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How Gifted Girls Become Gifted Women

April 21, 2008
by

“Gifted people not only think differently, they feel differently. Giftedness is a different way of being, and these differences affect one throughout the lifespan.”

Dr. Linda Silverman, Ph.D. Special Education & Educational Psychology

Do a Google search on “gifted girls” and you’ll see a long list of articles on how they encounter pressures (some self-imposed) to choose social acceptance over academic achievement beginning in early adolescence. A friend – a bright, wellspoken woman who has two gifted children — recently confessed to having “dumbed-down” in high school. It wasn’t until she was in college with her intellectual peers that she felt the freedom to be herself.

One way to counter the pressure to underachieve is to encourage gifted girls to associate with academic peers. Some options to consider:

  • Start a book club. Interact with parents of other gifted girls and get together once a month to have a discussion and socialize over Frappuccinos. One such group in Coppell was started by a mom new to the community five years ago. It was a creative way for her to meet other moms and establish a peer network for her daughter. Often the daughters bring up issues with their peers that they may not feel as comfortable discussing with their moms one-on-one. Participation varies throughout the school year; after all, these girls are also active in fine arts, competitive sports, and community service. Why not join the CGA Yahoo! discussion group and solicit members for a club from your campus? Incidentally, the moms have branched off and started their own book club separate from the daughters.
  • Plan for your daughter to attend the SMU Gifted Girls Conference. Seventh grade girls spend a day at the Dallas campus attending breakout sessions led by professionals and professors on varied topics. This year’s key note speaker is Bonnie Jacobs, Ph.D., University of Arizona, Department of Geosciences. Dr. Jacobs is an Associate Professor at SMU where she teaches undergraduate classes in Environmental Science and Ecology, and graduate seminars in Biogeography and Paleoecology.  CISD has over thirty girls participating this year. The registration deadline has passed, but plan ahead for next year for your rising seventh grader!
  • Consider an academic camp targeted to girls and/or gifted learners. The Institute for the Development and Enrichment of Advanced Learners (IDEAL) at Texas Tech offers several options for residential camps. Science: It’s A Girl Thing aims to provide girls with strong role models and dispel myths and misconceptions about science and careers in science. Campers experience university life, hands-on classes and recreational activities. SMU’s Talented and Gifted program (TAG) offers intellectual challenges and exciting learning experiences to academically accelerated students completing the seventh, eighth, or ninth grade.
  • Encourage healthy competition. This need not be limited to academic pursuits although MathCounts and Academic Decathlon are particularly noteworthy. Competitive and recreational sports play a crucial role in raising a well-rounded daughter. If your daughter’s passion is music, suggest she audition for one of the local youth orchestras. Depending on her level of ability and interest, she can choose from the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, the Lone Star Youth Orchestra, or the Flower Mound Progressive or Preparatory Orchestras.

Without encouragement from her family and a social group to help cultivate her talents, it’s possible that a gifted girl’s ability may be lost. It is therefore vitally important that she receive the tools she needs – as early as possible — to develop into a gifted woman.

One Comment leave one →
  1. ajsimons permalink*
    May 11, 2009 3:03 am

    Great article! Thanks for all the ideas.

    Do you think mentoring could help? And perhaps mentors that are only a few years older? (ie: 9th grader mentoring a 7th grader?)

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