or your family members suffer from allergies so much that you can't have a furry pet in the house? Here's a way to have the pet you've always wanted. You can choose the species, name, and color of your Neopet. How your Neopet behaves and where your Neopet likes to live is also up to you. Once you sign up for a free account, you can feed and play with your Neopet and have many adventures in Neopia.
What Does It Mean When Your Gifted Child Says She's Bored?
The phrase “I’m bored” sends waves of panic through some parents. When a parent's child says he’s bored at home or at school, the immediate impulse is to do something about it. But, what does it mean to be bored? Often we assume that a child is not being challenged and it is the job of adults in her life to remedy that.
In an article titled "The Benefits of Boredom"
, the author reminisces about growing up in the 1950s when children did not have all the current technological devices to keep them occupied. It was a time when youngsters engaged their natural creativity to busy their minds. Well, I grew up in the 1950s and experienced many of the same things as the author; however, I also remember an ongoing dialog with my father. I would say, “I’m bored,” and he would reply, “Carol, you’re always bored.” He didn’t say this in a mean way. It was just an acknowledgement that he had heard me. I cannot once remember him coming to my rescue, though. He would just let me wrestle with that boredom. Pretty soon, I would find something interesting to do.
So, what does the term bored really mean? My guess is that it has different meanings to different people and at different times. It could mean that the material a child is being taught is not challenging. It could also mean that she’d rather be playing with friends than doing schoolwork, that he is not in his comfort zone, or that she has no clue how to direct her mind to something that really grabs her. It simply could mean that the child wants permission to play his new computer game.
As adults, we have to be careful not to jump to conclusions. It would probably be helpful to ask your child to tell you what it means to be bored. Ask probing questions, like “Can you tell me more about that?” or “How would you make things different if you could?” or “What would the perfect day look like?” Don’t put words in the child’s mouth such as “Are you not learning anything new at school?”
As is stated in the article "The Benefits of Boredom," there are actually good things that can come from this lack of engagement. It can lead to periods of creativity, giving the mind time to wander and the time necessary to put those thoughts into action.
I remember when my kids were young and misbehaved. I’d send them to their rooms as punishment and to “cool off.” When I’d finally open the doors to tell them they could come out, they would each greet me with excitement over the things they had done while in solitary. They read books; or they took their books and built houses with them, stacking them like cards; or they made a fantasy world with their stuffed animals.
I am not implying that there is never a legitimate reason for a child to be bored in school; that the work is not challenging. I just want to encourage you not to jump to conclusions.
If your child has legitimate reasons for being bored in school, there are a couple of routes you can take. Try approaching the problem from all angles. Talk with the teachers and or administrators at the school about ways that your child might be more challenged. But because you cannot always control the school environment, also help your child to learn to challenge himself at school. How can he go more in depth with a subject or go in different directions with it? By moving toward these alternatives, you will help your child become responsible for her own learning, which is a very empowering skill.
A View Into the World of a Gifted Child
As parents and educators of gifted children, we know that, at times, gifted kids can feel isolated and "different." We look for ways to help break that isolation--to help gifted kids realize that there are others who share their views and ways of thinking.
To this end, I would like to suggest that you visit Gifted Gear Reviews. Here you will find an insightful running narrative by Stephen, who describes himself as "a gifted and talented 10-year-old who likes anime, manga, rock and roll, and theoretical physics and who has a mild form of autism called Asperger's syndrome." I had to Google "manga" (Japanese comics).
Stephen's blog offers a unique view into the world of a gifted child. I believe you will enjoy reading his blog. I'm learning a lot about the inner world of a gifted 10-year-old. The author has a talent for introspection, and the blog is filled with good humor and insights into being gifted and having Asperger's syndrome.
Drop by Stephen's Gifted Gear Reviews and leave a note of encouragement in the form of a posted comment. I'm sure he would enjoy getting some feedback from you.
More important, I think that many gifted kids will find Stephen's blog of interest. A gifted child with Asperger's may find this blog especially valuable. A feeling of isolation can be so hard for kids, and getting to read and comment on a blog by an open and insightful kid like Stephen can be quite helpful.
Advice for Parenting Gifted Children
“I think I must have picked up the wrong baby at the hospital,” stated one mother when talking about her elementary school whiz kid. She had no idea how her son knew the things he did or how he developed some of his interests.
In Nourishing the Super Kid
, other parents voice similar feelings. Lesley Ansell-Shepherd describes how she supported her son’s interest in marine biology by introducing him to others who shared the same interest. She tells how they visited a museum to see special exhibits, went to the library to get books, and attended meetings of the local natural history society. Although the parents did not have special knowledge in the area of marine biology or a strong interest in it, they were able to support their son by providing a community of practitioners in the field.
In the same article, Lannie Kanevsky, who is an associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, with a special interest in gifted education, gives the following advice to parents:
- value the child’s strength, whether it’s academic, athletic, or humanitarian;
- remember that the child is still like other children in many ways, with the need to be loved, the tendency to misbehave, and common anxieties about life; and
- support your child’s passions, even if they change from week to week. Expose your child to people and places where his passion can flourish.
Families may need to struggle with the subject of a youngster being well-rounded. Should a child who is a gifted pianist also be required to play on a soccer team? Enabling kids to succeed means not having a preconceived concept that a child will follow certain paths and participate in certain activities. Each child is an individual.
Although parents should advocate for an appropriate education for their youngster in school, they will also need to find ways to challenge her outside the classroom. It is also important to maintain a balance. Don’t be a “stage parent.” Gifted children need to be children first.
In The Talent to Excel
, parents again express their wonder at where their gifted children got their interests. Some feel that they were born with certain personalities that move them toward certain areas of expertise (i.e., A caring heart may move a child toward a deep understanding of others or toward a love of nature.).
This article includes the following advice from parents:
- Read a lot to your child, even when he can read himself.
- Listen to your youngster and take her interests seriously.
- Show him things that can help mold his character.
- Be on your child’s side.
- Set a culture in your house of learning, reading, and using one’s brain.
- Play many different kinds of music.
- Get out and be physically active together.
- Expose your child to many different experiences.
- Try to keep life positive.
- Encourage, but don’t force your young person to do what he loves to do.