One of the most frustrating things I have seen while working with gifted children and their parents is the pressure that some parents put on their child to act highly intelligent all of the time.
I recall a time in which I was coordinating an event for a group of gifted kids. In an attempt to increase parental involvement, I asked their parents for suggestions. We all talked for a while, bouncing different ideas around. Instead of meeting at Chuck E. Cheese’s or a park and letting the kids run around and play together, the parents preferred to tour an art museum or meet at a library for a conference on giftedness.
They seemed to be missing the point. Their children couldn’t care less about touring a museum or listening to a conference about giftedness. Kids learn through playing. That’s their whole world. According to the research of Jean Piaget, Alfred Bandura, and Gwen Dewar playing enhances thinking skills, social skills, imagination, language development, creativity, and problem solving. I understand that the parents can take their children to places like Chuck E. Cheese’s any time they want; however, the purpose of getting a group of gifted children together for playtime is to afford them the opportunity to develop cognitively, creatively, and socially with likeminded peers.
Whereas all children are able to play with each other in a place like Chuck E. Cheese’s, no children are able to properly engage in group play while touring an art museum or attending a conference.
In my personal opinion, I don’t think the ideas of the art museum or the conference were child-centered at all. I believe the parents with whom I was speaking that day 1) wanted their children to act like Little Einsteins parading around the art museum and 2) wanted to impress each other at the gifted conference talking about their exponentially intelligent children and what wonderful parenting skills they have.
The kids want to play! Let them be kids! Every year, American Mensa holds an annual gathering (AG). So, somewhere in America, once a year, some of the smartest people in the world all come together. People who have IQ scores in the top 98% percentile gather together for interaction. Among this group of highly intellectual folk are engineers, physicists, neurosurgeons, authors, lawyers, psychologists, musicians, college professors, etc. With all of this mental power in one place, why is the game room the most frequently visited area? Yes, that’s right. Super geniuses don’t want to act like super geniuses all of the time.
So, why should we expect super genius children to act any differently?
Kid are kids and kids need to be kids with other kids…even the gifted ones.