Wollongong workshop for parents of gifted children

Shared interests: Fathers Keith Greenan and Scott Murray say raising gifted children is challenging and rewarding. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Shared interests: Fathers Keith Greenan and Scott Murray say raising gifted children is challenging and rewarding. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Keeping up with a gifted child can feel like the "Grand Inquisition every day" for Keith Greenan, who attended a parenting workshop in Wollongong on Sunday.

"They hit you with questions sometimes you don't expect and you have to try not to talk down to them," he said.

The Oatley father-of-two joined a workshop for guiding gifted children, held at Smith's Hill High School, to better understand the needs of his children.

Mr Greenan said he had struggled to answer his daughter's questions, citing one example when she was five.

"She asked me what the oldest language was," he said.

"I said, 'As far as I know, Latin'.

"She then asked, 'How did they invent that?'

"I was tucking her into bed and I just said, 'That's a good question for your mother in the morning'."

More recently, his nine-year-old son challenged his teacher.

The teacher told the students a child was created by a mother and father, but his son had other ideas.

"From what I've been told, Adam and Eve just had a father," the nine-year-old said.

Both nature and nurture contributed to the children's talents, the father said.

His friend Scott Murray agreed.

"It takes time to answer those questions and be thorough with them," he said.

"Normally they're philosophical questions."

Finding a school that met his son's needs was another challenge.

"I think schools drag up the bottom and feed the middle but the top is left to itself," he said.

Mr Murray said he encouraged his eldest son, Spencer, to attend selective school Caringbah High School so he could reach his full potential.

Families face their own special problems

Parents of gifted children often find it difficult to talk about about their child for fear of being socially isolated, according to expert Rosalind Walsh.

The gifted education consultant was in Wollongong on Sunday to help parents  enhance their child’s learning, both academically and socially.

One of the difficulties parents faced, she said, was perceptions of ‘‘everyone thinking their child was gifted’’ and people ‘‘putting tickets on themselves’’.

Children, too, could struggle to fit in with their peers.

‘‘I even had one little boy who had been reading fluently before he went to school, but when he got there and  no-one else was reading he decided to stop,’’ Ms Walsh said.

‘‘We helped the parents speak to his teacher about it, and they got him reading to the class sometimes.’’

Signs of a gifted child included curiosity and reaching developmental milestones early, such as talking, reading or walking.

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