Guest Author - Lorel Shea
Gifted Kids know that they are different. Not better, but different. Like everyone else, they crave companions who can relate to and understand them. They wish for peers who can appreciate their puns, share their delight in a great book, and play with concepts beyond more average age-mates. It's not elitism. It's all about finding common ground. Think about the people whose company you enjoy most. What is it that draws you together?
Some gifted kids, especially those who are mildly to moderately gifted, may find close friends at school. Chances are, there are several other pupils at or near their level in their grade. Perhaps, as happens in certain districts, there will be a disproportionate number of kids who are in the gifted range- more than the 2-5 percent you might expect in most schools. These schools have no shortage of students to fill math team slots and participate in other socially rewarding activities for gifted kids. Those who are fortunate enough to attend a school for the gifted are obviously going to have even less trouble making social connections. Unfortunately, not every family lives near a public gifted school, or can afford the cost of private tuition.
For those children who are highly to profoundly gifted, the odds of finding true peers at school are slimmer. They may stand alone in their classroom or even their school, with no real academic rivals or intellectual equals. Someone once said that it can be very lonely at the top, and this is sadly all too true for many gifted children who are far beyond the norm.
How can a parent help their gifted child to find intellectual peers? Whether your child is moderately or profoundly gifted, organizations for gifted children can help. Here are several ideas parents can follow up on to help their children connect:
1.Attend local and state conferences for gifted education. Most have a childrens program, and will allow for plenty of interaction with other area “gifties”. The motivated parent can even take on a volunteer role with the organization, which is a great position to meet families and get to know which kids share your child's interests.
2.Get involved with SENG. Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted is a national organization dedicated to nurturing the gifted child's social and emotional needs as well as intellectual needs. SENG has a national conference each summer- this year in Orlando, Florida.
3.Join NAGC. The National Association for Gifted Children is comprised of parents, educators, and other professionals who seek to address the unique needs of gifted children. They also have an annual conference.
4.Consider BIQ. Beyond IQ is a conference for highly to profoundly gifted children, their parents, and educators. Some years it happens in multiple locations, other years there is a single BIQ conference.
5.Check out DITD. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has several programs for profoundly gifted children. Their Young Scholars program currently has over a thousand members across the USA. Annual summits and online bulletin boards allow DYS kids to foster friendships that may last a lifetime.
6.Send them to camp! Johns Hopkins CTY offers specialty camps for high scoring participants in their talent search program. The Center for Talented Youth offers camp sessions at various college campuses around the country.