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A Collection of the Top Ten Parent Hints for Starting the New School Year

By Lori Comallie-Caplan.

1. Teach Children Philosophies of Education by Wenda Sheard

I suggest that parents discuss with their children the purpose of education. Exposing young children to what great philosophers have thought about education not only teaches children history, philosophy and education, but also helps them to create their own educational goals—goals that may differ significantly from the goals of other children. (September Back-To-School Suggestions, The SENGVine Newsletter, September 2011)

2. Get to Know the Teacher by Arlene DeVries

Get to know your child’s teacher early in the year. One parent sends a letter of introduction to the teacher, which includes a photocopied picture of their family. This parent lists some of the special strengths and interests of the child along with some areas of concern or family information that might affect the child’s school performance. This kind of letter might also include a request for a conference with the teacher to discuss in more detail how you and the teacher can work together throughout the year. (ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR: OFF TO THE RIGHT START! Home and School Report, Parenting for High Potential, undated.)

3. Keep a Positive Attitude by Carol Bainbridge

A positive attitude is important before, during, and after a conference with the teacher. Children can pick up negative attitudes and if a child thinks the parent disapproves of or doesn’t respect a teacher, the child will think such an attitude is acceptable, which will just make any existing problems worse and more difficult to resolve. Leave your anger at home since it can make you look irrational and cause the teacher to become defensive, neither of which will help your child. (Tips for Talking With Your Gifted Child’s Teacher,, undated.)

4. Know what is available for your Child by Lori Comallie-Caplan

To ask for the programs and opportunities that will benefit your child the most, you must learn what the school has to offer and be able to explain why particular options will benefit your child. Ask the right questions:

· What type of gifted programming is available? (i.e. gifted class, resource room, independent study and/or mentorships)

· Is grouping available? (i.e. flexible skills and/or cluster grouping)

· What differentiated instructional strategies are supported in the school? (i.e. curriculum compacting, tiered instruction, acceleration)

· What extra-curricular activities are available for the gifted? (i.e. Future Problem Solving, Math Olympiads, National History Day)

5. Support Homework Time for 2E Kids by Linda Neumann

We must make sure children have the support they need to be successful. That includes providing them with an appropriate workspace, teaching them the study and organizational skills they need, and offering them accommodations where necessary, like extended time or reduced assignments. (Homework: The Good , The Bad and the Ugly, The SENG Update, November 2007.)

6. Be your child’s champion by Karen Isaacson

Remember that you are the person ultimately responsible for the well-being and education of your child. Nobody else can advocate for your child like you can. You are your child’s champion. (Working with Schools to Meet the Needs of Your Gifted Children)

Kathy Jones adds, “Teach your child self-advocacy skills for use at school.” (Facebook Post August 23, 2013)

7. Consider Sports, Not Just Academics by Kathleen Casper

Year after year, educators debate whether parents should be “wasting their time” taking their children to afterschool sports activities. Some argue that children who are tested show very little academic improvement, if any, from participation in sports. Some say that the social and task commitment skills learned in sports positively impact children’s development. And others argue it is good for children to be active for physical health reasons. But very few acknowledge that some children excel in sports because sports is their gifted talent area and that nurturing this interest will bring about success equal to or perhaps even greater than what they could ever achieve in academics. (Don’t Always Choose Academics! Why Sports Participation May Be Just as Important. The SENGVine Newsletter, August/September 2012.)

8. Provide a nurturing environment by Arlene DeVries

In order to develop to their full potential, the special talents of gifted children must be valued and encouraged both at home and at school. Often, traits that can be annoying to parents and teachers—bossiness, stubbornness, inappropriate humor, perfectionism, continual worry, excessive questioning, resistance to interruptions—can be reframed to become the very characteristics which make them successful as adults—leadership, perseverance, task commitment, curiosity, empathy, high performance standards, and the ability to see humor in life. It is important to guide children in channeling these abilities into productive behaviors rather than thwarting development. (Appropriate Expectations for the Gifted Child,, Article Archives, Reprinted with permission from the Great Potential Press.)

9. Stimulate your child’s sense of awe and Wonder by Dr. Arthur L. Costa

Successful people find enjoyment, enthusiasm, and fascination in their work and world. Allow your children free range to explore whatever they are intrigued with—as long as they are experiencing the passion. Invite your children to share their interests—what electrifies and mystifies them. Create a safe home environment, where children feel free to share their fascination, their emotions and their exhilaration. Make it cool to be passionate about something! Share with your child your own fascinations. Allow them to see you enthralled and excited about a problem or discovery and compelled with your own work. (Developing Your Child’s Habits of Success in School, Life and Work, Parenting for High Potential, NAGC, March 2002)

Lori Lewis adds, “Start a new tradition that is a special time with each child such as learn a new dish that they can learn to cook each time you have it this school year. Find connections to their talents or interests such as the food’s origin, the science of cooking it or literary connections.” (Facebook Post, August 23, 2013.)

And my personal favorite:

10. Soothe the intensities by Joy Navan

Warm milk and honey on Sunday evenings to soothe the intensities for a good night’s sleep. (Facebook Post, August 23, 2013) ________________________________________________________

Lori Comallie-Caplan, LMSW, is in private practice specializing in therapy and evaluation of gifted children and adolescents in Las Cruces, NM. She is a frequent presenter at SENG and NAGC and provides professional development to school districts and parent groups. Lori is also president of SENG’s Board of Directors.

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