Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds by Jan Davidson. This was the book that started it all for me. When Ian was 6, we were just beginning to understand how differently he learned from many of his age peers. We were trying to figure out how best to educate and engage him, and at that time, we were still trying to make a traditional public school system work for us. Frustrated, perplexed, and feeling in over my head, I did what I always do in these situations: I turned to research. Browsing the local bookstore, I ran across this title, and my world opened. I felt 1) validated in my concerns for my son, 2) less alone as I realized that he in fact, wasn’t so unusual when you looked at the national landscape, 3) enlightened as to more progressive education approaches, and 4) empowered to be proactive and create an educational paradigm that would effectively help my young child develop into an engaged, inspired adult. That’s a lot of powerful stuff coming from one book. It also introduced me to the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, which we adore. I talk more about that below.
Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults by James Webb et al. This is another text I got my hands on in my early days of giftedness research. It’s a fascinating read, and helped me understand psychology lingo, and how sometimes it is so easily misread among the gifted population. As I hope you would expect, there are no hard and fast answers here, and it’s still difficult sometimes to determine where something like OCD or ADD stops and the intensity of giftedness begins. However, exploring of the characteristics of both will help you understand the needs and traits of your gifted kid, and perhaps even yourself, your siblings, or your parents or spouse.
A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students by Nicholas Colangelo (also available as a free download on their website). Another of my core gifted resources, A Nation Deceived is what you need if you’re considering or advocating for a grade acceleration for your child. We used this text to convince our elementary school principal to do the initial double grade skip for our son. Though the Nation Deceived authors only promote a single grade acceleration, you’ll find that in larger gifted advocacy circles, that is a controversial viewpoint. Genius Denied advocates for multiple grade accelerations – as many as you need to best meet your child’s needs. Our family has done a three-grade and two-grade skip for our kids, and it’s worked out very well. Every child is different and has different needs. The point is, use these resources, but ultimately don’t be afraid to follow your own instincts.
Iowa Acceleration Scale: A Guide for Whole-Grade Acceleration, K-8. A companion tool to A Nation Deceived, the Iowa Acceleration Scale is a test of sorts that will help you and your teachers and administrators determine the appropriateness of grade acceleration. Again, like A Nation Deceived, the Iowa Acceleration Scale considers only a single grade skip; it will not help you determine how many grades to jump, if you’re considering more than one. However, it can be a very helpful tool in settling your own mind about the decision, as well as in your advocacy work with administrators. It’s not inexpensive, but I was able to convince our school district to purchase it for their collection. We used it first, but now it is available for other kids too.
The Davidson Institute for Talent Development. What can I say about this amazing gift? It’s been a wonderful resource for our family in so many ways! Davidson runs several programs, including the Educators Guild, a free, online community for gifted educators, the Davidson Fellows scholarship, which provides massive scholarships to teens for their contributions to science, literature, music, and more, the Davidson Academy, a free public school for profoundly gifted kids (located in Reno, NV), the THINK Summer Institute, a three-week summer program for kids ages 13-16, and the Davidson Young Scholars program, which provides free services for profoundly gifted students. This last program is the one from which we have most benefited. Through it we have received the advice of gifted advocate professionals, received financial aid for conferences and education supplies, been exposed to a wealth of resources and ideas regarding education and talent opportunities, and most importantly, met dozens of the kindest, brightest, and most creative people in the nation. The Davidson community has been so supportive, and we are proud to count many of them among our dearest friends. The students create quite a little family of their own and support and inspire each other, staying connected through social media throughout the year. We also have annual get-togethers, which fuel us up for the coming year.
Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF). This is a fabulous group to follow both on Facebook and on their website. GHF is a treasury of ideas, information, links, resources – it even has its own line of books – that support gifted education. Though they have a homeschooling bent, I have found their relevance spans into the traditional classroom. They also promote a network of bloggers who share ideas about creative education, gifted education, 2E (“twice exceptional” meaning kids who are both gifted and have other special needs), and more. I’m one of those bloggers and thoroughly enjoy their community.
Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG). This is a resource I don’t know quite as much about, but for those families helping to support high intensity gifted kids, it’s a go-to organization. They have their own communities and conferences and online support and resources. It’s regularly touted as one of the most influential and important organizations in the gifted community.
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