Mensa of Northeastern New York

Gifted Children Cooridinator
Mary Jane Rubinski
srubinski *at*



Amazon Logo

BBC Newsround Lesson Plans for Teachers
Cobblestone & Cricket Characteristics of giftedness
Discovery Kids "Is my child bright?"
Exploratorium More FAQ on gifted children
FunBrain Succeeding in school
National Geographic Kids
Hoagies' Gifted Education Page
PBS Kids
The Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) at Stanford University
Seussville Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa
maximize your study time and test-taking skills Northwestern's Center for Talent Development

University of Minnesota
Institute of Technology, Center for Educational Programs

Finding the Right Summer Program for Your Gifted  Child
by the Council for Exceptional Children

ACT's College Readiness Test for 8th and 9th graders

More resources
 (with information on the BrightKids email list!)

Gifted Children Update  --  September 2009
By Mary Jane Rubinski
Back to school time once again! As I look back over the summer, many of my memories are of the gifted children I know. There's the Actor, who wowed the audience as Peter Pan; who flew across the stage both literally and metaphorically. There's the Techie who will be graduating this year and is sorting through the colleges that are trying to recruit him; who keeps me entertained with DVDs of his productions. There's the Director, who can always make me laugh; who organized his 4th birthday party by announcing, "Excuse me. I need your attention. We're celebrating my birthday and it is now time for the cake." There's the Writer, who fills my mailbox with her stories, stories that have already filled several large binders; whose characters live in her head and tell her what to write. She is so anxious to leave high school that she is working doubly hard so she can graduate early and move on to the challenges of college. It occurs to me that we call them "gifted" because of the gifts of intelligence and curiosity they have been given. We worry and work to protect and develop those gifts. They ask a lot of us and can sometimes be tiring and frustrating. With a slight change of perspective, however, it's obvious that family, friends, and teachers have also been gifted by having these children in our lives. May we always appreciate how special they are, recognize how lucky we are to know them, and love them.

Gifted Children Update  --  August 2009

By Mary Jane Rubinski
    First, thanks to everyone who helped to make our summer picnic such fun! Even more than most organizations, Mensa depends on its members to make things happen. Thanks to all the members who do.

    I received a letter recently from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, 
Virginia. They have a program for exceptionally gifted girls. It is an  early entrance, residential program that accepts girls as young as 12. Class size averages 17 and the student: faculty ratio is 10:1.  Their website is

    Early admission to college may be the best choice for some gifted students who are frustrated with their local school. As I talk with gifted students and their parents, however, I find there is no one answer that works for everyone. One woman I know who skipped grades and entered college early dropped out because she didn't feel comfortable with older students. College was an intellectual fit, but not an emotional one. This can happen with students who are accelerated in elementary or high school as well. Another friend was put in a "gifted  class" in high school and felt isolated from the rest of the students.

    When a student has a handicapping condition, schools are required to bring together classroom teachers, counselors, specialists, and parents to create an "Individualized Education Plan" tailored to that student's needs. They meet again at specified intervals to check the plan's effectiveness and make changes as needed. Wouldn't it be great if gifted students had the same consideration? Just as every handicapped student is unique, so is every gifted student. Parents and schools must work to find the best program for each particular student.

Gifted Children Update  --  July 2009

By Mary Jane Rubinski
    Ah, the lazy, hazy days of summer. I hope you are enjoying it.  If you are starting to hear "I'm bored." that's part of summer vacation, too. Gifted children have lots of ways to keep themselves busy and entertained, but occasional lulls can happen. Fortunately, we live in an area with lots of resources. Here are just a few ideas to get you started. I'm sure you'll think of many more.

    Outdoors, there are mountains to climb, trails to hike, and lakes to swim and boat in. Learning about the plants and animals we share space with can be very rewarding. Have you tried fishing, canoeing, tubing... We are surrounded by history. Have you been to Fort William Henry, Fort Ticonderoga, or the many historical homes in the area? Being the 400th anniversary of the explorations of Henry Hudson and Champlain, there are extra events this year. There are many day camps that specialize in sports, arts, technology, and other learning opportunities. Your local library probably has some great summer programs. Check with the Schenectady Planetarium and Dudley Observatory for astronomy programs for young people.

