Why Gifted Kids Need to Be Allowed to Race Ahead

No road runners allowed in school

Hello, Enthusiastic Gifted Child, meet Communist School. You are going to be best friends. Here is your bright new backpack with a cool pencil-case and notebook. See you at graduation. :^)

If you are behind the average, you have a legitimate, recognized special need and great care is taken to meet that need and make sure you don’t feel bad about yourself for being who you are or fall into depression. Your needs are important.

If you are faster than the average. You are meeting the minimum expectation and therefore do not have a legitimate special need. No care is taken to make sure you don’t feel bad about yourself or get depressed. In fact, you are an overachiever, a pain in the neck, an exhausting burden no one has time for because they are too busy making sure the slow ones can catch up. Equality is the key, you see. “You are done already! Well, go help Johnny.”

Some kids who are behind act out because of it. Some kids who are ahead do. Some kids who are behind fall into a self loathing depression, some kids who are ahead do. The kids who act out are most likely to be noticed. So I want to focus on the ones that get missed; the “good ones,” the “quiet ones”, the introverts who won’t tell you what is going on. They need you (parents and teachers) to see them and help them just as badly.

Gifted kids have an insatiable curiosity and need for speed. This is not a luxury. It is a need! Yes, yes it is. Like a person needs food or a car needs gas. If you don’t get food, you wither away and die. When you don’t feed gifted kids or allow them to feed themselves, you starve them.

sign no road runners allowed

When you direct their “extra” time and energy at helping others you starve them and teach them that their own needs are less important than the needs of others. You teach them, they may be starving, but they may eat only when all others have been fed because, of course, YOU don’t think they SHOULD be starving. After all, they ate the same amount as the others did. That is like saying, “teenage boy, you ate the same amount as your 90-year-old grandma. How could you still be hungry?! You are just being gluttonous.” This is akin to abuse, people!

Just because YOU can’t imagine eating a whole pizza yourself then looking for more food does not mean he does not need that much food. Stop judging him by your point of view. Try to see.

Communist Schools, if you let this child go at his own pace and feed and nourish him, he may cause an uncomfortable revolution. But, he may save your life as well. If you hold him back and teach him his needs are worthless and he is worth less than others he will eventually believe it. He will not grow up a healthy adult able to care for his own needs, and will not cause that uncomfortable revolution, and will not save your life.

Gifted children need to be allowed to race ahead. If you can’t handle this yourself, please figure out another way to make this happen.

Ah, Emaciated Depressed Child, congratulations, here is your diploma! You lost your backpack? Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Anyway, welcome to the rest of your life! I am so glad we could be a part of preparing you for it. :^)

no road runners allowed


Gifted People Are Overexcitable

gifted people are overexcitable

I have been doing some reading on gifted individuals lately and have a bone to pick with some of the language being used. My contention is with the idea that gifted people are overexcitable.

This is the introduction to the section on “overexcitabilities” from an e-book called “Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted: 30 Essays on Giftedness, 30 Years of SENG.” which was put out by SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted).

“Overexcitabilities are inborn intensities indicating a heightened ability to respond to stimuli. Found to a greater degree in creative and gifted individuals, overexcitabilities are expressed in increased sensitivity, awareness, and intensity, and represent a real difference in the fabric of life and quality of experience.”

The list of “overexcitabilities” discussed is as follows:
Psychomotor overexcitabilities
Sensual overexcitabilities
Intellectual overexcitabilities
Imaginational overexcitabilities
Emotional overexcitabilities

The essay then goes on to describe how to help normal folk deal with these overexcitable people. Here is another excerpt.
“Share the descriptions of OEs [overexcitabilities] with the family, class, or counseling group. Ask individuals if they see themselves with some of the characteristics. Point out that this article and many others like it indicates that being overexcitable is OK and it is understood and accepted.” (Emphasis mine) -This was from the section on discussing the concept.
Then you should focus on the positives, cherish and celebrate diversity, teach people how to communicate respectfully…

The list of suggestions went on but my ears were turning off. Seriously!? You had me at “over-” and the rest just sounded rather tongue-in-cheek. I mean no disrespect. I am sure the author of this article meant well and probably isn’t even the one who made up this terminology. This organization is trying to meet a very real need, but words have meaning, people!

