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Nine-Year-Old Hiding His Abilities
Q: My nine-year-old gifted son tells me that the other children in his class act immature. He's kind and understanding, and other children like him and even follow him. He can now read my college books, although he may not understand the meanings of some of the words. I am concerned about him covering up his abilities. He doesn't want to be different, but he's getting to the point where he can't hide it any longer.
A: It's very important for gifted children to have at least some contact with like-ability peers. This lets them know that there others like them, and that they are not different from all kids. Is this time with other gifted children possible for your son? If you have not found this locally, try locating an organization for gifted in your state through the National Association for Gifted Children's website. The NAGC website also has information on summer programs for gifted children, presented by region. Also read Finding the Right Summer Program for your Gifted Child on our website, from the Council for Exceptional Children. And visit the website of Mensa, the international organization that has special interest groups (sigs) that allow gifted persons with a special interest (like Star Wars!) to interact.
Are there any possible activities in his school for advanced kids, like a Junior Great Books club or a science club? Some local libraries also offer board game clubs such as chess and Monopoly. These can be fun activities where it is okay to do well, and may give him the chance to meet like-minded peers.
It's especially important to help your son foster male friendships with other bright boys who can let him know that it's okay to be who he is! They will keep each other involved in acceptable recreational/educational activities through the turbulent adolescent years to come. There is also a new book out that you may find interesting: Smart Boys: Talent, Manhood, & the Search for Meaning by Barbara A. Kerr.
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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.