• by Hilaria Bauer, M.A. • IDRA Newsletter • June – July 1998 • 

Most parents think their children are talented, at least in some areas. Truly, every child is. Recent initiatives to address multiple intelligences has revamped many classrooms. It has enabled children to be valued and respected for the abilities they bring into the classroom. However, although all children are talented in many areas, not all of them are academically gifted.

In schools, the identification of a “gifted and talented” student has been determined primarily by a series of cognitive abilities that place the child in a category of his or her own. Many times we think of these children as those who almost effortlessly are able to bring home the straight “A” report card. Yet, in many instances, gifted children are not bringing home straight “As.” They often are not performing to their full potential and may be having problems in school. In the case of gifted minority learners, the struggle with school can be caused by programs that overlook cultural differences in learning (Ford, 1994).

Raising children is a challenging endeavor. Raising a gifted child who struggles in school can be downright burdensome. Parents can feel overwhelmed and frustrated facing the challenge of knowing their child is talented but is struggling in school. In addition to struggling with academic content, many of these students are experiencing problems as they challenge teachers and become rebellious.

The lists below, in English and Spanish, provide 10 recommendations for parents of gifted students struggling with school. Photocopy them and review them with your students’ parents.

Overcoming feelings of frustration and guilt is one of the most difficult steps parents of struggling gifted children need to take. After that major step is taken, using some guidance can prove promising in helping their gifted child reach his or her full potential.

Intercultural Development Research Association

10 Tips for Parents of Gifted Students

Support your child.

Despite barriers of language, poverty, fear and distance, parents who consistently support their children and are proud of them are good resources for schools (Tomlinson, 1997). All children flourish in the care of supportive parents. Self-esteem and a sense of security are critical elements in the lives of children. Gifted students who struggle with school require the same kind of nurturing environment.

Identify your child’s interests.

By virtue of their extraordinary potential, bright underachieving children require learning experiences based on their interests and sufficiently sophisticated to match their potential. For example, consider a child consumed by an interest in computers or insects, this child needs to be able to act on this intense interest and express his or her concerns about it. The child can do so by engaging in research using the same investigative methods professionals use in their work. Professionals usually like to share their findings with children and adults who are interested in the same topic. This is real world learning (Cooper, 1997).

Request an appropriately challenging curriculum.

One of our rights as parents is to collaborate with schools to design better programs for our children. Many times, we feel that if we share our ideas with our child’s teacher, we will appear to be interfering in the teacher’s business. Although teachers can get to know children well, nobody knows children better than their parents. Usually, teachers welcome information about their students in order to provide better instruction. Feel free to share information that may help your child’s teacher design a better curriculum for your child. For example, if your child complains at home that school is “too boring,” set an appointment with the teacher and ask for more challenging work for your child. You may want to suggest that your child will benefit from preparing a special assignment or project.

Help your child set goals.

Discuss with your child some things he or she wants to achieve within a certain period of time. These goals can be related to grades or to other accomplishments, including social goals. Goal setting contributes to developing a child’s decision-making skills (Callaghan, 1997). For example, children may have an interest that they want to pursue in school, they may want to help the family in some way, or they may want to contribute in the community.

Emphasize responsibility.

Provide your child with opportunities to exercise responsible choices and allow him or her to experience the consequences of those choices. For example, completing homework has been used to practice certain skills beyond the classroom as well as to help students organize their time after school and learn to prioritize. A gifted child may see homework as futile since he or she usually does not feel the need for extra practice. However, parents need to guide their children to see the importance of fulfilling their responsibility. Parents can help gifted children understand that responsibility does not mean we have to like something in order to do it, such as doing household chores. It is also important for your child to reflect on the consequences of the choices he or she makes (Karnes, 1997).

Provide opportunities.

Sometimes there are many opportunities for our children that are available at little or no cost to parents, but they go unnoticed. One way of finding such opportunities is to ask the teacher or the school office. Today, many schools offer programs after school that may be excellent opportunities for gifted children to get involved in extracurricular activities. These activities may offer opportunities that sometimes are hard for us as parents to provide, such as field trips, contests, research and community projects.

Look for resources.

Many community resources are available to children. One of the most valuable resources at no cost to parents is the public library. There, gifted children have access to all kinds of information. Most public libraries have computers with Internet access that can provide learning experiences in collecting information in different ways (Green, 1997).

Encourage your child.

