Emotional Radar

My apologies for the late post, I have been recovering from surgery, which brings me to my next subject… Both of my children have a finely tuned emotional radar that picks up the slightest blip from the people around them but they react in totally different ways. My daughter responds in a socially acceptable, empathetic way because she is very emotionally demonstrative and socially in tune. My son however, doesn’t come across as very empathetic; in fact he seems to be emotionally oblivious to what is going on around him. For example, I recently had a surgery to remove a growth on my ovary. Ovarian cancer runs in my family, so I was pretty worried for the month that preceded my scheduled surgery date. I told my kids the basic facts and tried to keep their worries to a minimum for the nerve wracking month before my surgery date. My daughter reacted by writing me little notes, snuggling more often, wanting me to spend more time with her, and giving me lots of spontaneous hugs and kisses. She made me promise that I would wake her up before I left for the hospital so she could say goodbye. As I was leaving, she hugged me fiercely and told me she loved me. My son, on the other hand, didn’t act any differently the month before the surgery and didn’t want me to wake him up when I left for the hospital.

When I came home that afternoon from my outpatient surgery, I was so drugged from the anesthetic that I went straight to bed. The next morning my daughter was scheduled to go to a friend’s house at 9 AM and I forgot to tell my husband about the arrangement so he could help her get ready. When her friend arrived at the door she was still in her pj’s. She burst into tears and ran into her room sobbing. I went in to talk to her and she kept saying, “I should have been ready, I’m sorry Mom.” I told her that it wasn’t her fault, that we had all forgotten because of the surgery and but once she started crying it was a release valve and all her fears and tears came pouring out.

My son woke up later that morning and came running out and flopped on the couch where I was laying bumping by sore abdomen in the process. I gasped in pain and reminded him that I was recovering from surgery and he should be careful. He gave me a funny look, replied, “Okay,” and ran off to his room. Later I fixed him a bagel with Nutella and had to thaw the bagel out in the microwave. It got a bit warm so when I spread the Nutella on the bagel, it became runny. When my son tried to eat the bagel, the Nutella began dripping all over him. He started to cry hysterically and telling me over and over that I should never make the bagel warm before I put on the Nutella.

Both of my kids were experiencing the same fears and were basically expressing it in the same way, except my daughter’s reactions seemed empathetic and my son’s seemed selfish and unaware. So how did I know that my son’s reactions were really empathetic? Because later that day he came out of his room and proceeded to show me how he had looked up everything I had been through on the internet. He had educated himself about the laparoscopic surgery, what it entailed, the benefits and risks, the likely outcomes, and so on. He had also looked up all the pain medications they had prescribed for me, how they worked, what their chemical reactions in my body were, and how the body detoxifies itself once you are off the medications. He never once asked me how I felt or told me he was worried, but his time and effort spent on educating himself about what his Mom was going through spoke volumes. He also started pretending he had an “insta-heal” machine and would periodically run up to me and pretend to heal my surgery site. Maybe someday my son will be better at expressing himself in a way that more people recognize as empathetic, but I knew how deeply he cared.

The other part of my kids’ emotional radar is that they are extremely sensitive to parental disapproval of them. My daughter was in a play a few weeks ago and she was the narrator. She had memorized all her lines flawlessly and was fully prepared for the play. The volcano in Iceland prevented her fellow narrator from getting home in time for the play, so an understudy had to read her lines. My daughter held the book for both of them and proceeded to read every one of her lines too. When the play was over I congratulated her, hugged her, gave her flowers, but then I said, “You did a great job, but why did you read your lines when you had them all memorized?” Her little face fell and she said quietly, “I didn’t want the other narrator to feel bad that she didn’t have her lines memorized.” I felt like kicking myself, I had just undone all her pride and joy in completing the play with my stage-mom question. It made me feel even worse that her motivation for reading her lines had been altruistic and I had just judged her for being sensitive and kind.

The other day my son was telling me all about the different kinds of keyboards, who uses them, and how they work. He had been reading up on it and was excited to share his knowledge with me. As he was telling me about it, I offhandedly replied, “Yes, but you really need to learn how to type without looking at the keys.” His lip began to quiver and he said in a tearful voice, “But I have my own way of doing it.” This was not my most sensitive Mom moment, so I replied, “Yes but eventually you are going to need to learn to do it the right way so you can type faster.” He slumped down on the couch and tearfully said, “Now I am depressed.”

I consider myself a good, loving, sensitive Mom, but I often forget how a careless word or judgment can affect my kids. I forget that they are measuring themselves against my yardstick and a misspoken word can make them feel they came up short. I am learning to read between the lines so I can recognize each child’s unique way of expressing love and concern. I’m hoping to model for my children how to celebrate each individual’s unique qualities while teaching them what is recognizable and acceptable to the world at large.

I recently read an article about helping gifted and perfectionist children succeed at their passions and it basically said to leave them alone. I initially took that to mean you shouldn’t push them to succeed, but I realize that it also means you shouldn’t judge their efforts or impose your standards on their achievements. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t discipline your kids when they need it, or that you shouldn’t have standards for behavior; I’m saying that when it comes to their efforts towards their goals, you should provide only support and encouragement. The world is a competitive place and will impose plenty of judgment on their efforts. You have the opportunity to provide that soft spot to land when the world pulls the rug out from under them. I am working on being both a cheerleader and a mentor, to help my kids tune their emotional radar to recognizable frequencies, while still staying true to their vision of themselves.

On Being a Perfectionist

I’m a perfectionist. It has cost me plenty of fun and freedom in my life. My school days, from elementary all the way through grad school, were spent working non-stop for that 4.0 GPA. My artwork is often abandoned because I can’t perfectly recreate the image I see in my head. Daily maintenance and cleaning of my house drives me crazy because I can’t keep everything pristine. While it is self imposed, it is no less controlling, and has caused me a great deal of stress in my life. Sadly, I seem to have passed that trait onto my children. I know that it is a common trait in gifted children and is probably part of the genetic package; but that is no comfort when you see your kids headed down that same path.

When my daughter started kindergarten she was very nervous about what was expected of her. We talked about her fears and I tried to comfort her by telling her that not much was expected in kindergarten, that what she didn’t know they would teach her. The night before her first day, she again asked me what to expect. I told her about the basic daily routine and then I casually mentioned that they may do a little test to see if she could write her name, say the alphabet, or count to ten, “No big deal honey, you can do all those things no problem.” I thought that would give her comfort but later that night, after I had put her to bed, I overheard her spelling her name over and over as if she were prepping for a big test. I almost cried when I realized how desperately she wanted to get those answers right.

