Conversations with Kids

My son can’t wait for this text to arrive each week. He asks if I have it, and it has transformed our dinner conversations. I subscribed to this weekly text message from Parents Together, called Q4KIDS last year when I was driving our children home from pre-school and I was having trouble getting my older son to talk to me. The text message has an open-ended question for each day of the week. Tonight we discussed a playground made out of a material of each person’s choice. Josiah, my oldest son, decided he would create his playground out of marshmallows. He explained how he could throw them at people and no one would get hurt, and when he was hungry, he could just chew on his playground. I don’t know a lot about the Parents Together organization, but so far the questions have proved to be engaging, non-controversial, and able to get my five-year-old, my husband, and my parents to have some both wacky and meaningful conversations.

The text messages have been a great guide for facilitating imaginative and creative conversation as well as leading us to discuss big things in life like friendship, kindness, the environment, government, and many other ideas.  As a side note, Parents Together website states that they are “a national non-profit organization that provides resources, connections, and community that help all kids and parents thrive. As we unite parents together, we are creating a force for change on issues affecting kids and families.”

One thing I’ve noticed since I started teaching gifted students is that everything tends to take a bit longer because the student conversations are always so good! How can a teacher interrupt students who are having outstanding, rigorous conversations? We can’t! So we often fall a bit behind schedule.

My co-teachers often ask me, “Why does everything take so much longer in my gifted section?”  I honestly think it is because of the fantastic dialogue the students in these classes have with one another, their thoughtful interaction with the text, and their inquisitive nature. It is my hope that by sharing this resource, you will have another way to engage your thinkers in conversation. I am sure for many of them, these prompts are unnecessary, but could prove to be fun as you drive to sports, horseback riding lessons, or over dinner.

As noted on the Parents Together Q4KIDZ webpage, “subscribing to the text messages and providing your mobile number, you are agreeing to receive text messages from Parents Together Foundation and Parents Together Action with Q4KIDZ  questions and info on important issues affecting families.  Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to end and HELP for help. U.S. only.” I encourage you to give the weekly questions a try!



Humility of Spirit AND Giftedness

I have been attempting to help our students to understand the unique challenges of being gifted. In addition to reading the “Gifted Survival Guide for Kids” we have been working to walk a fine line of being incredibly proud of who we are as a gifted community AND how to operate with humility of spirit, which I define as having a modest view of one’s importance, and in our gifted children’s case, a modest view of one’s intelligence and  abilities. As a teacher and parent, I want to help our students be incredibly proud of who they are and at the same time be able to have humility in their giftings. I take comfort in this quote that I read from the from the SENG website: (SENG is Supporting Emotional Needs for the Gifted) in their article about the Do’s and Dont’s of parenting a gifted child. It read,

“Don’t worry that helping your gifted child know himself (or herself) better will lead to a “big head,” a know-it-all attitude, or undo vanity. True giftedness that is understood by the possessor leads to a more open understanding and acceptance of others (if it has been explained well). The more intellectually gifted a person is, the more likely the person will know how much he doesn’t know yet. That alone should lead to a sense of humility! Don’t worry that the child will feel superior to you; children need to look up to their parents and you are better equipped than you may realize. You are the right parents for your children.”

One of the ways I am finding that our kiddos sometimes get a bad rap with their peers, teachers, and siblings is because it is REALLY hard to walk the fine line between being proud of being gifted and having high intellect without crossing the line into bragging or becoming known as a “know it all.”

In order to bring this issue to light, this week we are playing a game called “Hot Seat” to help build empathy for friends, peers, and siblings who might struggle when they are not included in the GT (Gifted and Talented) programming. It also builds empathy for our teachers who may feel challenged when students question their instruction publically and regularly (which sometimes some gifted students happen to do.) To play Hot Seat, each student received a card of a person who has not (yet) been identified as gifted and answers questions from their assigned perspective about what it is like to not get to participate in GT. They also have to consider what it is like to really struggle to master material that they find comes easily. For many who have participated in this activity, they have agreed that this has been eye opening. Their consideration and management of their gifted identification with true humility will help them for years to come.

To play Hot Seat, each student received a card with a description of a person who has not been identified as gifted and is on the “Hot Seat” to answers questions from their assigned perspective. They are asked about what it is like to not get to participate in GT. They also have to consider what it is like to really struggle to master the material at grade level, a concept that is foreign to most.

For many who have participated in this activity, they have agreed that it has been eye-opening experience. Their consideration and management of their gifted identification with true humility will help them for years to come.

For more on this topic, I found a great article from “All Pro Dad” about teaching your children about humility of spirit.

Some Old Friendships Never Fade

Slice.of.Life.logoTonight, Jon and I had our old college pal, Andrew Anderson over for dinner. He is going to be a guest poet in my classroom tomorrow and we wanted to discuss what he would be reading and practice our rusty (I guess I should say MY) rusty Skype skills.

Andy walked in during a flood. Yup, our washing machine flooded because Jon overloaded it,and it was gushing water. Under some circumstances I would have been freaking out that our house was a cluttered-toy-tornado zone and there were wet towels all over the front walk, the floors, and puddles everywhere! But, I wasn’t freaking out — when Andy walked in, I felt like he had just been there the day before and nothing was going to shock him. Except, he has never been to our house, and we probably haven’t seen him but maybe three times since college, which was 11 years ago.

When he walked in the door, we greeted each other and Joey immediately jumped into his lap. “Andy Anderson!” “Andy Anderson!” “Will you read me a story and play car ramps with me??” Those who have met Joey will know that for him to behave this way towards someone he has only seen once before for perhaps five minutes, was strange. Except, it wasn’t. It was like Joey and Enzo had always known Andy, because Andy is where Jon and I are from. He was with us in our formative college years, was Jon’s roommate, worked at Camp Wanake with me, and part of our very close-knit faith community. Hanging out with Andy was refreshing, like going home. Thanks for coming over, friend. Let’s not let it be eleven more years before we have dinner together again!

Slice of Life: March 2, 2015

Slice.of.Life.logoSelling a house is a lot of work! I didn’t realize that when I called up a realtor that I was signing up for all of these calls, trips, projects, and anxiety-inducing experiences!

In the last 48-hours, there have been four strangers in my house evaluating every inch to find fault. These folks, they are buying my house. The house where Jon and I started our family. The house where Joey had his first Christmas, learned to walk, and where he became a big brother to Enzo. Where my placenta abrupted. Where my dog played until his last day.

I put the house on the market. It sold in three days- so I should be totally excited and I am – but I am not- because I am too busy signing forms, providing documentation, and making a way for strangers to live in my home.