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Monday, January 18

How to Keep Your Gifted Child Motivated and Challenged

When my daughter was in seventh grade she was recommended for the Gifted & Talented program at her school by her math teacher (she had gotten a perfect score on her math 8 SOL).  After taking the placement test and  meeting with her teacher, her guidance counselor, a psychologist, the principal and her father and I, she was accepted into the program.  She is currently in 8th grade and is taking 9th grade math and Language Arts 8 Honors.  She has also been recommended for the Virtual Goveners School in our state.  She is a straight A student and is also an awarded Level 6 gymnast.

Gifted children have a great capacity to learn quickly and efficiently. This is almost always a positive quality. The downside to this is that your child may feel bored and unmotivated when they have to keep the slower pace of peers in a group who may take a little longer to grasp the concepts taught. Your gifted child may also feel bored or unchallenged when they are working on any task that they do not find stimulating.

Many gifted children have specific areas that interest them and they prefer to focus on these areas. They may have trouble keeping focused when the subject matter is of little interest to them. Here are some ways that you as a parent can bring motivation and a good challenge to your gifted child.

Focus Mainly on Their Interests

Your child will naturally gravitate towards the things that interest him (or her) the most. Make it your goal to find time to develop these interests in your child. He will appreciate the things that appeal to him and it will stimulate his innate love of learning. This will help your child even in other subjects he is not naturally inclined to enjoy.

Show Them How Subject Matter Applies to Their Life

Nothing turns off a gifted child more than feeling like he is wasting time on unnecessary subject matter. If your child despises math but loves music, show him how the two relate, and how math will help him develop the technical side of his musical talent to an even greater level. Explaining to your child how the things they learn relate to the things they love is the best way to encourage cooperation.

Give Them Opportunities to Develop New Interests

Your child may hang tightly onto a few key interests to the exclusion of all else. Even if your gifted child shows distaste for trying a new activity he is not interested in - and he likely will at times - make him try new things anyway. It is through trying new things that his world will expand. Besides, who knows what new activity may become his next favorite?

Give Positive Feedback

Encourage your child. Be his biggest supporter. When your child accomplishes something big, let him know you are proud. Be sure to also encourage him when you see that he is willing to try new things, or working steadily at the daily tasks that feel like drudgery to him. Focus on the character attributes that you see in your child rather than making him believe that you only admire his intelligence.

Partner with Your Child’s School

It is important for any parent to partner with their child’s school. It is especially so for the parent of the gifted child. Check homework daily, be in contact with your child’s teacher, and be involved wherever possible. Speak highly of education and school around your child. They are sure to pick up on even the slightest negativity when you express it, and it will begin to taint their own view if it is heard often enough.

While keeping your gifted child challenged and motivated can be a huge task, there are many things you can do to accomplish this goal. Find ways to encourage your gifted child to stay diligent, and they will reap the rewards throughout their lives.  

My daughter is looking forward to being a competitive gymnast in college and is already looking at schools that offer a solid academic program as well as a successful gymnastics team.  Although she has no idea what she wants to be "when she grows up", I'm sure she will be a success at whatever she decides to do!

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