That trend continued all the way through the time she was at school. She worked so slowly and carefully that she always had a pile of unfinished work on her desk and she often had to stay in at recess to finish up a worksheet. We began to notice she was reluctant to learn to read. I went through the gamut of reasons why she might be a reluctant reader, had her tested for disabilities, and used several programs designed for struggling readers. To no avail, she simply refused to read. One day she confessed that she didn’t want to read because she wasn’t a good enough reader. She was comparing herself to her brother (who began reading at eighteen months) and he seemed to do it perfectly. For my daughter, it was too overwhelming to see how much practice it was going to take before she got it right. If she couldn’t do it perfectly, effortlessly from early in her attempt, she wasn’t even going to try.

My son also displayed this trait at an early age. When he was less than two years old, he used to line his little cars up in a precise color ordered straight line. If someone moved one of the cars or altered the pattern, he would get really upset. When he was first learning to use a pencil or crayon, he would cry with frustration because he couldn’t make his hand write the letters quickly or neatly. He gets fixated on subjects and can’t let go of them until he feels he has mastered it. It is not unusual for him to study and pursue a topic day in and day out for months until he feels competent. If the subject is too large for him to master, he often abandons it. For example, he studied the periodic table until he had memorized it down to the atomic weights; but when he tackled John Conway’s Game of Life, a complex mathematical study, he ended up giving up after a few months because he couldn’t get it perfectly mapped out in his mind. Yet when I asked him if he wanted his math tutor to help him with it, he replied, “Oh, I’m done with that,” even though I know he has only scratched the surface.

Being a perfectionist is a double edged sword. It can drive you to attain competency and achieve goals; but in excess, it can cripple you and make you give up. I am reading, studying, and trying to find ways to help my children learn to mitigate this trait. I hope to teach them how to walk the fine line between tenacity and obsession; to keep trying and practicing until they meet their goals, but not to be too hard on themselves if they don’t master everything perfectly. I try to make this lesson an integral part of our daily lives. I point out when I make mistakes and try to model how to pick yourself up and start again. They have seen me practice and practice to master a skill or two. I tell stories and point out real life examples of people who have finally achieved their goal after years of practice. I have quoted from “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell, about how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to really master something. I have strived to teach them that mistakes are a powerful learning tool and most of the world’s great inventions and innovations came only after years of mistakes. I want them to feel the freedom to approach a project without the fear of failure. I want them to have the determination to stick with something, even if they fail and fail and fail. I want them to see the image of the Phoenix rising from the ashes as a metaphor for learning. Most of all, I want them to try new things, find what they love, and pursue their dreams without fear of failure.

Finding Friends

Finding a best friend is a sweet childhood rite of passage that most children get to experience at least once in their youth. That rich experience of having someone who loves what you love, gets your jokes, likes your style, and holds your secrets close. My daughter is good at making friends, has a circle of devoted friends, and a dearly loved best friend. Her life whirls around social gatherings, play dates, and sleepovers. Our house is often filled with giggling girls sharing the joy of growing up, experimenting with friendship, and learning how to be socially successful. However, finding friends for my son has been a much more difficult road. He is a likeable kid, quirky, but friendly, sweet, and cooperative. He has been in a twin’s playgroup since he was six months old, in a homeschool group for a few years, and plays with neighborhood kids regularly. Yet for years, he just didn’t connect with other kids. When all his little friends were into Batman and Spiderman, he was into electrical circuits and chemistry; when they moved onto team sports, he moved onto cellular automation and mathematics. As other boys were putting up posters in their rooms of their super heroes and sports stars our son had posters of his heroes, Einstein and Tesla, and a large scale periodic table of elements. He just wasn’t in sync with his age peers.

He was invited to a neighbor boy’s 5th birthday party. The guests were playing pin the spider on Spiderman, but my son did not want to join in the game because he thought it was pointless (the prizes were not something he wanted and he is not competitive). Despite our urging him to join in he opted to sit off to the side making words from a box of plastic letters. When the game was finished, one of the boys walked over to see what my son was doing. When he saw the words my son had produced (many of them well beyond kindergarten level) he swept his arm across the table scattering the words and telling my son that he was stupid. My son freaked out, pushed him down, began to yell at him for destroying his efforts, and then burst into tears. The other boy called him a name and ran away to play with the rest of the boys, while my son, upset at the injustice of it all, just wanted to go home.

When my son turned six, we decided to try a very low key Lego birthday party where the boys could just play with, and build onto, a Lego city my husband built. We invited eighteen boys from his kindergarten class and his twin’s playgroup, rented a clubhouse to ensure we had plenty of space, and ordered a Lego blue “2 x 3 brick” cake. Only six boys came to the party and most of them didn’t even notice my son throughout the party. Even though we had tried to make it fun, non-competitive, and easy, my son still struggled to interact with his guests. He tried to tell them the history of Lego, point out the fatal flaws in their structures, and show them the mechanics of rolling vehicles. Of course none of them were receptive to his overtures and the social demands of trying to connect with these boys began to wear on my son. His stress level rose as the party continued and he had a meltdown. After the party was over he told us that he hated birthdays, didn’t want to attend any more parties, or ever have another birthday party.

When he plays with the neighborhood kids, he commits social suicide on a regular basis. For example, we got a new trampoline and he was very adamant that we shouldn’t buy one because they are too dangerous. I had him help me assemble it and pointed out all the safety features of this trampoline as we worked. He finally agreed to try it out and after a few hours became more comfortable with the idea of jumping on it. However, he read the safety manual cover to cover and began to obsess over using the trampoline safely. He even posted a sign, in his writing, at the entrance that stated “This trampoline has been inspected for safety.” Once he knew the rules, he began to enforce them. If more than two children were on it at a time he yelled at them to get off and then ran and told me that they were breaking the rules. If someone bounced off the net or tried to do a somersault he got upset to the point of tears. He even tried to physically block kids from getting on the trampoline if he felt they weren’t taking the rules seriously. Consequently, in the neighbor kids’ eyes, he is an uptight little tattle tale.

