What does it mean to be creative?

It seems entirely appropriate to wind up this year’s enormously successful blog tour with another contribution from a gifted child. Caila is one of Gifted Online’s youngest students, but she is already beginning to articulate her own ideas about creativity. Children’s experiences of creativity are hugely important for them, as they are enjoyable and contribute to a sense of personal efficacy. They are also very important for society, as children’s creativity is the precursor of adult creativity, and adult creativity solves problems which affect us all.

The introduction of National Standards has reduced the opportunities for creativity in many classrooms. This is not the case in every classroom. However, we should be concerned about those classrooms where assessment requirements are leading to a narrowing of educational focus in which convergent thinking dominates over opportunities to think and learn in creative ways. Please consider children’s opportunities to think creatively, and the many other important aspects of education raised in this year’s very successful #NZGAW Blog Tour, when you vote this year.

And now, over to Caila:

CailaCreativeHi everyone!

This is about my picture that explains ‘What does it mean to be creative?’

So this is a drawing of a girl thinking and lots of LEGO bricks whizzing around her. The LEGO is creating her idea.

If you like it you can flick me a comment, and I’ll see.

See you next time!

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

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Guest Blogger, Hon. Chris Hipkins

Hon. Chris Hipkins, our guest blogger today, writes in his capacity as education spokesperson for the Labour Party.

There is a lot of talk these days about under achievement within our education system. The rhetoric goes that we need to spend more time measuring kids so that we can better identify which students are falling behind and devote more resources and support to them so that they can “catch-up” with the others.

The problem with this whole approach is it presumes that every child has the same capabilities, that all children should be learning the same things at the same time, and that the end goal for our education system is the production of standardised ‘units of labour’ for the workforce. It couldn’t be more wrong.

Any child who isn’t achieving to their full potential is under achieving, and that means that gifted kids who are well ahead of the class could still be “under-achievers” if they aren’t being challenged and extended.

The Labour Party recognises the great diversity that exists within our education system. We want every child to be supported to achieve their individual and unique potential. We don’t need to spend more time constantly assessing and measuring, we know what needs to be done, let’s get on and do it.

Labour will re-establish the Gifted and Talented Advisory Board to advise on best practice and advocate on behalf of gifted kids. They will be given a ring-fenced budget for research and will be supported by a dedicated unit within the Ministry of Education.
We will also ring-fence funding for specific professional development programmes for teachers that are aimed at better supporting the needs of gifted learners, and we will restore funding for specific programmes like the One Day School.

Labour has a proven track record when it comes to supporting programmes for gifted and talented students, and we intend to pick up where we left off. The 2014 general election is your opportunity to put gifted and talented education back on the political agenda.

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

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6 Important Ways for Parents to Nurture a Gifted Child

Guest blogger Rebecca Howell is the Senior Education Consultant for Potential Plus UK. Today she writes about ways in which parents can nurture gifted children.6ways

6 Important Ways for Parents to Nurture a Gifted Child

This is a companion post to one posted earlier; 6 Important Reasons to Nurture Gifted Children. Bearing in mind the reasons given in that post for nurturing gifted children, here are 6 ways parents can nurture their gifted child.

  1. Recognise and Be Confident in Your Child’s Abilities
    Parents are often the first to recognise that their child has advanced abilities and that they need support with them. It is important for parents to know what their child is good at and how good they are at it so that they can be confident when talking about their child’s abilities. Equally, it is important to be realistic about any weaknesses they may have. Many parents of gifted children feel unable to advocate properly for their child, partly because of the negative reaction they get and partly because they doubt themselves and their child’s abilities. Having an understanding of their child’s abilities, what support they need and their advancement in particular areas takes away one part of this reluctance.
     
  2. Understand Your Child’s Vulnerabilities and How They Affect Them
    Consider which, if any, of the issues that tend to affect gifted children apply to your child; anxiety, perfectionism, attention difficulty, sensory issues, emotional sensitivity, organisational difficulties, social difficulties and self-criticism. Find out more about these and consider whether any outside support is needed.
     
    If your child seems to be struggling with school, socially or with life in general consider whether they may also have an unidentified special educational need, such as attention deficit disorder, high functioning autism or sensory processing disorder. If this is the case, ensure that your child has support for both their gifted abilities and their special educational need.
     
  3. Find Ways for Your Child to Network with Other Gifted Children
    Gifted children need a peer group that they can relate to, just as anyone else does. It can be difficult for them to relate to other children the same age (especially when they are young) and they may gravitate towards the company of older children and adults. This is because they seek out people they can relate to and interactions that are satisfying.
     
