Dear Dr. Comer:
I am a white teacher and parent. I thought your answer to the parent of the gifted child was particularly good.
Having taught several children who were gifted, in school districts which did not have special programs for gifted, I would like to emphasize the responsibility of the parent to enhance the education of such children.
Even where the schools do have special programs, the home environment is still by far the most important influence on the child.
Perhaps if you have a similar letter in the future you could emphasize the need for the parents to establish reading habits at home, for the parents themselves to read . . . almost anything, to limit TV viewing in general but try to encourage watching some of the really worthwhile programs which are now appearing occasionally on all networks, but especially on the educational stations.
Nearly all communities have some educational and cultural facilities in addition to schools. Parents should see to it that their children have library cards, and that they are taken to the library at an early age.
When my children were in elementary school I took them to see some of the high school plays, including Julius Caesar. I gave them a brief review of the plot ahead of time. They loved going and this established a hibit of playgoing.
A little later we went to concerts -- not too long and not too difficult ones. All this took some effort on my part, as I was working. But it was worthwhile in the long run.
Most children have some hobbies and at various times like to collect things. Gifted children will often have more intense interests and will stay with them longer. This should definitely be encouraged by the parents, by showing an interest, by helping with projects, equipment and so forth. This need not be expensive.
Often there will be geological exhibits, science fairs and other educational events to further the interests. I liked your advice about not pushing too hard or being permissive. And I think that talking about the child's giftedness or high test scores in front of the child can lead to unfortunate attitudes on the child's part. Mrs. B. J. Dear Mrs. B.J.:
I am sure that these suggestions will be helpful to other parents.
Your suggestions are really useful for motivating all students, gifted or not.
I would like to elaborate on the notion of not talking about the child's giftedness in front of the child:
It is not helpful to make gifted students feel that they are better people than others.
A gift -- intellectual, athletic, artistic -- is to be cherished, developed and put to use for individual and common good. But a child with a gift of any kind should also be encouraged to be a responsible, respectful person in interpersonal relationships.
Some of the arrogance among persons in managerial and professional positions is due to the fact that they were allowed to believe as children, that they were better than others because of their proficiency in academic subjects. Dr. Comer