Down Memory Lane…

The Giftedness in Early Childhood Seminar was the seminar I would have loved when my own children were little. Our youngest is now 18 and studying Arts at Deakin University.

It would have been so good to hear from Lesley Sword that some things which seem quite unusual to the general population are in fact “normal for gifted”. I would have been saved a lot of anxiety about the sensitivities of our children particularly our older son.And hearing from Ann Johnson of the O’Connell Family Centre about sleep issues would have saved me a lot of beating up on myself.

When I could not get our eldest daughter to go to sleep I just assumed I was a bad mum. All my friends’ babies slept so beautifully! I did take comfort that even my friend Marg whose mothering skills I held in high regard could not get her to produce a big burp and go to sleep!

She spoke in single words at four months, phrases like”Thank you, Daddy” at eight months and full conversations before she could walk unaided which she did at fourteen months. Some people found it rather disconcerting; like the elderly lady on the bus when she was 17 months old, who asked her “Where’s the gee-gee?”  We had never used baby talk and she was quite mystified by this; but looked out the window and commented on the only distinctive thing she could see “Two horses eating grass?

Talking to Nella from Playgroup Victoria I remembered an incident with our youngest son at a playgroup. One of the mums had a son who was five months older than our son and well advanced in walking. When set on his his feet would run off to play. During one session this mum had Christian on her lap while I went to do something and she was shocked that when she put him down on his feet that he fell splat on his stomach rather than running off. She had forgotten how much younger he was because he seemed like an older baby in many ways.

It was also great to show Carla and Anne examples of early drawings and quotable quotes and remember the years from 3 to 8. Ah memories…

Reflections on the Giftedness in Early Childhood Seminar

Time now to reflect on the Giftedness in Early Childhood Seminar which we held on Saturday (27 May 06). On Sunday I was too exhausted to even think straight and yesterday (Monday) was occupied with cleaning up and sorting out

The seminar was designed for parents, early learning educators and child care workers. It attracted parents, early learning educators and some psychologists but unfortunately no day care centre workers.

All the speakers were excellent. Adrian Wiles, the Principal of Luther College opened the seminar. Psychologist Judy Parker spoke about identifying and assessing young gifted children.

After a morning tea of scones with jam and cream Nella Arthur from Playgroup Victoria spoke about the importance of playgroups. Originally this session was to have been conducted by Jennifer Grant, President of Maroondah Gifted Children’s Parents’ Assoc., who would have spoken about playgroups specifically for gifted children and the importance of Parent Support Groups. Maria Bathern contributed the experience of Gifted Support Network (previously Bayside YAMS) and their playgroup for gifted children. I covered the Importance of parent support groups in a brief Powerpoint presentation.

Ann Johnson, Senior Nurse Educator from the O’Connell Family Centre gave a very interesting presentation about sleep problems for gifted children.

Having four speakers rather than two in that timeslot coupled with problems of one memory stick not being compatible with my laptop (necessitating me to transfer her presentation to my office computer then to my memory stick and then to my laptop) meant that that particular session ran overtime.

Luncheon was very pleasant. Ros Lawrence, the caterer, had excelled herself creating a variety of salad rolls, sushi and fruit platters.

After lunch Lesley Sword started the afternoon session by arranging everyone in groups ordered by height and asking what new knowledge we had gained in the morning session. Interestingly each group homed in on the information about melatonin and sleep from Ann Johnson’s session. There was speculation that this was because it was the last session and therefore freshest in our minds.

Lesley then addressed Social/Emotional aspects of giftedness in young children such as intensity and sensitivity. Her presenation was very well received – one feedback comment was “I could have listened to her all day!”

Afternoon tea was a variety of biscuits and slices. Anne Grant and Carla Atkin from Melbourne University Early Learning Centre then gave a very practical and inspiring session about the creative and academic stimulation they offer to the children at the University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre.

So that about sums up the day

The feedback I received about the day and my personal thoughts and emotions about it are possible material for future Blog entries.