    Parents can nurture a gifted child by finding ways to interact with other children who share their level of ability or who share their passions. These kinds of interactions can be found through activities set up for gifted children locally or in a safe place online, or through extra-curricular activities they enjoy, such as musical or sporting activities, science clubs and the like.
     
  4. Allow for Your Child’s Differing Levels of Maturity
    Gifted children can be incredibly advanced in some areas and at their chronological age (or even behind) in others. They can make great leaps in learning at times and very slow progress at others. In addition, the behaviour of gifted children does not always tally with their cognitive ability. Even when they are otherwise generally well-behaved, they tend to have episodes of difficult behaviour and it is important to remember their actual age and the typical behaviour for this age. The emotional sensitivity that gifted children often suffer with can also make them seem immature.
     
    These are all important factors for parents to remember when dealing with gifted children. The best parenting approach for gifted children is a positive parenting one, where children are encouraged fairly and treated respectfully, and ways of dealing with them are consistent. A good example of this approach is Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson.
     
    Another issue that arises from children being at differing levels of maturity is difficulty interacting with peers. Parents can support gifted children with this by encouraging them to be comfortable with their abilities, teaching them to listen to others’ interests and discussions and express themselves clearly to peers.
     
  5. Support Your Child’s Thought Processes
    Gifted children are capable of advanced thinking a lot of the time but they also make mistakes and have off days like most people do. The traits of gifted children (anxieties, sensory processing difficulties, emotional sensitivity, etc.) sometimes affect their thought processes and this needs to be taken into account when dealing with them.
     
    Supporting your child’s thought processes involves providing the opportunity for them to be involved in stimulating activities that stretch their mind, allowing them the chance to think in complex ways (using higher order thinking skills like analysing, applying, evaluating and creativity) and discussing topics and issues at home and on the go.
     
  6. Give Your Child High Aspirations
    Gifted children, whatever their difficulties, are capable of achieving at a high level, especially in their passion areas. Discussing academic and extra-curricular choices in a realistic way, looking out for opportunities to discover and follow their passions, and finding out background information about suitable career paths can all help your child to aim high.

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

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Guest Blogger, Hon. Maggie Barry

Hon. Maggie Barry, our guest blogger today, writes in her capacity as Member of Parliament for the National Party.

Gifted and Talented Education

Realising and supporting potential is the key to educational greatness. Each and every child should have the opportunity to develop their skills to new heights. Our government is doing exactly that with a comprehensive, successful, and sustainable education plan to meet the needs for five out of five children.

Gifted and talented students make up part of this five out of five. Since we were elected in 2008, our government has invested in a range of programmes and initiatives to boost the learning of gifted students and ensure they get the best possible support.

The government recognises that both direct investment of new resources and implementing new programmes, as well as changing policies and standards, collectively aid the learning of gifted children.

Government policy is that schools should differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of all students (including gifted students) in the classroom. Some schools stream their classes so that gifted children are able to learn with other gifted peers in a tailored teaching environment.

The New Zealand Curriculum acknowledges the needs of gifted learners and its flexibility ensures boards and teachers can appropriately respond to their students’ requirements. In particular, curriculum levels are not constrained to particular year groups, and resources from different levels can be used to support gifted learners.

In 2012, the government published the Gifted and Talented Students handbook to provide guidance on how to work toward an education that is responsive to the needs for gifted learners. The handbook was developed with wide input from the gifted community and provides a spectrum of information on three key areas for gifted student support: ‘regular classroom’, ‘acceleration’, and ‘special programmes’.

Our government recognises the need for gifted children to have learning environments and teaching closely tailored to their particular strengths and other weaknesses. The new range of subject-specific resources—for instance, the 8 new mathematics digital learning modules developed for gifted students in 2013—ensure gifted children can reach their full potential.

The Government provides Professional Learning and Development (PLD) to help schools and teachers identify and respond to the needs to gifted and talented students. It includes networking, step-by-step support and resources to help schools develop and implement a school-wide approach to gifted education.

The Gifted & Talented Online website provides access to resources from the PLD programme, research and resources, gifted organisations and sites, and a community forum. In December 2013, the site was refreshed and a wide range of new resources added.

Of course, over the last five years the government has directly invested resources into upgrading schools and learning environments for gifted children.

