Dr Anne Grant (educational consultant in early childhood giftedness): The research tells us that parents are very good at meeting the learning needs of their young gifted children. It’s hard though. A child who’s got a great thirst for learning the minute they jump out of bed in the morning till the minute they go to bed at night, they’re wanting to learn.
Justin and Zoe (parents of Thomas, 5 years): For a child like Thomas they drive so much of their learning, you don’t get the chance to ask the question. You just simply have to respond and meet his needs. So that’s what we did. So we spent a lot of time using the various resources, online, the Science Works Centre, museums, galleries, these sorts of free resources, to keep Thomas engaged.
Heike (mother of Magnus, 13 years): Magnus has always had a thirst for knowledge. When he was little he went through a phase where it was everything to do with dinosaurs. His current love is politics. So when we have elections he really wants to know everything, and he wants to comment on people and he’ll ask opinions. You know, “What is this person like? Who is this person?” and he’ll do his own research.
Dr Anne Grant: Parents can help their gifted and talented children learn at home, by allowing them to develop their interests, and supporting them as far as they can. Sometimes with very young children I think this is a bit like a kaleidoscope. Parents shouldn’t worry about that, but just go with it, because the child is exploring their everyday world and exploring their learning ability too.
Dr Gail Byrne (educational psychologist): Parents can bring an environment of welcoming that learning. So if a child asks a question, and you don’t know the answer to it, don’t be frightened that you don’t know the answer. Teach them how to find out the answer.
Alison (mother of Ruby, 5 years, and Annabel, 3 years): I help Ruby to learn at home by giving her the tools that she needs. Whatever it is that she wants to know, then I see my job as just providing the resources for her.
Dr Anne Grant: Parents and families can find information about giftedness and the learning needs of gifted children through looking at the Department of Education’s website.
Dr Gail Byrne: Many parents will gravitate to parent associations, both State and national associations, and in some States there are quite strong parent bodies, where groups of parents have banded together to form an association.
Alison: The most useful resource for me has been working with the educational psychologist, and having somebody who understands gifted children and how they are different, and then getting them to teach you how to manage the situation, and particularly if that person knows the local area and the local people, they can connect you in with whatever resources.
Justin and Zoe: We’re a bit like other adults that come into contact with Thomas. We don’t necessarily fully appreciate quite what he’s thinking at times and we have to take our time sometimes to really understand and meet Thomas’ needs, and we really benefit from doing that together, because we just see things differently and between us, hopefully, we figure it out.
Alison: I guess all you can do, as a parent, is provide resources. So if your child’s interested in something, provide the resources. Whether it turns into a talent or not, I think a lot of the time actually it’s actually up to the child, whether they’re really interested. At the end of the day I actually think when gifted children have an environment where they’re stimulated, they’re happy, and I think that the most important thing is that actually that they’re just happy.