Keeping a Portfolio of Your Gifted Child's Work

Children's Drawing
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It is sometimes difficult for parents of gifted children to get their child's academic needs met. Keeping a portfolio of a child's work can help. It provides a visual illustration of a child's abilities as well as a record of his or her development. Here are some suggestions for creating a portfolio.

Include a Record of Developmental Milestones:

Gifted children often reach developmental milestones earlier than other children.

They may walk earlier, talk earlier, learn colors and shapes earlier and so on. A portfolio should include, if possible, a list of milestones and the ages at which a child reached them.

Include a Record of Child's Abilities:

A gifted child's abilities are often apparent very early. For example, a gifted child may be very dramatic, musical or artistic. Or the child could be exceptionally good at math or language. It's one thing to say that a child is good at math or knew how to count early or that the child was reading early. It's another thing to give specific examples. Listing the books a child was reading at specific ages is much more descriptive and useful.

Include Examples of Art Work:

Even if your child is not exceptionally artistic, putting some art work in a portfolio is a good idea. The art work can show not only a child's artistic ability, but also his or her cognitive development and interests.

For example, a kindergartner who draws a picture of the solar system, even if it's not a work of art, is demonstrating an advanced knowledge of and interest in science.

Include Examples of Written Work:

Some gifted children are exceptionally good writers, so stories they've written would be good items to include in a portfolio.

If a child loves to make up stories but it not yet able to write, parents can write the stories down as the child dictates and these stories can be included with a note that the parent wrote what the child dictated. Parents who aren't sure if what their child has written is exceptionally good should include the material. It may be better than they think it is.

Include Videos:

Children who are great actors should have their acting taped. It isn't necessary to create special circumstances for taping. In fact, it's better to include natural situations rather than staged ones. Early readers can also be taped reading. When they are very young, they will be reading out loud and this would be good to capture on tape.

Include Pictures:

Children who create interesting and complex structures out of legos or other construction materials could be photographed with their creations. It's usually impossible to include the constructions themselves, so pictures will illustrate their abilities and creativity.

Include Work Done in School:

Homework or class work that is well done can demonstrate what a child is able to do with school assignments. Teachers have a good understanding of what a child should be able to do at school so these are good items to include. Teachers can compare these items with their knowledge of what children of the same age are typically able to do.

Be Sure to Date Everything:

It won't help to have lists of achievements, names of books read, pictures of creations without dates. It's important to know how old a child was at the time the books were read or the pictures were drawn. It's best to have both the month, day, and year as well as the child's age on each piece included. Including only the date forces people to figure out the child's age. The age should include the months (i.e. 6 years, 3 months).

How and When to Use a Portfolio:

If you are having trouble getting your child's teacher to understand that your child needs more challenging work, sharing your child's portfolio may help.

Make an appointment to discuss your child's needs with the teacher. You can mention that you have some of your child's work you'd like to share. When you talk to the teacher, avoid giving the impression that your child is brilliant and the classwork is boring. Teachers are put off by these negative attitudes and may get defensive. Instead, keep a positive attitude and ask the teacher to look through the portfolio and tell you what she thinks.

If possible, avoid using the word "gifted" since many teachers react negatively to the term. Your goal is not to get the teacher to admit your child is gifted, but to get the best match between your child's abilities and work he or she is being given. Let the teacher know that this is your goal. The work in the portfolio will speak for itself.

Even if a portfolio isn't necessary, you will have a wonderful record of your child's development that you can treasure forever.

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