and respects gifted athletes without concerns of bias or elitism, so I
will put our needs in those terms. Think of the education and support of
your children as if you are working with an elite athlete. It helps
make the goals more understandable and gives a useful analogy when you
are asked to explain why your child needs adaptations.
are a team who've been playing defense too long. Once we realized
we had trained players who understand the rules clearly, are in the right
position to direct the play, and are prepared to go on the offensive, we
felt a bit of a shock.
Here are ten
things all of us need to work on this year to change the way we play in
order focus on our offense and move on down the field towards the goal.
1. We need a
clubhouse, so that people know where we are and can approach us for training,
sponsorship, to socialize and to find out if they are eligible to play
and where they can join a team.
As we outlined
in our provincial submission to the Special Needs Review, we need a Gifted
Center. In order to ensure that it effectively supports parents,
we need parents to initiate the fundraising for development of a non-profit
Gifted Centre of British Columbia. In the coming year the provincial
association will be preparing materials to attract Corporate support and
work out partnerships with those who will benefit from our children's abilities.
We need our members to seek out this support from their own workplaces,
and help develop the mandate for our non profit gifted centre.
2. All areas
need standardized playing fields to encourage play and promote a healthy
lifestyle for our children.
We have to make
sure there are playing fields available for all players, not only for those
who have a supportive teacher or district, or those who can remove their
child from a non supportive system for another choice such as home schooling
or private education
3. Everyone needs
to understand the game rules are built on an inclusive model. You
fit the profile, have the desire to play, run fast enough, jump high enough,
you are in. We will not restrict our game to only the first 2% who
show up! Those who are willing to work hard will be encouraged to
try out for the team. We may have various levels, A teams, B teams
and players who only sub but everyone will have a chance to play.
as you would not expect an art teacher to pick members for the football
team and base their choice only on past game scores, we should not expect
untrained classroom teachers to identify gifted students based on screens.
Trained staff must be used to recognize gifted students and we must not
base recognition only on achievement.
We have to continue
to combat the ignorance and prejudice surrounding our children, in their
daily lives, in their communities and in all levels of the system responsible
for their education. We have begun with our articulate submissions
to the special needs review, we have to disperse the same information gently
throughout the education system, the press and the community. Let
them know what specific gifted children need, for one course, for this
year, for their emotional well being.
criterion should be established for entry into or exclusion from services
for students who are gifted (Ministry of Education Special Ed Unit,
Manual of Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines.). Teacher's should
know the levels of all students in their care and should provide specific
adjustments for children based on demonstrable needs, not population percentages
and non specific or group screening. This way every child in the
system gets their needs addressed and those who stand out get special provisions,
just like athletes or musicians.
4. Training has
to start early, to make sure our players are fit when they reach advanced
levels of play.
We need better
ways to reach parents of very young children, regardless of their economic
level or language to ensure they know what to watch and ask for when their
children start school. We have a special newsletter edition almost
ready to go out to Doctor's and Dentist's offices, Public Health Clinics,
and Early Childhood Educators with information on how to recognize and
support Young Gifted Kids. We hope this will help some parents realize
how their children are different before they enter school.
5. Play promotes
leadership and team spirit, it develops ability and reduces stress.
Players who play regularly are fitter and have a better self image.
This is as true
of our gifted children as it is of athletes or musicians. We need
to continue to press for the educational needs of our children, their right
to an opportunity to learn new materials, just like everyone else in their
class. Their need and right to practice their skills at all times,
not just when a coach is available, not just for 1/2 hour on Thursday or
only on field trips. The idea of an athlete or a musician developing
their skills with only 1 hour a week of practice time is ludicrous.
We must ensure gifted children are not restricted in their access to developmentally
appropriate learning through artificial pacing barriers, education contracts,
or lack of skilled teachers. If need be we must develop training
colleges for gifted children, just as there are Conservatories of Music,
Athletic programs and Fine Art schools.
6. Uniforms and
special equipment are supplied, all players are supported by the league.
Each time we
speak or write to advocate for our gifted child, we also represent low
income families who cannot afford access to resources or private testing,
and children who are left off the list due to cultural or gender bias,
or language issues. These biases are one of the reasons we are determined
to provide assistance through a gifted centre.
7. Come out and
watch the game! We need more than parents and coaches at the games.
many in the field are aware of our concerns and our needs but we need to
send gentle informative letters to those workers in the Ministry and in
school districts who are unaware of the issues our children face.
Just like the non playing audience who turn out to support and watch the
game or the concert, we need to create a wider supportive audience who
will enjoy and benefit from our skills without being able to participate
sponsorship sought for team uniforms, field rental and awards…
to develop the
gifted center, to fund publications and their distribution, to sponsor
identification of children , bring in guest speakers, invite research,
and sponsor activities for children or individual children's places at
our conference. As we approach our place of business to sponsor our
child' sports team, so we must request sponsorship and create partnerships
with professional associations, and corporations whose members and employees
are gifted individuals. We need funding to ensure our children can
develop the skills that will make them valuable to society. Just
as importantly we need the links to the communities our children will choose
for their area of practice when they seek opportunities to develop and
use their skills.
9. Sport Canada
offers support for all athletes in all fields
There in no
single way to be an athlete or a musician, no map for development, no single
pathway. Our members are charting new territory as we head into the
year 2000. We stand, with very few others, at the top of a very small
pile, and it will take our continuing team-work to pull others up to a
plateau, let alone reach a pinnacle. Just like athletics and music
we must work with a pool of talent, and allow it freedom and support to
develop in its many varied ways.
10. A League
of our own! The definition of league is agreement for mutual
help, an alliance.
The key to our
move forward down the field is sharing knowledge and experience. That is
why we asked all of you to send the executive copies of your submissions
to the special needs review. Those chapters and individuals who did,
gave us a base of knowledge to support particular issues. No single
district in this province has a particularly effective model for identifying
and meeting the wide ranging needs of our children. Many districts
have some parts of the puzzle and we need to continue to share the pieces
to support forward motion. We must also recognize that all experiences
are valuable contributions. Individual contributions in outlying
areas are often more useful to the overall plan, than voices from well