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Creative classes for gifted 8-year-old

Feb 2010

My 8 year old son has always been interested in how things work. He knows far more than my husband and I put together. He has created many 'working' fans, speakers, and other inventions. Not to mention, has taken apart every broken toy, cd player, and electronic he could get his hands on. My problem is that I'm finding myself at a stand still in finding him resources that can nurture and feed his interest at a level that keeps him excelling. I think he would do well in any class where he can use his creativity and have the neccessary tools to create. Is there such a place? Any ideas from other parents with children who build/create would be helpful.

Hi, there is a robotics class in Berkeley. I am afraid you may need to Google it. I highly recommend Lawrence Hall of Science classes also
You might consider the First Lego League (the pre-high school program of the famous First Robotics Competition) or Odyssey of the Mind if your school sponsors (or might support you forming) a team. My daughter did Odyssey for two years and it was a phenomenal experience. Another idea might be to subscribe to 'Make' or 'Popular Science' as both have wonderful projects. Edmunds Scientifics and ThinkGeek have many intriguing science and engineering items. UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science also offers summer courses that might be right up his alley. Good luck and have fun with your enthusiastic engineer! --mom of a maker/builder, too
I have a 3-year old who will probably be your 8-year old in 5 years. I have no actual knowledge of the place but a friend of mine pointed me to the Tinkering School as a place to think about sending my kid when he's older. Note that the application deadline for this summer is mid-March. There are also robotics teams at least in Marin(ish) and Pleasanton(ish). (The people I know who do it live in those places.) I think there is also a Lego robotics camp somewhere near Berkeley. And a kids carpentry class in Berkeley. Anon

Playmates or support group for gifted 7-year-old

Nov 2003

Does anyone know of any playgroups for highly gifted children in the Berkeley-Albany-El Cerrito area (although we are willing to travel farther if necessary)? The age group I'm looking for would be about 6-10 years old. Our child (7 yrs old) is feeling increasingly isolated and is desperate to play with peers. Anon

It's hard to find support for highly gifted children in this area, but it does exist. There was a playgroup called ''Curious Kids'' on the Peninsula last year. Our 8-y-o daughter attended; it was a long drive, but worth it because she found a wonderful friend. The group isn't meeting now because they lost their space, but if they start up again I can let you know.

Also, here are some local contacts that we've found really helpful.

Annemarie Roeper founded a famous school for gifted children in Michigan, and then retired in El Cerrito. She is a wonderful source of information and help, especially if you have a gifted child in crisis. (We've been there!) Annemarie Roeper's website:

Excellent webpage with list of local resources for gifted children:

Those are good places to start. Feel free to email me if you have more questions. Good luck finding help for your child. It can feel very lonely because giftedness is one of the most misunderstood special needs. sa_58

Is he feeling isolated because he's bright? If so, maybe you want to help him feel ''normal'' by involving him in some activities kids typically do like soccer rather than making him feel more isolated by bringing him to the ''special'' playgroup. Volunteer activities might serve the same purpose...anything to help him feel connected rather than a species apart. Even if you do find a group, it's not likely to be a happy one. Imagine a bunch of kids who have been labeled ''bright'' coming together. They couldn't help but compare eachother's intelligence. What an efficient way for the kids to lose touch with the joy of a good mind. lose the label, find the child
Hi, Since you request a group for PLAY, the kids would not need to be highly gifted. Perhaps you mean you are seeking a group which would have similar interests to your child. Of my three children, I had one highly gifted child. And, like all children, he liked to play with kids with similar interests. My son loved Dungeons and Dragons (a fantasy game) and played it at a very high level, and was frustrated if kids did not know the game or were not at his level.

We were lucky to find some outstanding players of this game, and my son even attended some D and D conventions with the Masters. Once his need to meet this challenge was provided, he then became more tolerant of teaching other kids at lower skill levels.

Likewise, we also arranged for our son to have violin, piano, soccer, skiing, art, etc. groups, and sent him to an ungraded private Montessori school where the curriculum could challenge him. However, just because he was academically, athletically, and physically gifted, he was not gifted in all areas. He needed some work in skill sets such as tolerance, patience, diversity, etc.

Once, at about age 9, he put his fist into a classmate's mouth and broke off the kid's tooth and said ''you are stupid because you cannot read.'' This particular non-reader child is now a championship NFL football player. My son now feels privileged to have grown up with him. So, being ''gifted'' has many facets.

Kids can be gifted in a way your child is not. So, my advice is to find activities and friends who meet your child's interests, but also be sure your child has broad exposure to many types of kids who will be able to offer her/him something-- which you may not have figured out just what your child is or will get from these kids until later.

Also, the world is a complex and diverse place, and what better way to prepare for it than making sure your child gets broad experiences from an early age. Anon

Why not try signing your child up for classes or activities that would attract other gifted children, like Berkeley's Academic Talent Development Program? Good luck to you in finding a good friend for your son! susan
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