Tutoring Gifted Students Full Time
This is a throwback to the time when children were educated by a governess or tutor and curricula were customized to meet the needs of the individual students. Parents who hire full time tutors are often not displeased with public education. It just doesn’t fit their lifestyles. Some families do it for short stints, others for years at a time.
Full time tutors are used by families who:
- live between two or more locations,
- have a parent who travels a lot,
- have a child who is sick for an extended period of time, or
- have children in show business or competitive sports.
Although many of the families who pursue this type of education are wealthy, increasing numbers of middle class families who are more sociologically and racially diverse have begun to school their children at home using tutors.
This method of schooling is different from homeschooling, because the parents are either not comfortable or able to teach the children themselves.
Some families combine full time tutors with online learning and local enrichment classes to add variety.
A few organizations that provide full time tutors are:
Keys to Parental Involvement with Gifted Kids
Over the years, I have worked in many schools and with many school districts. The best school in which I ever worked had two strengths that I think elevated it to such excellence: 1) the principal hired outstanding teachers and then left them alone to their own styles and creativity, and 2) the parents were very positively involved in the education of their children, both in and out of school. Because of these two strengths, the students clearly understood that the learning expectations at the school were very high. It was the norm to excel.
In Best Schools Usually Have Involved Parents
, the authors looked at the top schools in Georgia (according to state tests) and came to the same conclusion—that parents are very important. When looking at these state test scores that are part of the No Child Left Behind Act
, many parents at the better schools were most interested in how many kids exceeded
the expectations of the tests. They also wanted to know how their school compared to other schools in the area. Parents were often willing to sacrifice to move to a neighborhood where their children could attend schools that met high standards. When choosing a school, they also visited and made certain that the teachers were nurturing and supportive, that the school was challenging and exciting, and that the educators were open to suggestions.
The authors found that at these successful schools, other families also worked to keep their children in a thriving environment. Parents made sure the school did not compromise art, music, or gifted education.
Making certain that schools work is an investment not only in children but also in the community. Good schools have a big impact on the values of homes.
Parents support their children’s educations by reading to them beginning at an early age, supporting their interests, volunteering at the school, and working together on hobbies. They travel and have an enriched environments at home.
The book debunks the stereotype that Asians are born smart, but does suggest that Americans can look to Asian cultures for tips on raising successful kids. The authors compare the way they were brought up by their Korean parents versus the way their friends were raised by American-born parents.
In Asian families, the child’s life tends to be much more structured, with emphasis on discipline and delaying gratification. The mother often gives additional creative assignments about whatever happens in their lives on a day-to-day basis.
Parents are role models for learning by being enthusiastic toward learning and education. They surround children with people who love learning and incorporate learning into all of their children’s activities, so they don’t associate education just with school. The adults make it fun.
So, if you want your children to have a good education, look first to yourself as parents and consider the many things you can do, beginning with the choice of where you live and continuing to your support of the schools and your children at home.
Direct Teaching of Social Skills to Gifted Children
Gifted students are sometimes criticized for having poor social skills. They may be academically advanced and emotionally sensitive, yet be immature socially. As adults, it is easy to ignore the necessity for direct teaching of social skills to very bright young people. We assume that because they are verbally precocious and have a broad base of knowledge that social skills should come automatically to them. If the skills do not come automatically, we use the excuse that it is because they are so gifted. By doing so, we do a disservice to these kids. We send them off into the world ill-equipped.
In How Can My Gifted Child Make More Friends?,
Dennis O’Brien writes that adults make it more difficult for gifted children to acquire the age-appropriate social skills and same-age friendships by encouraging a child’s intellectual growth at the expense of the child’s social development. Because of this, many children who excel in academic areas are developmentally arrested in their psychosocial growth.
He suggests that adults explicitly teach children basic social skills. One way to do this is through role-playing. Even after you have taught your child how to do these most basic skills, don’t take it for granted that she is using them. Ask your child how frequently she uses these skills each day. How do other children respond? Stay on top of your child until he or she habitually uses appropriate social skills with peers.
- listen. No one likes a know-it-all, especially if they do know it all,
- understand that he has control over only one thing—his reaction to events,
- have fun, and
- be a child.
Some specific social skills that should be taught are:
- introducing oneself,
- saying hello and good-bye courteously,
- when to listen and when to talk,
- telephone skills,
- table manners,
- appropriate language and topics of conversation with different groups,
- ways to include people in a conversation or play activity, and
- how to get along with different types of people.
Remember, people are not born with these skills. We must not assume they will develop automatically. They need to be directly taught, not only through our own examples of good behavior, but through direct words and instruction.
