A wonderful group of parents gathered in Sidney on Saturday, to discuss advocacy for their children who are described as gifted. And actually their children had been labelled in many other ways too, demonstrating that gifted children are often “twice exceptional”
My disclaimer at the start of each workshop is that, although I’ve prepared a framework to guide discussion, parents of gifted children who are usually very bright themselves will probably take the conversation where they want it to go. And so it was at this session, as we went “madly off in all directions” to explore the many dimensions of parent advocacy for these children with special needs. I could have insisted on following the guide (or, rather, I could have tried to insist!) but I’m a firm believer in going with the flow, so long as it’s on topic.
The parents were articulate, passionate and dedicated to giving their children the best school experience possible. The overarching goal of helping all children to fulfill their potential was raised time and time again. We considered the legislation, pondered the funding challenges facing the school districts, and exchanged information about what can help or hinder the children’s progress. Some participants learned new terms; others with more experience shared their ideas.
The feedback sheet that asked what the group would add, drop, keep or change in future workshops showed a variety of opinions about what was helpful. My conclusion is that the “workshop” format isn’t enough for parents advocating for asynchronous learners. These parents rarely have the chance to meet with others facing similar challenges, so most have a need to talk about their children with people who will empathize with them, and they need more than a short workshop.
Perhaps we need a conference? Or several conferences across BC? And then there’s the idea of a Centre for the study of Children with Asynchronous Cognitive Development. There could be ongoing research and programming for parents and children. What else could help us provide for this population of children…in addition to more provincial funding, of course? Suggestions welcome.