Supporting a Gifted Child: A Quick Guide to Online Resources

By: Gintas Bradunas
Brief Resource List for Supporting a Gifted Child

Remember the first day you realized your child was gifted? The pride and wonder followed quickly by an anxious stream of questions? "How do I challenge my child’s curiosity at home?" or "How do I get my child into the right program at school?" "How do schools even define 'gifted and talented'?"

Well, we can't answer all your questions in one short blog post, but we can point you to a few helpful resources that can. Following, you'll find links to a range of organizations, publications, activities, and programs that offer the answers and support you need to nurture your gifted student emotionally, socially, and intellectually.

Resources for Parents

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page: Don't let the name and simple website format fool you. If you're just starting your journey in gifted education, the Hoagie's website offers dozens of resource-rich pages on testing, state mandates on gifted education programs, and a wide range of articles, resources, and research for parents plus activities for students. Make sure to check out their Gifted 101 page first for a great overview of many of the challenges you might face as the parent of a gifted child.

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG): Worried your gifted student is stressed out by perfectionism or isolated by peers who simply don't "get" him or her? That's where SENG, a nonprofit organization, steps in with programs to support gifted children and provide "a place for them to connect and a tribe to belong to." Their free ...

6 Effective Ways to Help Your Child Respond to Cyberbullying

By: Meredith Yowell
Help-Your-Child-Respond-to-Cyberbullying

With rapid developments in technology and social media sites, it’s no surprise that bullies have quickly made their debut online. What’s your first instinct? It’s probably to protect your child from being a victim. Even without being directly affected, however, children often become bystanders to cyberbullying within their online world.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, an average of 25% of middle and high school students admitted to being cyberbullied at some point during their lives, and 42% of students witnessed other people being cyberbullied. Your child can learn how to appropriately respond to a difficult but serious situation with your help.

The Bystander Effect

The Pew Research Center Internet Project of 2011 reported that a whopping 90% of teen social media users have ignored the cyberbullying they have witnessed on a social networking site.

Even though cyberbullying is not considered a traditional form of bullying, it is just as severe and traumatizing for the victim. A bystander who remains silent not only allows the bully to continue to harass other students without consequence, but also contributes to the percentage of cyberbullied victims. Children might even think it’s acceptable to participate in cyberbullying if the cyberbully they witness is not reprimanded.

How Can Your Child Respond to Cyberbullying?

Your child has the power to make a difference! The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services stated that 57% of the time when bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds.

The idea of standing up to a bully can be incredibly ...

Magnet Craft Activity: Making Positive Fridge Magnets for Kids

By: Beth Werrell

Despite our best efforts, disappointment sometimes gets the best of us. For students, it's normal to feel discouraged by a mistake on a test or a difficult assignment. During times like this, it will help your child to have a small reminder that he or she a unique, talented individual regardless of the occasional mishaps he or she faces.

If your child needs an encouraging reminder, consider making Positive Fridge Magnets for kids. These are personalized refrigerator magnets that display the qualities that friends and relatives see in your child. For example, one magnet might say "Brave" while another might say "Considerate." Once the magnets are decorated, you can hang them proudly on the fridge.

Check out the craft magnets activity by clicking on the graphic below. At the bottom, take a look at our tips for making other kindness magnets for kids.

Acrostic Name Poems

The graphic above explains how your child can modify the Positive Fridge Magnets craft to create an Acrostic Name Poem. For more information, take a look at a teacher's explanation of acrostics and other poems.

Goal Magnets

This activity explores the abilities your child wants to develop rather than the ones he or she already has. Start by following the directions in the graphic to make another magnet. On this magnet, write, "Today I will be…"

Next, take another look at the list of positive words included in the graphic. Have your child write down a ...

What to Include in a Parent-Child Contract for Virtual School

By: Beth Werrell
Making a Parent-Child Contract for Virtual School

Like fingerprints or snowflakes, each virtual school family is unique! And that’s one of the joys of this form of education—the ability to customize learning and the learning schedule to suit the family’s lifestyle. Despite their unique differences, many experienced online school families use similar tools and approaches to ensure that their children succeed in their studies. In this post, we’ll examine how a simple parent– or Learning Coach–child contract helps keep three students headed in the right direction.

To see firsthand how one of our families does virtual school, I spent the day with a family enrolled in our online school in Pennsylvania. The family included multiple children, one high school student and two middle schoolers. Their mom serves as the students’ main Learning Coach while she works from home. Their dad is supportive and involved. He works nearby and sometimes comes home for lunch with the kids.

Each student had a designated and neatly organized school area in his or her room with a desk, computer, learning materials, and school supplies. In addition, a Learning Coach–Student contract was displayed above each desk. The students’ mom developed a set of expectations for her children and formalized basic rules, consequences, and privileges, as well as important contact details in a parent–child contract that each of her students signed at the beginning of the school year. It serves as a daily reference to remind the kids of the rules they’d agreed upon for effective at-home ...

How to Explore Interests and Build Friendships as an Online Student

By: Beth Werrell
Building Friendships Beyond the Online Classroom

Think back to your best friend in grade school. You may have met in class, on the playground, or over the fence in your backyard. But the fact is that proximity and convenience didn’t seal your friendship. Your shared interests did.

The same is true for our online students. It simply takes a little bit more planning to help them connect and make friends with like-minded children in their local communities. Here are some tips on helping virtual school students find opportunities for building face-to-face friendships based on shared interests.

Take an Interest Inventory

You can probably list your student's favorite activities off the "top of your head." But, to make the most of opportunities in your community, you’ll also need to consider why he or she loves a particular activity. For example, if your student loves soccer because she loves running, she could also learn to love tennis if that’s more readily available or popular with the kids in your neighborhood.

