I am a 'dumb' parent of a gifted child!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2013
I am a 'dumb' parent of a gifted child!
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Thu, 01-24-2013 - 12:21am

I only have an Associate's Degree and that is in nursing and I'm an RN but currently not working.  My hubs only had one semester of college and then truck driving school and has been a driver instructor and OTR trucker for almost 12 years.  My older bio son is very smart, but not quite to the gifted level.  He is very book smart and gets all A's and is in the top 5 in his class of 130 kids, but here is my problem:  how does an intelligence-challenged woman parent a gifted child?  Josh asked me to explain electricity to him.  I had to google "how to explain electricity to a child" and didn't find anything that I thought he would understand.  He was waiting patiently, so finally, I just read it to him off of a science website.  He asked me to describe what an electron or ion was, I finally told him he would just have to ask a science teacher or his own teacher at school.  Yes, I passed the buck!

How do you all deal with being asked questions where the answers are difficult to explain?  If I had the money, I would put a Harvard professor on stand-by on-call for me!  I am so afraid too, since my IQ is only 100, that I am going to tell Josh a wrong answer about something or that I am going to hold him back in some way by not challenging him academically since he is even at 5, smarter than I am on a lot of things.

Anyone feel my pain here?  Advice, tips?

Blessings, Michelle

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005

The internet is handy for many questions, but it helps to have a few good books on hand in areas your child asks about often.  The One Million Things series of books can be a good jumping off point.  We also have a few books on dc's level about things like earth science and human anatomy.  And delegate!  We do a lot of, "that's a great question to ask (science teacher, cousin who's an MD, grandpa who's an expert on airplanes, etc.)!"

Gwen

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998

You have gifts that no professor can give your child. One of these is humility, a very rare and, I think, precious trait. You can instill this in him by making it clear that even if he is smarter (than you or his peers or anyone else he knows), he is not better, and that every person has sacred worth. You can teach him to respect his teachers and his peers, and to seek out answers on his own when the adults he asks don't know. You can also teach him that it's perfectly okay not to know, and that there are some things (why some people get cancer and others, in the same environment, do not, for example) that really can't be known, at least not yet.

One of the mistakes I see some parents make when they realize their child is gifted is to assume that they themselves need to be more or do more. You don't. You are your son's mother, and you give to him out of the riches you have. Take advantage of the resources around you, but reassure yourself that your child will not suffer or lose out in any way just because you don't live in some urban area with tons of cultural advantages.

I think by teaching our kids to ask a respectful, open-minded "why" we are helping them to grow into the people they were meant to be.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2013

That reminds me, does any of you have a "makey makey"?  Josh got one for Christmas, but we are having a dickens of a time installing the driver for it on our computer, I even got step by step instructions off the Net and still having issues.  Help?

Blessings, Michelle

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2013

Karen:  Snap circuits really hurt on bare feet, that is how many he has, he mastered all those last year.  LOL.  Last summer everytime we went to other people's houses he would ask them if they had any broken radios or clocks and if he could see if he could fix them, he did fix my mom's old gen. Kindle.  His teacher calls him her own personal IT guy, lol.  I have a book full of science experiments I want us to try sometime.  I think it would be neat to get both my boys in on things, the older teaching the younger or vice versa. 

I will have to check out all those links you guys are posting if I can ever tear my teenager away from our big PC, he says he is writing a research paper, but I have a sneaky suspicion he is down there playing Minecraft.

Thanks everyone, keep links, books, resources coming as you think of them.

Blessings, Michelle

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004

You've gotten some great comments here already.

Just to make you laugh - when DS was 15 months, I had a stack of Dr. Seuss books that I had gathered to read to him.  I looked over to see what he was doing and he had all the local political literature DH had collected pulled down onto the floor going through it very thoroughly.  Hmmm - I had Early Beginner Books; he was reading on the local economy.  That was when I knew I was in trouble. 

The University of Colorado's Physics dept put together a bunch of simulations on their website that allows one to 'experiment' with the different laws and fundamentals of physcial sciences.  DS spends tremendous amounts of time here...

http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/new

PBS that people have already mentioned is another favorite for certain things.  We also love NOVA (PBS).  Their shows are also posted on the web or you can check out the DVDs at the library.  Our particular favorites have been Building the Great Cathedrals, Building Pharaoh's Ship, Ultimate Mars Challenge, Secrets of the Viking Sword, the Making Stuff Series and the Hunting the Edge of Space series.  We also like the History of Science Series from the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s9mms).  EXCELLENT programs.

We google so much that it's known as Uncle Google at our house.  We google together so I can help him figure out reliable information versus wierd stuff (and keep him safe!)

We also experiment.  A LOT.  Whatever his question is, we then design an experiment to figure it out.  I'm always struck by his ideas and then the tweaks to figure out concepts.  He is constantly in my pantry with test tubes mixing honey, oil, water, sugar, salt, etc.  Note: do not mixing cleaning solutions with anything!  But he's learning about density, soluble versus non-soluble, etc.  Took my food coloring and learned all about colors too.

For electricity - snap circuits are your friend.  They come with a bunch of experiments and then you can run your own ideas. 

We read and play games.  We try to read things that teach on multiple levels - Who Was series (biographies which teach a lot about history), also old classics like The Phantom Tollbooth, Fantastic Mr. Fox, etc.  Stuff when it's read you get something out of it, then when you read it again a year later it's like a whole new book because you get so much more out of it.  Also, if a character is doing something educational, then we do it too.  We like Junie B Jones a lot.  When she wrote a cinquain, we did too.  I'd never heard of one before, but DS wrote a bunch of those!  When she did a photojournal of her vacation, we did too!