    Of course, one of the best parts of summer vacation is free time; time to just daydream, get lost in a good book, make something. Amazon always has great book suggestions. The National Endowment for the Humanities  ( has a list, as does the American Library Association ( and Teachers and Families ( 

    If you're reading this early in July, don't forget the Mensa picnic on the 18th.

Gifted Children Update  --  June 2009
By Mary Jane Rubinski
    First, a commercial. Please don't forget the annual Mensa picnic on July 18 at the Saratoga Spa State Park. There is no better time and place for young Mensans and their families to meet other young Mensans and their families. Once you've met "in person" who knows what friendships and plans may evolve? There's also the chance for adult Mensans to meet in a totally stress-free atmosphere. You bring your own food, so you know it will be something you like. You decide what time to come and how long to stay. You decide what you want to do. There is swimming, probably volleyball, walks through the beautiful park, and a playground. People also bring card and board games. No worries, though. No one will try to push you into anything you don't want to do. In case of rain, we have reserved a park shelter. See? Stress free. If you are a member who has been hesitant about showing up at a restaurant knowing no one, this is the perfect "first event" to attend. Friends and family are also welcome.

    Next some good news thanks to AGATE. Representatives of AGATE and
BOCES met with the New York State Board of Regents and other state education officials about gifted education. Among their key points was the astounding fact that New York is one of only 15 states that do not mandate gifted education services and one of only 7 that do not mandate services or provide funding for gifted education! The presenters feel that our state education officials were listening and responded well to the recommendations made. By the way, AGATE (Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education) is a nonprofit organization of concerned parents and educators that deals with issues of gifted education. Parents and others involved with gifted children should check their website ( and consider joining.

Gifted Children Update  --  May 2009

By Mary Jane Rubinski
    This month I have a true story about a gifted child. The story comes from her mother. When the girl was in third grade, the mother went to school for a teacher conference. The teacher said she was having a problem with the girl. Since the girl had always been an excellent student and well-behaved, the mother was surprised. The teacher went on, "When I am teaching math, she doesn't seem to be paying attention. I walked back to check on her the other day and found that she had a book in her lap and was reading." The mother was shocked and said, "I hope you scolded her." The teacher replied, "I didn't know what to do. She always gets her math homework and tests correct." The mother's reaction was that what the girl was doing wasn't polite and she should be stopped. What do you think?

    It seems to me that this is a perfect example of a gifted child who is not being challenged in school. Not all problems involve acting out, depression, failure, or other obvious behaviors. This was a very bright girl who already knew the information and skills that were being taught. Having been brought up not to cause trouble, she dealt with it in a quiet, unobtrusive way. Who knows how long this had been happening before someone noticed. While she didn't disrupt the class or act in a way to worry her parents, this was a still a problem. Her time and talents were being wasted. The literature on gifted children often focuses on very visible issues; "Why Gifted Children May Not Test Well", "Misdiagnosis of Gifted Children", "Bored?". What is often overlooked are the numbers of quiet, compliant gifted children who are not receiving the education they need and deserve. They will get good grades, graduate as valedictorians, go to good colleges, but what have they lost along the way?

Gifted Children Update  --  April 2009
By Mary Jane Rubinski
    Hooray! Last month I asked for ideas from around our area for  events for our young members. I got a response that might interest those in our northern reaches. The Warren County Historical Society hosts a history camp each summer. This year it will focus on Bridges and Rivers of Warren County. It will be held July 6,7, and 8. For more information, you can contact Joan Aldous at 793- 9837. Also, Up Yonda Farm in Bolton Landing hosts talks on nature, pond life, maple sugaring, etc. Is there any interest? Maybe we could organize a trip. Thanks for the info, Nadine! Anyone else have suggestions?

    Continuing last month's theme of Do It Yourself, I would like to offer this column space to our young members. Here is an opportunity to speak for yourselves and to each other. Would you like to let others know about a great book, movie, game? Here's your chance to do a review. How about making a crossword puzzle or drawing a picture? President Obama wants to improve education in the United States. Do you have any ideas about making schools better? What would you change if he appointed you Secretary of Education? Mensa has members who are interested in lots of things. Maybe you have a question or two that someone in our group could answer. Be sure to check with your parents before sending anything in. When you're ready, email to Let the rest of the group know what's on your mind.

