Everything … or nothing?

Some days I just get overloaded with everything I seem to want to do. We can fill our lives with so many activities, that we scarcely have time to take a breath and enjoy it! And when push comes to shove – I have to resist the temptation to become paralysed by overload, and end up doing nothing at all!!

Our gifted kids can be like this, too. Some are perfectionists, and a quick brush with a topic is not rewarding for them. Life can become too full of activity – music lessons, tennis coaching, tutoring in maths, orchestra practice, ballet, homework – trying to reach their potential in all they can achieve. Then, suddenly, one day, they can simply say, “I have had enough!” At this point – no, preferably, way before this point, we should be seriously considering “what are good limits?”

Each parent and child (together) has to decide the depth to which they pursue individual areas of interest. But, please, timetable some space to enjoy life before they grow out of their childhood. Take opportunities to create extra time when you can. Combine a trip to the museum with a homework assignment, or test spelling words in the car on the way to swimming. Give them time to watch their favourite tv programme, even if it’s not educational.

Plan wisely at the beginning of the year which chores, and which sports, cultural, and academic activities are a “must do”, and which could be delayed, or revisited later. Be ready to be flexible and take wisdom’s course, and have a “mental health day” when it is needed.

I have found that some days, the best thing I can do for my gifted student in the classroom, is to back off the “time to do this” and let them have 20 minutes curled up with a good book in the library corner.

Another idea, is to plan ahead for when they go overtime in an activity they have become absorbed in, and arrange the lunch break, or afternoon topic time, for them to complete what they have started. What is wrong with staying inside on a sunny lunchtime, if they are keen to finish? I will eat my lunch with them, and forgo the pleasant chat of the staffroom* (just occasionally), to give them some special time they need.

And why? Because like me, they probably struggle some days to know what future direction they want to take, as more and more opportunities cross their paths. Rather than worrying too much about all the “tomorrows”, I like to make sure I enjoy my “todays”!

*I make sure I take time out in the middle of the day, so I return to the classroom fresh in the afternoon. Time outside, enforced by lunch duties, is an opportunity to see students outside of the classroom, interacting with social groups, or not, as the case may be. Sometimes, gifted students love to have their class teacher on duty, because they can have more time to talk one-on-one with them.

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About Debbie Smith

New Zealand Educator interested in online education, giftedness, and other special needs in education.
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