Wednesday, August 6, 2014

You are not alone! Finding gifted community

In last week's Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop: Gifted Friendships I shared the research on the importance of gifted friendships in Gifted Friendships: You Are Not Alone!. This week, I'll help you find community!

One of the earliest things gifted parents discover is the sense that they are alone. If you're not in a gifted community, you learn quickly that while other parents can share and brag about their kids developmental, sports, and even academic accomplishments, gifted parents may NOT. For other parents, it's just normal, everyday parent conversation, but for us... so many parents think we're bragging, or worse, just making it up. We learn early that everyone can share about their kids... except us.

We are alone.

If parents lucky enough to land in a gifted community early and often, we may be lucky enough to have a place to share about our gifted kids, too. But even there, there are things we can't talk about. Have a kid who's not as perfect as the rest of the kids in the very gifted community? Better not talk about it, or we may be "blamed" for somehow causing their uniqueness. Or worse, we fear we'll be drummed out of the community, the one place where we feel comfortable sharing all the great things our child is doing.

We are alone, even in our own crowd.

The most important thing that gifted parents need to know, and be reminded of early and often, is that you are not alone! Got a gifted kid? There are many of us out here just like you! Live in a rural area, where it seems none of us are nearby? We might not live next door, but we are in equally rural (or urban, or suburban) communities, feeling similar isolation. Have an exceptionally or profoundly gifted child who is still far different from the "pleasantly" gifted child, a child for whom the normal gifted program is like giving individuals blades of grass to a hungry dinosaur... it's good, but not enough for the dinosaur to know you're feeding it. You are still not alone, even if you feel alone in the local gifted parents group. Or you have a wildly diverse gifted child, who is extraordinary good at some things, but extraordinarily weak at others? You, most of all, are not alone. Even if there is no other child exactly like yours (and there likely is someone, somewhere), there are many other parents struggling with Twice Exceptional (2e, dually identified) kids like yours.

Gifted community is the lifeline for all of us. It's the place we can talk about parenting these wonderful kids. We can share the struggles of education, or the resources of homeschooling. We can commiserate on the lack of programs at early ages, and create our own programs with our critical mass and our unswerving need. We can find a place to brag and to beg, to share the past and consider the future. But how can we find these amazing, amusing, accepting gifted communities?

There are public and private, open and closed communities. We share on Facebook and mailing lists, blogs and boards, behind firewalls and in real life. We meet at formal conferences and casual gatherings across the country and around the world. No matter who or where you are, you are not alone!

Electronic communities are a great way to get started. For open communities with tons of participants, sure to be folks who live near you, start with the major mailing list communities. TAGFAM and GT-Families offer mailing lists for general gifted topics for families and teachers, on lists of the same names. If you're homeschooling your gifted kids, TAGMAX is the list for you, with nearly a thousand other subscribers who share resources and ideas for homeschooling, unschooling, deschooling and more. GT-Special is the list for parents of those tricky-to-parent, challenging-to-educate twice exceptional (or 2e) kids. And TAGPDQ is the community for you if you're the parent of a "more than just plain gifted" child, those exceptionally and profoundly gifted kids who often require more extreme educational options.

Visit Hoagies' Gifted Online Communities: Mailing Lists for subscription instructions and links for these plus hundreds of other more specialized mailing lists, organized by population, country, state, and district or locality. There is a mailing list for everyone!

Looking for a casual community you can just "drop into" when you need a little support? Though they are more public, check out any one of the great Facebook communities for gifted: Hoagies' Gifted Education Page, SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), and Gifted Homeschoolers Forum are three popular Facebook gifted forums. And there are plenty more. Just search for Gifted and your other interests (your town, your school district, homeschool, etc.) on Facebook.

Looking for something less electronic and more real-life? Check out the U.S. and International organizations listed in Hoagies' Gifted: Organizations. Many offer conferences, summer programs, meetings and more!

If you have testing and your kids qualify, one of the best U.S. gifted communities is the Davidson Young Scholars program. It costs nothing to join, and offers a wide slate of support options, including electronic and real-lie gatherings. Even if you use nothing else in the program, be sure to join your local DIG mailing list, and attend some of the DIGs (Davidson Informal Gatherings) to meet and enjoy others in the Davidson gifted community!

Whatever means you choose, be sure to explore the online and real-life gifted communities so that both you and your kids learn that You are NOT alone!

Don't miss the rest of last week's Gifted Friendship Blog Hop. With nearly two dozen blogs on gifted kids, teens, young adults and adults, plus a couple blogs on the value of "invisible friends," there's something for everyone!

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