Gifted Children Update  --  March 2009
By Mary Jane Rubinski
    DIY - For awhile now, there seems to have been a theme of  Do ItYourself in the Mensa Bulletin columns and letters. Members seem to forget that Mensa is primarily a volunteer organization. If there is an event you would like to attend, set it up. If there is a SIG you would like to join, create it. There is real strength in this kind of organization. No one can rightfully complain that Mensa is not what they thought it would be when they have the opportunity to make it what they want it to be. You can pretty much tailor your Mensa experience to fit yourself.

In the interest of tailoring the experience, I would like to ask our Young Mensans what they would like from their Mensa membership. What are your interests? Science? Art? Museums? Games? What kind of events would you like to attend? When are you free to attend them? How far are your parents willing to take you to get to them? Please email your ideas and thoughts to me.

    Next, I would like to ask the parents of our Young Mensans what
they would like to see for their children. What interests? What events? When? Where?

    Finally, I would like to ask the general membership to contribute. If
you know about a concert, exhibit, event, etc. that Young Mensans might enjoy, let me know so I can get the word out. If there is a speaker or other event that might be of interest to the parents of gifted children, I'd like to know that too. I live on the fringe of our local area, so I don't hear about many of the things that are going on in Albany, Saratoga, Glens Falls, or other places that might be of interest. As one example, at last year's picnic, the young people seemed interested in finding out about the plants and animals in the park. I would love to set up a nature walk for them. Does anyone have an idea of a good place for that? What about a place where we could have a "Games Afternoon" so that the younger members could come, too? Any ideas would be appreciated.

    Do It Yourself doesn't mean do it alone. It's a richer experience if we Do It Ourselves, together.

Gifted Children Update  --  February 2009
By Mary Jane Rubinski
    You may think of the winter months as basketball season, or skiing season, or time to go somewhere warmer, but for New York State schools, this is testing season. The English/Language Arts tests are given in January and the math tests in March. Students, teachers, administrators, and the state spend a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort on these tests - preparing for them, giving them, and evaluating them. The goal is to have all students reach competency or, at least make progress toward it.

    While this is a goal worth achieving, it certainly shouldn't be the only goal of schools. What about the students who are already more than proficient? As Audrey Kay Dowling said in the latest Gems of AGATE newsletter (Dec. 2008): "Having students get perfect scores on tests that are too easy for them tells you nothing about whether growth is occurring.” With so many resources going toward pulling students up to "level 3", what is left for students capable of achieving well above minimum? Some lucky students are in districts that have enough resources to provide education for students all along the scale of abilities, but many are not.

    With the state in its current financial crisis, this may not seem like the time to push for programs for gifted students, but can we, or they, afford to wait? When is the right time for gifted education? The gifted child you know is only in 3rd grade, or 8th grade, for one year. Can we justify wasting a year of that child's schooling? Opportunities lost may not come again. Don't ALL of New York's children deserve an education that is appropriate for them? to request more information on testing in New York Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education in NYS National Association for Gifted Children New York State Education Department

Gifted Children Update  --  January 2009
By Mary Jane Rubinski
    You have probably heard of, or read, a recent book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. If not, you may know his other popular books, The Tipping Point  and Blink. This new book is subtitled The Story of Success. There are two chapters about genius that will probably interest many Mensans, but those of us who deal with gifted children will find his ideas on education provocative.

    In chapter one, Gladwell argues that "our notion that it is the best and the brightest who effortlessly rise to the top is much too simplistic." (p.30) There are many factors that influence success and by ignoring them, we are not giving everyone a fair chance.  "Because we so profoundly personalize success, we miss  opportunities to lift others onto the top rung. We make rules that frustrate achievement. We prematurely write off people as failures.” (p. 32) One example he gives is the cut-off date for starting school, which he says gives children in a class who are older an advantage. He suggests splitting classes into groups with birthdays within a 4- month span so maturity levels would be more nearly equal.