The government’s new $359 million ‘Investing in Education Success’ (IES) programme aims to support increased collaboration and the sharing of ideas across the education system to benefit accelerated student achievement and in particular gifted children.

A new $700 million investment in providing modern ICT structures in schools means that by 2017 all schools will have upgraded computer networks and high-speed uncapped internet connections through the managed network built by the crown company Network for Learning (N4L). These digital technology investments will particularly support gifted children as they provide learning outlets for more innovative and personalised learning pathways.

N4L has also recently launched its online portal, Pond. Pond is currently being tested by a group of pioneer teachers, and will soon be available to all teachers in New Zealand. Using Pond, teachers and students will have deep access to a wide range of rich educational resources that will engage students, and promote collaboration and innovation in classrooms around the country. With access to resources such as Pond and the managed network, I believe that our most gifted students will be encouraged to dive deeper into subject areas that fascinate them, promoting more self-initiated and self-directed learning in the classroom and at home.

Our government is committed to ensuring gifted and talented students reach their potential and are provided with the best possible support and encouragement for successful futures.

This post is part of the #NZGAW Blog Tour.Blog Tour icon and link.

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Gifted Kids Write to Parliament

96 students from Gifted Kids have collaborated to write an open letter to Parliament. What can this inspire you to write to someone who can make a difference?

PostBox

To All Members of Parliament

You don’t know who I am, what makes me tick or just how clever I am. You may walk past me in the street and not even notice me. You wouldn’t be the first. But it’s likely I’m going to be the next Bill Gallagher, Witi Ihimaera, Michael King, Janet Frame, Trelise Cooper or … To be a successful adult, I need to be a successful kid. To be a successful kid, I need your support now.

Hi! We are Gifted Kids from the Hutt Valley. We are 96 students in years 1- 8 who attend Gifted Kids, a specialist strength-based programme one day a week with other like-minded students. We learn in an environment where everyone understands what it means to be gifted and what gifted kids need to be able to be engaged, progressing and truly achieving in our learning.

Just as you need to work with people who want the best for New Zealand in parliament, we need to work with others that help us innovate, create and problem-solve.

Do you know that there are 25,000 gifted students in New Zealand but only 1,000 of us are lucky enough to attend a programme like Gifted Kids?

This is Gifted Awareness Week!

Gifted Awareness Week is a time for us to show you what it means to be gifted. Our CEO, Deb Clark, says “Gifted Awareness Week is an important time to celebrate gifted children, their extraordinary abilities, and their needs. It is our time to advocate for the provision of equitable educational opportunities and to help our wider community to understand this need.”

Questions we often ask ourselves.

  • Why is average OK?
  • Shouldn’t everyone have the chance and right to be extended?
  • Why are our gifts not noticed until we have left school?
  • Why do we learn and think differently from our peers?
  • Why we are often harshly judged for our “out there” ideas?
  • Why is it that sometimes I get bored in my normal class because I’m too far ahead in my classwork?
  • How come my regular teacher doesn’t have the support to meet my needs as well as the other kids in my class?
  • Why aren’t we given time to use our talents in our normal classes?

What we need to succeed?

To be discovered, developed and celebrated as the individuals we are.

Like-minds to learn with!

We need to work with others who think like us, to extend our abilities and strengths. Like top scientists, we are problem-solvers who have passion and curiosity, with a need for peer review and constructive criticism to grow.

Self-belief

Gifted Kids helps us understand our gifts and the person behind the talent. Being gifted and different isn’t always easy and learning about ourselves gives us purpose. We’re always looking for ways to share our gifts. Our Gifted Kids class gives us the opportunity to celebrate our uniqueness and to be proud of who we are.

Gifted Awareness Week is a time to celebrate and stand up for giftedness. Please come and stand with us.

We would like to invite you into our world at Gifted Kids Hutt. Please come and meet us and find out who we are. In doing this, you will recognise who we are and that we deserve your support.

We look forward to meeting you.

Gifted Kids Hutt.

Photo Credit: CC BY-NC-SA Ben Gertzfield.

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

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Guest Blogger David Seymour, ACT Candidate

David Seymour is the Epsom Candidate for the ACT Party. Here he shares his thoughts following the Political Panels on Gifted Education last week:

After a recent debate on Gifted Education an expert in the field told me that I clearly must have been a gifted child.  I thanked her but she said it wasn’t a compliment.  Tough crowd, maybe, or perhaps she just knew that gifted children sometimes have a very tough time.

