Gifted children getting some extra support | VailDaily.com
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Gifted children getting some extra support

Carolyn Pope
Special to the Daily/Carolyn Pope Susan Mackin-Dolan, Nancy Robbins, speaker Nancy Silverman, Anne Dunlevie, Bambi Forbes and Kay Shelton of the GET team.
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If you’re a mom or a dad, your child’s education is probably one of your top priorities. But a parent can feel bombarded from all sides in the educational debate – friends, parents, the media, test scores, you name it, it’s a confusing pile to wade through and make decisions that, considering the emotional implications involving your child’s future, can be overwhelming.

Throw into that a kid who is above average, perhaps well above average, and the responsibility to keep that child stimulated is daunting and can keep even the most knowledgeable and sacrificing parent grasping for answers.

There is, however, a support system in our valley if your child is exceptional. The Gifted Education Team of Eagle County – or, GET – comprises parents and educators in the valley specifically concerned with giving gifted and talented youngsters and their parents the support and answers they need.

“GET was established by a group of parents and educators to ensure that the exceptional needs of high ability learners are fulfilled academically, socially and emotionally,” says Sue Mackin-Dolan, a founding member of the organization. “We provide programs and information that fosters the understanding of gifted children.

“If you know one of these inspiring and challenging children,” she said, “we invite you to participate in our cooperative effort to enhance the educational opportunities available to them in Eagle County.”

Last month, the GET team brought in Linda Silverman, PhD for a presentation on visual-spatial learners. The packed auditorium of parents and teachers at Berry Creek Middle School nodded in comprehension as Silverman described the unique characteristics of the visual-spatial learner.

Visual-spatial learners are a unique group – they whip through a room like a whirlwind, leaving behind them a trail of confusion. They love building things, can tackle mazes and chess, are intrigued with the computer, taking things apart and making up stories. They are astute observers and question everything that comes out of your mouth.

Their handwriting might be illegible, and they learn by visualizing, because they think in pictures, not words. Perhaps they take a slice of cheese and tear it into the shape of states.

It’s the classical battle of left brain versus right brain dilemma – the sequential, time-relevant way of thinking versus the creative, non-sequential learner. Silverman introduced the audience to new ways to help children with the problems that visual-spatial learners sometimes encounter in a typically auditory-sequential world.

This Thursday evening, the GET team is offering its third in its spring series of lectures. The event will be held at the conference room in the Inn at Riverwalk in Edwards from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Christine Price will discuss the social and emotional needs of the gifted, specifically in reversing underachievement. Price has been working with adolescents and their families for 25 years and is currently conducting seminars on underachieving gifted students.

High ability students have unique academic and affective needs that, if not met, can lead to underachievement, anti-social behavior, attachment difficulties and other problems.

Price will address the emotional, mental, social, physical, family and spiritual factors that contribute to underachievement and will discuss intervention strategies in each of these areas. She will share information about her program and will be available to answer questions after the talk.

All interested parents, teachers, educational professionals and other interested community members are invited to attend the seminar. This lecture is sponsored in part by grants from Supporting the Social & Emotional Needs of the Gifted and the Vail-Eagle Valley Rotary.


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