Thursday, June 25, 2015

Reading about Extreme Cognitive Gifts--Part 1

When it comes to children with cognitive gifts, misunderstandings abound. To help with the confusion, myths, and facts about gifted students, I've compiled a list of the best books I have found so far. From the definition of "gifted" to the education of the gifted to the special psychological makeup of students who inhabit the right tail of the IQ bell curve, these books will, together, give a basic education to any parent or teacher.
While programs abound for helping children whose gifts are not mathematical or linguistic, the students who excel and need more challenging material are often left alone. They will, of course, often take matters into their own hands and learn in spite of a standard curriculum that tries to keep them stuck intellectually with their "peers" (kids who have nothing in common except birth dates within a narrow range.) To simply ignore them, however, is to risk wasting their gifts by causing them to slack off (because they can get an A without any effort) or to act out because they are bored out of their atypical minds.
These books will offer valuable information to parents seeking ways to accelerate their children appropriately, even in the face of hostility from traditional educators. The information is also valuable to educators who truly want to help all their students grow, including those who are already several grades ahead intellectually.
Ellen Winner's book offers comprehensive coverage of cognitive gifts, while Sowell's concerns a special class of late-talking children with intellectual gifts. Both were very helpful to me in working with a variety of children, including my own six children and Sunday School children with various gifts.

Winner, Ellen, Gifted Children: Myths and Realities
I consider this the definitive work on the subject of gifted children for the layman or educator who needs an introduction to the broad range of issues these children present.

Sowell, Thomas, The Einstein Syndrome 
Dr. Sowell offers hope to a special group of parents: those who have a late-talking child who is not autistic or developmentally disabled. After typical reasons for late talking are ruled out, e.g. hearing problems or cognitive disabilities, Einstein Syndrome is a possibility.