For better or worse I am out.  Having attended Jean Hendy-Harris’s holiday seminars and once been enrolled at a plaintive new school for gifted children (it was proposed by enthusiasts but lacked the funding to get off the ground, more on which later), I have been around this topic all my life.

There is much rhetoric but here are two observations that will serve you in good stead if you are trying to get the best for a gifted child.

Number one. There is no better vote than to vote with your feet.

Formidable parents, lawyers, CEOs and PR experts used to getting their way, have been reduced to tears more than once trying to change a school to fit their child.  That is to say nothing for children whose parents don’t have such fight, and not all do.

Worse than trying to change a school is trying to change an entire education system, and yet this is the strategy employed by many who care about gifted children.  They fight valiantly to have National Administration Guidelines amended, to have funding shifted to this or that program, or to change the rules for teacher qualifications.

I don’t wish to denigrate their efforts, but can I suggest a quicker way to have the needs of all children met?  It is simply to give parents the option to vote with their feet.  The simple proposition that the funding allocated to a child’s education belongs primarily to that child and their parents.  They should be able to take it to schools set up for the purpose of serving their needs.

Such an ability will have two results.  The first is that it will allow students who move a more suitable education.  Why else would they move?  Second, the ability to move puts more pressure on their current school.  (The plaintive school I mentioned could not find enough parents who could afford to pay twice, once by their taxes and again by school fees, in order to make the school viable, under ACT’s policies it would have been easy)

ACT’s Partnership School policy is an example of a policy designed to help parents vote with their feet.  It allows people (I call them Edupreneurs) to set up schools with a special character or distinction with the aim of helping students who mightn’t otherwise be doing very well.  So far there have been five set up, with more to come.  None have been set up for gifted students, yet, but those that have been set up for low achieving Maori and Pasifika students are showing very promising results.

The second observation is that no single person or small group of people is ever given all of the knowledge required to best educate all of the children in New Zealand.  This is a more fundamental problem with trying to solve problems by lobbying Wellington.

If it was, then it would be efficient to implement that knowledge through a one-size-fits-all scheme.  However the idea is absurd.  In every field of human endeavour we consistently find that there’s more to know than we could ever imagine.  To say otherwise is to take the position of the patent clerk who resigned in 1890, claiming everything worthwhile had been thought of, or the executive who confidently predicted, mid-20th century, that up to 100 computers could be required worldwide.

We must have a system where it is possible for more edupreneurs to try new ideas.  Schools like Unlimited, Discover-e, Corelli, Mindalive, Mt Hobson Middle School, they are all quite different and all seek to find new ways to educate children.  All of these schools are outside the regular state system.  Making them to conform to a single best practice would be a huge step backwards.

ACT champions policies that foster competition and choice in the education system.  You will see a consistent theme in our policy, we are pro-edupreneur.  We apply this across State, Integrated, Independent, Special Character and, our latest contribution, Partnership Schools Kura Hourua.  We believe that having choice gives you more power to advocate for your child and more chance of finding a school that truly suits their needs.

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

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All I Want is to Learn

Guest blogger Tayne talks about what he wants as a learner, and the frustrations for him and for his mother in accessing that. Tayne is a student of Gifted Online.

Digital art by Tayne.

Digital art by Tayne.

Since starting a public school, I found no stimulation for my learning ability, from day one when I started in the primers to now which is Intermediate. I am 12 years of age. I have been accused of having behavioral problems, to having assessments (and the school did not adhere to what was asked of them, and that was to accommodate for my ability, the testing results, were all there) they chose to ignore it and kept the results all to themselves and not share with my mum, to being asked to go see a Doctor, to my mum being almost accused of being a negligent mother, and now I am at Child and Adolescent being assessed all over again, the principal wasn’t pleased with the letter from Child & Adolescent, so I have had to go back and do more tests, which I enjoyed, they were challenging.

All I want is to learn. I know things, I want to share, I want to show what I can do, they were not interested, instead they pushed me away. In primary school I was moved around from class to class because they did not know what to do with me. I WAS BORED!! I know I was/am slightly different to other children, but I don’t see me as the one with the problem. We need a different educational system for our learning, we all learn in different ways and this standardised idea of learning does not suit every child/person. Meeting Mary St George online at Gifted Online, was a good thing for me and mum. Helped me get out and show what I’m capable of, I am not directed out of my comfort zone. I am encouraged to go with what interests me, and this is nice. My work is not marked or judged in any way and there are no tests with marks, to ridicule the other children, or myself, nor is there a persistence for me to do work that is of no interest or use to me now or in the future. There is just ‘direction’ when I need or ask for it. And all that is asked of us children is to give a positive feedback to the other children’s work.

