Blog Archives

The Gifted Middle School Years

teenager 1 copy

The concept of the “middle school” took root in the U.S. in the 1980s and has not served the gifted population well since its inception. By definition, it is the opposite of gifted education focusing on early adolescence as a time for cultivating age-peer relationships where team work prevails over individual achievement. Children who may have experienced even minimal gifted programming at the elementary level now see these services vanish. Cooperative learning too often places these students in an untenable position of ‘carrying the load’ in classroom academic endeavors.

“Middle schools can also be difficult for students who were never challenged at the elementary level if no gifted options were available.”

Middle schools can also be difficult for students who were never challenged at the elementary level if no gifted options were available. Persistence, the ability to overcome failure, the lack of developed study skills are all obstacles to academic growth at the middle school level and for some the beginning of underachievement.

Many teachers at this week’s chat conveyed their frustrations with a system that places emphasis on high-stakes testing over deep learning, an attitude from fellow teachers that exceptionality is a bad thing, and that middle school teachers lack even minimal training in gifted education. As teacher Tami Terry pointed out, “GT kids automatically filter in to Pre-AP classes, which can be good and bad, [but there is] no consideration for areas of strength or weakness. So we often end up with a gifted kid, who hates science, in Pre-AP Science struggling and failing.” On the flip side, high school principal Dr. Steve Ritter noted that in middle school, “tracking the kids sometimes starts here. A “stigma” for kids not in middle of the road (low & high achieve) may emerge.”

“Parents play a pivotal role in their gifted child’s transition from elementary to middle school. It’s important to recognize that even a gifted child will face uncertainty, new demands, and academic challenges at school. Middle school students need their parents’ guidance even when they don’t recognize the need.”

Our discussion then turned to the effects of asynchrony on the middle school gifted student. Precocious gifted adolescents still experience asynchrony in social-emotional development. (Kerr & McKay, 2014) Many parents pull their children from public schools during these years and return later in high school. Dating can be challenging when age-peers may have little in common socially, psychologically or intellectually.

A bright spot in the middle school years for gifted students arrived with the introduction of Talent Searches. Available from many institutions across the U.S. (see links below), Talent Searches specifically target intellectually gifted middle-school age students. They provide high quality, accelerated and enriched gifted programming online and during the summer.

Finally, we discussed how parents play a pivotal role in their gifted child’s transition from elementary to middle school. It’s important to recognize that even a gifted child will face uncertainty, new demands, and academic challenges at school. Middle school students need their parents’ guidance even when they don’t recognize the need. Parents should consider changing parenting style at this age – adapt to child’s biological, social-emotional changes.  It’s beneficial to approach pre-teens and teens with a positive attitude by voicing appreciation and approval for good behavior. (Taibbi 2012) A full transcript of this chat may be found on our Storify page.

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

 

Links:

Gifted Learners and the Middle School: Problem or Promise? (1995) Tomlinson

Meeting Needs of High Ability & High Potential Learners in Middle Grades (pdf)

Educating Gifted Students in Middle School: A Practical Guide (Amazon)

The War Against Excellence: The Rising Tide of Mediocrity in America’s Middle Schools (Amazon)

Gifted Education in Blue Valley’s Middle Schools

Middle School Gifted & Talented Programs Howard County Public Schools

Middle School Gifted & Talented Services Coppell ISD

Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School: Tips for Parents of Gifted Students

Hoodies, Headphones, and Axe Spray from Jeffrey Shoemaker

Middle School Programs for Gifted Students

Surviving the Middle School Years with your Gifted Child

Caught in the Middle: How to Help Gifted Children Survive the Middle School Years

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Talent Search

“What is Talent Search?” from Duke TIP

Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search

CTY Ireland Talent Search (pdf)

The Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search

Educational Talent Search Program

OR: Summer Math Camp for Highly Gifted Middle School Students

The Tres Columnae Project

Design Process in Education

Cybraryman’s Social Emotional Learning Page http://goo.gl/O5vdYM

Smart Girls in the 21st Century (Amazon) by Barbara Kerr and Robyn McKay

 

Photo courtesy Morguefile.

Unexpected Challenges of Being a Gifted Kid with Guest Ian Byrd

Unexpected Challenge copy

Photo Courtesy of morgueFile

Our guest this week was Ian Byrd of Byrdseed Gifted. Ian is a much sought after presenter at gifted conferences and a well-respected educator within the gifted community. His website, Byrdseed Gifted, and latest venture, Byrdseed.tv (subscription-based), are excellent resources for all classroom teachers. During this chat, we explored the challenges of being a gifted kid based on one of Ian’s presentations that he’ll be giving at this year’s TAGT Parent Conference in Fort Worth, TX in December.

Ian Byrd 2014

Ian Byrd

Contrary to society’s perception of gifted children, the challenges they face are numerous. As participants in the chat pointed out from personal experience, life can be lonely and full of anxiety for a gifted kid. Feelings of not fitting in with age peers, unrealistic expectations by teachers and adults in their lives, obsessive behaviors that are often misunderstood, and relentless boredom in school has a profound impact on their lives. Ian shared, “As I grew up, I became increasingly self-critical, felt that I wasn’t as great as people said, and  grew afraid of taking risks.”

According to Ian, “It’s easy to assume that giftedness will make problems simpler to solve or that being “smart” should make life easier. Giftedness can create over-thinking,perfectionism, and an overly-critical point of view. Simple problems become overly complex!” As the moderator pointed out, “Gifted kids are rarely told what to expect. Adults need to do a better job at facilitating the conversation – what is giftedness?” Often a gifted child is confused about why they feel so different from their peers which leads to further problems. Discussing giftedness in a positive manner can help a child’s self awareness. A full transcript may be found here.