In addition to supporting your children, verbally express how you feel about them. It is important to encourage children to fulfill their interests and dreams. Encouragement provides children with the assurance that they are capable of carrying out a certain venture. For example, if your child wants to do something to help the community, as a parent, you can promote his or her idea with loving guidance.

Be an advocate of your child and others.

When children struggle in school, there is a tendency to blame the child or to blame the system. However, parents who know their child is gifted but struggling in school, may sometimes feel ashamed and frustrated. Sharing your situation with other parents helps you see you are not alone. Forming groups of parents who are willing to collaborate with the school can help children by demonstrating to them responsible leadership. It is important to let the school know about your values, goals and heritage and about how they may influence your child’s attitude in school if these are not respected or valued.

Don’t give up.

Gifted and talented children need special attention. Finding ways to support your child in developing his or her talents may be difficult, but it is worthwhile. Although gifted children may sometimes appear “giftless,” in order for them to believe in themselves they need the perseverance of a caring family. Although they may face a poor teacher or an apathetic principal, the support and encouragement of a loving family will eventually help them achieve success.

by Hilaria Bauer

Intercultural Development Research Association

10 Recomendaciones para Padres de Niños Superdotados

Provea apoyo para su hijo(a).

A pesar de las barreras del idioma, la pobreza, el miedo a una organización desconocida, o la distancia entre nuestra cultura y la de la escuela, los padres que apoyan a sus hijos y se sienten orgullosos de ellos, son recursos invaluables para la escuela (Tomlinson, 1997). Todos los niños, superdotados o no, florecen al cuidado de un hogar con una familia que los apoya. El autoestima y la seguridad son elementos críticos en la vida del niño. Los niños superdotados que experimentan dificultades en la escuela necesitan el mismo carino y cuidado que cualquier otro niño.

Identifique los intereses de su hijo(a).

Lo que los niños superdotados requieren, debido a sus habilidades extraordinarias, son experiencias educativas basadas en sus intereses y lo suficientemente sofisticadas para presentar un verdadero reto a su potencial académico. Por ejemplo, un niño(a) extremadamente interesado en algún tema como puede ser las computadoras, los insectos, etc., este niño(a) necesita actuar y desarrollar ese interés a su nivel, expresar su punto de vista acerca del tópico, e investigar el tema a fondo, usando recursos parecidos a los de los expertos en ese área. A este punto los niños(as) se interesan en ompartir sus hallazgos con otras personas interesadas en el mismo tema. Esto representa aprendizaje para la vida real (Cooper, 1997).

Solicite un plan de enseñanza adecuado para su hijo(a).

Uno de los derechos mas importantes que tenemos como padres es el de colaborar con la escuela para diseñar programas ejemplares para nuestros hijos. A veces como padres nos sentimos cohibidos, y evitamos compartir nuestras ideas con los maestros. Pensamos que no queremos ser entrometidos y preferimos dejar que el maestro decida cual es la mejor enseñanza. Sin embargo, nosotros como padres conocemos mejor que nadie a nuestros hijos. Comparta con el maestro(a) la información que usted crea le pueda ayudar al maestro a diseñar un mejor plan de estudios para su hijo(a). Si su hijo(a) se queja de que lo que hace en la escuela es muy aburrido, haga una cita con el maestro(a) y pídale que le de a su hijo(a) algo que le presente mas reto. Sugiérale que quizá si le encarga algún proyecto o reporte especial el niño(a) se sienta con mas aliento a terminarlo.

Ayude a su hijo(a) a fijarse metas.

Pregúntele a su hijo(a) acerca de lo que le gustaría lograr con el tiempo. Ayúdele a establecer metas que le ayuden a lograr sus planes. A veces puede relacionarse con la escuela, pero a veces puede ser otra área. Fijar metas le ayuda a niño(a) superdotado a adquirir el proceso de hacer decisiones (Callaghan, 1997). Por ejemplo, algunos niños tienen intereses no solamente en contribuir con la escuela pero también en casa o en la comunidad.

Enfatice la responsabilidad.

Provea a su hijo(a) la oportunidad de ejercer decisiones y de experimentar las consecuencias de esas decisiones. Por ejemplo, la escuela asigna tarea para que el alumno practique ciertas destrezas en casa que aun no ha logrado adquirir en la escuela. Para el estudiante superdotado, esto quizá represente un asunto sin importancia ya que el o ella han logrado adquirir la mayoría de las destrezas y sienten que no es necesario practicar. El niño(a) superdotado necesita que se le guíe a comprender que una responsabilidades no es necesariamente un gusto. Dele como ejemplo las tareas en la casa, quizá no sean divertidas, pero son necesarias. Es muy importante que el niño(a) reflexione en las consecuencias de las decisiones que toma (Karnes, 1997).