In kindergarten, he had trouble making the connection between his actions and the resulting reaction. He was very stressed about school and wanted to stay near his sister all the time. He couldn’t understand why someone would get upset if he butted in line to stand next to her. He was hurt and bewildered when his sister told him to stop following her around. He didn’t see why his fellow students got mad when he helped them with their school work by pointing out their mistakes. He didn’t understand that the teacher didn’t want a running commentary on every subject she brought up. He didn’t get why the other kids were not interested in his explanation of the geometry behind what they were building with K’nex. In short, he felt like his best efforts to be friendly were rebuffed by everyone. He told me at the end of kindergarten that he didn’t have any friends and he didn’t think he ever would.

We felt desperate to help our son, but began to fear he was right about finding a friend. Then we found out about a gifted homeschoolers group and began to take various classes and attend activities with other families with gifted children. For the first time our son met other kids who loved geography, physics, astronomy, chemistry, chess, and math. He found friends who understood what he was saying and could build on his ideas. When they played, he was in the middle of the pack instead of staying on the sidelines. His new friends didn’t think he was a geek for worrying about safety; they were all just as cautious. They didn’t give him weird looks when he talked about the fourth dimension or the biochemical needs of the human body. They told him other cool stuff he didn’t already know. They read the same books he’d read and gave him suggestions for books they thought he’d like. They got excited about his book suggestions for them. He actually began to look forward to play dates and to say he had friends. He even occasionally attended their birthdays, joined in the fun, and had a good time. He is finally experiencing the reward for all the social training we have forced upon him. I know he has a lot to offer those special friends he will make over the years. We are grateful that he has finally connected with kids who don’t bat an eye at his social awkwardness, but instead see the wonderful possibilities of friendship with our son.

Noctural Child

My son is nocturnal. He’s wired that way and has been since birth. I can see now that his unwillingness to sleep at night is incurable. Despite all my efforts to turn him into a daytime person, he remains a creature of the night. When he was a baby he cried all night long. I remember gripping his bassinet and crying in frustration at my inability to get him to sleep. Now I know he was crying all night because he was bored. He couldn’t sleep and wanted something to do. Over the years we have tried everything short of drugging him to get him to sleep. When he was a toddler we tried removing anything that was entertaining and might keep him busy. His room was stripped to the essentials, as clean as a monk’s cell, yet he still lay awake staring at the ceiling, thinking, and talking to himself. We tried sleep deprivation, waking him up at 6:00 am every morning for months, he outlasted us. He could stay up half the night, be dragged out of bed at sunrise, and still make it through the day. We could not. We tried bribery. We bought him toys and books he wanted that could only be played with during the day. Still he didn’t sleep through the night. He would stay up until midnight, sleep for a few hours; then he would be up again to play with the coveted items. He has gone a full day without sleeping and finally collapsed in a heap mid-morning. We tried sleeping on the floor of his room, keeping lights out, insisting on quiet. All that achieved was exhaustion and sore muscles on our part, no change on his. Okay I admit it, I even tried drugging him. One night in desperation I gave him some Benadryl, it didn’t work. It put him into a frenzied, hyper state for most of the night. When I told our pediatrician, she laughed and said that Benadryl can have that effect; but she told me that my son was healthy and that different kids need different amounts of sleep. She assured us that as long as he was getting the hours of sleep his body needed, and we could live with his schedule, not to worry about it.

I still worried though and as he got older we had long discussions about the importance of sleep, the impact his non-sleeping has on our family, and the importance of functioning in-sync with society. While he would get teary eyed at the thought of upsetting his family and not fitting in with society, his answer was always, "I need more time to work and I think better at night." I tried to pinpoint what it was about the night that made his brain work better. He told me when the house was quiet and no one was disturbing him he could do more work. We agreed to put a lock on his door (the kind you can easily open with a nail) to ensure he wouldn’t be disturbed during the day while he was thinking. It didn’t work; he found he loved the quiet work time during the day and his work time at night.

When he is immersed in learning, he just can’t quit until he feels he’s mastered the current area of interest. Over the years we have seen him go through a chemistry phase, a physics phase, a chess phase, a math phase, and he is currently on a Conway’s Game of Life phase. He is a relentless, highly motivated learner who feels he just can’t get enough information crammed into 24 hours. I know that some of our friends and family think we are too lenient, that we just need to set firm boundaries and take control. Despite our stories of having tried to do just that, and the obvious knowledge that our son is not a normal kid, people are still judgmental. Lest you think we are lackadaisical parents, you should know that despite Aspergerish tendencies, our son is usually polite, kind, empathetic, and obedient in most areas.

Over the years, my experience with my son has helped me realize several things: he doesn’t need as much sleep as we do, he has difficulty shutting his brain down to sleep, he is driven to figure things out, and he can’t rest until he does. So I have conceded defeat. He sets his own sleep schedule. We are homeschoolers, so we often have the flexibility to allow him to sleep during the day. He has two rules that are inflexible: he is not allowed to be noisy and wake the rest of us up; and he has to willingly (even if he is comatose) get up and come with us as needed during the day. It seems to be working, my son is happy and engaged in life, he has time to do the work he feels is so important, and he has lots of play time and interaction with family and friends in the afternoon and evenings. I have given myself and our family permission to be different and not to worry about what others think. I believe our respect for our son’s needs has taught him to respect other’s needs and our flexibility has shown him how to find creative solutions to difficult problems. Our belief that each child has the right to help decide how, when, and what they learn has opened opportunities for our children that might not have otherwise existed. Most importantly, our son feels that he is okay just the way he is and that his family loves him, even if he is creature of the night.