    In chapter 8, Gladwell discusses the advantage Asian students
seem to have in math. "For years, students from China, South Korea, and Japan - and the children of recent immigrants who are from those countries - have substantially outperformed their Western counterparts at mathematics.” (p. 230) Again, he finds several factors that lead to the high scores. In particular, he attributes the difference to persistence, the willingness to keep working when the answer doesn't come quickly.

    The author also discusses the length of the school day and the
school year as factors in the success of students, especially students from different socio-economic groups. He claims that the gap between these groups widens mostly because of the different ways students spend their time off.

    These ideas and many others in the book are thought-provoking.
They have wide-ranging implications for all students, including the gifted.

Gifted Children Update  --  December 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski
    Two things happened to me this month that I want to share with you.

    First, I took a trip. I went to Scotland for the second time this year.  I was there in March for a conference, and I just fell in love with the country... the history, the scenery, the people. So when I read in the Mensa Bulletin that Scottish Mensa was having its annual gathering in Edinburgh, I decided to go. Logically, it wasn't a wise choice. I had just been there a few months before, and my retirement investments were leaking money like an old boat. I went anyway and had a wonderful time. There were behind-the-scenes tours of libraries and museums with the best guides ever. There were long discussions about all kinds of topics with people I had never met before. After the gathering, I took a train trip through the Highlands. While admiring the lochs and mountains, there were more long discussions with passengers from 10 countries. It was a fascinating trip with memories I will treasure.

    Second, I have just lost a friend. He was my English teacher in high school. Recently, we had begun a correspondence - real letters, not email. We wrote mainly about books. I met his wife and listened to him brag about his family. We laughed at each other's stories. There were many things for us to discuss, but now there's no time.

    Two very different events, but one lesson. You have to make the most of every opportunity when it comes along. No putting it off for another day, because there may not be another chance. I know you love your gifted child, but be sure to tell him or her every day.  Appreciate every new enthusiasm, admire every story, artwork, science experiment. Laugh at every silly joke. Life is short. Live every minute.

Gifted Children Update  --  November 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski
    Last month, I wrote about "A Nation Deceived", which proposed that acceleration was often the best educational option for gifted students. This month, I'd like to let you know that there's a Volume II which presents the studies that support that proposition. If you have decided that acceleration is the right choice for your child and you are ready to discuss this with your school district, you may want the ideas from Volume I and the data from Volume II to back up your arguments. There's no need for me to go into detail, since you can download both parts of this report at    However, I will just mention some of the studies included in case one or two pique your interest. A few chapters are: "Long Term Effects of Educational Acceleration", "The Academic Effects of Acceleration", "Effects of Academic Acceleration on the Social-Emotional Status of Gifted Students", "Early Entrance to College: Academic, Social, and Emotional Considerations". In addition, there is an annotated bibliography for further reading.

    As we all know, every gifted child is a unique individual.
Consequently, there is no one plan that will fit each child's educational needs. As a parent (or interested grandparent or friend), you need to research the possibilities, evaluate the data, and decide what's best for your child. No one said parenting was going to be easy!

Gifted Children Update  --  October 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski

    Awhile back, I wrote about homeschooling as an option for gifted children. This month I'd like to discuss another option: acceleration. I've recently read "A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students". It's also known as "The Templeton Report on Acceleration". As you can tell from the title, the authors present the case for using acceleration to help gifted students get the most from their education.

    According to the report, "Acceleration is an intervention that moves students through an educational program at rates faster, or at younger ages, than typical. It means matching the level, complexity, and pace of the curriculum to the readiness and motivation of the student." (introduction) The benefits are many. Appropriate curriculum can save bright students from boredom or frustration. It can keep them from poor study habits that form when work is too easy. It gives them the opportunity to experience the joy of learning. It is also cost effective. Moving a child ahead does not require the school to hire more teachers or buy special materials. Accelerated students can save money too by taking advanced placement courses in high school or finishing college early.

    There are many types of acceleration, such as gradeskipping, curriculum compacting, early entrance, and more. The authors do not claim that these are the correct choices for everyone. They emphasize that students are individuals and as such, deserve programs that meet their needs instead of a one-size-fits-all model.

