Summer Camps and Activities

It’s June, and time to look for activities that will keep your bright children happily engaged though the summer months.  I can suggest three that you may want to investigate, although of course you should always look into local offerings.

Choice School  

Choice School in Richmond is well known for its programs for children described as gifted.  They are offering two sessions in the summer: July 10 -14 and July 17 – 21.  There are a number of intriguing offerings, including “Create Your Own Country” and “How Many Ways Can You Solve a Problem?”  For more information download the brochure, which includes all the information and a registration form:

Choice School Summer Program 2017

Odyssey of the Mind

This program is offered year-round by the BC branch of the Creative Problem Solving Society.  There are four week-long camps offered for “totally creative kids” through July and into August at various sites around the lower mainland.   To find out more and register, visit the website for:

Jabber-Wacky Camps 2017

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth

The CTY website explains: ” The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth identifies and develops the talents of the most advanced K-12 learners worldwide. As part of Johns Hopkins, CTY contributes to the university’s mission by preparing and nurturing the bright young people who will go on to make significant contributions to our world.”  CTY offers programs year-round, but there are admission tests which are pre-requisites.  For further information on these residential summer camps, check out:

Johns Hopkins Summer Camps 2017

This will be my last posting until the fall of 2017.   I wish you all a very happy summer.

 

 

 

Posted in Programs for Gifted, Upcoming Events | Tagged

Excellent Presentation at GCABC Meeting

I attended the AGM for the Gifted Children’s Association of British Columbia last week and appreciated the organization of the board, and the hospitality of Choice School.

There was an excellent presentation by Maureen McDermid, a long-time GCABC board member and advocate for the children we’re describing as gifted.  Maureen has other descriptors she uses, and I’ll discuss those in a future post.

Maureen’s presentation focused on “BC’s New Curriculum and what it means for gifted learners”.  I was encouraged because, provided the teachers can make some shifts in their approach to working with their classes, they will be able to create a more supportive and positive environment for “gifted” children, as well as others.

Of course, we must recognize that many teachers have always encouraged critical thinking, and paid attention to the process of learning, not just imparting facts.  However, the model that has been taught in teachers’ colleges for decades places teachers at the head of the class as the expert.  With luck, that will change.

Rather than try to explain the points that she made in her presentation, I will link to Maureen’s Presentation, which the GCABC kindly put on its website.  Take a moment to look at it and then think about questions you can ask your child’s teacher at the next parent-teacher meeting.

Posted in BC Ministry Education, New Curriculum | Tagged ,

Gifted Children’s Assoc. BC Conference

This is the time to sign up for the 2017 Conference and AGM of the Gifted Children’s Association of BC.  It will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, May 6th at Choice School, Richmond.  You can take your exceptional child, and it’s a good chance to see the school at the same time. Choice has a program which provides a nurturing environment and it’s well worth investigating.

I encourage you to go to the Conference and AGM for a couple of reasons, at least.  In the first place, it’s a chance to hear about some of the research in the field from Dr. Marion Porath.  Marion is Professor Emirita at UBC, and has fought hard to ensure that the courses on teaching gifted children remain part of the Faculty of Education’s offerings.

Also, Maureen McDermid, a long-time GCABC board member and strong advocate will be bringing us up to speed on what’s happening over policy and implementation at the school district/provincial level.  Good information to have just before an election.

However, probably my strongest reason for advocating for attendance at the meeting is to help GCABC build its grass roots.  With the severe drop in identified gifted children since 2002, it’s been hard for parents to find each other for mutual support and advocacy.  The Board of GCABC has tried to keep things afloat with very few funds, and without the resources to do much outreach across the provinces.  With more money and more willing hand, that can be changed.

Information and registration details on my Events Page.  Hope to see you on May 6th!

Posted in Gifted BC, Parents | Tagged , ,

Shout out to Coquitlam Parents

It was a pleasure to hear about the programs that have been set up in Coquitlam, thanks largely to the initiatives of parents.  The programs were explained when I attended the Parents as Partners conference some weeks ago.

In Coquitlam School District 43, children described as gifted are clustered together in one of 9 classes…yes, nine in one school district.  There are three classes each for Grade 6, 7 and 8, geographically spread across the district.  Called Middle Age Cluster Classes, or MACC, their website explains:

MACC is an interdisciplinary inquiry-based program, designed to support gifted students in challenging themselves, developing their intellectual capacity, and contributing to a collaborative community MACC is responsive to the needs of gifted learners, whose intellectual, personal, and social skills may be developing at varying rates.

At the Parents as Partners meeting, three students from Grade 8 described how much they had appreciated being in the program for the past 3 years.  They spoke about being hesitant to join the program at first, and their growing appreciation of having like-minded young people around them.  As they go on to Grade 9, they are more confident of themselves and their abilities.

I have long been an advocate of clustering these bright minds together.  In a province where integration is the buzz-word, there is little support for cluster classes.  One of the arguments is that children shouldn’t be segregated.  My counter-argument is that we have to think in terms of congregating, not segregating.  The literature shows there are many benefits.

Check out the information on the Coquitlam, MACC Program, and you may agree.

Posted in Programs for Gifted, School Districts

Restored Bargaining Rights for Teachers

The big news this weekend is that the teacher bargaining rights that were stripped in 2002 by the Liberal government have now been restored, subject to teacher ratification.  There’s a lot of legalize, but I doubt whether any teachers will turn down these hard-won rights to bargain for smaller classrooms, school libraries, special-needs support, and so on.

What astounds me is that this had to go to the Supreme Court which sided with the teachers and forced the provincial government to restore these rights.  How much did that all cost, exactly?  What is of particular interest to us, is what the BCTF President,  Glen Hansman has to say.

Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, BC Ministry Education, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Parent Conference in Surrey Feb. 23rd

The annual gathering for parents of children described as gifted will be held this year at the Surrey Board of Education offices on Feb 23rd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

This session will be hosted as previously by the Gifted Children’s Association of BC, in collaboration with the Lower Mainland Gifted Contacts, who are mostly teachers and consultants in school districts such as Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam.

The speakers this year are experts in the field of gifted education.  Dr. Lannie Kanevsky from SFU has spent her career supporting the needs of gifted children. Dr. Owen Lo has been a member of the Faculty of Education at UBC for the past few years, and has been conducting a study of gifted education in BC.  The other speakers are experts from the school districts and no doubt will report on the latest developments at the school level.

I attended the seminar last year and found it very interesting and informative.   I will be attending because I know I will learn a lot again.  I hope there will be opportunities for parents to exchange ideas, and I hope the GCABC has found way to expand and strengthen its base to include parents across the province.  I will share information about the event in a future post. Click here to register.

 

 

Posted in Gifted BC, School Districts | Tagged , ,

Vancouver Island Parent Conference

My last post questioned what was happening on Vancouver Island for the children we are calling gifted.  Perhaps the Vancouver Island Parent Conference will provide more answers this year.

I attended the conference last year and was disappointed that there was almost nothing for the parents of exceptional children.  My posting at the time criticized the conference for not addressing substantive issues.  I pondered whether parents could be so easily satisfied with a conference that was mainly designed to make them laugh and feel good.

I hope things are different this year.  The Conference Poster shows that one of the presentations is on How to Grow a Child’s Brain, which suggests some attention is being paid to cognitive development.  However, we need to ask whether any attention is being paid to the children whose brains are developed well beyond the norms for their physical stage or age.

I’m not attending the conference this year.  I hope that anyone who does attend can let me know whether there was anything presented for the parents of exceptional children.  I spoke to an organizer last year and suggested there be a table for pamphlets by the various parent associations that advocate for the exceptional learners.  I’m not confident that anyone paid attention.  I’d be happy to hear I’m wrong: elizabeth@giftedbc.ca

Posted in Parents, Upcoming Events | Tagged , , ,

What’s Happening on Vancouver Island?

That’s the question I asked when I met last weekend with a teacher employed by one of the Vancouver Island school districts.  It’s impossible to find anything about what we persist in calling “gifted education” from websites and school district newsletters, so I had coffee with someone who works with gifted children.  Isn’t it silly that I feel I have to conceal that teacher’s name, because the education for our brightest young people is such a hot button?

So the answer to the question is not much.  We talked quite a bit about the children up Island in remote areas, and in the even remoter parts of northern BC, because this teachers gets regular phone calls from desperate parents in those areas.  The well-being of their exceptional children rests on the shoulders of the already-overworked classroom teachers.  You’ll recall that the New Curriculum rolled out last September speaks of an individualized plan for each child, to downplay even further the need for Individual Education Plans for gifted.  Continue reading

Posted in Programs for Gifted, School Districts, Teachers of Gifted | Tagged , ,

Information from VCPAC

As I’ve mentioned frequently, it’s difficult to get information about what’s happening with gifted education.  But, although it’s not necessarily directly focussed on the children that are the focus of this website, one very helpful resource is the weekly newsletter from the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC).

This confederation is the co-ordinating organization for the school PACs in the greater Victoria region on Vancouver Island. Although I have sometimes mentioned that the role of PACs is not always clear, and the way they view their mandate varies from school to school, the VCPAC “snips” newsletter is worth reading.

For example, each week it lists school district information sessions held in various schools.  This week’s newsletter has an announcement about a free parent session on Parenting Teens Through Hard Times which focus on helping them deal with  difficult life transitions, grief, and loss related to all areas of the teenage world.  It is facilitated by Shauna Janz, M.A, on Jan 23rd, 6:30 – 8:30 at the Youth Centre at 345 Wale Road.

So, if you’re looking for general information about education in and around Victoria, announcements about parent events,  and sometimes issues that affect education across BC, consider subscribing to the free newsletter. Have it pop into your Inbox weekly! Details of how to subscribe on the front page of the VCPAC website.

Posted in Parents, School Districts | Tagged ,

How to Help?

As 2017 kicks off, I’m wondering what we can do to help the children who are described as gifted.

Some of us have these bright young people in our families and we can personally offer assistance.  We can enrich their lives through activities and by providing resources.  We can be responsive to their thirst to learn and we can take them to meet with like-minded learners. Above all we can show affection and reassurance when they reveal their anxiety, or their frustration when their abilities have to be masked to fit in.

But what about those children who don’t have family support and guidance. How do we get help for them?  For the past fifteen years, school programs for the gifted in British Columbia  have almost ceased to exist.  Teachers who are knowledgeable in ways to help these children learn are now few and far between.  While the provincial government boasts of a surplus of billions of dollars in the coffers, parents are desperate to find resources for their children.

I had a phone call yesterday from one of those parents.  After following out-dated information on the Ministry of Education website, she had reached a dead end, and only found this website accidentally, through her mother.  We talked for a while and I gave her some background information and some suggestions for contacts.  But I wasn`t able to tell her how to find a wealth of resources and support for her children. I wasn`t able to reassure her that she would find a selection of good programs.  I wasn`t able to tell her that the gifted children in this province have access to the same kind of care and attention as children with other exceptionalities.

But I think she appreciated being able to talk to someone about her children and the challenges they would be facing.  I think I helped a bit.  I may be able to help others too, so I`ll keep this website going, add to it as often as I can, share resources I find, and keep looking for a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

Posted in Gifted BC, Parents | Tagged ,