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When academic awards season means hurt feelings for the gifted

May 12, 2016 9 comments

For the metro Atlanta area, May brings the end of the school year, and with that comes academic awards season. It can be a surprisingly difficult and disappointing time for gifted children.

Gifted kids will receive their Principal’s List awards for earning all A’s, but when it comes to those big awards — the special awards that are accompanied by a teacher’s speech about how wonderful the child is — gifted kids often are passed over in favor of students who have struggled through school.

I am all in favor of rewarding hard work in the face of adversity. I am often moved to tears when the teachers describe a child who, for example, started the school year not speaking English and now is reading independently. That child absolutely deserves praise for what they have achieved.

But how do I look into the saddened eyes of my child and explain that although she is at the top of her class academically, is helpful, respectful, responsible and well-behaved, she is never chosen for this standout award?

I try. I compare these awards to what on my sports teams were called the “Coach’s Award” or “Hustle Award,” an award the coach gave to a player who worked hard but who didn’t have the skills to be the best scorer, defender, or all-around athlete. The problem is, at least in my child’s school, there is only one special recognition award per class. So if the award goes to a kid who has struggled to get from the bottom to the middle, it will never go to a child who has consistently been at the top.

The “Crushing Tall Poppies” blog addressed this dilemma in a recent post, “Not the Underdog, Yet, the Underdog.” The author, Celi Trépanier, is a former teacher and a SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) facilitator. She argues that it’s human nature to give additional support and encouragement to children who are struggling, but points out that this can translate to neglect of well-adjusted, high-performing kids in school. She writes:

Cutting down the tall poppies does not level the playing field; it promotes an unfair and inequitable situation. What many seem to forget is gifted children are human and they are children—children who have feelings, who have flaws, and who can also have physical and learning disabilities. Gifted children, like all children, need positive feedback, encouragement, and they need to be nurtured and supported like every other child. When support, encouragement and positive feedback is denied to a gifted child based on the assumption he or she probably does not need anything more, they grow up feeling left out and shunned.

And so we go into awards season, my child hopeful, me filled with the dread of another disappointment, of trying to explain once again why her success isn’t enough to earn her the recognition she craves.

Parent Day offered by Georgia Association for Gifted Children

March 4, 2014 Leave a comment

gagc-logoThe Georgia Association for Gifted Children will hold a workshop for parents this Sunday, March 9, in Athens.

Drs. Angela and Brian Housand will present the topic, “Raising Gifted Kids in a Digital Age.” Participants can then participate in two breakout sessions: “Failing to Succeed” and “Today’s Technology and Gifted Students.”

The workshop will be from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Foundry Park Inn & Spa. Registration is $20 if you sign up by tomorrow; it’s $25 at the door.

How will Georgia’s new teacher evaluations affect your gifted child?

March 15, 2013 9 comments

The state is changing the way it evaluates teachers’ effectiveness, and the changes hold promise for gifted and high-achieving students.

The Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) is currently in pilot studies and is expected to be rolled out statewide for the 2014-15 school year. The system places new emphasis on academic growth for all children, and utilizes tools that can help you advocate for your child.

I’ve been researching TKES since fall, and I will present what I’ve learned in three upcoming lectures:

  • Tuesday, March 19 at 6 p.m. at Westlake High School in southwest Atlanta
  • Thursday, March 21 at 6 p.m. at Independence High School in Alpharetta
  • Saturday, March 30 at 9:15 a.m. at Saturday School at Georgia State University

The March 19 and March 21 lectures will be hosted by Fulton County Supporters of the Gifted. These sessions are free and open to the public. FCSG requests that if you plan to attend, you register at their web site.

The March 30 session is open only to parents with students enrolled in the GSU Saturday School program.

Guided discussions about gifted kids’ emotional needs

January 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Local experts on the emotional needs of gifted children are forming a discussion group that will meet Sunday afternoons in Dunwoody, beginning Jan. 27.

Discussion leaders are Kathy Courchene and Muriel Knope, both trained facilitators through the SENG (Serving the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) program.

The cost to join the group is $120 per household. One or two adults who provide care to a gifted child or children can attend from each household. Discussions will be based on topics addressed in “A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children,” by James Webb, Ph.D; Ed Amend, Psy.D.; Arlene DeVries, M.S.E.; and Janet Gore, M.Ed. Examples of discussion topics are communication, perfectionism, managing intensity, teaching self-management, and relationships with family and friends.

For more information or to register, please contact Muriel at murknope-at-gmail-dot-com (address deconstructed here to protect her from spam). Registration and payment are due by Jan. 22, 2013.

Categories: Parenting

A guidebook for homeschooling gifted children, from the Davidson Institute

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

It seems I’m hearing from more and more parents who are taking their gifted kids’ education into their own hands, leaving the schoolhouse behind and teaching their children at home.

For those parents, I wanted to share a new guide to teaching at home: “Considering Homeschooling: A Guidebook for Investigating an Alternative Path to Education.” This guide was recently published by the Davidson Institute, an organization based in Nevada that serves profoundly gifted children and their families.

The guidebook offers information on costs, curriculum, applying to colleges, and networking with other families.

Categories: Parenting

SENG parent discussion group forming in Dunwoody

September 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Local experts on the emotional needs of gifted children are forming a discussion group that will meet on six Sunday afternoons in September and October in Dunwoody.

Discussion leaders are Kathy Courchene and Muriel Knope, both trained facilitators through the SENG (Serving the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) program.

The cost to join the group is $120 per household. One or two adults who provide care to a gifted child or children can attend from each household. Discussions will be based on topics addressed in “A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children,” by James Webb, Ph.D; Ed Amend, Psy.D.; Arlene DeVries, M.S.E.; and Janet Gore, M.Ed. Examples of discussion topics are communication, perfectionism, managing intensity, teaching self-management, and relationships with family and friends.

For more information or to register, please contact Muriel at murknope-at-gmail-dot-com (address deconstructed here to protect her from spam). Registration and payment are due by Sept. 15, 2012.

Categories: Parenting

New session of parent group focused on gifted kids’ emotional needs

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Maybe your friends don’t understand your gifted child’s perfectionism, intensity or social struggles. But Muriel Knope and Kathy Courchene do.

Knope and Courchene are trained facilitators with SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted). Their regular parent groups offer support for parents and other caregivers raising gifted children. Their class uses the book “A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children” as a starting point for discussion.

The next session will meet on Sunday afternoons from 2-4 p.m. in Dunwoody, from Jan. 22 through Feb. 26. Registration deadline is Jan. 12. There is a fee.

For more information, contact Muriel Knope.

Categories: Parenting