The Invisible Overexcitability

There is a great deal written about overexcitabilities and gifted children. Dabrowski’s theories explain why many gifted children freak out, act out, and shout out. Parents of these kids know all too well the stress of dealing with overexcitable kids. However, there is another side to the overexictability angle, a quiet kind of overexcitability; a sensory overexcitability that causes these kids to feel every emotion exponentially. These kids don’t explode, they implode. As a parent of this kind of quietly desperate child, I can tell you that it is just as painful to experience, although perhaps not as publicly embarrassing.My son is so emotionally sensitive to the feelings and wishes of those around him, that he cannot follow his own compass. He seems to lack judgment, self assurance, and common sense. He comes across as gullible. He has no protective filters for the daily bombardment of other’s emotions. He is like a turtle without a shell. He seems emotionally unconnected and often unresponsive. He didn’t return my daily “I love yous” until he was five. When he finally responded it was written on a tiny note inside nesting envelopes, which I was instructed not to open until he was safely in his room behind closed doors. Emotion is a raw, painful experience for my son. He often misinterprets others’ intentions. One day at the park he and his sister were playing with a group of kids that they had known since they were very young. They were playing a complicated game of knights and princesses which involved a great deal of imprisonment and battling for freedom. I was visiting with the other Mom’s when I heard shouting and scuffling that didn’t sound like play anymore. I ran over to the kids to find that my son was desperately hanging on to the boy who was playing the villain and the boy was yelling at him to let go. I finally got my son calmed down and got him to let go of his friend. All the kids began talking at once and my son began to cry hysterically. I finally got the story that my son wasn’t playing, he was really tackling and fighting off the boy who was the bad guy because the girls were screaming and running and he thought he had to protect them. His twin sister was angry with him because he had ruined the game and he was devastated that she was angry with him. I sat down with him to comfort him and try to find out why he felt he had to protect the girls. He kept saying that the girls were really scared and I realized that at certain points in the game, when the bad guy snuck up on the girls and grabbed them, they probably were genuinely frightened for a split second. This little taste of real fear enhanced the thrill of the game for the girls; but my son was only seeing that they were really scared and trying to help in his own misdirected way. He is often bewildered by the complicated social interactions a play date involves. Watching him play with other children is like watching some foreigner trying to figure out the local customs and completely messing it up. My son also withdraws when he has to make choices. He is indecisive and if pushed or pressured he practically goes catatonic. He is so overloaded with the possibilities, the ramifications of each of those possibilities, and the effects on others of each of those possibilities, that a simple decision becomes a minefield. This is especially true when he is being disciplined because he feels the disappointment or anger of the person who is disciplining him. He disobeyed his Dad the other day and his Dad was giving him two choices of how to remedy the situation. His Dad was tired and irritated, but actually being pretty calm and kind in how he talked to our son. However, I could see that our son was feeling the irritation behind the façade and he simply could not respond to his Dad’s request. I think we are good parents, we try to listen to our children and our methods of discipline are fair and respectful. Yet I often feel like I am whipping a puppy when I discipline our son. He rarely intends to disobey and the slightest expression of disappointment will make him curl into the fetal position. He is also too compliant. He will do what anyone tells him to do. I came into the kitchen one day to see him sitting dejectedly at the kitchen table. When I asked him what he was doing he told me his sister put him on a time out. Even after I told him that his sister did not have the authority to put him on a time out, he was reluctant to disobey her order and leave the table. Another time he came running into the house sobbing that our neighbor boy told him he had to eat a worm, and he didn’t want to eat a worm, so could I please help him so he didn’t have to eat a worm. Is it any wonder I feel overly protective of this child? Yet I also feel compelled to help him learn how to navigate his world, to be successful and empowered to make choices, to be strong enough and aware enough to avoid or at least survive painful experiences. It is hard to walk that razor edge, to push him hard enough that he has to cope with life, yet not so hard that he falls apart. Parenting this type of child requires that you be hypersensitive and aware. You have to see those silent signs of suffering, to be able to read the desperation in his eyes, and to help him find ways to overcome the stress. This type of child is not going to get the attention of less aware adults. He is not going to fly into a noisy, messy rage that forces the adults to take action. He is not going to demand his needs be met. He will just quietly fade away. You have to teach him how to express his distress in words, to take control of the situation, and empower himself. You have to be a translator, to teach him how to interpret social situations and negotiate problems. You also have to know when enough is enough and give him the option to withdraw. It has been a slow uphill process, but we are seeing signs of progress. Our son will now tell his sister no if he doesn’t want to do something. He will sometimes tell us what he is feeling. He can be in a crowded public place for a few hours because he knows he can lock himself in his room when we return home. On occasion he hugs us and tells us he loves us. He will engage with other kids on a personal level once in a while. Sometimes he even remembers to say “please” and “excuse me.” I know that he has a long way to go; he will continue to struggle socially, he will never be the life of the party. It is likely that emotions will always be problematic for him, relationships won’t come easy. Yet he is learning that people who love you can provide respite from a harsh world. He knows that home is a safe place. He sees that his parents are willing to accommodate his sometimes eccentric needs, but that we also have expectations that may not be easy. Overall, we feel we are successful in meeting his needs most of the time and he is happy here at home. One day, I think we will be able to say that he is happy out in the world as well.

Teaching and Reaching Gifted Kids

I have been teaching gifted kids for over a decade, consulting with families of gifted children for the last couple of years, and raising gifted twins for the past eight years. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I would like to share some of the personal and professional lessons I have learned about how gifted kids learn. Here are some general guidelines: - Do not hold them to a sequential, comprehensive curriculum. Let them explore the big picture first and fill in the details as needed. Gifted children are voracious, curious learners who can cover a whole year’s curriculum in a matter of weeks when they see its relevance. Many parents and teachers panic when they see how fast these kids learn. It is intimidating if you are not well versed in that topic yourself; but there are many good online  programs and websites that can be used to meet a gifted student’s needs. Ideally, these programs should be supported by a mentor who meets with the student in person on a regular basis.

- Do not be afraid to radically accelerate them in their areas of strength. They should be allowed to work with a gifted teacher who can follow their thought processes and help them weave their scattered learning into a logical format. Gifted children need a knowledgeable mentor who is not intimidated by their ability and can keep up with them academically and intellectually.

- Provide the opportunity for them to work with other gifted children. It is essential that they have the experience of exchanging ideas, solving problems, and learning to work in a collaborative group with other children who are their true intellectual peers.

- Don’t let asynchronous development or a learning disability bar these children from pursuing their passion. It is not unusual for a gifted child to have difficulty writing or reading. They may have social issues or trouble dealing with sensory stimulation. Gifted children are often unidentified because their disabilities are more visible than their abilities.

- Teachers, work with the parents. Several studies have shown that parents are correct about 80 percent of the time in identifying their child as gifted. They have intimate knowledge of their child’s strengths and weaknesses and they are a great resource in designing a program that works for their child.

- Make sure the student is challenged. They have incredibly strong memories and ability to conceptualize and synthesize information at high levels. Boredom is a major factor in underachievement for these children.

- Be aware that gifted children are perfectionists and tend to be very self critical. You can help by listening to their concerns and empathizing with their feelings. Help them see that mistakes are an organic part of the learning process and often lead to discovering of more sophisticated methods or solutions. “The principle mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.” (Arthur Koestler)

- Identify them early. Use multiple measures of ability to identify gifted children. Be willing to accept non-conventional indicators of intellectual talent. Standardized methods of identification tend to under-represent girls, children with behavioral problems, children with disabilities, children from low income families, children from minority cultures, active/energetic boys, and children who have difficulty concentrating and performing when stressed or under time constraints. “Test scores should never ‘define’ a person, no matter what they may reveal about his or her intellectual or achievement potential…All tests are imperfect measures.” (Jean Peterson, Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University)

- Avoid sex-role stereotyping and provide gender role models that reflect great thinking and discovering from both sexes.

- Encourage independence and risk taking in their quest for knowledge. You don’t have all the answers and your approach is not necessarily the best method. Give your children opportunities for high-level abstract thinking and discussion, active inquiry and experimentation, and a creative approach to problem solving. “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” (Albert Einstein)

- Individualize the pacing and curriculum to match each child’s ability and interest. Let the child have input on how, where, when, and what they learn. Promote self direction and intrinsic motivation.

- Be emotionally supportive. Gifted children are highly sensitive to your emotions, words, and judgments. Model positive dialogue, respect, and kindness in your interactions.

- Offer options that enable students to use their strengths and preferred methods of learning.

- Help your child use their intellectual strengths to develop coping strategies in dealing with stressors and insecurities.

- Teachers/parents, create a classroom/home environment that celebrates individual differences, acceptance, and respect. Foster positive peer and family interactions.

- Teaching gifted children is an extremely demanding job. They have tremendous physical and intellectual energy and stamina. Get support from others in meeting the needs of these precocious children.

- Teach them how to point out mistakes, look at differences, and disagree in a positive, supportive manner.

- Empower them to question authority. Teach them that there are errors in print; just because something is published, does not guarantee it is true.

- Don’t focus on competitive activities, comparison to others, or your own aspirations. Let these children grow and learn in a cooperative environment that focuses on their needs and desires.

- Traditional education does not adequately value or nurture gifted children or their abilities. We must advocate for change in this arena.

- These children must be allowed to use their vast knowledge bank as the springboard for unlimited learning.

- Don’t assume that parents have pushed their children to grow their intellectual talent. The opposite is usually true; parents are just trying to keep up with their child’s quest for knowledge.

- Gifted learners have the right to an appropriate education. They must be given intellectually stimulating educational experiences appropriate for their abilities. This is a critical element to helping them realize their full potential.

- Match the teacher to the student. In Judy Galbraith’s book, “The Gifted Kids Survival Guide,” she asked gifted children what they value and desire in a teacher or mentor. Some of the traits they listed were: understands them; has a sense of humor; supports and respects them; flexible; intelligent; open to exploring new ideas; and resourceful.

- Gifted children should be valued for the thinkers they are and the doers they will become. They have the potential to solve world problems, make our lives better, and open the future to untold possibilities. We, as teachers and parents, have the privilege and responsibility to nurture their learning and help them find their way to success. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

(The ideas suggested above are a compilation of my personal experience and research of some excellent publications listed below.)

 Publications:

Developing Math Talent, a Guide for Educating Gifted and Advanced Learners in Math, Dr. Susan Assouline and Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik Exceptionally Gifted Children, Dr. Miraca U.M. Gross Defining the Few: What educators and parents need to know about exceptionally and profoundly gifted children, Dr. Linda K. Silverman and Annette R. Sheeley, MA, Communicator (California Association for the Gifted), 2000, 31(4), 1, pp 36-37 When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers, Dr. Jim Delisle and Judy Galbraith, MA The Gifted Kids Survival Guide, Judy Galbraith, MA and Dr. Jim Delisle Social Development of the Gifted, MENSA Journal, 2000 (Winter) pp 31-38 Smart Girls, a New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness, Dr. Barbara A. Kerr A Mind at a Time, Dr. Mel Levine Genius Denied, How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds, Jan and Bob Davidson with Laura Vanderkam Handbook of Giftedness in Children, Psycho-educational Theory, Research, and Best Practices, edited by Steven Pfeiffer

Revenge of the Nerds

We were trick-or-treating and having a wonderful time when a boy dressed as a nerd walked up to the door where my kids were waiting. He was a stereotypical nerd: high water pants hitched up to his armpits, mismatched socks, pocket protector, buck teeth, and big black taped glasses. As the homeowner answered the door, the nerd brayed in a high pitched voice, “Is this the advanced calculus class?” The homeowner and the adults standing around all laughed appreciatively. I was not laughing, in fact, I felt like crying. (In the spirit of full disclosure, we are a family of nerds. We dressed as a black hole, the cat’s eye nebula, dark matter, and a red giant…enough said.)I found myself wondering, if someone had dressed as a person from a minority culture, in a costume that stereotyped that culture, and acting in a manner that mocked that culture; what would the reaction have been then? No doubt, it would have generated discomfort, perhaps even anger. It may have even been newsworthy; yet no one even batted an eye at this costume and behavior. To be fair, my kids didn’t seem to notice. It didn’t ruin anyone’s evening, but it bothered me. I don’t understand why making fun of intellectually gifted people is acceptable in our culture. I don’t blame the boy; I don’t even blame his parents. I do blame Hollywood for perpetuating this stereotype; but mostly I blame our society for denigrating intellectual prowess. We readily celebrate children who are gifted at sports or music; but we seem to be threatened by kids whose gifts are intellectual. It is bad enough that they are made fun of and bullied; but even worse, their gifts are not nurtured in our society. We spend one penny per dollar on gifted education. Rarely do we provide adequate education for these children. We don’t challenge their minds, support their learning, or accommodate their differences. We as a nation seem to be nerd phobic, we can only relate to them if we are disparaging them. These children hold great potential for contributions that could make all our lives better. Many other countries have programs to identify and teach intellectually gifted children to their full potential – but not our country. We are more likely to label them as nerds, eggheads, and brainiacs, to bully and humiliate them for their incredible minds. Our reactions range from benign neglect to outright hostility. We tell them that “all children are gifted,” we refuse to let them work to their abilities, we tell them they must fit in, we resent their curiosity/needs/demands, we give them the message that they are somehow unacceptable to us, merely because their minds work differently than the average kid's. I can’t understand how we can look our collective selves in the mirror. Shame on all the politicians, administrators, teachers, writers, researchers, and parents who are willing to throw these kids under the bus. Yet despite our actions (or lack thereof), many brilliant kids grow up to overcome society’s roadblocks and reach their full potential. I fervently hope that these maligned kids will have the final revenge – as Bill Gates said, “Be nice to nerds, someday you’ll work for one.”

