November 3, 2015

Summary of the 2015 Parent Institute Expert Panel Discussion

CAGT Presents
The 2015 Parent Institute
Expert Panel Discussion

Is our school meeting my child’s needs?  What is she thinking (but not saying)?  How is he?  Is she happy?  What can I do to help?

Do you find yourself asking these questions about your gifted child?  Approximately 200 parents found out how to answer these and other questions during an expert panel discussion at this year’s annual CAGT conference in Loveland, Colorado.  When parents pre-registered for the two hour evening event, they were given the opportunity to submit questions which drove panel discussion.

Expert Panel Discussion Featuring:
  • Del Siegle, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Connecticut, Author, Co-Editor of Gifted Child Quarterly, Director of the National Center for Research on Gifted Education, Past-President NAGC
  • Linda Silverman, Ph.D., Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development and its subsidiaries Gifted Development Center and Visual-Spatial Resource, Author
  • Patty Gatto-Walden, Ph.D. Senior Fellow for the Institute of Education Advancement & Co-Founder of Yunasa West, Author & Psychologist for the Gifted, Specializing in Holistic Health and The Highly Gifted
  • Lisa Van Gemert, M.A., Creator and Author of, Educator and Consultant, Youth and Education Ambassador for American Mensa and the Mensa Foundation

Questions for parents to consider
The facilitator opened the evening by asking panelists to share questions important for consideration when raising gifted children.  The list can be used to help parents determine how well  their child’s needs are being met.
  1. Is my child learning something new every day?
  2. Why is my child underachieving (if they are)?  Underachievement is most often related to a child’s belief that the academic content is not meaningful.  
  3. Are the teacher and school flexible?
  4. Are exploration, expansion, and out-of-the box thinking encouraged at his school?
  5. Does my child understand what it means to be gifted?
  6. What kind of relationship do I want to have with my child when she is an adult?
  7. How can I change the face of policy to advocate for gifted children’s needs?
  8. Is he happy?
  9. Does she feel she has at least one adult at school that really believes in her?
  10. Am I creating a nurturing environment where my child can grow?
  11. Is discussion open in our home?

Private thoughts of many gifted kids
Panelists shared thoughts expressed to them by their gifted clients and students helping parents anticipate possible unspoken concerns of their own children.
  1. I wish my parents would see “me”, the individual.  Do my parents see ALL of who I am?  My mind, heart, sensitivity, body, spirit, and social aspects are all connected and affect one another.
  2. I need to see that I am similar to and belong to this family.  Also, how am I different from my siblings?  How am I unique?

Additional comments and suggestions from the panelists
Giftedness, depression, and anxiety often go together.  Gifted children are repeatedly told they are “too __________ (sensitive, intense, anxious, energetic, emotional, etc.) sometimes leading them to feel like misfits.  Many gifted kids struggle with perfectionism and existential issues.  Many struggle with executive function.  Parents may need to be their child’s executive until the time he can successfully assume that responsibility himself.  All children need to strive for a balance in their sleep, exercise, and diet.  They need to feel they are making a contribution to their world.  

CAGT’s expert panelists expanded parents’ understanding about the different social-emotional, motivational, and academic needs of gifted kids compared to their school age peers.  Parent understanding of these differences is essential to the child’s health and success.  Attendees left the event with a deeper understanding of how to guide, support, and advocate for their gifted child, thus maximizing the chances of him or her growing into a healthy and fulfilled adult working to his or her full potential.

Kim Servia, M.A.Ed.
Parent and Educator
SENG Model Parent Group Facilitator

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