This is a guest post by Emilie O’Neal.
Having an avid and gifted reader is a parenting dream, but sometimes the reality of keeping your gifted learner challenged is hard.
We know the old cliché where the students who seem to be the most bored in school are, ironically, our top learners, but that pattern can be avoided if we identify those students and support them with the same vigor we support struggling students. We need to keep that learning spark alive by challenging and engaging our gifted readers from the beginning.
Not sure where to begin? When you’re reading books with your gifted reader (and learner), just remember Q.U.E.S.T.!
5 Tips for Engaging Gifted Readers
Q – Use high-level QUESTIONING.
In the education world, Bloom’s Taxonomy is used frequently to describe the depth of understanding a student has as he or she progresses through learning content.
In this model, the highest levels of critical thinking are “synthesis” and “evaluation.” With our gifted readers, we want to be operating at those levels as often as possible. Simply, this just means asking our kids better questions when we talk to them about what they are reading and studying. Here are some examples of higher order questions to use:
U – When possible, level UP.
Acceleration typically means grouping a child by his or her developmental ability rather than age. In a school setting, this might look like your child skipping a grade or maybe just attending the next grade level’s Math or English class.
At home, we can level up by giving our kids texts that are just a little bit harder than what they are currently able to read. Give frequent access to high level text in your home library, on your own nightstand, as a read-aloud at bedtime and in conversation about contemporary literature. Visit book stores and browse different types of text.
Your children might not be ready to read everything yet (in level and theme), but they should know where to look and how to talk about it when they are ready.
E – ENRICH your child’s life with subject matter.
Just like in real life, when we are interested in something we want to surround ourselves with it. This strategy can work for a book or subject your child adores.
Listen to music with similar themes, cook food from the storyline or setting, use physical activity to mirror the characters or just as a reading break, make up science experiments to replicate events in the plot, use symbols from the text in Math formulas. The possibilities are endless!
We already do this when our children are little (think about that Sesame Street themed nursery, diapers, soap, puzzles!) so carry it on with educational concepts, too.
S – Know your child’s learning STYLE and use it to engage.
Learning Modalities are a hot topic in schools lately. Studies have shown that people innately learn in all different ways and using these labels is helpful for teachers. A person can be more innately suited to learning through auditory, visual, tactile or kinesthetic stimulants—meaning, when information is presented in that form, it makes learning easier and more fun.
For gifted learners, it’s important not to get stuck there, though. Use your student’s innate learning style to engage, but then work on acquiring information in different ways, too. Listen to books, act out scenes, create hands-on projects to evaluate plot devices and watch the movies of the books!
T – Use TECHNOLOGY to your child’s advantage.
There’s a post internet-discovery movement going on where parents are now being encouraged to limit screen time, put away the TV remote and avoid video games. Although that advice is important and should be followed in moderation (as all things), don’t be scared to use technology to access levels of learning your student wouldn’t otherwise experience.
The internet is an amazing miracle of knowledge. There is more information there than any child will ever absorb in one lifetime, and the free content available makes learning any skill possible for a student with WiFi.
The key is curation.
Participate in technology WITH your student; play the weird games, laugh at the silly videos and discover new ways of communicating together. Our children are preparing for lives that will be embedded with exponentially more technology than ours, and we have to embrace the idea that they will be learning DIFFERENTLY than we do if we want to successfully support them on that journey.
Parenting a gifted reader doesn’t have to be daunting (at least not when it comes to reading). Incorporating these simple strategies little by little can help you support your gifted learners in a way that challenges and engages them for life.
Emilie O’Neal is a PA Certified 7-12 English Tutor specializing in school-year and remedial tutoring, as well as gifted education acceleration. Learn more about her tutoring services.