Do not let your gifted child’s mind go to waste this summer. In the summer bridge, make sure you keep the mind ticking and focused so when school rolls around again, your child is ready to move forward and not backtrack. Gifted kids especially need stimulus so they are not spending hours in front of the television set and playing video games. Gifted kids are always ready to learn and fortunately learning is usually fun for them. Here are a few ideas to keep your exceptional child on track this summer and explore new avenues and reap the intellectual rewards. These are very economical as well.
Create an art space in your home. Fill a drawer or crate with art supplies and paper. Try to stay away from coloring sheets as much as possible-someone has already created that. You want your child to create original works all their own. Find all kinds of paper to create upon-scraps even. Try painting on a piece of cardboard from a disassembled box-or paint the box itself!
Experiment with different mediums. Always buy the cheapest, smallest art supplies first-if they really like the medium, then you can always buy larger sets. Pastels are wonderful to introduce the blending and muting of color. Pastels are like soft chalk-and should be used lightly and gently. They can be very messy so protect the surface where your child is working. Wax paper works well. Blend colors with fingers-dry fingers. Water and wet hands should be avoided when first working with pastels. If they need to wash their hands to remove a certain color, then they should dry hands thoroughly because water will make the pastels completely melt. After more experience, they could do a damp water wash across the pastels to further blend the effect. If you have this is mind, use very thick paper.
A finished pastel can be sprayed with a clear art binding spray, or you can use hairspray. Either way, the finished project will often be messy to the touch. Put the finished piece in an inexpensive frame or create a portfolio if it is small enough by placing the piece into a clear sheet protector. Actually, most gifted kids like the idea of a personal ‘portfolio’ and will like to fill it up with various creations.
Whip out the cameras. Let your child experiment with cameras-and not just digital. Although digital is really the way of today and may eventually take over the photographic world, many magazines and newspapers still prefer photos from film. Let them figure out the intricacies of that durable old 35 mm camera that you have shelved. Experiment with black and white film. Buy slide film and create a slide show-in fact, ‘transparencies,’ which are actually slides are still used for photography for many publications, because of the beauty in the color and the durable quality of a slide. It could be fun to do a slide show of the entire summer-if you can still find a slide projector these days.
The digital version of this for children would be a PowerPoint presentation, used from digital shots. If you are thinking that you could not possibly teach this to a child, think again. My first grader is better at PowerPoint than I am! He learned at school in a special class for kids that are far ahead. Instead of playing games on the computer, let your child play around on PowerPoint. Many schools are requiring this now as opposed to the old fashioned book report. Times are changing. Your gifted child needs to be exposed to this as early as possible.
Another activity is spelling with panache. Okay, most kids consider spelling a chore. But many gifted kids are naturally talented at it. You want to take the focus off the mundane for the summer. Try spelling the names of twenty-or one hundred-popular restaurants. Or arrange the spelling to gravitate towards the vacation you are about to take. If you are going to the mountains, try words that revolve around forests and trees and rivers. If you are going to the beach, try spelling words that revolve around marine animals, seashells and ocean life. Your child really should keep a summer speller in an inexpensive bound black and white notebook over the summer. Take these thematic words and create stories or even tales about your trip in this notebook. It will be a wonderful keepsake for you in later years, and it also provides the ever-needed documentation that is required for gifted resource programs.
When your child returns to school in the fall and is asked to write an essay about what she did over the summer-well, she will be prepared. Also allow your child to illustrate the black and white with small paintings with thick paper cut to fit the book or with colored pencils and crayons right on the notebooks pages. Decorate the outside of the book with favorite stickers rewarded for correct spellings or one for each day’s work. Encourage them to decorate it and make it their own. If, for example, they take pictures at your trip to an amusement park and write a story about it-then have a few extra prints made and then tape them into the black and white. These activities will enhance your child’s language ability, spelling ability and artistic eye.
Make math practical for your child. Let the teachers handle the boring repetition work while your child is in school. What you need is for your child to get down to the nuts and bolts of common sense math. The easiest way for them to learn this is right in the grocery store, and especially in the produce aisle. Have them take a notebook and a calculator and add, subtract, multiply and divide both on paper and check their work on the calculator. Another fun teaching tool is to start out with a budget of something like $100 and subtract down each item as it is placed in the cart. The side benefit to this is that you will stay in a budget and this will teach them about budgeting.
Along this line, your gifted child should learn to create a menu and then make a list of the items needed to create the meal. Cooking should be available to every gifted child in the summer-by learning to read a recipe and measure out in measuring cups and spoons, you will provide your child very valuable math skills. Then, there is turning on of an oven and understanding the chemical process of heat and degrees of heat.
These ideas are just a few that can maximize your gifted child’s path during the summer while having fun all the while! Thinking out how you can incorporate reading, math, writing, art, and spelling into everyday activities will only enhance your gifted child’s comprehension and know-how.