When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bright son

The start of a new school year is still a week away, but already I can sense the anxiety building in my sensitive little boy's mind. Amidst the leisure and laughter of late summer days are outbursts and tears and quiet, heartfelt refrains of "Mom, I'm not ready to go back to school." As difficult as Will can be in these moments, my heart feels so sad for him. I really do appreciate how very deeply he thinks and feels about everything in his young life.

We have always known there is something different about Will; in many ways, he has never been quite like other children his age. I've thought deeply about this fact for years, and have expressed some of my impressions of my wonderful, challenging youngest boy before (especially in my favourite post here). It dawned on me about a year and a half ago, in a lightbulb kind of moment based on something I stumbled upon in a parenting book I was reading to help me relate to Will better, that he might be intellectually gifted. Anxious to uncover any information that might make raising Will easier, I began to read everything I could find about giftedness in children, and learned that in addition to thinking about and understanding the world in complex, creative, unique ways, gifted chidren also often have heightened emotional and physical sensitivities. The pieces were starting to fit together.

After helping Will manage some school anxiety last year, Matt and I decided to get a clear picture of his cognitive abilities by having him privately assessed by a psychologist this summer. Our hope was that with a detailed understanding of his special talents and abilities, we might be able to ensure a more stimulating and enjoyable school experience for him, especially since our board does not formally provide enrichment programming until grade 5. Will thoroughly enjoyed the testing process (he loved the mental challenge!), and while Matt and I were not surprised at all by the results we got back this week, we feel a strange sense of awe, and a great responsibility to help both of our gifted sons, now, find experiences and challenges that are exciting, novel, and useful in helping them grow into the amazing young men they have the great potential to become.

Many people have the impression that you don't have to worry about gifted kids; because they're "smart", they'll do well no matter what. What happens when gifted learners become increasingly bored and disillusioned with their school experiences, though, and lose their motivation to strive to be their best? How do you keep a seven year old boy whose language and math abilities are years ahead of his actual grade happily learning something new on a day-to-day basis? How do we, as parents, make sure that we provide our boys with enrichment activities in their life outside of school? These are all questions that I will need to answer in the coming weeks, months, years.... It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly at all.

Receiving these test results for Will has provided us with another piece in the puzzle to understanding our amazing young son. They don't change the challenges we face with him, but they've given us a new glimpse into who he is, one that allows us to see him a little more compassionately when we realize that the world must be an awfully frustrating place sometimes for a boy who has the life experiences of a seven year old and beautiful, complex, grown-up thoughts.

I am incredibly excited for both of my exceptionally bright boys.... and I hope I will be able to be an exceptional source of support and guidance for them as they navigate their ways forward from here. I hope, above all, that their journeys are happy ones.

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