Editor's Note: Lissy Wood, a local mom and North Carolina public school teacher with 14 years of experience, plans to open a private school for gifted students in about a year. Wake Gifted Academy will provide high quality instruction designed to meet the unique needs of gifted students in a positive, low anxiety environment. The school will open with kindergarten, first and possibly second grade. Today, Wood, who most recently was an academically intellectually gifted teacher, shares some tips for parents of gifted preschoolers.
Inquisitive, observant, curious, imaginative, and highly verbal are words often used to describe gifted preschoolers. They can be extremely sensitive to others emotions and display empathy at an early age. As the parent of gifted preschooler, you face a set of parenting challenges that can be misunderstood. You may find it difficult to discuss with other parents. In our culture giftedness is valued and desired but not socially acceptable to talk about with others.
Here are some tips for parents of gifted preschoolers:
1. Gifted preschoolers are highly curious of the world around them. They love to learn new information through books, experiences, and classrooms. Parents could expose children to experiences such as: museums, nature walks, zoos, use of microscopes or magnifying glasses, easy at-home science experiments and various books. Feeding into the curiosity helps satisfy the craving they feel for new knowledge.
2. Often these children are exceptionally verbal and may talk at an early age. They often understand how to reason early. At home they love to have discussions or heated debates over rules in the house. A helpful tip is to always remain consistent and explain why something is changing. Communication is vital for these children. Parents need to ensure the child feels they are valued and an important member of the family. It may help eliminate feeling like you are in the middle of a courtroom battling with a little lawyer!
3. Social and emotional needs of gifted preschoolers can vary immensely from children of the same age. It is important for parents understand how to help ease any feelings of isolation or loneliness with peers or even within their family. These children are starting to sense they are different than others and may have difficulty finding friends or fitting in. Parents can help children understand their gifts and be comfortable with themselves through modeling or discussions. For example, parents can model how to listen to others and show interest, accept differences in between child and peer, and recognize feelings in others.
4. Praise the process and not the product! When gifted preschoolers are completing a puzzle, drawing, writing or anything that requires steps, parents should acknowledge how well the child worked through any problems or stuck with it to complete it. If we praise the product, the child will grow up believing they have to constantly be perfect or perform exceptionally well on everything.
5. Parenting gifted preschoolers offers different sorts of challenges. Finding a support group or other parents that are experiencing the same struggles can be important. Discussing your child's abilities and gifts can often be accepted positively by parents of other gifted children. They can offer advice or solutions that support your child's overall happiness. Often this support group can be difficult to locate. Talking to educators may offer some guidance. Classroom teachers might be able to help you find some parents of other gifted preschoolers that are going through the same struggles or challenges. Don’t hesitate to reach out to some of the parents that comment in blogs or discussion boards about gifted children. Even if their children are older, they can listen and understand.
Parenting gifted preschoolers is a wonderful experience, full of endless possibilities! Enjoy it – time goes by too fast.
Wood will lead a workshop called Academically Gifted: What Does that Mean, for parents at 7:30 p.m., June 8, at the Mathnasium, 7409 Sunset Lake Rd., Fuquay-Varina. Pre-registration is not requred, but Wood would love for those interested to RSVP to ensure there is room for all.
Lissy Wood is a Triangle mom of two and founder of Wake Gifted Academy, which is schedule to open in June 2015 with summer camps.