Alamance AG News

April 2015

Being Gifted and Dealing with Stress

Stress is part of our everyday life, and all children need to deal with and manage their stresses. They must learn to master a multitude of challenges, meet goals and deadlines, and behave responsibly—and all of this learning is accompanied by varying degrees of stress. Stress can overpower and distract children, and they do not usually have the strategies to deal with suffocating stress. It is the job of parents and teachers to teach and model the necessary coping skills.

What does stress look like?

For some children, they may become so hyper that they are unable to concentrate or make good decisions. Others may become clingy, demanding your constant support and reassurance. Children may appear bored and unmotivated while others develop phobias.

Stress can also manifest itself physically. A child’s posture may become tight and constricted, instead of relaxed. He may develop nervous habits or tics, such as biting his nails, stammering, or excessive eye-blinking. He may even avoid eye contact and withdraw.

What are the reasons for stress?

There are some obvious reasons such as death of a relative or family pet, break-up of the family, illness, relocation, a new sibling, or a newly blended family. Some stresses, however, may arise from cases that are less obvious.

  • Expectations that are too high. Society, parents, teachers, or the children themselves may believe that gifted children should receive A’s in every subject and “always work up to their potential.” Parent expectations may put too much stress on their children.

  • A concern for the world.

    Often gifted children have an enhanced global awareness. They may worry excessively about war, disease, starving children, cyclones in faraway lands, violations of civil rights here and abroad, and economic disparity. They feel that because of their special talents, they should be able to solve the world’s problems.

  • Overly intense parents.

    There is a fine line between encouraging children and pushing them. A parent may notice that a child is verbally gifted and require him to read aloud for an hour daily. That is pushing. That same parent could encourage the child’s verbal gifts by giving her a wide variety of story ideas through exposure to museums, community events, children’s theater, and day trips. The parent could ask the child for a special story to be written as a birthday or holiday gift.

  • Disconnected parents.

    On the other extreme, there are parents who do not provide the child enough structure or discipline. They use the hands-off approach assuming the children can function like an adult. The child ends up trying to rear himself, and since he lacks life management skills, he may become highly stressed and confused.

  • Too many activities.

    Gifted children may have a broad range of interests and they want to try everything from soccer to student government to volunteering in a hospital, and usually simultaneously. Although some can manage what appears to be a crushing load of academics and activities, others become nervous and frustrated because they have spread themselves too thin.

  • Boredom.

    If a child spends a large portion of her day waiting for other students to catch up, that can breed frustration and boredom. Some children may act out because, as a child, it is the only way they know how to cope with boredom. Being asked to do things they have done many times over also adds to their stress level. Do note, however, that gifted children may use boredom as an excuse to manipulate their way out of doing work they simple do not want to do. Effective communication between home and school is necessary.

  • Excessive rigidity at home or in the classroom.

    If there is an extreme amount of rigidity and authoritarian discipline at home or at school a power struggle may result. The child may feel unbearable pressure to measure up to unrealistic academic or behavior standards and may rebel by refusing to do homework of follow family rules. Another type of power struggle can take the form of underachievement. If the child feels that he/she can never get all A’s or win a school competition, she may give up. By failing in school or at an activity a parent values serves two purposes for the child—

  • It is a misguided way of the child taking charge of her own life

  • It drives the parents crazy

    Gifted children are intense and strong-willed; when a parent’s or teacher’s expectations become more important than the child’s feelings, a long and bitter struggle may take place.

  • Loneliness.

    It can be difficult for a gifted child to find peers that have similar interests. Classmates may call her a “nerd,” or a “dork.” This may lead the child to feel out of place with their age-mates, and instead they may find refuge in books, or they may prefer to spend more time with older children or adults.

    What can you do?

  • Encourage your child to relax.

    Don’t load them up with responsibilities. Get involved with the child in activities that are outside their area of giftedness. Take a deep breath, meditate, and practice progressive

    muscle relaxation. Take time to enjoy family and friends.

  • Give the child outlets for her feelings of altruism.

    If appropriate, involve your child in volunteer activities that you may already do—visit cancer patients, go to a homeless shelter with your church, get involved with scouting, read to the little ones at Sunday school. Children learn best through example.

  • Do not highlight in conversation scholastic achievement.

    Avoid making a child feel that his only value is connected to good grades or that grades are the only things that matter. Encourage him to take responsibility for his own learning by promoting good study habits by setting aside a time and place for homework, by teaching him how to use a variety of resources , and perhaps by checking over some of assignments (but not all assignments every day).

  • Monitor your child’s activities.