    If you are interested in knowing more, you can download this report at:

Gifted Children (of all ages) Update  --  September 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski

    First, I would like to thank everyone who attended the Mensa picnic and helped to make it so much fun. I enjoyed meeting some of our youngest Mensans. They are very interesting and enthusiastic young people. In addition to the fascinating sharing of ideas that seems to be part of every Mensa event, we had the opportunity to try some new games and take a short (due to a sudden storm) nature walk. I look forward to next year's picnic.

    September is associated with "back-to-school", and since school is
often an issue for young Mensans and their parents, that is the topic this month. Thanks to our president, Leo Kellogg, I received several NY State Education Department booklets in the mail. While most are seriously out-of-date, they still contain some useful information.

2007-2008 Directory of Public Schools and Administrators in NYS
2007-2008, Directory of Nonpublic Schools and Administrators; NYS These are the most recent of the group, but principals and superintendents change frequently. Your best bet is probably to go to your school's website to find the names and phone numbers of administrators, counselors, and, if you're lucky, gifted program coordinators. 

Manual for Parents of Gifted Children (reprinted 1992) General
information and advice. Identifying Gifted Students; Guidelines for School Districts (reprinted 1992) This may be one thing you want to take with you when you go to a meeting with the school about your child. It contains the New York State Law (Chapter 740 of the Laws of 1982) that defines giftedness and requires schools to screen all pupils. This will back you up when you ask what screening was done and what the results were. That leads you to the "What are you doing about it?" question.

Local Guidelines for Educating Gifted Students (reprinted 1984)
This is another good resource to bring to your meeting. It will suggest other questions you may want to ask.

A School District Guide for Evaluating Programs for the Gifted
(1983,1989) You probably won't need this one unless or until your school has a gifted program and your child is involved in it. In that case, you may be interested in how the program can be evaluated.

Widening Horizons: Using Community Resources in the Education
of Gifted Students (1985,1987) There are some excellent ideas for using outside resources.

The Arts for the Gifted: Annotated Bibliography of Current
Resources (1984,1988) A 20-year-old bibliography may not be the best resource, but there are undoubtedly some gems if you're willing to search for them. If you decide you would like any of these publications, they are available from the State Education Department. 518 473 5292 or 518 486 2995 NYS Education Department - Publications Sales Desk 89 Washington Avenue Room 309 EB Albany, NY 12234

    As election time approaches, it is appropriate to consider who the next Gifted Child Coordinator will be. If you have an interest in the job or know someone who would be good at it, please contact me or let Leo know.

    Happy new school year!

Gifted Children (of all ages) Update  --  August 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski

    August already! I hope your summer is going well and that you and your family are enjoying time together. This month, I'd like to talk to parents about the National Association for Gifted Children. This group has as its goals increasing public awareness of the needs of gifted children and advocating for positive change in the education of the gifted. Their web site ( is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers. 

    One of the areas I found interesting is their state-by-state comparison of gifted education. They list each state's regulations and requirements for meeting the needs of gifted students. This is a good place to find information you can use when trying to get services from your school district or action from your state representatives. 

    Another useful resource for parents is their magazine, "Parenting for High Potential". The latest issue I have received is June. It includes articles on the need for gifted education programs, differentiated assessment, the Davidson Academy, homework, organizational skills, activities for families during the Olympics, and more. One of the articles I found most interesting was "Top 10 Things Not to Say to Your Gifted Child". These are phrases we've all heard and probably used without thinking of the consequences. Fortunately, this article is available on the NAGC website, so check it out.  Enjoy the rest of the summer!

“High Ability Learners:  The Other End of the Spectrum”

The 2008 Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE) annual conference mentioned above will be held October 24 & 25 at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. Please visit for full details, including the schedule, a registration form, and directions. 

    If you are willing to help Mensa of Northeastern New York in our Gifted Children Program, or if you are a parent or teacher of a gifted child, or a gifted youth yourself, we enthusiastically urge you to attend the conference! In fact, if you are an adult and you are willing to represent our Mensa Group at this 2008 conference, there is a strong likelihood that Mensa will pay for most of it!

