Mindfulness for Gifted children

This summer I will be posting a series of blog posts on the social and emotional needs of Gifted children and how I feel Mindfulness can benefit these children immensely.  I also feel that mindful awareness of the unique characteristics and needs of Gifted children will help us, the adults that support these children empower and nurture these children along their own journey….      

SO why  Gifted?

I am learning very quickly that we as educators and parents can benefit greatly from stopping to take a deeper look at the characteristics of our Gifted children.  This mindful awareness of certain tendencies that these children have will better prepare is to support these children as they grow and blossom into the change we will see in our world and future!

I am taking an amazing, online class through UCI right now as part of my training to support my site as the GATE coach.  I am absolutely loving this class it is called “Meeting social and emotional needs of Gifted students.”  It is, just with the first week, and already  giving me so much insight, knowledge, and research based perspectives on what a Gifted child truly needs to be successful, nurtured, and empowered in our classrooms and in our homes.

Research (and my own observations from two decades of working with Gifted students) tells us that these very bright children are unique in many ways and that we as parents and teachers need to be mindful of their unique characteristics and needs….

Please take a look at the attachment bottom of the page  I posted from my course.

I was blown away to see the research based findings that describe the need and characteristics (again please stop and check the attachment) of Gifted students.  Innately, I had know much of this as an experienced teacher….but the knowledge I have learned in only the first weeks of my class will give me so much more to offer the parents of these children in my classroom.

So here are my top three AHA moments for my week one work on the Social and Emotional needs of Gifted students and how mindfulness can support and empower these children.

AHA #1

Help your child understand how to graciously question others, especially adults.
Why? The gifted child does not react well to mistakes and misinformation.

First, the research says that Gifted students often appear rude or disrespectful as often they feel it is necessary to correct people, and yes teachers, on their mistakes.

Um, yes, I have dealt with this more times than I think I could count.  It is a hot button for all teachers when, mid lecture, mid sentence, or mid announcement…. a cute, little, smarty pants blurts … or on rare occasions,  raises their hand to condescendingly announce that you have made a mistake.

Mindful awareness has taught me to stop…. and feel the annoyance before I respond.  But, I will tell you it is DIFFICULT.

Now, armed with this new knowledge based research I will  be prepared and even expect this to happen with my brightest students.

I will then, pull them aside and explain that I understand their need to share what they know and that in fact it is another sign to me of their vast intelligence.  “BUT”, I will explain, ” this is something I want you to really work on as an intellectual leader will learn how to NOT react in this manner and to take a breath and share the information at an appropriate time or at the least in a manner that is respectful and helpful.”

We can also teach these kiddos how to observe what they are doing…. and to really check in with themselves.  This, as for us adults, takes practice.  But, imagine the possibilities of teaching this to a very young child and having him or her grow in this pause and observe practice as they mature.

It is not a surprise that our Gifted children have very busy minds.  As parents and teachers we need to also know that, because there is SO much going on, we as the adults need to make sure these kiddos know how to stop, take a breath and observe.

I am recommending this easy pause- practice to begin teaching  these bright lights how to examine where they are at as they move along their busy journey of exploration, creative thinking and questioning everything in pursuit of knowledge.

Aha #2

Gifted children can be bossy because they are very responsible and independent.

But this may come across as bossy and they can at times be intolerant of others because they really have a hard time understanding how they just “dont get it” or see what they are seeing.

In group work it is VERY frustrating for Gifted students that are asked to explain and or re-teach things they understand simply to struggling classmates.  This is going to be something that I really observe in my classroom next year.  I do a lot of group work and had truly thought that it was a leadership skill to put the brightest kids with mixed ability levels in order for them to learn how to explain and teach others.  However, research suggests that we group the Gifted children with others at that highest level and invite them to go through and beyond the concepts.  I have seen my students struggle with patience with lower level kids….and what the research explained is that they are so bright that having to try to explain what they almost innately know to a child struggling with the processing of the information might just bore them or frustrate them to a place that they may disengage with the topic altogether.

There will still be times where I will have to pair students in mixed ability groups…but when I do I will patiently remind my brightest students to really think about how to break down what they have learned in order to explain it to others.  I will validate that it might be frustrating and encourage them to be mindful as they proceed.  I will also make sure that this is not the standard go to for grouping this year.  I am really excited to be able to help my Gifted students understand the way their mind thinks.


Aha #3

Be aware of asynchronous development.
Why? The child’s emotional and physical abilities are not as advanced as their intellect.

As teachers we KNOW this but being able to cite it as fact will dramatically change the way I communicate with both students and parents.  I teach 6th grade so this comes up very often.  What this means is that many gifted children are immature especially when compared to their intellect.

Students that are very bright often are not aware of their discrepancies in emotional and physical abilities.  Gifted students often seem frustrated no one will listen to them or that others are annoyed by their immature behaviors. Being able to point this out to parents will empower the parent-teacher- student relationship by letting parents know the potential for this and that we can all support students in working towards goals in that area (if needed).

(I will be writing more about this topic in a later blog as it is a major area of study in my current program with UCI.)

What I have really thought about through out the lectures and readings on the topic is that being able to validate a what a Gifted child is experiencing is such a gift!  We as adults can help give words to feelings and emotions these students may not understand.  Imagine the relief for a student when they find out it is their beautiful brain that does not turn off that can get them in precarious situations.  Then, we can help children learn from their experiences and grow and evolve with this understanding.

Please check out PDF below from: www.bellybelly.com

Nurturing Tips for Parents (1) 

As my UCI professor Suzanne Montgomery said in her lecture for week two, once we understand the emotional needs of these students and start to expect certain behaviors and comments teaching the Gifted can be much easier to deal with than most teachers think.

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