As a teacher of gifted students parents have often asked me what they can do to challenge their gifted child at home. Before the parent looks for outside activities, they may want to look at their own special abilities. Parents of gifted children are usually gifted themselves, since intelligence is inherited.
An example would be the mother who works with computers and has a gift for the computer sciences. She may very well have a child with an interest or ability in the same area. Yet, the child may not have previously shown interest or aptitude because the right opportunities have not been offered to the child. If parents were to select age appropriate materials and begin teaching their child in their own area of expertise they might be surprised to learn how quickly their child picks up on the new skills.
I once had a student whose father was a busy doctor with a love for literature. Although the boy was ten, brilliant and quite capable of reading novels on his own, the father still read to him. The father would choose a piece of classic literature he thought his son would enjoy and they would read together every evening.
This was relaxing for the busy doctor and it gave him quality time with his son. The father and son had many in-depth discussions about the story. The son was experiencing classical literature, which may otherwise have seemed daunting. One day after class the boy told me about this experience, he whispered it like it was a special secret he shared with his father.
Parents are often looking for activities to use at home which are unique and challenging to their gifted children. While this is admirable, they should first look to the most obvious area to select activities. That is from their own pool of talents, interests and skills which they personally have to offer.
Most gifted children have an interest in what their parents do at that mysterious place called “work”. Unfortunately, the work setting may be so routine to parents that they underestimate the potential value and intrigue their work activities have to the inquisitive and sometimes nosy mind of the gifted child. Take Your Child to Work Day is in April of every year and can be a good jump-start to introducing your child to your work environment.
Parents can challenge their gifted child at home by giving them a taste of their work life. This is accomplished by introducing the child to activities and skills the parent has chosen to devote their life to–those skills which put food on the table and a PlayStation in their child’s room. Parents who challenge their child at home, by introducing them to their own abilities, will be pleasantly surprised how much both they and their child will benefit.