    If your child is overscheduled and feeling stressed, sit down together and figure out which activities she truly values most and allow her to pursue one or two of those. Help her prioritize and set realistic expectations.

  • Emphasize what your child does well.

    Try to understand how your child looks at things and evaluate her work accordingly. When reviewing assignments, the emphasis should not be on what was not done, but on what was. Is the work creative? Was the artwork filled with fantastic detail, or the homework complete? Help your child find a way to “fit” and excel.

Children, whether they are gifted or not, will encounter challenging times or have to deal with making mistakes as they grow up. They have to stumble and occasionally fall in order to learn and grow. Sometimes they are able to right their own course, but sometimes they may need help. By being there for your child and serving as a support, someone who listens and guides, your child will gain the skills necessary to become a successful, happy adult.

NC Science Festival

Tuesday, April 21st, 4pm

1016 Lincoln Street

Greensboro, NC

The Academy at Lincoln You CAN do the Rubik's Cube Elementary Club is hosting an NC Science Festival event on Tuesday, April 21st, at The Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch Library from 4:00-6:30 called Rubik's Cube Competition and Tutorial.

UNCG Science Everywhere

Saturday, April 25th, 11am

1400 Spring Garden Street

Greensboro, NC

3rd Grade AG Reading

During the month of April, we will develop our own action research projects in regards to immigration. Our class has chosen to research the countries of the students who are represented at our school. They want to create a pictorial welcome brochure with important information for anyone new to our community. Through our research, literary study and discussions we will develop our own ideas of what we think students and their families need from those of us who are their “neighbors.” We will attempt to personally identify with the experiences of immigrant students and be motivated to want to help them. We will develop a list of the most pressing physical, academic, social and emotional needs that we can address in our action research project.

3rd Grade AG Math

Now that we are moving into the 4th quarter, we are beginning our algebra unit called "Into the Unknown." We will be learning about the role of a variable in an algebra equation and how to use substitution as the value. The students will be using a lot of hands-on math to learn how to keep equations balanced, use the order of operations, and solve for the unknown.

4th AG Reading

We will continue this study by learning about students who struggle to learn due to economic or gender discrimination, culture, war, or forced child labor. The students will conduct a research project about the history of struggles for equity of access to educational opportunities in one of the topics: Slavery; Segregation; Indian Removal; Child Labor; and Women's right to learn. The students will learn through analyzing the characters in literature pieces and the historical figures in informational texts how illiteracy affects a person’s life. Each student is responsible for summarizing, creating a timeline, and a collage using that embodies the struggles of their topic. These will be presented in class.

4th AG Math

As 3rd Quarter comes to a close, we will wrap up our unit on problem solving called Math Quest. The students really enjoy the high level challenge that the activities provide on strategies like Working Backwards, Look for a Pattern, Guess and Check, Draw a Picture and Act it Out. These will come in handy during the upcoming EOGs at the end of May.

During April, we will begin our 4th quarter unit called the Geometry Challenge. We will learn a lot of vocabulary like point, ray, line, line segment, intersecting lines, perpendicular lines, etc. The students will complete several geometric challenges, and the first one is called Points, Rays and Segments Challenge. We will be creating a geometry portfolio with all of our amazing work.

5th AG Reading

During the month of April, will continue to find the inspiration that Nature provides someone as he creates artistic expression. The students will reflect on what they have seen in nature and in art, express what images stood out the most, and how nature inspires man to create artistic expressions through one or more of the Arts. We will explore other elements of nature and other artistic expressions. The goal is to help students realize how much a part of our lives The Arts are and how man has been influenced to express the amazement and wonder of nature through artistic expression. They should also realize that they can experience that amazement and wonder as a viewer of The Arts as well as a creator of The Arts.

The pictures below were taken during our lesson about the presence of geometry in nature. The task was to develop a collage and a PowerPoint presentation that showcased one of the given topics: Geometry in Nature, in Architecture, in Visual Art, in Fashion, in Buildings, in Engineering, and in Everyday Life. The students are seen complimenting on the work of their peers as the perform a gallery walk.

5th AG Math

This month we will wrap up our Math Quest unit, and begin the 4th quarter unit on 3-dimensional figures. The students will role play for the final task that will commence in May, as a company charged with the task of creating a new society located on the planet Mars. In order to be ready for the task, we will be using manipulatives and models to learn about surface area and volume of 3-D figures. We will learn a lot of vocabulary like edge, face, vertex, base, shell, net, skeleton, etc. We will measure the volume of prisms and irregular figures.

Mrs. Jenna Lay

Teacher for the Academically Gifted

Alamance Elementary School

Greensboro, NC