    Please contact our Gifted Children Coordinator Mary Jane Rubinski to discuss representing our Mensa Group at this conference, and then helping in some way in our Gifted Children Program! The way to contact Mary Jane Rubinski about this, or any other matter relating to the Mensa Gifted Children Program, is shown on page 2 of this newsletter MONNY.

Gifted Children’s Update  --  June 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski

    Someone recently asked me what summer programs might be available in this area for their gifted child. It occurred to me this is a topic that may interest many of you. As I began to research, I was astounded at all I found. I will list some programs, but these are just starting points. I encourage you to check other colleges, museums, and your local library for ideas to keep your child happy and busy over the summer. Note that many of these places also have events during the school year. I don't have room to give all the details, so please check the websites if any of these interest you.

    New York State Museum
TimeTunnel Summer Day Camp, grades 1-8, 9:00-4:00
3 2-week sessions combining science and history

    Albany Institute of History and Art
Summer Art Workshops, ways artists work with emphasis on fine art techniques, materials, and vocabulary; includes gallery visits
Thursdays throughout July and August
morning- ages 6-8, 9:00-12:00
afternoon - ages 9-13, 1:00-4:00
Summer in the City workshops for ages 13-15 on
Wednesday afternoons from 1:00-4:00.
 Storytelling and Art Making workshops for preschoolers,
Wednesdays from 10:00-11:00

    Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Summer School of the Arts with programs in dance, orchestra, and jazz

Architecture Career Discovery Program, ASM Materials Day Camp, Build Your Drawing Portfolio, Computer Game Development Academy, Creative Writing, Lego Robotics Engineering Academy, The Magical World of Flight, Nature's Treasure Hunt, VEX Robotics Engineering Academy, Video Production, Whodunit? The Science of Crime Scenes, Young Actors' Guild, Summer Science Camp

    Union College
Robot Camp, Five Points Academic Enrichment, National Young Scholarship Program, Highland Dance & Kiltmaking, Irish Dance, Girls in Engineering, Chinese Language, Sports

    Sage Colleges
High School Art & Design, grades 9-12, July 7-Aug 1;
in addition to painting and drawing, includes cartooning, fashion design, cinematography, and more
Career Quest, grades 7-10, July 28-Aug 1, theater arts
Summer College for Kids, grades 4-8, July 7-August 1
Many subjects available, including CSI, origami, chess, catapults, and alternative golf

    While you are trying to decide on this wonderful buffet, don't forget to put the Mensa picnic on your calendar. It will be July 20th at the Saratoga Spa State Park. Look for more information soon.

Gifted Children’s Update  --  April 2008

By Mary Jane Rubinski

    I hope this bulletin reaches you in time to be a reminder that Dr. Sylvia Rimm is speaking at the Ballston Spa Central School on April 4th. Dr. Rimm is a psychologist and director of the Family Achievement Clinic. She has worked with gifted children and their families for many years. Her topic is "Keys to Parenting the Gifted Child".

    Unfortunately, I will not be in the area on the 4th, so I cannot attend her speech. I did hear her speak at the AGATE conference in the fall. I was very impressed by her knowledge, concern, and common sense approach to helping children and their families. Hearing Dr. Rimm speak and being able to ask questions is a wonderful experience. However, if you are like me and cannot attend, you have other options. Her website is Also, I have 2 of her books that I will be happy to lend to Mensa members or parents of our young Mensans. One is also called "Keys to Parenting the Gifted Child". It includes information and advice on school issues, from finding the right preschool to career direction, and family issues, including sibling rivalry, competition, perfectionism, and much more. In addition, the back of the book lists further reading and other resources for parents. In addition to helping with problems you may be facing, you will find information on topics you may not have thought of yet. The other book I have by Dr. Rimm is "See Jane Win for Girls". This is written for young girls as a guide to growing up as successful young women. Along with advice, there are stories from women who tell about their own experiences growing up and how they contributed to making them strong and happy.

    I’m sure you would enjoy the program. If you would like to borrow one or both of these books, email me with your address and I will mail them to you.