Working to One's Gifted Potential
Concerns that I frequently hear from parents include, “I just want my child to be able to reach his potential…or work to his potential…or realize his potential.” Parents want to know how they can help their child achieve this level of competence. They want the schools to provide an appropriate education so their student will reach this proficiency. They may be frustrated because the youngster isn’t interested in using his aptitude to its fullest.
The phrase “reaching one’s potential” raises a lot of questions. First of all, how do you know exactly what anyone’s potential is? How would you know when it was reached? Is it fair to ask a person to always be doing his best? What impact does asking one to reach her potential have on the actual output of a child?
Let’s take this out of the realm of the gifted student for a moment; instead, apply the term to yourself. Do you know what your potential is? Have you achieved it? If you have, I assume you have worked hard to get there. Would you want those around you to expect you to be at your peak performance all the time? Are there periods in your life when you have achieved great things and periods where you’ve just glided through the days or years?
Does it cause a lot of pressure to strive to work to one’s potential? How do you know when it’s too much pressure?
What is the point of working to one’s potential? Is a person a failure in life if he doesn’t work to his potential?
These are all thoughts on which to ponder. Exactly what are your expectations of your child or your child’s school or yourself?
College Planning for Gifted Students
I'm very proud to announce the release of our newest book, College Planning for Gifted Students: Choosing and Getting Into the Right College
. The book's author, Sandra L. Berger, has long been a popular speaker on the topic of college planning at gifted education and parenting conferences. Her sessions are always packed with teachers and parents alike seeking information about this important topic. A couple of years ago, Sandra approached me about publishing a book on the subject, and I was thrilled with the idea.College Planning for Gifted Students
is a must-have for any gifted or advanced learner planning to attend college. Sandra Berger leads students through the college planning process, moving from self-exploration, to college matching, to the application process. She focuses specifically on helping gifted students discover who they are, and how that discovery corresponds to finding the perfect postsecondary endeavor. The author also provides useful, practical advice for writing college application essays, requesting recommendation letters, visiting colleges, and acing the college entrance interview.
Throughout the book, helpful timelines and checklists are provided to give students and their parents, teachers, and counselors assistance in planning for and choosing the right college. An extensive resource section is also included, with information about the SATs and ACTs, early entrance programs, and a sample college application.
Read an Interview With the Author
Sandra L. Berger, former guru for the Ask ERIC and USA Today
gifted education hotlines, discusses what every parent, teacher, or counselor of gifted students needs to know to help their bright students plan for and get into college. Tips for choosing a college and advice for making the right match are included. To read a transcript of the interview with Sandra Berger, click here.
Check Out a Sample Chapter From This Book
Read an engaging, interesting excerpt from the book. This excerpt looks at the many reasons why gifted students should consider applying for and attending college. It also offers a handy timeline of the steps students should take in the college planning process. To read this sample chapter from College Planning for Gifted Students, click here.
Davidson Fellow Scholarships for Extraordinary Achievers
The Davidson Institute for Talent Development is offering high achieving young people across the country the opportunity to be named as 2007 Davidson Fellows, an honor accompanied by a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship in recognition of a significant piece of work in science, technology, mathematics, music, literature, philosophy, or something "outside the box."
To be eligible, applicants must be under the age of 18 as of Oct. 1, 2007, and a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident residing in the United States. There is no minimum age for eligibility.
The deadline to apply is March 30, 2007. Applicants must submit an original piece of work recognized by experts in the field as significant, with the potential to make a positive contribution to society.
The scholarship must be used at an accredited institute of learning. For more information on the Davidson Fellows, or to download an application, please visit the Davidson Fellows Web site
Bright Child or Gifted Child?
How do you know if your student is a bright child or a gifted child? Intelligence is all on a continuum and this decision may be somewhat subjective, but there are certainly some characteristics one should consider when making this evaluation. The comparison list first attributed to Janice Szabos in Challenge Magazine
many years ago has been adopted by many districts and individuals. Bright children may be excellent students. Gifted children not only have the potential for being excellent students, but also look at life in a different way. Gifted children are curious, think abstractly, draw inferences, initiate their own learning, manipulate information, and thrive on complexity. Because they look at things so differently, this may actually get in the way of doing well in the traditional system. (But, don’t assume that is always the case.)
When school districts create “gifted programming,” they are often really creating programming for bright children that may also include gifted children. The programming may offer an accelerated approach to the curriculum, but, in order to truly address the needs of the gifted, it should also include a much higher level of complex thinking and exploration of ideas.