As mentioned earlier, Ian will be presenting at the TAGT Annual Conference on December 4th and December 5th and at the Parent Conference on the 5th  as well. You can register for the Annual Conference or the Parent Conference at these links.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

 

Links:

Who is Ian Byrd? Ian’s Bio

“Self Control is a Limited Resource” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (Amazon)

“Why Change is So Hard: Self-Control is Exhaustible”

“10 Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

“Make Your Class Cozy for Gifted Introverts” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

“Sensitivity in Gifted Kids” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

“Personality Development and the Gifted” (pdf) by Linda Silverman

“Moral Sensitivity of Gifted Children & Evolution of Society” by Linda Silverman via SENG Gifted

“High Anxiety” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

Make Your Worrier a Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Child’s Fears (Amazon) by Dr. Dan Peters

“Understanding the High Energy of Gifted Kids” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

Living with Intensity (Amazon)

Intensities at Byrdseed Gifted

Experience and Processing The Funnel and Cylinder Analogy of Giftedness

Future U.S. Manufacturing Jobs Will Require More Brain Than Brawn

“Asynchrony and X-Men” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

Feeling Isolated by Choice

“Dino Obsession: Intellectual Overexcitabilities in Action” by Ian Byrd at Byrdseed Gifted

The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide: For Ages 10 & Under (Amazon)

Holiday Stress and Gifted Families with guest Jade Rivera

Jade Rivera

Jade Rivera

Holiday stress is an issue that affects many families with gifted members. This week, Jade Rivera joined us to search for ways to alleviate this stress and enjoy the holiday season. Jade is an educator and consultant who specializes in gifted education for highly sensitive, asynchronous learners. She is hosting a Community Call on November 10th “Holiday Stress & The Gifted Family” for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.

GHF Holiday Call

Many factors come into play when talking about why gifted children find the holidays difficult to enjoy. The disruption in their daily routine, high expectations of others, perfectionism, empathy for the less fortunate all contribute in some way to the anxiety they feel.

It is possible to prevent many of the negative reactions experienced during the holidays with planning in advance by talking to children and family members about expectations and what to do when it just gets to be ‘too much’. Developing a plan beforehand is key to experiencing a happy holiday season with your family. A full transcript of the chat may be found here.

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

 

Links:

This Halloween, Banish The Boo & Conquer The (Worry) Monster! by Dr. Dan Peters

A Recipe for a Peaceful Holiday Season from SENG Gifted

Holiday Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Children

Cycling Through the Holiday: The IPSE Four-Stip Process for Managing Hard Stuff

Dear Parents: Here’s How to Survive & Thrive at the Holidays from Pamela Price at Red, White and Grew

Happy Crappy Holidays! by Celi Trepanier of Crushing Tall Poppies

oliday Tips & Tricks for High Maintenance Introverts   by Amy Harrington

Holidays, 2e, and the Man in the Red Suit

Keeping my Sanity Through the Holidays with a 2E Child by Care Martin

Naked Holidays: Stripping for Low Stress by Wenda Sheard

Pinterest and the Myth of Holiday Perfection by Jen Merrill at Laughing at Chaos

Surviving the Christmas Season by Jo Freitag at Sprite’s Site

Handling the Holidays with Your Gifted Child: Excitement, Anxiety and Acting-Out Behavior

Managing Your Gifted Kid’s Intensity During the Holidays

Holidays & Your Gifted Child

Reducing Holiday Stress

Parenting Gifted Children through the Holidays

Why Smart Kids Worry with guest, Allison Edwards

Our guest this week was Allison Edwards, author of Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help. Allison began working with gifted kids 15 years ago as a school counselor. She was responsible for identifying, placing and coordinating resources for gifted students. Allison had to learn very quickly what gifted students needed and how they functioned inside the regular classroom. 8 years ago, she started a private psychotherapy practice where she specializes in working with gifted and anxious kids.

Our first question was to ask why smart kids worry. Allison told us that smart kids worry because their minds take them places they aren’t ready to go emotionally. They have the ability to intellectually understand things they can’t emotionally process thus creating anxiety. The ability to think about advanced topics is an asset inside the classroom but can be a detriment outside of it.

What signs should parents look for if they suspect their child is unduly worried? Parents will want to look for changes in behavior. These include: resistance to participate in previously enjoyed activities, stomachaches, headaches or loss of appetite. Kids who process anxiety outwardly will talk incessantly about their worries and/or ask repetitive questions about fears. Kids who process anxiety inwardly will withdraw, pull away and be resistant to talking about their feelings.

What advice did Allison have for parents to help their children to not worry so much? She would advise parents to acknowledge their child’s feelings and resist the urge to rationalize the anxiety away. When parents try to rationalize with an anxious child, children feel devalued and will become defensive and resistant. The best way to help kids handle anxiety is to teach them anxiety-reduction tools. The tools will empower them to handle anxious moments and learn to self-soothe. A partial transcript may be found here.

Allison Edwards Pic

Allison Edwards will be speaking at the 2014 TAGT Annual Parent Conference in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday, December 5th at 12:30 PM. You can register for the TAGT Annual Parent Conference here.

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

 

Links:

Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help (Amazon) by Allison Edwards

Why Smart Kids Worry Book Cover

Allison Edwards’ Bio

Allison Edwards’ website

“4 Anxiety-Reduction Tools” for Children from Allison Edwards @CounelingBits (video)

Anxiety Trapper App for iPhone (iTunes App Store)

Allison Edwards’ Blog

12 Traits of Anxious Children (free download) from Allison Edwards

Allison Edwards ‘Why Smart Kids Worry’ (YouTube)

Why Smart Kids Worry on Facebook

%d bloggers like this: