Who Cares About Your Kid’s Lego Robot? I Do!

Over the weekend I had the good fortune to talk with another parent of a gifted child who’s new to navigating all the challenges. Remember how scary it was when you realized your child’s educational was going to be a bit tougher than usual?

Who cares about your Lego robot?

Photo by Eirik Refsdal

My Kid Doesn’t Play Soccer

According to Facebook, they now have one billion active monthly users and I bet a good deal of those users are parents sharing photos of kids playing soccer, t-ball, or at dance recitals. My research is based on what I see on my own Facebook wall. And I love those pictures, truly I do!

But what if your child’s passion is in creating Lego robots? Or mapping the genealogy of the Greek gods? Or learning about calculus? You know, just for fun. Chances are if you share these stories on social media, family gatherings or among friends –  you’ll get the look.

And parents of gifted kids know exactly the look I’m talking about.

The uninitiated assume that you must be pushing your child to read those boring books, your too protective to let her play team sports, or that you created that robot. Ha!

Nope, some kids are much more excited by robotic kits than balls. Believe it or not, they choose robots over soccer.

Be a Cheerleader for ALL Kids

Many parents of gifted kids don’t talk about their kids accomplishments because they are accused of bragging or of being elitist. It’s not bragging if it’s true and I’m not sure how telling the truth is elitist but these are common excuses.

The parent I recently talked with didn’t feel she could talk about her daughter’s accomplishments. I grabbed her hand and told her she could talk to me ANYTIME about her child’s accomplishments. I’m here to ooh and ahhh over origami, Lego creations, creative writing, and math problems beyond my comprehension. I’ve made that offer to all parents that I meet in similar situations.

No parent should feel as though they can’t say “Look what my kid did!”

All kids gifted or not, need to know that at the very least their own parents support them and are proud of the work they do. Unfortunately, they’ll run into plenty of people who will be dismissive because their interests aren’t the norm. Support them and just as importantly, support their parents as they take pride in their child’s achievements.

 What About You?

Do you feel you can freely share your child’s successes? Tell me your story in comments.

How Our Journey Began

I know most new parents assume their child will be probably be curing cancer by the time they get their drivers license but that wasn’t the case with me. My darling girl was born two months early and so after reading all the scary things that can plague preemies I was just hoping she’d be able to see and hear normally. She was our first (and only) and I really had no direct experience with little ones so I had no idea what a normal child was. When she spoke her first word “Hi” at age 10 months everyone thought it was adorable – and it was! She looked much younger than she was because she was so tiny. Her second word was actually a phrase, “I know.” And she said it in that tone of voice that I tend to use. That should’ve set off all kinds of warning buzzers off in my mind!

Still, we really didn’t look for nor expect anything than a just a healthy, happy girl. At age two and half she was following the presidential election closely enough to know that Barack Obama lived in Chicago and his wife’s name was Michelle. Thank you, NPR. Of course, she also told me that Barack Obama and the Muffin Man were both from other planets so I’m not sure she really had a good grasp on the political landscape of 2008.

We sent her to daycare three days a week beginning at age two and we chose a facility based on the fact it was affiliated with a local hospital, it was clean and provided nutritious meals and we could afford it. She absolutely hated it. Every morning she cried when we dropped her off and it was one of the hardest things for any parent to deal with. So we set our sights on a preschool that would do more to keep her engaged than a typical daycare.

The preschool we chose was new and looked like the architect used to work for Disney World. It was darling and the staff said all the right things. The director said that in the two-year old room children learn colors and shapes. When we asked what happens if the child already knows all that and their numbers and letters we just got an indulgent smile. You know that look. I’m sure there will be at least one future post about that look.

On the second day when I went to pick up my daughter the director met me with a look that made my heart skip a beat. I thought something had happened to my little one – or the check had bounced. No, I was greeted with “You didn’t tell

gifted child

Age 3, reading her performance review

us she could read”! It turns out my little darling was reading the menus for what was for lunch and telling all the other kids. The staff wasn’t sure what to think so they started having her read miscellaneous forms. Yep, she could read. I felt like crying. Partly with joy and partly with fear. Looking back on it, mostly fear.

We took her to the library which was already one of our favorite places to go and started pulling random books off the shelves to see if she really could read them. We knew she could read all the books at home but that was because we were reading to her and she was memorizing them. Or so we thought.

Pros to having a two year old who can read:

  • Listening to them discover new ideas in books is a thrill
  • Learning seems to happen almost exponentially
  • It’s a pretty good parlor trick

Cons to having a two year old who can read:

  • They can read billboards that announce Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays!
  • They read your incoming text messages while playing on your phone
  • No more skipping sentences or even words when you read to them (yes, I used to edit all those Dora books)

So, my point (finally) is – how DO you know if your kid is gifted? Well, it’s tough. We still didn’t know what we had on our hands and unfortunately where we live there aren’t any resources for kids until they’re in 1st grade. We did have her tested at age three and a half and it was confirmed that we had one gifted girl. It was then that I started educating myself on what all this meant.

My first stop was Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page. This is a must for anyone wishing to learn more about all things gifted. Second stop was Talent Igniter and the Ruf Estimates of Levels of Gifted. The assessments are a good place for parents to start.

How did your journey begin?