Here is the meaning of the prefix “over”
“excessively; to an unwanted degree;” -New Oxford American Dictionary
“a prefixal use of over, preposition, adverb, or adjective, occurring in various senses in compounds (overboard; overcoat; overhang; overlap; overlord; overrun; overthrow), and especially employed, with the sense of “over the limit,” “to excess,” “too much,” “too,” to form verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and nouns ( overact; overcapitalize; overcrowd; overfull; overmuch; oversupply; overweight), and many others, mostly self-explanatory: a hyphen, which is commonly absent from old or well-established formations, is sometimes used in new coinages or in any words whose component parts it may be desirable to set off distinctly.” -Dictionary.com

Replacing the prefix with its actual meaning, the above quote can be translated “being excessively excitable to an unwanted degree is OK and it is understood and accepted.” They are gifted, right? Really bright? I am betting that more than a few have understood the meaning of “over-.” Gifted people and those who interact with them often need help understanding and accepting their differences and viewing them as a good thing, but this kind of language is not helping anyone.

From the perspective of many gifted people, these “excesses” are normality, which makes the rest of the “normal” world seem rather dull. These people generally avoid calling the “normal” people dull and would appreciate if the “normal” folk would avoid calling them excessive.

All these characteristics are spectrums of human behavior, and to discuss them one must use language that describes where on the spectrum you are referring to, thus comparative language is necessary. If you want to set the standard language according to the most “normal” people, that makes sense to me, but please don’t choose language that smuggles in an upper “acceptable” limit. That shoots you in the foot. Many of these people would be considered “highly intelligent.” Wouldn’t it serve everyone better to call them highly psychomotor, highly sensual, highly intellectual, highly imaginational, and/or highly emotional. This would accurately describe their position with respect to the norm, and would have a positive connotation which would help the gifted and those who interact with them truly accept and appreciate the diversity.

Spice Gluing Project for Kids

gluing project for kids spices morning coffee for life
Spice gluing project for kids

This Morning’s Art Project

I have a lot of whole spices and my son, the avid explorer and climber, has been fascinated with the spice cabinet above my washing machine lately. Last week I allowed him to climb up there and check it out. We had a little spice tasting event and ever since then he has been begging me every day to let him go back up there. I love to foster exploration and discovery, but today I was really not in the mood to stand in the kitchen watching him on top of the washing machine. I decided to take some of the spices to him and let him experience them in a new way. I know a lot of preschools do not use food for gluing projects anymore, but I have many fond memories of gluing different of beans and noodles to create pictures. Spices seemed like they would be even more fun, since they have such nice smells.

whole spices
egg carton for spices
Elmer’s glue (some non-toxic glue)
something to spread glue (paint brushs, cotton swabs or craft sticks are good)
pan (optional but highly recommended)

If my egg situation had allowed I would have used an egg carton cut in half the other way for more stability. Any disposable dish or lid is good for glue. I glued (my fast drying glue) one piece of the egg carton to a piece or cardboard so it would not tip easily.

Skill Development:

Fine motor: gluing, picking up small seeds

Language: talk about the seeds: what shapes, what colors, what you do with them, their names, their sizes, their textures, their smells

Sensory: touch sensation of the different seeds, smell, taste if you decide to taste any… hopefully without glue.

Cognitive: Glue is sticky, but only a little at first. It takes time to dry to make things stick.