No Child Leaps Ahead

Our schools were designed during the Industrial Revolution to produce adequate factory workers from the immigrant mass. To teach them to write and do basic sums, skills that would ensure they could carry out their jobs in the factories. The restricted focus of the last decade on rote practice in math and language arts, the two main subjects tested on state-wide summative tests, has ensured that we are still producing factory type workers. The issue is, the world now needs people who can think, create, problem solve, invent, streamline, and synthesize. Our school system has dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator. With our focus on NCLB, we are assuring ourselves a place in mediocrity on the world stage. Our educational approach has also reduced the teaching profession to a factory job. We have taken the professional judgment away from our teachers. Their positions have become the equivalent of a factory clerk; they are required to read, write, do sums, and follow directions. Teachers no longer have the ability to decide how best to address their students’ learning needs. They are not encouraged to creatively approach their curriculum and teaching style, but rather to mass produce an assembly line product. They have no time to incorporate hands-on, authentic connections to the real world into their lessons. They have been assigned a schedule to gallop through and a curriculum to cover; all to ensure that their students do well on the all-important summative test. The whole education system does not promote higher order thinking; the creative, analytical thinking that is seen in the evaluative top three categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Further, our schools today don’t require our children to stretch their brains beyond Bloom’s lower categories, the recall of information. It most assuredly doesn’t encourage our teachers to stretch their minds and engage in higher thinking. Is it any wonder that our best and brightest college students don’t consider teaching a viable career path? Are we still surprised, despite years of focus on NCLB that our students rank towards the bottom world-wide? Should we be shocked that homeschooling is growing at such a rapid pace? How long should we ignore the business think tanks’ warnings that we are not producing the kind of thinkers needed in today’s work force?

Our school system is failing. It is outdated, ineffective, and hanging by a financial thread. In their book, “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns,” Clayton Christensen, Curtis W. Johnson, and Michael B. Horn use a business model to predict that our monolithic approach to education will utterly fail within fifteen years. Functioning in financial crisis mode is now the norm for school districts across our country. Adequate funding is no longer available to run our schools. Despite the obvious funding crisis, we continue to financially penalize schools who don’t meet NCLB standards. NLCB is one of the most funded mandates and one of our nation’s largest tax increases; yet it lacks funds to reward school districts for improving student achievement (not to mention, the funds necessary to provide safe functioning environments for learning). Perhaps, if we focused on improving rather than penalizing needy schools and districts, we might actually transform our educational system into one that works for all learners. We are systematically weakening our educational system to the point of no return.

We need to toss NCLB into the scrap bin. We need to give teachers back their self respect. We need to challenge students to think again. We need to teach students to focus on their strengths while we support their weaknesses. We need to build a generation of students equipped to take us into the future. We should be returning to our pre-factory roots when we prized independent thinkers. We need to rekindle that creative spark that educated men and women who had the audacity to create a nation. It is that spark that sets us apart, yet our school system has extinguished it from the minds of our children. We need to bring our students out of the factory and into the future.

How shall we make such a bold move? It will take a revolution. We must revolt against the one-size-fits-all mentality, against a top-down model, against test publishers and their lobbyists, against teachers’ unions and low teacher salaries, against narrow-minded curriculum, against run-down facilities, against a system biased toward the wealthy. We must free ourselves from the grip of mediocrity. There are models around the country that pave the way; schools in diverse populations that are working for those very populations. There are teachers who are passionate about what they teach and creative in how they teach it; administrators who reject the status quo and find solutions that work; superintendents who hire professionals and treat them as such. We should be looking at them. We should be studying schools that provide experiential learning with real-world applications. Innovative schools are scattered throughout the United States, schools with an eye to the future and a finger on the pulse of their students and community. As President Obama said, “In pockets of excellence across this country, we are seeing what children from all walks of life can and will achieve, when we set high standards, have high expectations, when we do a good job of preparing them.” We should replicate those schools’ in their ability to recognize diversity in student learning modalities/abilities and model a system that honors all learners. We should build a model that equally educates dancers, scientists, artists, athletes, writers, naturalists, entrepreneurs, mathematicians, and historians. We should end the academic hierarchy that places math and language arts at the top, squeezes in a little science and social studies, and makes all other topics expendable. In his book, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future,” Daniel H. Pink proposes that as computers become more sophisticated and able to do logical tasks previously reserved for left-brained humans, right-brained thinkers will become a valued commodity. He anticipates that in the future world of business, an MFA will be the new MBA. Companies will be looking for creative thinkers, innovators, and inventors, all right-brained traits. As Einstein so eloquently stated, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Speaking of Einstein, what are we doing to ensure our up and coming Einstein’s are nurtured and helped to reach their full potential? We must not put a glass ceiling in our classrooms that stops advanced thinkers from working to their ability. We should intellectually challenge our brightest students instead of letting them languish in boredom. Eighty percent of gifted and talented children are homeschooled at some time during their school career. These bright minds are pulled out of our system by disgruntled parents who are tired of beating their head against a bureaucratic brick wall. These are parents who can no longer stand by and watch their child’s potential squandered by a system that focuses on the least common denominator. Our single-minded focus since mandating NLCB has created a culture where No Child Leaps Ahead! We are one of the few industrialized nations in the world that does not have a program to systematically identify and appropriately educate our gifted student population. Our GATE programs are inadequate or non-existent in the majority of our schools. While we are to be commended for our desire to educate all children equally; at best, the mass education approach has produced mediocre educational results. Consequently, many of our brightest students are disinterested and bored in an academic system that teaches to the average. Gifted and talented children hold the greatest promise for producing future leaders, Nobel laureates, inventors, and champions of industry. What are we risking by not developing these talents here in America?

As Americans, we have drive, ability, and independent spirit in abundance. We need an educational system that celebrates and expands on these great American traits. Let’s not try to make every student the same, or rein in creative teachers, or expect administrators to find money; let’s get off the conveyor belt and out of the factory. We deserve better than NCLB. We deserve a system that ensures our children will be able to compete and thrive in our global economy. Let our brightest leap ahead!

To Test or Not To Test...

