June 22, 2008

Newsletter - June 1, 2008

"The Best Way to Cope with Change is to Help Create it."
--Japanese proverb


DVD presentation: Parenting Successful Children, James T. Webb. Synopsis: "The frequent breakups of families, the fast pace of technology, the information explosion, and other changes in today's evolving world make parenting more difficult. Learn more than two dozen strategies to set successful limits, avoid power struggles, minimize sibling rivalry, promote self-esteem, and much more." Link: www.giftedbooks.com/authors.asp?id=60

We will watch the following DVD presentations by James T. Webb: Is My Child Gifted? If so, what can I expect? (45 mins), Do Gifted Children Need Special Help? (40 mins). Link : www.giftedbooks.com/authors.asp?id=60


FOR CHILDREN: In addition to the Passionate Reader's Journey at the American Library, Let's Dance at AADP (http://www.aadp-fr.org/) and Poetry Writing workshop with Heidi Mordhorst, we've been organizing practice sessions for the upcoming 2008 Paris Spelling Bee competition on June 8th for kids 7-13 years-old. We've have a wonderful group of about 20 children, and they have been an absolute gem on this spelling bee journey. The practice sessions are over and registration is closed. We wish them luck!! If you are interested in attending, you need to RSVP me ahead of time because I’m not sure how many people the room can accommodate and we don’t want to overwhelm the children.

4-6 year olds: Almost all of the activities this Spring were for children 7 and up. In the fall we hope to organize activities also for kids 4-6 years-old. There are several moms who are interested and I hope we can get two or three fall gatherings for this group underway. Come forward if you’d like to help. (subject: GiF 4-6)

FOR PARENTS: We had three very informative meetings in March and April.


LEARNING DIFFERENCES IN GIFTED CHILDREN brought together parents with experience in areas including Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, ADD/ADHD, Visual Processing Disorders (including Convergence Insufficiency) and hyper intense/sensitive children. We also watched a 15-minute documentary in the making by SENG, Misdiagnosis of gifted children is a widespread problem, but still largely unknown to health professionals, counseling professionals, educators and parents. To save our children from inappropriate treatment, and to prevent their social and intellectual hindrance, we must educate people about the potential for misinterpreting characteristics of giftedness as symptoms of pathology,” http://www.sengifted.org/.

Following the March 20th meeting one of our members, Brenda, prepared: "What is 2E? And Why Do We Care?" This attachment is a synopsis of some of the areas that were covered at the meeting by different parents. The aim of this document is to give some clues to parents and professionals about some learning and sensory issues. For example: reasons why their child does not like school; why he might not like writing or reading; why the child is up late every night concerned about matters beyond his age; why does she resist socks with seams and clothes with tags?

Then there is the Twice-Exceptional (2E) child: the gifted child with a learning disability such as a gifted child who is also dyslexic, or a gifted child with an auditory processing issues. This attachment is pertinent regardless if we suspect anything in our child or not because one way or another these and other issues will come up amongst our families, relatives or friends when discussing gifted children. To be gifted, however, does not mean the child will have learning issues, or need therapy. The attachment also has excellent resources such as a book called The Mislabeled Child by Drs. Brock and Fernette (http://mislabeledchild.com/).

To understand the gifted child, parents and relatives need to join them (the so-called oddballs, those known also as quirky, dreamy, the geeks, bookworms, eccentric leaders…) on their journey and explore what it means to be gifted, learn common myths and misdiagnoses and be able to understand what is 'normal' for a gifted child from what is not. The more we know, the more relaxed and empowered we will feel as parents because we'll be able to distinguish what might be a cause for concern from what is a common trait for this type of child. We will learn how to cope with issues that might simply be fixed by enrichment or acceleration or extracurricular activities that stimulates the child's inborn capacity or area of interest.

We live in a country that still has a long way to go in understanding gifted children, so we often find that the needs of these children are ignored. If they sit and mind their business quietly in school, passing one day after another in absolute boredom, this could eventually lead the child to dislike school or become an underachiever. Gifted children who are terribly bored and have problems sitting still can be labeled inattentive, hyper or a troublemaker. A gifted child with an IQ of 130 but who has, yet-to-be-detected, mild to severe visual convergence issues can be relegated to feeling incompetent due to his/her dislike for or slowness in writing or copying material from the board. These are some of the issues that continue to come up in our meetings. It’s worse for the Twice Exceptional Child as we are finding that, generally speaking, this is another country that gives only ‘one label per child.’ “Dyslexic,” but not, “Gifted and Dyslexic.” “ADHD,” but not, “ADHD and Gifted,” and usually it's the disability that gets the attention thereby robbing the child of fully realizing his 'gift.'

While we find some schools are more enlightened, some of our members are hitting a brick wall with teachers and school directors, at both public and private schools, even when presenting psychological evaluation/IQ tests supporting acceleration especially for a child who is becoming increasingly at-risk.

There is no doubt that this is going to get better because change is definitely in the making… take ICIE's Excellence in Education -- Future Minds conference in Boulogne July 1-4, for example. It is in everyone's interest, and the aim of GiF, to work with our French counterparts and schools in a constructive manner.

Sometimes the unhappy or unsettled gifted child is one who is overly intense and overly sensitive thereby picking up on the slightest or even ‘unacknowledged’ tension at home between parents or other family members. We talked about how easy this is to pinpoint: just look back through the different difficult periods in a family's life and see what your sensitive child was like during that time. This is an encouragement for us parents -- to look inwards as well, not just at the child’s intellectual and academic needs. This is why GiF tries to follow SENG's model for parent support groups. The meeting on Learning Differences brought many examples of the misunderstood and misdiagnosed child, from different angles. As it’s been said many times, most often it's not the giftedness that is a problem, the problem is that we as a society aren't making the necessary changes in our schools, homes and professions to help them reach their potential and feel accepted.

GRADE SKIPPING/ACCELERATION/FRUSTRATION AND BOREDOM IN SCHOOL - On March 27th we were joined by two guest speakers and covered a lot of ground on the subject of skipping: when it might be appropriate and when it might not be; which grades are better to skip than others, what can parents do if schools resist acceleration even after a psychological evaluation that supports the child's need to receive enrichment courses or an accelerated program. background: (http://www.nationdeceived.org/) .

IS HOMESCHOOLING FOR ME? (April 17th) This meeting brought together several parents who are homeschooling now, were homeschooled themselves or thinking of homeschooling in the future. We are hoping to continue to build a network of parents who are homeschooling their children, gifted or not. If you want to be part of this network please email homeschoolinginparis@gmail.com.

American Library in Paris, www.americanlibraryinparis.org

AFEP (Association Française pour les Enfants Précoces),
. Notice the upcoming AFEP conference/debate (June 19th, Paris, 7ème) and summer acting and singing ateliers for kids. Also, recently I received a catalog for summer theme-based camps by Telligo www.telligo.fr, 'Destination découverte' for kids 4-18 years of age. (I think they used to be called Aventure Scientifique.)

Kind regards,
Coordinator, GiF

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