Most conferences about giftedness focus primarily on educational issues. While they may include a few presentations about the social and emotional development and needs of gifted people and the challenges facing the gifted population, these presentations play a minor role.
SENG conferences reverse the priorities. We believe that recognizing, understanding, and accepting the social and emotional needs of this population are the first priorities for teachers, parents, and counselors. SENG supports strong gifted education programs, but we believe the emotional piece is the foundation for the development of healthy, happy, well-adjusted, appropriately educated, and contributing gifted members of society.
To teach gifted children effectively, teachers must be aware of the different ways these children learn and of their social and emotional needs. Unfortunately, teacher education courses rarely address gifted education, or how social and emotional needs affect these students’ ability and motivation to learn. The SENG conference presents an unparalleled opportunity for teachers to learn about these keys to understanding and serving gifted children.
PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS
Year after year, parents and other family members tell us that the SENG conference is by far the best conference about giftedness they have ever attended. The sessions expose parents to the array of attributes associated with giftedness, and teach techniques for dealing effectively with children and children’s teachers. Parents have the opportunity to connect with other parents experiencing similar challenges. And, not infrequently, a parent confides that he or she has had an epiphany about his or her own life, reaching an understanding of his or her own giftedness.
MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
Most counseling and psychology programs only touch on gifted issues, and professionals are often not trained to recognize the characteristics of gifted individuals. Specialized knowledge about how characteristics of giftedness may appear similar to behaviors that result from clinical conditions such as ADHD and OCD can increase the effectiveness of counseling with this population. Not only do SENG conferences provide a wealth of information in the regular conference program, we also offer concurrent Continuing Education Courses for mental health professionals.
While giftedness does not fade after high school, support for gifted people does. Often parents come to SENG to learn about their gifted children and, in the process, rediscover their own giftedness. Grown-ups need strategies and support, too, in their family, creative, and professional lives.
The SENG Conference includes a children’s program that runs concurrently with the adults’ program. Designed for children ages 8 through 13 whose parents are attending the conference, it provides an environment in which young learners can have fun while learning new skills such as juggling, creating cartoons, or how to write and stage a play. Each year the program varies but always, and most importantly, the children have the opportunity to connect with other gifted young people. Often, life-long friendships form, and many children return year after year.
Too old for the Children’s Program, but not quite an adult? The SENG Teen Program is for gifted young people aged 14 to 17 and offers a unique experience specially crafted to meet special needs and interests of young adults. The emphasis is on social interaction and fun, on making contacts and establishing relationships with other gifted teens from across the country. SENG’s expert facilitators will be on hand to address topics of interest raised by this group.