Gifted children face interesting challenges in traditional schools. From uneven development to voracious appetites for learning to administrators who may not be best able to serve gifted kids' needs, the process of finding the right school setting can be tough. The same can be true for gifted children and summer camps; finding the right fit requires time and determination. For many gifted children, summer enrichment programs offer an opportunity to learn at their natural pace, to make friends with fellow gifted students, and to study interesting subjects not normally covered in the course of the standard school year. Learn more about how to choose a summer camp for gifted kids in this article, and see what a difference it can make in your child's life.
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Check gifted summer camps' requirements. While your child's school district may have labelled him or her "gifted," various gifted summer camp programs have specific requirements that your child may not have yet met. In addition, some programs, such as John Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth, require passing a specific test months before summer starts. Know the requirements for each summer camp and whether your child meets those requirements.
Examine your child's records for gifted testing. What are your child's strengths? What are his or her weaknesses? Determine whether to emphasise weaknesses or strengths before moving on.
Ask your child what he or she wishes to study. You may be surprised. math-centred kid may wish to study drama for a change, or a child with gifts in art may want to study forensic science and imitate "CSI." Every kid is different, and just like adults, each kid has a varied set of interests.
Determine how much you can afford. A session at Stanford's summer camp, or with Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth, can be very expensive. Check with the camp's administrative office to see if scholarship assistance is available.
Know your child's emotional intelligence. If the camp is overnight sleepaway camp, can your child handle that? If it's 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., five days a week, will that be too much for younger children? Before registering examine this variable.
Ask about instructor and counsellor qualifications. Working with gifted kids requires a certain set of skills and mindset. Are the counsellors and instructors trained to handle various levels of giftedness?
Make sure you're not just forcing your child to do a gifted version of summer school. Gifted camps should be designed to enrich and supplement the traditional academic year with interesting, offbeat and intensive study.
Tips and warnings
- If your child is "twice exceptional" and is gifted and has special needs, call camps ahead of time to see if they have trained staff who can work with your child's special needs.
- Just because a camp calls itself "gifted camp" does not mean it will meet your child's need for accelerated learning. Ask for parent references, and do Internet searches to learn more about real life experience with the particular camp.
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