When Natalie discovered her daughter Chelsea’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge, she took the necessary steps to provide stimulation yet still make sure her daughter led a balanced life.
Q: Can you describe what it's like having a gifted child?
A: Exhausting yet inspiring. We always have to be a step ahead of her needs. Chelsea and our other children are the fulfilment of our dreams. We congruently plan their future with our future, and this makes us happy.
Q: When did you first notice that your daughter was gifted? What was she doing that clued you in?
A: At age three, she started doing math problems and reading books that are advanced for her age. It was odd at first, but my husband and I realized she needed more input, so we started her off with books we thought would complement her desire for more material. Also, at a very young age, Chelsea read mostly Shakespeare and the classics, parenting and philosophy books. Since then, her collection of books became a mini library, which she now shares with students at Roomful of Learners, my center for children with learning disabilities.
Q: What did you do when you noticed that she was gifted?
A: First thing we did was have her assessed by prominent gifted child specialist and neuropsychologist, Dra. Leticia Penano-Ho. From the beginning to this day, Dra. Ho has been instrumental in guiding my husband and I on how to properly nurture Chelsea’s gift. Her guidance is truly valuable.
Also, we had to find ways to enrich her mind further and to ensure she gets the right evaluation from a specialist. We checked out various specialty schools and even hired special needs tutors to help feed her voracious desire for knowledge. We have had our share of neglectful teachers and schools; but our exhaustive search finally led us to the right individual. We discovered that it is not how smart your specialist and teacher is, it is how much that specialist and teacher is willing to learn new things himself or herself because information changes constantly.
Q: Did you have to change schools so she could get more stimulation?
A: Yes. We moved Chelsea from a traditional school to a progressive international school where she was more supported as they understood her need to be stimulated and challenged.
Q: Did you enrol her in any additional special classes?
A: Just recently, we enrolled Chelsea at The American Institute for English Proficiency; there she met Mr. Victor Sianghio II. Teacher Victor understands her needs for intellectual and spiritual stimulation. He also values diligence, perfectionism, and empathy. He constantly urges Chelsea not to go back to her old ways of just “winging” it and makes her work hard for recognition and acceptance. Teacher Victor understands the concept behind multiple intelligence and thus makes it a point that Chelsea appreciates what life has to offer besides knowledge.
In addition, Chelsea is enrolled in Stanford University’s Education Program For The Gifted Youth (EPGY) online Math program.
Since Chelsea loves to run, bike, and swim, she recently started competing in Alaska Iron Kids Philippines. Aside from finding this competition very challenging, she found it to be both enjoyable and interesting as well.
Q: How is the relationship between her and her siblings?
A: Chelsea has a twin brother named Corbin..As twins, they do things differently, and most of the time, they have fun and enjoy each other’s company, but there are unique differences between her and her brother. When it comes to studying, Chelsea becomes really focused and committed to completing the task.
The eldest, Chloe, plays her role as the big sister to the twins quite well. In many ways, we believe Chloe also learns from the twins because she could exercise her subtle dominance over them without being too controlling. Chelsea appreciates and recognizes Chloe as her ate.
Overall, they have a normal relationship. Normal in a sense that, although they have arguments, they respect each other’s space and interests.
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Q: What advice do you have for young parents who have gifted children?
A: Don’t raise them to be competitive. Instead, let them be a little more intuitive—that way, as they grow up, they will learn the value of respect and wisdom. Respect for people who know less or more than they do; and wisdom, so they could appreciate the true value of knowledge and education. They should learn that in order to be integral, education should be related to life and not just be an academic study.