Provea oportunidades para actividades fuera de la escuela.

A veces las demandas de sostener una familia nos impiden darnos cuenta que nuestros hijos necesitan envolverse en actividades que les den oportunidades de sociabilisarze fuera del hogar. A veces pensamos que no tenemos los recursos necesarios para proveer alguna de esas oportunidades. A veces esas oportunidades se encuentran mas cerca de lo que pensamos. Muchos programas gratuitos se ofrecen después de escuela o durante los fines de semana. Pregúntele al maestro(a) o pregunte en la oficina acerca de las actividades extracurriculares que se ofrecen en la comunidad.

Busque recursos para ayudar a su hijo(a) a desarrollar su talento.

La mayoría de las comunidades proveen recursos al alcance de todas las familias, solamente hay que preguntar. La biblioteca pública es un lugar de múltiples recursos para los niños dotados. La mayoría de las bibliotecas públicas provee libros, CD’s, películas, etc. Ademas, la biblioteca pública también tiene acceso al internet, que es un recurso valuable para conseguir toda clase de información.

Dele aliento a su hijo(a).

Ademas de proveer apoyo para su hijo(a) dotado, hágale saber verbalmente lo orgulloso que usted se siente en tenerlo. Muchos niños superdotados que experimentan problemas en la escuela se les acusa de ser “flojos” o “distraídos.” A veces es necesario indagar la situación para ver la raíz del problema, y ayudar a nuestros hijos con lo que no pueden. Al dar aliento, los padres proveen la seguridad que algunos niños no sienten. A veces nuestros hijos se interesan en emprender algún proyecto comunitario y necesitan nuestro apoyo para llevarlo acabo.

Abogue por su hijo(a) y otros.

Cuando nuestros hijos tienen dificultad en la escuela, a veces tendemos a culpar al niño o a la escuela. Sin embargo, cuando el niño(a) superdotado confronta dificultades, nos sentimos frustrados y culpables. Pesamos que “este niño(a) no debe de batallar.” Cuando compartimos nuestras experiencias con otros padres nos damos cuenta que no estamos solos. Al formar grupos de sostén con otros padres, le demostramos a nuestros hijos que estamos dispuestos a colaborar con otros para encontrar soluciones a nuestros problemas. Es importante como padres comunicar como grupo con la escuela y hacerle, notar nuestros valores, nuestras metas, y nuestra herencia. Esto le ayudara a la escuela a valorar a nuestros hijos, y le ayudara a nuestros hijos a sentirse orgullosos de quien son.

No se de por vencido.

Los niños superdotados necesitan atención especial. A veces es difícil encontrar los medios para ayudarlos, pero vale la pena. Aunque el niño superdotado a veces no lo parezca, la perseverancia de una familia que lo apoya es lo que necesita para confiar en si mismo. A pesar de que nuestros hijos enfrentan algún mal maestro, o algún director apático, es el cuidado familiar y el aliento constante lo que los llevará al triunfo.

por Hilaria Bauer


Callaghan, C. “Preparing Your Child for the New School Year (President’s Column),” Parenting High Potential (September 1997).

Cooper, C. “When Your Child Is Way Ahead: What Your School Should Be Doing,” Parenting High Potential (September 1997).

Ford, D. The Recruitment and Retention of Black Students in Gifted Programs: Research-Based Decision Making Series (Storrs, Conn.: National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, The University of Connecticut, 1994).

Green, C. “Cruising the Web with English Language Learners,” IDRA Newsletter (San Antonio, Texas: Intercultural Development Research Association, May 1997).

Karnes, F. and S. Bean. “Leading the Way to Leadership,” Parenting High Potential (September 1997).

Tomlinson, C. and C. Callaghan and K. Lelli. “Challenging Expectations: Case Studies of High-potential, Culturally Diverse Young Children,” Gifted Child Quarterly (Spring 1997) Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 5-17.

Hilaria Bauer, M.A., is an education associate in the IDRA Division of Professional Development. Comments and questions may be sent to her via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©1998, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the June – July 1998 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]