We're continuing our series of Q&As with people involved in gifted education. Today we talk with Crissa Markow, a Family Consultant with the Davidson Institute for Talent Development's Young Scholars program.
GE: Talk a little bit about DITD's free Young Scholars program. Who is it for? What does it involve?
Markow: The Davidson Young Scholars Program is designed to provide information and resources to help parents address the needs of their exceptionally bright children in the areas of educational advocacy and planning, talent and interest development, and child/adolescent development. Applicants are ages 5 to 16, and we serve Young Scholars until they turn 18. Each family is connected with a Family Consultant, who provides individualized support over the phone and email. Parents and Young Scholars also have access to one another through an online community, which includes a private website, electronic mailing lists, bulletin boards, and online seminars with various experts. Additionally, there are opportunities for families to get together in person. We have found families benefit greatly from being able to share their experiences, challenges and solutions. The services vary somewhat by family, as each family has different needs and chooses their level of involvement in the program. Also, the Young Scholars program is free!
GE: What does a family consultant do?
Markow: The Family Consultant works with parents to offer individualized assistance based on the Young Scholar’s unique needs. We see our relationship with the family as a partnership in addressing issues and concerns that arise in the context of raising an exceptionally bright young person. Family Consultants can conduct individualized searches for information, contact educators and administrators as needed, help brainstorm options and explain what we’ve seen work for other Young Scholars. Often, we are simply a supportive sounding board for parents.
GE: Can you give an (anonymous) example of a situation in which you were able to help?
Markow: So many come to mind! We often brainstorm ideas for math or writing that end up being implemented, or we assist the family in finding a local mentor, or we guide the family through finding a local therapist for a Young Scholar who can intellectually understand major life changes like death, but doesn’t have the life experience to cope effectively. Recently, a parent was working with the Young Scholar’s school to make sure his needs were being met in the classroom. The school recognized how few students they had seen at this ability level, so they asked the mom how they could best meet his needs. She wasn’t sure either, so turned to her Family Consultant for ideas. The Family Consultant suggested a few curriculum ideas that we were familiar with and that had worked for other Young Scholars. The school ended up adopting one of those programs and now uses it for the Young Scholar, as well as other bright students at the school.
GE: If readers want to learn more or apply for the YS program, what should they do?
Markow: Interested families may want to visit the Young Scholar website at www.DavidsonGifted.org/YoungScholars/ for additional information about the program, as well as Qualification Criteria and the Young Scholar Application. There is also a link to one parent’s perspective of the Young Scholars program.