Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Gets Along Well with Peers"

That's a pretty common phrase on assessments of student behavior.  But who exactly are the peers of gifted kids?   They quite naturally have multiple peer groups.  Among others they have age peers and intellectual peers and social peers. It's just part of their asynchronous development.

When my younger son was about 10 years old he developed a passion for the game, Magic: The Gathering, and wanted to hang out at the local card shop, My Parents Basement.  It really was a basement storefront, a few steps down from street level on the main thoroughfare.  And ever-conscientious mom that I was, I told him I'd need to check it out before he could spend his after-school time there. 

I had my doubts . . . classic visions of pool halls and other teen hang-outs in my mind. But the next day when we entered the store together I was greeted with a chorus of "Hey, Mrs. D!"  Almost every face in the room I recognized from my years and years as GT educator and Destination Imagination coach.  Clearly my son's hobby peer group ranged in age from 8 to 38. And on reflection I realized that his community theatre peer group ranged from 8 to 80; running club, 8 to 58. And of course he still loved hanging with his age peers, the kids he'd gone to school with forever.

Around that same time an elementary teacher suggested to me that one of his students not be pulled out for academic enrichment activities until she interacted better with the other pupils in her class.  Her principal agreed that she seemed "anti-social."  Yet I advocated for her inclusion.  I'd seen first hand that she "got along well with her peers."  She had no trouble fitting in perfectly with the other Magic players . . . the huge group of multi-age peers at My Parents Basement.

Can you imagine how we adults would feel if told our peer group could only be those who shared our birth year?

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