To find out, ask your virtual school student to name his or her five favorite activities. Then, ask what he or she most enjoys about that activity. You may have to gently prompt your student with questions to come up with a list that could look something like this:

I like to . . . Because . . .
Read I like imagining I am someone else.
Play baseball I like running and being outside.
Play video games I like getting better each time I play and scoring ...

Self-Acceptance vs. Self-Improvement: How to Help Kids Strive for Both

By: Beth Werrell
Teach Your Child the Value of Self-Acceptance

As the parent or Learning Coach of a growing student, you spend a lot of time encouraging your child to succeed. You might help your child improve his or her reading fluency, test-taking skills, virtual classroom etiquette, organization, and so on.

These are important skills that all students should develop. But don’t forget to also teach your child the importance of self-acceptance.

Activities to Encourage Self-Acceptance

Learning to accept yourself takes time, no matter who you are. But trying some of these self-acceptance activities will make your child aware of his or her unique strengths and weaknesses. In turn, he or she will develop self-esteem and celebrate his or her identity. Encourage your child to try a few of the activities below to get started.

How Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Help Virtual School Students

By: Beth Werrell
Helping Students Become More Confident Learners

Self-esteem affects every virtual school student’s growth and well-being. Your student’s self-esteem is especially important to consider now that it’s National Bullying Prevention Month. Children who are bullied usually develop low self-esteem in response to the criticism they hear. Until these children regain self-esteem, they will struggle to be happy and healthy.

Keep in mind that boosting a child’s self-esteem only affects how he or she views him- or herself. Surprisingly, research has shown that self-esteem doesn’t affect academic performance. Struggling students need something else: self-confidence. In one study, students with high confidence scored higher on a test than students with low confidence. To do better in school, your child needs to develop confidence in his or her academic abilities.

Tips for Building Self-Confidence

There are no shortcuts when it comes to gaining self-confidence. Because confidence grows from knowledge and experience, kids need to work hard until it develops naturally. Take a look at the tips below to help your child improve and build confidence in his or her performance.

  • Get motivated. The first step to gaining self-confidence is getting started. To be successful, your child has to want to do well in school. You can try the 9-step motivation model if he or she isn’t motivated. With this motivation technique, you and your child work step by step to develop and execute a plan for finding success.

  • Plan ahead. Preparation is vital to success. Your child can’t do his or her best without ...

10 Bullying Warning Signs Every Parent Should Be Aware Of

By: Meredith Yowell
Warning Signs of Bullying for Parents

As parents, we often have to interpret our children’s unusual actions, particularly when they are unable—or unwilling—to tell us what’s wrong. Maybe you notice a loss of appetite or a change in sleep patterns. You might observe a change in your child’s friendships or a bad attitude about school. And while you could be tempted to attribute any of these behaviors to the normal “ups and downs” of childhood and adolescence, you should consider that they could also be signs that your child is being bullied.

With bullying in the news with alarming frequency, it’s not surprising that national surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied during their school years. Whether the bullying is physical or verbal, or in person or online, it’s a growing problem with an unhealthy emotional impact for both the bully and the victim.

Parents of at least 10 percent of students at Connections Academy schools nationwide say they turned to virtual school because of bullying, according to the annual parent satisfaction survey. Another 35 percent switched their child to virtual school because they were seeking “a safe learning environment.” And bullying isn’t necessarily confined to a particular type of school—it can happen in or out of school, in any setting.

How to Tell if Your Child Is Being Bullied

Following are ten of the most common warning signs that your child is being bullied.

  1. Mood Changes.
    If your child seems moody, sad, or depressed, particularly if there ...

Break the Multitasking Habit with These Study Tips

By: Beth Werrell
Breaking the Habit of Multitasking

It’s easy to get lost in thought when you shower, brush your teeth, or do your hair. But have you ever gotten so distracted in the shower that you wash your hair twice—or forget to wash it at all? If you’ve ever done something like this, then you have fallen into the trap of multitasking!

Multitasking, or doing two or more things at once, is something we do every day. An example is having a conversation with your child while you’re driving. There’s no harm in talking in the car because it’s easy for your brain to handle these tasks, but multitasking becomes a problem when one task interferes with the other. You might talk in the car, for example, but you wouldn’t text while driving because texting and driving both require your vision.

Virtual students are especially prone to multitasking because they’re surrounded by digital distractions. When students try to multitask while studying, they often fail without realizing it. Psychology professor David Meyer says, “Under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time. It can happen only when the two tasks are both very simple and when they don’t compete with each other for the same mental resources. […] But listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook—each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of them uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.” When these types of tasks compete for mental ...

Tips for Teaching Your Child Good Social Media Manners

By: Tisha Rinker
Social Media Manners for Kids - young girl sits with her smart phone and laptop

When today’s preteens were born, adults were just starting to figure out how social media worked. Now that kids of all ages are eager to join the world of social media, it’s only natural for parents to have doubts about letting their children dive in. Some common questions parents have include:

  • How do I tell if my child is ready to use social media?
  • When should I start teaching my child about it?
  • How do I keep my child safe on social networks?
  • Which social networks are safe for kids?
  • Will joining social networks just encourage my child to spend more time online?

When parents face these questions, the best approach is to treat social networks like any other new environment your child explores. You supervise your child when he or she plays outside, and you should also supervise him or her on social networks.

Supervision and guidance are crucial to the process of teaching young children how to use social media. Children are less likely to grasp the importance of social media etiquette and safety when they’re left to figure it out on their own. So, before you allow your child to explore social networks independently, review these four key concepts together.

Kindness. Promoting kindness on social media helps children build positive relationships, avoid cyberbullying, and become good digital citizens.

Caution. Teaching kids to protect their personal information and be cautious around strangers is essential for keeping them safe on social networks.

Permanence. ...

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