Talent Development in the Summer
Summer is a great time to think about nurturing your child's talents. Summer programs can be an excellent opportunity for gifted and 2e kids to develop their talents and learn about something they love with like-minded peers.
When you’re planning your child’s summer, consider whether there’s an opportunity to immerse them in one of their talent areas.
What are some potential benefits of a summer program focused on your child's talents or interests?
Nurture your child’s whole self. Talent development isn’t just about developing talent-related skills. If you can find a great-fit program for your child, it can be a huge boost to their motivation, confidence, and self-esteem. When they’re engaged in challenging activities they enjoy, kids can have fun while they practice persisting on difficult tasks, using problem-solving skills, and collaborating with peers.
Summer programs cater to a wide range of interests. Many summer programs allow students to explore interests and talents that are neglected during the typical school year. If your child is fascinated by science, coding, engineering, politics, sustainability, fine arts, animals, or other subjects that don’t get time in school, summer programs can be a great opportunity to dive deep into one of these interests. For some kids, these passions can lead to other activities, communities, and even careers.
It feels good to learn at the right depth. Even for gifted kids who are passionate about typical school topics - such as reading, writing, and math - their regular school lessons may not offer enough complexity to challenge or engage them they way they crave. An opportunity to practice writing skills, critical reading, or math in depth may be a summer joy.
It feels good to learn at the right pace. Very bright children (the top 1 in 200) can learn a full high school course such as chemistry or English in 3 weeks at a summer residential program for gifted youth. These kids rarely get to learn at the right pace for them during the school year - so a specially-designed academic program can feel exciting and accelerate their learning in an area they love.
Summer programs might have year-long benefits. Some gifted kids look forward to their summer learning experiences all year long and feel less bothered by the boring or lonely aspects of their typical school year because they know they have a positive summer experience ahead of them.
Below is a sampling of organizations that offer summer programs in the Twin Cities metro area or nationally. The Davidson Institute offers a list of suggested summer programs on their website here. You can also find programs by searching online for your child’s particular interest(s). This list is not an endorsement, just a resource.
Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) - programs for grades 1-12.
Leonardo’s Basement - hands-on building opportunities.
Adventures in Cardboard - outdoor role-playing and cardboard-building adventures.
The Bell Museum - science camps for grades 1 - 8.
The Science Museum of Minnesota - a wide range of courses.
Belin-Blank Center Student Programs - online and in person programs (in Iowa) for students in elementary through high school.
Northwestern Center for Talent Development - online and in-person programs (in Illinois) for ages 3 - grade 12.
Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) - online and in-person programs (in Baltimore) for gifted and talented youth grades 2 - 12.
Exploration Summer Programs - engaging in-person learning programs grades 4-12 (on the east coast).
Every year, the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented (MCGT) publishes a list of summer programs that might be a good fit for gifted kids. The list is available to members, so if you’ve been considering joining MCGT and would like to see that list, now might be a good time to join.
You can also develop your child’s talents and interests at home this summer with a little planning and creativity. If your child loves nature, could you host a nature-documentary party or a visit to the zoo or Snake Discovery? Would your child enjoy making a video, comic, or board game about one of their interests? Helping with a related project around the house? Do you know any adults who work in a field that your child is curious about, who might be willing to do a project with them or give them a (virtual or in-person) tour of their work?
If you'd like help making a talent-development plan for your child, my parent consultation services might be a good fit. The first step is to schedule a free 20-minute call with me to discuss your situation.