Optimal Environment for the Gifted Child

Balancing the Need for Stimulation Versus the Need for Solitude

Parents of gifted children can be so anxious to provide opportunities for stimulation, that they sometimes forget the child has an increased need for quiet reflection.

Many parents of gifted kids have a fear of not providing enough stimulation to their child. They have read or heard stories about disruptive students who are so bored with easy academics that they are inclined to act out at school.

Certainly, that can happen, but with an educated parent who understands the child’s needs, the key to a happy and productive learning environment and life is striking a good balance. More so than other children, the gifted child is most often a deep thinker who needs time to reflect, regroup and evaluate his experiences.

Opportunities for Challenging the Gifted Child

There are many sources of information for activities appropriate for gifted children, often arranged by intellectual age. Here is a description of some of the more common things to do with a gifted child to enhance his learning.

A store that specializes in educational games is a good starting point. Allow the young child time to browse and find products that capture his interest. Combining this activity with the chance for the child to earn his own money to purchase these toys, by doing chores at home or yard work, will give him a greater appreciation for the cost and values of these purchases.

As an alternative, larger city libraries often have excellent educational children’s materials. For those on a tight budget, this is one way to try the products for free and hone in on the kinds of learning materials the child enjoys most. Even large bookstores allow some chance for trying out the books, games and products before making purchases.

Using cues from the child’s realm of interests, the perceptive parent will target activities to capture her enthusiasm. The child who loves the arts will gain much from reading plays, seeing movies, and attending theatrical performances. The very curious questioning child will most appreciate an interactive museum. Enrichment through musical performances, operas, art galleries, and lectures may be suitable for even the younger gifted child if he is able to maintain his attention span long enough to appreciate the experience.

Creating Downtime for Reflection

The child who is intellectually gifted will crave the opportunity for solitude and reflection. Many gifted children will spend hours writing on the computer, recording thoughts, ideas, and essays on subjects of interest. Young children may use this alone time for writing stories and make-believe activities.

One word of caution is the need for balance. The gifted child who spends six hours per day playing computer games needs more diverse activities to provide enrichment. Some computer games are great at dexterity enhancement and even thinking skill development. But like so many things, too much of a good thing can be detrimental.

In summary, finding a mix of activities and downtime for the gifted child will help him to achieve a good balance of input and output to maximize his overall development. Any positive, new experiences appropriate to his intellectual age are worth pursuing. Give him a say in what kinds of new activities he would like to try. Most importantly, build some downtime into each and every day for his well being.