Today’s results:
My son enjoyed playing with the spices but, since he does not use glue or craft stick very often, they became the main focus of his exploration and learning. He wanted to know, “Why are my hands sticky?” and why his sticks would not stay together. He expressed frustration at the idea of having to wait for the glue to dry.
What I learned: The pan worked really well for keeping most of the spices off the floor and clean-up to a minimum. Yay!

gluing project for kids spices morning coffee for life end
The End Result (Remember it’s the process that teaches) -Spice Gluing Project for Kids

Other Ages
Be sure to decide what spices are be appropriate for the age of your child. The great thing about a project like this is that it is easily tailored to a range of ages. Older children can draw a picture first, then “color” it with spices. Use black markers or paint for a stained glass effect. And of course you can always branch out into other foods… if just might not make your house smell as delicious.

How to Protect Children’s Books with Movable Parts

How to protect children's books with moving parts by Morning Coffee For Life

I love those children’s books with movable parts.  You know, the kind that have tabs to pull to make the bird’s mouths chirp or the warthog’s head shake.  But for young children those fun moving parts just scream, “touch me!” and they do, with those less than gentle hands. They turn your sweet, curious, little angel into the kind of monster that rips the heads off birds and the legs off kangaroos.

Alphabet book by Matthew van Fleet
Just too cute- I can teach my son not to destroy it… Alphabet book by Matthew Van Fleet

I bought one of these books, “Alphabet” by Matthew Van Fleet, knowing books like this tend to get destroyed, I believed I could keep my son from destroying it until he learned how to handle it.  I now believe the cuteness of the book may have caused me to momentarily take leave of my senses. My son loved it.  There was so much to look at and touch, but I hated it because it felt like all I ended up doing was reprimanding my son.  After a while it found a new home hiding under a pile of papers awaiting yet another repair.

Then one day, while my son was napping I was doing some cleaning, and I came across the book.  I couldn’t stand the idea of fixing it again just to see those poor little birds once again left trying to eat their breakfast worms with no head. I decided to fix the problem.  I pulled out some plastic sheet protectors, a pair of scissors and some clear packing tape, and went to work.

How to protect children's books with moving parts by Morning Coffee For Life
Fixing the problem- How to protect children’s books with moving parts by Morning Coffee For Life

I went to the offending pages, cut a piece of the sheet protector big enough to cover all the moving parts and taped it down on all sides. Sadly I was not able to save the clam and his shell is forever gontoie.  In the end, my son was a bit disappointed at not being about to pull the pieces off anymore, but I was quite happy with the result.  You can still break these moving parts if someone puts too much pressure on them while you try to make them move, but otherwise it was a great solution.  Definitely something I will do to the next moving parts book before my son even lays eyes on it.

protecting childrens books with moving parts by Morning Coffee for Life finished page
One of the finished pages- Protecting children’s books with moving parts by Morning Coffee for Life

Quick Easy Kids Coloring Tray

DIY easy kids coloring tray from shirt box by Morning Coffee For Life
DIY easy kids coloring tray from shirt box by Morning Coffee For Life
DIY easy kids coloring tray from shirt box by Morning Coffee For Life

Quick Easy Kids Coloring Tray: An Unexpected Birthday Gift

My little toddler absolutely loves to color, but at 18 months the whole concept of keeping markers and crayons on the table is about at foreign as E.T.  Needless to say coloring is not my favorite activity and it doesn’t help that my living room floor is noticeable slanted making this a challenging feat for adults.  A few days ago was my husband’s birthday and there were still a couple of shirt boxes sitting around our living room when my little munchkin asked to color.  It suddenly dawned on me to tear open one of the sides of a shirt box and use it as a 3 sided tray.  “Dump!” My son’s favorite word at the moment sounded and the markers and crayons came pouring out… into the tray.  It was a beautiful sight.  I almost shed a tear as the markers rolled to the edge of the “tray” and stopped.  Ok, now I am just being melodramatic, but still, it made me one happy Momma, and as an extra bonus it greatly reduced the number of time I had to remind him to color on the paper, not the table.  Now to invent some type of child surrounding funnel system so every time drops a crayon on the floor because he is done with it, it will just roll right back into the tray. Hmmm…