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Enrichment Activities for Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My 2nd son had his IQ tested at 6 years 3 months last March (just 6 days after he went through a car accident caused by him). Using the Weschler scale, it was 163. The psychologist said that it should have been a little higher had it not been for the recent traumatic experience.

My concern is I live in Jakarta and my son is currently enrolled in a Singapore based school where enrollment is based on affordability rather than competency. I've shared his test results with the school and they promise to think of "differentiated learning" in his primary 2 class in July. There are also very limited non-academic activities available in English. Besides books, how can I further challenge him without pressure?

The boy is bold, cheerful and highly active. He has already skipped a grade and is currently adapting well in his class (a trait I thought unusual in a gifted child). I also don't know if he's moderate, high or exceptionally gifted. Is it necessary to put him through further tests? Sending him to Singapore for the Gifted program is a possibility but it may be detrimental to other aspects of his whole character. But staying on doesn't put him in a challenging environment too! What do you suggest?

A: It is true that some experiences, especially traumatic ones may affect a child's ability to perform, and this may well be the case for your son. A retest can be done after two years for such tests. Having said that, it appears rather obvious that he is above average in terms of cognitive abilities, so you may want to work on that.

It is not easy to get schools to tailor make a specific way of teaching, especially if the school does not have a gifted program and does whole class teaching. If the schools are not catering to the needs of a child, and moving schools is not a good option, then parents may have to take things in their own hands and make the difference. Apart from advising the teachers on what may be required for differentiated learning, you may need to put in a lot of effort in nurturing him after school hours. Of course, another option is to admit him to a school that has gifted programs at primary level.

Skipping a grade is not necessarily a bad thing as some parents may view as. The concern is usually when the child is very small physically, has socializing difficulties which may all lead to a lower sense of self-esteem and peer acceptance. In your son's case, it is really good that he is adjusting well. Gifted children do have the abilities to adapt well in their surrounding; some adapt well and some may have some problems adapting.

Enrichment activities apart from reading are exploring types of activities which may involve activities outside the house. You need to observe his interests and work on them as too much of the same kind of enrichment may burn him out. Look around for non-academic enrichment centers with activities that may interest him. But at the expense of trying to give him the best, you need to balance activities that are stimulating and interesting with ones that are challenging and of higher level. Too much of any of those may not be good for him. You also mention his energy levels, so indulge him in sporting activities, something many parents seem to neglect. An outdoor game of his interest would be a good idea

I am not very sure what you mean by the last sentence in your letter how would you view a school in Singapore to be detrimental to other aspects of his character. You should also try to have a chat with him and find out what he would like best. He may be in a position to make some decisions or at least shared decisions, so you need to provide him this opportunity.

In reality, there never is an ideal situation when it comes to giving the best to our children. We do our best and usually only find out over time if our decisions are really the best ones. However, I feel that through reading and exploring, we are able to find out more about educational options for gifted children, along with their advantages and disadvantages. With this information, it is more likely that our decisions will be an educated one. So, do try to find out what options your son has where you live and explore further options. It is of utmost importance that he shares your visions for his betterment in education and together, make informed decisions. Good luck in your educational journey!


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