Gifted Children’s Support SIG forming  --  March 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski

    This month, I'd like to ask for your ideas and help. I have had some emails and conversations with parents of gifted children who are looking for suggestions. Usually, these involve finding appropriate school programs or otherwise dealing with school, although that is not the only topic of concern. I do my best to look up information or give advice.

    I know, however, that two heads are better than one and several are better yet. Many of you have been through similar situations, and have your own ideas, suggestions, and lists of what did and didn't work. I would like to find a way to put parents of gifted children from our local in touch with each other. I can see many benefits. You may know just how to approach a child's teacher or where to find quality preschools. Even if there isn't an obvious solution to a problem, it can be a relief to find someone else who is going through a similar situation. There is some satisfaction in being able to say, "Yes, my child does that, too!"

    I can think of a couple of ways to begin this conversation. We could meet each other face-to-face, maybe over dinner at a centrally located restaurant. It would be great to put faces to names, and you might meet someone you would feel comfortable calling or emailing for advice. The only drawbacks are finding a date and place convenient to those interested. Alternatively, you could let me know an area of interest, I could put it in the newsletter and ask for ideas, and then I could print responses in a later newsletter. There's a lot of lag time to this one, and I haven't had much luck getting responses, but it's the most private. Please let me know if you think either of these would be useful or if you have a better plan. We are stronger together than alone.

Gifted Children’s Update  -- February 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski

    Last month, I wrote about the option of homeschooling for gifted children. This month, I would like to give you some resources for further information. I would suggest that your first stop should be There are areas there specifically about homeschooling, but there are hundreds of other areas to check out as well. There are links to blogs for both students and parents, sources of homeschooling materials, and information about problems and solutions you may need. Any parent, grandparent, or interested other who loves a gifted child will find something interesting on this site.

    The Exploratorium is a great place to look for science units and resources. If you are homeschooling, you can use this for science lessons. If you just have a child who likes science, use this as a supplement. The KONOS curriculum is a complete homeschooling program in which all units are based on Christian teaching.  Amazon lists lots of books on homeschooling, so I'm not going to make a list here. Some are Christian-based, but not all, by any means. You'll have to decide which ones look good to you. is a website with discussion boards and options to buy, sell, or swap used homeschooling materials is for computer/technology learning Don't forget the New York State Summer School for the Arts ( for your student who is talented in music, dance, or any of the fine or performing arts. If you're willing to think big, there is the THINK Summer Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Gifted Children’s Update  --  January 2008
By Mary Jane Rubinski

    This January is the first winter that I have been  retired. I am thankful not to have to brave the blustery cold and treacherous roads any more. I look forward to time in my cozy house with all those books I have been collecting and have not had time to read, which leads me to the topic of home schooling.

    At the AGATE conference, I attended a session on homeschooling by Kathi Kearney. She made the point that there are so many more families homeschooling now that parents who choose this option have more support, information, legal assistance, and curricula available to them than ever. There are conferences, internet sites, packaged programs, and materials that can make life easier. There is also greater acceptance of homeschooling than formerly.

    Parents decide to homeschool for many reasons. Sometimes there is a crisis because of the gifted child's intensity, emotional sensitivity, or intellectual overexcitability. The child may be frustrated by the school program. Parents may feel that the school does not understand their child or is not working to provide appropriate services. Often gifted parents had negative school experience themselves and see homeschooling as something they can do to keep their child(ren) from those experiences.

    One of the concerns associated with homeschooling is socialization. According to Kathi, a regular classroom is not necessarily the best place for a gifted child to develop socially. They may be resented for their intellectual gifts. They may have trouble connecting to the other students because of differences in interests. A classroom is an artificial social group. Parents can help their child's social development with real world experiences. Children can learn to interact appropriately with people of many ages, talents, and interests outside of the classroom.

    Homeschooling is just one of the options for educating a gifted child. Before beginning, check your child's test results, state requirements, and available materials. Be realistic about the amount of time it will require and the amount of time you have to devote to it. Homeschooling demands self discipline from both the student and the parent/teacher. Make a long term plan. Try to find other families who have chosen this path and ask about the advantages, disadvantages, and possible pitfalls they have found.

    Homeschooling is not the right choice for everyone, but it is a good choice for many. Only your family can decide if this is the option for you.

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