I am going to take on one of the sacred cows of the gifted industry. I think IQ testing is expensive, inconclusive, and can lead to inaccurate labeling of the child. I have seen too many parents bow to the industry's pressure to test; it is required to join groups, apply for schools, and diagnose abilities. There are many gifted professionals whose main income is derived from IQ testing. Publishers of tests have established successful businesses based solely on testing. Testing is a firmly entrenched part of our education system, purportedly designed to identify who will be successful in their efforts towards a higher education. But it is not a good indicator of success. According to Dr. Robert Sternberg, eminent psychologist and expert in giftedness, IQ tests do not test intelligence, but rather are equivalent to achievement tests. "Intelligence tests typically measure the achievements a person is supposed to have attained several years earlier." He believes that IQ tests are not a good measure of potential. Interestingly enough, most IQ tests were designed to identify children with an IQ below normal, not above. There have been some efforts to revamp IQ tests to more accurately identify extremely high IQ's, one such test is the Stanford Benet LM. While it probably comes closer to identifying a number that reflects ability, it is still very limited in identifying a child's strengths and intellect. At best, an IQ test is a snapshot of how that child was thinking at that particular time, in that particular place, with that particular tester. These variables can affect the outcomes quite significantly.

One of my clients is a very young math prodigy who was doing calculus at age seven and has an incredible mind. He sees the whole world through a math filter. Despite my misgivings and advice to the contrary, the parents decided to have him tested. How did he score? Below average, in fact his IQ score was 95, five points below "normal intelligence." This information sent his parents into a tailspin of doubt and misgivings. Had they misread their child's abilities? Was he a savant in math but below normal intelligence in general? As they struggled with this information, it changed how they looked at their son. Meanwhile, their son was the same boy, had the same abilities and quirks, and still loved math above all else. So what did that achieve? Perhaps it satisfied parental curiosity, though the outcome was not what was expected. Perhaps if he had scored higher it would have qualified him for a gifted program. It really wasn't necessary and it cost the parents a good deal of money and emotion to go through with the testing. Luckily, they never shared the scores with their son, so he is happily ignorant of his IQ score; but it is out there and very likely as he matures he will have access to that information. How will it affect his view of himself?

The same complications exist for parents whose child scores extremely well on an IQ test. It can alter the parents' views and expectations of their child. One of my clients, whose daughter scored as profoundly gifted (IQ 200+) was completely rattled by this knowledge. The parents became very unsure of their ability to meet their child's intellectual needs, despite the fact that they had been doing an excellent job to that point. Other clients have become more controlling of their child's destiny once a high IQ score is received. Suddenly, the parent sees a whole new career path for their child which might or might not be related to how the child sees themselves in the world. An IQ score can overshadow everything else and make it harder for the parents to work towards developing a well-rounded child. It can also be frightening for a child to be tested, categorized, and labeled. They may begin to doubt their own abilities and desires.

I am not against identifying strengths, disabilities, weaknesses, areas of interest, and talents; but it must be done in a more holistic way. Robert Sternberg, a noted psychologist and expert in developing talent and ability, has launched a new form of testing called "The Rainbow Project" which tests IQ in a whole new, whole-mind way. It tests creative, practical, and analytical abilities using art, humor, and ingenuity. Perhaps this form of testing, which gives right-brained gifted children the same chance of scoring well as it does left-brained children, will open up a whole new way of looking at how we test ability. Perhaps somewhere down the road someone will design tests that include what type of learner you are, where your interests lie, and how you process information; but even if the tests are holistic, we would still have to contend with the bias of the person scoring the exam. In the end, it really doesn't matter. The proof is in the pudding, so they say, and gifted children's abilities can be observed in their activities and pursuits. Do we really need an IQ score to determine how best to support our unique children? I have great trust in children's abilities to seek out what they want to learn and their self knowledge of how they learn best. Perhaps our money would be better spent in helping our children to experience first-hand their areas of passion. Take them on a field trip, buy them a chemistry set, travel to a volcano, take them to the opera, sign them up for art classes, buy them ingredients to experiment with cooking, let them fly in a plane, teach them to scuba dive...these real world experiences will help them define and develop their talents in ways a test cannot possibly identify. Be courageous parents, step outside the narrow view of identifying ability through IQ testing and give your children your full support to develop their own self-identified talents and interests. Life experience will tell them how best to use their gifts, will teach them to respect themselves, and will open up their pathways to the future.

Quandesayca

It all started fairly innocently. When my son was about eighteen months old, he taught himself to read. By the time he was two, he could read baby books; by three, he was reading, “The Magic School Bus.” His Dad and I were pretty excited, we gave each other sly hi-fives; we patted ourselves on the back for producing such a smart boy. Okay, so far so good. Then we made a colossal mistake…we tried to show off. Grandma and Grandpa came to visit. Of course we had to brag about how well Dylan could read; so naturally they wanted an exhibition. I primed Dylan for the upcoming event (not realizing I would need the skills of a SWAT team negotiator.) “Guess what? Grandma and Grandpa are really excited about your reading! Wouldn’t you like to read for them?” “No.” I was in denial. “But Honey, they only see us once in a while and it would be really special if you read to them. So will you please?” “No.” I was reduced to bargaining. “If you read to Grandma and Grandpa I’ll let you pick out a new book to buy.” “No.” I moved reluctantly to acceptance and decided to try convincing him later. I didn’t notify the Grandparents that the performance was off, in a vain hope that my powers of persuasion would entice him to change his mind. Later that day, to my surprise, he simply announced that after dinner he will read to us. Hoorah, patience prevailed! Finally, we were all seated for our post-dinner show, faces beaming with anticipation. Out walks the star of the show…stark naked. Now, my husband and I would normally not bat an eye, our son likes to be naked; but Grandma and Grandpa are not as liberal on the clothes optional issue. “Dylan, wouldn’t you like to get dressed before you read?” I asked hopefully. “No thanks Mom,” he gaily replied. I gritted my teeth, “No really Dylan, I want you to get dressed before you read.” Dylan whined, “I don’t like clothes, they are too scratchy.” More negotiations ensued. End result was a boy dressed in his most comfy pajamas and a dangerously unpredictable attitude. Despite his grumpy reluctance, the Grandparents were hanging in there. Finally situated, Dylan opened his book and begins to read, “zzzzizzfyxx pattrequorp.” “Dylan, what are you doing?” “I’m reading Mom.” “But those aren’t the words in the book.” “Yes they are, I’m translating them into Quandesayca.” “There is no such language as Quandesayca.” “Yes there is, I made it up.” Grandparent smiles were beginning to look strained. “Could you read in English please?” I begged. “Okay, okay, okay. Staob taolf esuaceb fo rieht…” “Dylan, that is not right, read it right.” “You didn’t say I couldn’t read it backwards,” he sullenly replied. “Dylan! Could. You. Please. Just. Read. It. Properly!” I hissed through clenched teeth. In response, Dylan jumped off the chair and began rolling on the floor barking like a dog. Grandparents were no longer even trying to put on a polite face; in fact, Grandpa looked downright alarmed. “That’s it Dylan,” I yelled, “go to bed!” Grandpa leapt at the opportunity, “I think we’ll turn in too, it’s been ah, um, a long day.” Grandma and Grandpa nearly sprinted for their room and firmly shut the door. Despite the fact that I brought the whole problem on myself, I was fuming and embarrassed. I hoped I could face my parents in the morning. I stomped off to make sure the reluctant reader was in bed. As I reached for his bedroom door handle I heard him reading in a clear perfectly enunciated voice, “Air is a mixture of invisible gases…” Lesson learned: Never assume your little genius will do anything to back your claims, nor should you ask them to!

One Day At A Time

We parents raise our children with an eye to the future. We have plans and dreams that we hope they achieve. The decisions we make are designed to help them grow into happy, healthy adults; a daunting task under the best circumstances. Throw giftedness into that mix and you have parents who are often parenting in uncharted territory. Our children don't match the developmental stages written about in parenting books, they are far above their peers in some areas and simultaneously far below in others. When my son was seven he understood and expounded on math theories I couldn't even get my head around, yet at the same time he often told me he was going to marry me when he grew up. They can be unpredictable and hard to categorize. We often have to navigate a minefield of sensitivities and twice exceptionalities. Circumstances that might normally delight a child, such as a parade or amusement park, can be a nightmare of  unexpected meltdowns caused by everything from sensory overstimulation to fears generated by too much knowledge of potential hazards. Sometimes dealing with the daily emotional and social needs of our kids can be all consuming; but like all parents, we also have to try to figure out how best to meet their educational and intellectual needs. The majority of school settings don't work well for our kids and we are often left scratching our heads trying to figure out how to help our children reach their intellectual potential. There are no government programs or funding to ensure our kids get their special needs met because the prevailing attitude is that if they are smart they can succeed. Add to that the negative stereotypes that swirl around how we parent our children and it often feels like you are being attacked on all fronts. The funniest (and most misguided) question I was asked about my children was if I had, "flashcarded them from birth." Those of us who are raising a profoundly gifted child can tell you that we do not push our children to  learn; we try to keep up with them. Most days I feel like I am holding on to a speeding freight train with one hand while trying to shovel coal into the engine with the other!

In my practice I see so many parents who feel overwhelmed with the task of figuring out a proper educational path for their child. That path for a gifted child is like a trip up the Himalayas; steep, difficult, and filled with treachery. So unless you have a Sherpa guide by your side the whole way, the best advice I can give you is to stop trying to see the top of the mountain. Take your child's education on a day-by-day basis, look at the small successes along the way, and study how to avoid the little pitfalls each day. I've seen gifted children blow through a whole year's carefully designed curriculum in a few weeks or months; so don't try to plan a long-term  linear path, it will most likely leave you feeling incompetent. Try to let your child guide your decisions about their education. Gifted children thrive when given choices about how, when, and what they learn. Often times they know what will work best for them, so let them charge ahead and feed their intellect. While they are stuffing their brains, your job is to facilitate their learning and to figure out how to fill in any holes that open up along the way. Whether your children are public, private, or home schooled, you will face multiple challenges along the way. So don't be afraid to drop what isn't working, look at things from another angle, and adjust your plans along the way. There is no "normal" for gifted kids, they are all wonderfully quirky and unique, so put your long term goals on hold and follow them up the mountain.  

I welcome any specific questions you may have, please see my website www.solutions4students.com, for contact information.

Great Sites for Gifted Kids Jr.

My last post had links to sites for more advanced students, so this one contains sites for younger/less advanced users. Technology:

http://scratch.mit.edu/

MIT has created a beginning programming site where kids can drag and drop commands to write programs that manipulate cartoon characters.

Science:

www.kineticcity.com

Fun games, interactive experiments, and learning for kids who love science.

Art:

www.howtodrawit.com

Contains lessons on how to draw all sorts of animals in a step-by-step process. This is great for those perfectionists who want their porcupine to look like a real porcupine when they've finished drawing it.

History:

www.bbc.co.uk/history

This site has lots of interactive games to learn about the history of ancient to modern people around the world.

www.usmint.gov/kids

Fun site to learn about US History, coins, and money system through interactive games.

Writing and Reading:

www.meddybemps.com

Has lots of story starters for young writers and finished stories can be published on this site.

www.readwritethink.org

This site contains many games and templates for exploring literature, creating books, writing stories, and organizing your thougts.

Enjoy!

Melanie Hayes

Great Sites for Gifted Kids

If you live with a gifted kid you spend a lot of time trying to keep up with their quest for knowledge in areas of interest. It reminds me of the little robot in "Short Circuit" that speeds around squealing "Need more input!" I am an educational consultant who specializes in helping gifted kids navigate the world. I am also a mother of gifted twins and live this life both personally and professionally. I often get asked to share sites that are fun, educational, and enlightening for gifted kids; so I've included a list of some in hopes that it will help you feed your kid's quest for knowledge. Technology:

www.dreamspark.com 

Bill Gates has offered this powerful programming tool, including lessons on how to use it, free to all high school kids. Homeschoolers can get their copy using the link at Homeschool Buyers Co-op www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org

Science:

Want to do chemistry with out blowing up your house? Sign up for the Y Science Virtual Chemistry Lab and conduct experiements to your heart's content.

http://chemlab.byu.edu/

Math:

Indulge your mini-mogul stock market guru on the virtual stock market at

www.prongo.com/stock/index

Writing:

Write your own comic strips at

www.makebeliefscomix.com

Art:

All sorts of interactive art activities at

www.show.me.uk/topicpage/T

History:

Enter your history project and compete with other history nuts at

www.nhd.org/Students.htm

Hope you find these sites helpful. I will continue to post more great sites as we go along. I am also happy to answer any questions any of you might have about living successfully with gifted kids and helping them thrive.