CLOVERDALE â€” Niovi Patsicakis knows from experience that having gifted children is a blessing â€“ and with that comes the need for a specialized approach to their education and parenting to best help these kids flourish.
â€œIt is delightful to have a gifted child. You learn so much from them and with them,â€ said Patsicakis.
She and fellow retired educator Mariane Mahony are also parents of gifted children who are now adults. They have just launched a local SENG parent support group. SENG stands for Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted.
Gifted children tend to have characteristics that can be more challenging than with other kids, such as being unusually intense and sensitive, said Patsicakis. As well, itâ€™s common for them to be quite high energy and therefore these kids have a lot of trouble settling down. Gifted children tend to expect a lot from themselves, to the point of being perfectionists, and generally expect the same of others. That can also lead to being easily frustrated.
Some gifted children can be argumentative because of their high intelligence, and that can lead to a difficulty in finding peers of the same age who can related to them at the same level.
Patsicakis noted that many gifted children may also present with other issues, and may be both gifted and learning disabled in some aspects at the same time.
One goal is to give parents tools to use in dealing with their childrenâ€™s teachers.
The SENG program offered by Patsicakis and Mahony runs for 10 weeks and is based on the work of Dr. James T. Webb, founder of SENG. Each week will require parents to read a chapter of the book Webb wrote, be prepared to discuss the topic and choose strategies they will try out with their own kids.
â€œThe whole idea is that parents read ahead of time and be a little familiar with the topics so they can come and share their own experiences,â€ said Patsicakis, adding that she and Mahony are facilitators, not counsellors in this process.
â€œItâ€™s a hands-on learning program.â€
The SENG parent support group meets at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, 6188 176th St., Room 206 on Thursday evenings. The first week has already passed and Patsicakis encourages any interested parents to get in touch sooner than later. They will only be able to accept new people until the third week, she said.
For any other information, see http://npeducational.weebly.com or call Patsicakis with questions and registration details at 604-329-0850. There is a fee structure, which Patsicakis said she discusses with parents when they sign up as there is a discount for the second parent or another caregiver.