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

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Giftedness Acrostic Poem

Guest blogger JK is a student of Gifted Online. He has chosen to use an acrostic poem for his blog post.

Digital art by JK.

Digital art by JK, showing tiled clones inspired by grass.

Great Creativity
Independent thinkers
Full on hard work
Talented
Extension work required
Do well in passion areas

 

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

 

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Programmes Matter!

Students from Gifted Kids explain how important quality learning is to them. The accompanying art was created by students of the Gifted Kids programme, supported by art tutor Amy Evans.

I think that the government SHOULD fund One Day School / Gifted Kids because if I lose this I will have pretty much nothing. At school what I learn is limited to what the others around me need. It’s like putting me back in kindy!!! But at Gifted Kids the others and I can learn at our personnel level. I mean I am an advanced reader and what I learn is EXTREMELY limited but when I go to Gifted Kids you can have Challenges!!  So please! If I haven’t changed your mind, arrange a visit! See how much we challenge ourselves!!
-Zalome, aged 12

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At normal school I am often bored when we do writing. We always write either descriptions or recounts. Before I went to the Gifted Kids Programme, I wanted so much to write narratives and poems, but my teacher thought that it was wrong for me to write differently to my peers because they were not up to those standards!
It made me feel very frustrated.
Now that I go to the Gifted Kids Programme, I am free to write anything!
Sadly, some gifted kids are not as lucky.
We need more days of the Gifted Kids Programme, and in order to do so the the Government needs to give us funds!
Hopefully we can persuade them to donate.
-Kiana, aged 10

The Gifted Kids Programme is so important to me. At my normal school here in Rotorua our work is way, way too easy. I started coming to Gifted Kids when I was eight and it felt like it changed my life. At school I am different but here it’s really neat having friends similar to me. I ask my teacher to make my work harder but she just can’t. So going to GKP is so awesome. I think the government needs to set up more programmes for gifted kids and I think we need to spread the word. I love the challenges and how we get to share our ideas with EVERYONE!!!!
-Daniel, aged 10

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I think that the government should fund Gifted Kids because so far the money situation has only become worse. Here we used to be a 5 day school but now we only run 3 days a week Tues-Thurs . I am a new student at Gifted Kids and it is a great experience. Before I had started at Gifted Kids I was being held back from what I was truly capable of. I come to Gifted Kids once a week on a Thursday and every week I improve on my art, mathematics, creative thinking and my overall learning needs.
I would come home babbling on about how much fun I had and the new things I discovered and learnt so I would very much appreciate it if the government funded Gifted Kids. And I would appreciate it if people would become MORE AWARE OF GIFTEDNESS.
-Meihana, aged 11

Gifted Kids is very important to me, because it is the only day in the week where I can work with people like me and challenge myself at things which I normally wouldn’t.
-Nathan, aged 13

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Gifted kids lets me learn lots of new things. We work work on our gifts to turn them into talents but at school we just do things that I already know. In maths I’m working well above everyone but it’s still easy. In writing we do boring stuff like recounts when I would love to write a fantasy novel. I wish the teachers would give me work that makes me think hard and be creative. I want to be able to work on my gifts and improve them. I want to push my gifts to the extreme. The Gifted Kids programme lets me work on talents and make them better.
-Jasper, aged 10

The importance of learning for gifted kids is critical but normal schools don’t provide that much learning for just a small amount of kids. That’s why I think that the government needs to fund the Gifted Kids Program.
By Caleb, aged 11

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

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There’s Always Something Going On In My Head!

Shanae writes about the relationship between thinking about the big things and forgetting the little things. Conor’s art shows that there is always something going on in his head, too. Conor and Shanae are students of Gifted Online.

ConorBlogArtThere is always something going on in my head. Sometimes I forget things. It’s probably because I have millions of thoughts and remembering something so SILLY like a pen is not the most important thing for me.

I will forget these things at school. But what I have found is that if I do more challenging work then it becomes easier to remember. My head doesn’t feel as crowded if some thoughts are on paper or, in GO’s case, online.

GO is my challenge. It gives me opportunities to grow mentally, and to expand my knowledge. To let me learn how I learn, my boundaries, and what I really can do. So next time I need to remember the pen-it won’t be forgotten.

Blog Tour icon and link.Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

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