You don't have to know the answers.  You need to know how to support an interest and how to tap resources.  You've got that nailed down really well.

Karen

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998

As for the library, you might also check online to see how to order books from other libraries. We did this a lot when the kids were little and wanted very specific material. It was free. We managed everything online and got a note when the books were in.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999

Michelle, you are being way too hard on yourself!   More often than not, I don't know the answers to my children's questions and at this point they seem to know far more than I do on a range of subjects.  I encourage them to look for their own answers and like you, I also use the internet to look for answers WITH them.  No one expects you to know everything; in fact, I think showing willingness to admit not knowing is a strength.

If you find that the questions are coming up in particular areas, take a field trip to the library and check out a book that satisfies or stimulates the curiosity--maybe a children's book on electricity.   You can read it together!   It's a humbling experience to raise children and maybe even more humbling when the children are gifted.   Don't feel alone in this.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2013

Thanks, guys, you all have given me some great advice and suggestions!  We live in a tiny rural town so we are limited on museums and the like, but we have some great parks and walking trails and a nature boardwalk about 15 min. away.  We live about 2 hours away from Kansas City, which is full of museums and science centers, etc, I am anxious to take him to some things this summer.

We do have a pretty nice library here and we do go to it when we can.  For Christmas I bought him Time Kids, How, Why, and What that are filled with tons of facts on all different subjects.  He has been bringing home books from his school library about bugs, birds, butterflies, and the solar system along with a "fun" book too.  He is such a little sponge!  I would loooooove to get him into a Montessori school but the nearest one is an hour and a half one way away.

We will check out 'brainpop' on the computer, sounds like fun!  We have Netflix and Amazon instant video so I might see if they have some good learning videos on those.  Is Zaboomafoo still on cable?  I could set our DVR to record.  Right now he is into Team Umizoomi, but I think we used to watch Zaboomafoo (sp?)  and he might enjoy that too.

My older son asked me if I knew anything about algorithims a month ago, I know I looked at him utterly blank, and he said "oh never mind, you don't know anything".  Not in a mean way, but he is right!  If you don't use and challenge your brain on a daily basis, you lose a lot of stuff.  I am enjoying learning things with Josh though, and seeing things through his eyes.  Every summer we take a family vacation, I bought a really good book called Frommer's 500 places to see before you die and have gotten great educational ideas about places we can go.  This year we are going with extended family to Disneyworld, not very educational, but like I said, I have great ideas for future vacations, I'm thinking caves, NASA, redwood forest, Niagra Falls, etc.

Thanks so much everyone!

Blessings, Michelle

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005

Don't worry!! You are NOT going to hold him back. My dh and I were both *once* (a long, long time ago!!) considered gifted, but believe me, we've forgotten a LOT.  We laugh at what our kids assume we know (still assume we know - dd20 just called from college a few months ago to ask dh to give her a "quick explanation of regression analysis." Hahaha- let's just say dh had to spend some time on Google!!)  I'm fairly certain our younger kids will pass me up quickly in terms of math, programmming, tech stuff - I occasionally check ds12's Algebra homework and I am slower than he is, definitely!
Many, many of my dds' friends in gifted/AP through elementary school all the way to HS, had parents who couldn't help them. Some had language issues, some were just never around, and some couldn't do the work. When I volunteered in my sons' math class in 5th grade, many parents said they'd volunteer for reading, but were already confused by the math. Your son will NOT be alone!!  Sure, there are some parents who are really a great help to their kids - I am occasionally jealous of the kid who did a science experiment in his dad's lab, or whose mom coaches him for competition math (and don't even get me started on the parents of musical kids who can actually carry a tune, or accompany them on piano), but that is NOT the majority. Your son will be fine!!!  Explaining electricity? Are you kidding - I'd be googling too, lol!!!  We visited the library a LOT. :)  I honestly think that's one of the best things you can do - we got non-fiction books every week and we'd have them all over the house. We subscribe to some great kids' magazines - Muse, Calliope, Odyssey (they're expensive, but check out Cricket Magazines - they are so worth it!!). We watch cool websites (like brainpop - my kids LOVED that) and played educational games - a few weeks playing Sequence states and capitals board game and my ds10 tested out of the entire 4th grade state and capital testing, which I probably couldn't do, lol!. There are so many fantastic resources out there and we only had one TV, one computer and a library card until this year (when we got a second tv and a laptop because the boys often needed the computer at the same time for homework). We didn't spend a lot of money and my kids never went to expensive camps or enrichment. Ds12 is a pretty good chess player and went to his first, inexpensive camp last summer. Before that, he learned from books (I can't play myself).
My point is, your son will be fine and he obviously has a great mom because you're on here trying to figure out what to do to help him!!!
Good luck and don't worry too much.

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998

You aren't dumb. Our brains hold what is relevant in our lives. Little ones are excited to learn about the world but lets face it, we learned the nuts and bolts 30+years ago. I grew up in gifted programs and went to college and there are a million questions I simply can't remember the answer to. Just be honest with your child... "you know, it's been a very long time since I studied those things. I don't know the answer but lets research it together." Your child will get far more learning how to find his own answers than if you just solve all his queries at the drop of a hat.

Remember that you have a lifetime of experiences that your child doesn't have. You have plenty to offer him as he grows. Both my kids (12 and 15) are higher IQ than me but they still need me. They still come to me for help.... just not in math because we all laugh at how much I've forgotten in that subject! I still know more about life, about people and my specific areas of work and continued study and they absolutely know it!

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