Saturday, November 15, 2008

How to deal with your talented child

Very often we are confused about how to handle our talented child. Do we answer all his curiosities. Tell the child to shut up and do his studies. Here are expert from someone who has dealt with exceptional children and counseled parents.

Years ago a middle-aged man and his nephew were playing chess out in the verandah in Phillipines. Having arrived at a complicated middle game, there was a lot of thinking to do. A little boy of seven who was playing in the garden breezed in, moved a piece and darted into the house. The move led to a checkmate very soon. Spotting this prodigious talent, his parents put him in a chess club and lo! he went on to become Viswanathan Anand, the World Chess Champion.

But, not all such gifted children are lucky. Two decades ago when I was in the 7th standard, a classmate exhibited rare knowledge in physics. He talked about liquid fuel in rockets, life on Mars and nuclear reaction; we were all in awe of him. Initially, the Physics teacher tried to answer his questions, but soon he ran of patience, or rather answers. “Don’t act funny. Questions outside the portions will be dealt with separately. Come see me in the staff room,” screamed the teacher. The last I heard of him was he worked as a marketing executive. If only he had a more understanding teacher and parents, I’m sure he would have advanced much further.

Dealing with a gifted child is downright difficult to keep pace with him and soon he’ll get bored with the class. Once you’ve spotted him, its best to handle him with care and a little more attention. The talent needs to be nurtured. Get in touch with an educational psychologist to assess his abilities. Give him assignments that are a little more challenging. Provide a stimulating ambience to open the floodgates of talent.

Excellence could be in academics, sports or arts. And most talents have to be spotted. And unearthed. Like what coaches do to sports persons. One in a 1000 children could be gifted. And most of them are like uncut diamonds. It needs a smart parent, a caring teacher or a vigilant coach to see that trace of genius and uncover it to the world.

Let’s not forget that these children need to be loved and treated like normal children. They need to be with children of the same age, unless absolutely necessary. Though a child may display exceptional talent in arts or sports, normal educational is a must. Only that the school authorities have to spend more time coaching his special abilities.

Interact with parents and help them cope up with the gifted child. Ensure that they provide an emotionally stable atmosphere for the child to grow, get him enrolled in clubs or associations, which might benefit him. Praise him where necessary but don’t let him turn arrogant or overbearing with other kids because of the special talent or treatment.

Look for sponsors and scholarships to enhance his progress. Let him learn to take disappointments with ease. Make him a winner. He is after all your student

Dealing with the talented child
Points to ponder
1. Spot the talents and nurture it.
2. Give individual attention.
3. Make him feel special, but don’t overdo it
4. Interact with his parents.
5. Get professional help.

Caution
1. Don’t fuss over him
2. Don’t disturb the equilibrium in the class
3. Talent is no excuse for not doing homework or bunking classes
4. Treat him like any other boy while at class
5. Don’t forget to stress on studies despite talent in sports