Effective Parents and Teachers of Gifted Children

Characteristics of both effective parents and teachers of the gifted are often the same. They include the following:

  • A high degree of intelligence and intellectual honesty.
  • Expertise in a specific intellectual or talent area (mathematics, writing, etc.)--This may be more applicable to teachers, especially at the middle school and high school level where classes are more focused. However, a specific intellectual or talent area of a parent may influence a child to pursue that same area. This is often noted historically when accomplished musicians had at least one parent who was a musician. 
  • Being self-directed in their own learning, with a love for new, advanced knowledge--Modeling these characteristics by adults is often the best teacher.
  • Equanimity, levelheadedness, and emotional stability.
  • A genuine interest in and liking of gifted learners.
  • Recognition of the importance of intellectual development.
  • Strong belief in individual differences and individualization--Parents should respect and encourage the differences in children.
  • Highly developed teaching skill and knowledge--Parents should educate themselves through reading, perhaps taking classes in parenting, and observing other families. 
  • Patience.
  • A sense of humor--Having a sense of humor is critical to handling any stressful situation.
  • Allow young people to move quickly through material--Children are often capable of more than we expect. I’m not talking about unfairly pushing kids, but just recognizing that they have the ability to think through important issues given the tools and the opportunities.
  • Treat each student/child as an individual.
  • Avoid being a "sage on the stage" all the time--As adults, we need to guide our children to make good decisions rather than always telling them what needs to be done or how they should think.
  • Consistently give "accurate" feedback--Some adults don’t give accurate feedback because they are afraid it will damage the child’s self-esteem. We do not serve children well by constantly protecting them. Accurate feedback can be given without being harsh. Children will trust you more if they know that you are being honest.
When looking at schools, we often have high expectations for teachers. As parents, we also need to have high expectations for ourselves.

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