This is a companion post to: 6 Important Reasons to Nurture Children with High Learning Potential.

The one thing that high learning potential children share is the ability to learn quickly when they are enthused, not stressed and not being affected by any difficulties they face. Many are passionate learners when they are well supported and barriers are removed. Sometimes they learn far too quickly for the system they are in, sometimes the lack of support they experience (for their strengths and weaknesses) gets in the way of them being able to achieve and thrive.

Here are 6 ways parents can nurture children with high learning potential.

  1. Recognise and Be Confident in Your Child’s Abilities
    Parents are often the first to recognise that their child has advanced abilities and that they need support with them. It is important for parents to know what their child is good at and how good they are at it so that they can be confident when talking about their child’s abilities. Equally, it is important to be realistic about any weaknesses they may have. Many parents of high learning potential children feel unable to advocate properly for their child, partly because of the negative reaction they get and partly because they doubt themselves and their child’s abilities. Having an understanding of their child’s abilities, what support they need and their advancement in particular areas takes away one part of this reluctance.
  2. Understand Your Child’s Vulnerabilities and How They Affect Them
    Consider which, if any, of the issues that tend to affect high learning potential children apply to your child; anxiety, perfectionism, attention difficulty, sensory issues, emotional sensitivity, organisational difficulties, social difficulties and self-criticism. Find out more about these and consider whether any outside support is needed.If your child seems to be struggling with school, socially or with life in general consider whether they may also have an unidentified special educational need, such as attention deficit disorder, autism or sensory processing disorder. If this is the case, ensure that your child has support for both their high learning potential abilities and their special educational need.
  3. Find Ways for Your Child to Network with Other High Learning Potential Children
    High learning potential children need a peer group that they can relate to, just as anyone else does. It can be difficult for them to relate to other children the same age (especially when they are young) and they may gravitate towards the company of older children and adults. This is because they seek out people they can relate to and interactions that are satisfying.Parents can nurture a high learning potential child by finding ways to interact with other children who share their level of ability or who share their passions. These kinds of interactions can be found through activities set up for gifted children locally or in a safe place online, or through extra-curricular activities they enjoy, such as musical or sporting activities, science clubs and the like.
  4. Allow for Your Child’s Differing Levels of Maturity
    High learning potential children can be incredibly advanced in some areas and at their chronological age (or even behind) in others. They can make great leaps in learning at times and very slow progress at others. In addition, the behaviour of high learning potential children does not always tally with their cognitive ability. Even when they are otherwise generally well-behaved, they tend to have episodes of difficult behaviour and it is important to remember their actual age and the typical behaviour for this age. The emotional sensitivity that high learning potential children often suffer with can also make them seem immature.These are all important factors for parents to remember when dealing with high learning potential children. The best parenting approach for high learning potential children is a positive parenting one, where children are encouraged fairly and treated respectfully, and ways of dealing with them are consistent. A good example of this approach is Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson. Another issue that arises from children being at differing levels of maturity is difficulty interacting with peers. Parents can support high learning potential children with this by encouraging them to be comfortable with their abilities, teaching them to listen to others’ interests and discussions and express themselves clearly to peers.
  5. Support Your Child’s Thought Processes
    High learning potential children are capable of advanced thinking a lot of the time but they also make mistakes and have off days like most people do. The traits of high learning potential children (anxieties, sensory processing difficulties, emotional sensitivity, etc.) sometimes affect their thought processes and this needs to be taken into account when dealing with them.Supporting your child’s thought processes involves providing the opportunity for them to be involved in stimulating activities that stretch their mind, allowing them the chance to think in complex ways (using higher order thinking skills like analysing, applying, evaluating and creativity) and discussing topics and issues at home and on the go.
  6. Give Your Child High Aspirations
    High learning potential children, whatever their difficulties, are capable of achieving at a high level, especially in their passion areas. Discussing academic and extra-curricular choices in a realistic way, looking out for opportunities to discover and follow their passions, and finding out background information about suitable career paths can all help your child to aim high.

Originally posted on the Creating Curriculum blog.