Learning opportunities outside the school are important for gifted children and young people but juggling these can be difficult for families in terms of time and financial cost.
However, there are often opportunities that do not cost a lot financially. This can include:
- watching documentaries on specific areas of interest
- engaging in game-based learning
- asking an extended family member or acquaintance to share their skill or interest in an area that your gifted or talented child is interested in
- trips to places of interest, such as zoos, science centres, museums, theatres and galleries, can provide opportunities to build on the interests of a gifted child. If these are not physically accessible, many places provide virtual tours
- you can further assist your child's learning through in-depth questions. For example, questions about paintings at the gallery such as the following can help build and extend your child's thinking:
- 'Are there any similarities within this group of paintings?'
- 'How do you think the weather affects the plants in this park?'.
Many parents talk about the excitement and challenges in providing sufficient activities to keep their gifted child stimulated in relation to their specific interests.
Encourage your child to be responsible for their own learning
Everyday life with a gifted child is a journey where the gifted child may constantly seek learning opportunities that are relevant and interesting to them. To manage this challenge you can encourage your child to be responsible for their own learning.
This may involve providing resources to assist them to meet their own learning needs, such as books, construction sets, art materials or open-ended computer activities/games.
This can also involve you asking the 'right questions' when your child is seeking additional adult time than is reasonably available. These could include:
- 'What could you do next?'
- 'What is another way to do it?
- ''What would happen if...?'
- 'Think of three different ways to solve this problem'.
State-wide or national competitions can provide opportunities for gifted children to test the upper level of their ability. Our society is competitive in most levels of human interaction; sporting activities, music, job seeking, social status, academic achievement and forming partnerships.
Some gifted and talented students thrive on competition. The excitement of winning motivates them to present their very best performances, while competing can also promote resilience as inevitably they will need to cope with losing.
Karnes and Riley (2013) have found that people who focus on doing their best are less stressed than people who focus on being the best. This is a distinction that you can explain to your gifted child, but consistency is required in the message 'to strive hard is good' and that failure does not mean they are then less worthwhile.
Competitions in the area of your child’s strengths can be searched online or you can talk to your child's school about what competitions they would recommend. Involvement in such activity needs though to be something embraced by the child and should not be forced if they are not keen.
Hints for reducing stress related to competition
Seeing positive responses to, or coping strategies modelled by others in responding to the stress of competitions, are important in a gifted child's life. Such responses can be powerful in helping a child develop their focus on performance and achievement as well as their resilience in the face of adversity.
Regular experience of competitions may help children gain a realistic view of their ability level as well as confidence in their ability as they encounter other students like themselves.
Competitions can be a valuable activity for many reasons, for example, in allowing children to speak openly of their fears and anxieties about failure and triumph.
- encourage openness and discussions that deal with the worst-case scenarios and the likelihood of them actually happening
- use humour, as it is a powerful tool to counteract stress
- balance competitions with non-competitive activities
- promote a 'have a go' attitude.
It can be extremely useful to talk to other parents about questions they use. For more information see: