Monday, September 29, 2014

Are You an Advocate for the Gifted?

Are you a parent of a gifted child? If you are, then you are a giftedness advocate. Because whether or not you are homeschooling or public schooling, asking for accommodation or going with the flow, chances are there are times where you have to explain your child to someone else. When you do that, you're being an advocate.

When Builder Boy was four years old or so he began his Thomas and Friends Phase. He started identifying people he did not know well by the color of their shirt. If you wore a red shirt, he called you James; if you read a green shirt, he called you Percy, etc. (He of course always wore a blue shirt.) This required some explaining, as the kids class leaders at Bible Study Fellowship did not understand why he was calling everyone the wrong name.

When he was in 2nd grade and still cried about not being able to do something exactly right like everyone else in his AWANAS games, it needed to be explained to concerned leaders that, no, he wasn't horribly injured. He just needed an emotional break and a plan to get better at home before he was ready to join in again. (Pretty much when the game was almost over.)

When Early Bird joined AWANAS, I had to tell the teacher to cover the verse in the book or he would read it instead of saying it memorized. He was 3, and this was not something they had had to do before.

I never thought of myself as a Giftedness Advocate until very recently. I had heard the idea that everyone who is a parent of a gifted child is an advocate for them, but I still didn't think that applied to me. I wasn't fighting for my children in public schools, I wasn't writing to legislators or trying to change the world, so I couldn't be considered an advocate, right?

But these past few weeks I finally realized that small, necessary changes could be accomplished by lots of ordinary parents of gifted kids, if we just changed our attitudes a little bit.

  • We need to stop apologizing for our gifted child's achievements, or for mentioning our child's achievements .
  • We need to stop following up every mention of an outlier positive with a negative to "balance" it out.
  • We need to project the idea that this is okay.

Honestly, I think that if we can just talk about it matter of fact, instead of sheepishly and with our heads down, if all parents of gifted kids can project the attitude that this doesn't have to be a big deal to just talk about our children like every other parent does, then maybe the world will get the message that this is normal to have variances in abilities, and that's okay!

The other week, after I had started thinking about what I was going to say for this blog hop, I put my money where my mouth is. I was talking to a mom who was interested in homeschooling and was asking me questions. We had a great conversation, and I pointed her toward my blog for resource links that I don't have memorized. I did causally mention that Early Bird was reading and had been for some time, and that she would see mentions of that on my blog. I told her that was not the norm, and it wasn't because of anything I had done teaching-wise. I projected the attitude that it was not a Big Deal, and she mirrored that attitude.

Several months ago I met a fellow mom who shared homeschooling her son with her husband who worked from home. We had a similar conversation about what I used and things of that nature, and I pointed her to my blog as well. I had hoped to set up a play date between her son and mine, but at the time I was concerned about how she might feel about Early Bird (who is a younger than her son) doing more advanced work than her own son. I was sheepish, and apologetic, and my attitude was probably best described as "please don't hate us for being ahead of your son." I don't know if it was because of that conversation, or just life getting in the way, but though I tried several times to initiate play dates, that mom never got back to me or made it happen.

That attempt to bring a sense of normalcy to something that is inherently atypical is one of the reasons why I participate in the Hoagies Blog Hops and the Gifted Homeschoolers Blog Hops and the Parenting the Gifted Blog Hops. Maybe if enough of all types of parents read about gifted issues, and how gifted kids are different in a way that makes a difference in how they think and live, then maybe they won't be so ostracized. And maybe that starts with me holding my head up and not avoiding eye contact when I say "oh, yeah, he can read really well" without adding "but I still can't get him to __________."

This post was my contribution to the Hoagies' Gifted Advocacy Blog Hop. For the list of contributions, click here.

Or for the next post in the hop, click this picture:


  1. First time reader. Mine are teens but this still pertains to me

  2. So many gifted families need to know it's okay to speak out and that it's okay to not be "normal."


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