When people find out your homeschooled child is smart, gifted even, they tend to say either “You must be doing a great job” or “That probably makes it easier.” Neither could be farther from the truth.
Gifted children are a joy. They approach the world with unmatched enthusiasm, making thought-provoking connections, challenging what has come before. They also often lag behind in many areas of development, experience sensory sensitivities, or have other developmental issues that inhibit their ability to learn.
Parents of gifted children find themselves filled with guilt when the double-edged sword of “gifted” presents itself. Why is my brilliant daughter unable to sit quietly and listen, like “normal” kids? Why can’t my six-year-old ride a bike? Why does my son freak out when I add just one extra errand on our day? If my child is so smart, why can’t he read/multiply/write/comprehend? Why, why, why?
What parents need to understand is gifted children bring their own bag of challenges. The list is extensive: autism, Asperger’s, processing disorders, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD/ADHD, and on and on. Not all gifted children have additional issues, but many do. And these issue often hinder the gifted child’s development; isolating them from the world they so want to explore.
So, what’s a parent to do? Several gifted support groups exist either online or in the real world. But not many are geared to the homeschooled gifted child. Three wonderful resources are the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF), Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page, and Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG).
GHF delves into the many facets of the gifted child, teaching parents about the various forms of giftedness, explaining the many secondary issues, and offering support. Created and run by Corin Barsily Goodwin, with an impressive support staff, GHF is the place to go if parents remotely suspect their child might be gifted or “different.” In addition to the website, GHF has a Yahoo e-list where the many challenges and joys of giftedness are discussed in a supportive environment. Who better to understand the idiosyncrasies of the gifted life than those who have been through it?
Hoagies’ is another thorough resource on the subject of giftedness, and one that is often referenced by other gifted websites. Winner of the NAGC Community Service Award, PAGE Neuber-Pregler Award, and SENG, Hoagie’s is widely recognized as an excellent gifted resources. With articles, “introductory courses,” even gift suggestions for the gifted person, Hoagies’ should be a requirement for all parents of the gifted, whether homeschooled or not.
SENG focuses on guiding "gifted and talented individuals to reach their goals: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually." The SENG site is filled with information on the gifted, plus subscribers can receive a free e-newsletter. SENG also hosts an annual conference, which welcomes gifted people of all ages and their families, as well as professionals who want to learn more about this community.
Being blessed with a gifted child changes a family’s life in unimaginable ways. The potential for joy is endless, just as is the potential for frustration. Through education, support, and understanding, the road need not be painful or isolating, but instead can become a wonderful journey that only a small segment of the world gets to experience.
Article by Sarah J. Wilson