Parenting Gifted Kids on a Budget

Gifted children often require additional resources, and gifted education doesn't always do the trick. In some cases, gifted education can come with a price tag that scares many parents away. But the good news is that you can provide for a gifted child on a budget. One of the biggest myths about gifted children is that they need an expensive set of resources to be stimulated and challenged. This slideshow is full of great tips for fun, educational things your child can do on the cheap.

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By Jasmine Evans

Your gifted child doesn’t need to build rockets like Jimmy Neutron or a roller coaster like Phineas and Ferb in order to thrive. In fact, the National Association for Gifted Children states that one of the biggest myths about gifted education is that it requires “an abundance of resources.” Read on for 12 awesome ways to give your gifted kid more with less.


Push your child to fight for a cause—it's a free way to build life skills and help out the community. “They often have a great sense of humor as well as a great sense of fairness,” says Barbara Swicord, the executive director of the National Society for the Talented and Gifted. If he’s interested in biology, have him volunteer at your local animal shelter. A child who wants to be a doctor can help at a hospital, and an aspiring chemist can help at a science center.

Buddy up With a Librarian

The local librarian can direct you to an expansive set of resources for every topic imaginable. Don’t be shy—most librarians are itching to hunt down the hardest-to-find books to quench your child’s thirst for knowledge. Just be sure to give plenty of thanks, and pay it forward by donating your old books. Soon, you’ll be the first to learn about interesting book releases and local exhibits in your area.

Find Other Gifted Kids

“Gifted students have a need to be grouped with intellectual peers at least part of every day,” Swicord says. If your kid's school doesn't offer a program for gifted kids, talk to teachers about where he can find like-minded peers. They don't have to have the exact same interests, but your child is more likely to thrive around peers who appreciate his quirks. You'll also be able to share resources with other parents.

Find Free Museums and Events

If your child is a budding artist, you may find free art exhibits in your area. Even the most revered museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, offer free admission on certain days. Check for local street fairs, music festivals and cultural events, which are easy to find in most areas, especially during the summer months.

Use Your Community

Think about the people in your neighborhood. You may have an engineer living next door, or a chef in the apartment below you. Your family's pediatrician has been practicing for 30 years. How awesome would it be for your child to shadow a neighbor at work? Expose your little one to new interests or expand on existing passions by putting him in touch with the people around you.

Push the School

If your school doesn't have a formal program for gifted kids, partner with teachers and administrators to create an individualized path for your child. If it does have a program, work with the teachers and give constructive feedback. “Gifted students vary as much from the norm as special education students and therefore have special learning needs as well,” Swicord says. The more mental stimulation he gets in school, the easier it is to keep him engaged.

Use What's Available

Your future scientist doesn't need chemicals and Bunsen burners to learn. Set up science experiments with household items. If biology interests him, push him to study the family pet or record the movement of bugs outside. Teaching him to engage with the world around him can be more valuable than dropping lots of money on expensive gadgets.

Step up the Responsibility

Your star student might find schoolwork to be a breeze, but more responsibilities can increase passion and intrinsic motivation. An older child could do the fundraising for a special project. A younger child can mentor other kids, either in his grade or in lower grades. Try giving your child basic responsibilities that parents usually handle, such as packing his own lunch or taking sole care of a pet.

Give Him Handiwork

If your kid likes working with his hands, don’t spring for the latest fun box full of tools and materials for ready-made handiwork. Instead, fix some things around the house—the loose doorknob, the toilet that runs or the window that isn’t weather stripped. Technical minds like figuring out how things work and how to fix them. Take it up a notch by repairing electronics or your car.

Play Teacher

Is your kid’s schoolwork too easy? Let him try teaching it! Ask your child to teach you what he’s learning in school, which is a whole new challenge. While he tries to teach a “newbie” and articulate points in a way you can understand, he’ll be learning valuable speaking and interpersonal skills. It may also shine a new light on a subject he previously thought was boring or too easy.

Do Something Completely New

Gifted children are often reluctant to try new activities they might not excel at right away—after all, they aren’t used to failing. However, it’s important that they face challenges, because even the smartest kid will have struggles later in life. Whatever it is, give your child something different to do. Give your math master a difficult book to read, or give your science superstar a geography quiz.

Set a Good Example

Don’t be discouraged into thinking you can’t help your kid if you weren’t similarly gifted as a youngster. “You can share your own hobbies and interests and see if they express any similar interests in those," says Swicord. If you always wanted to build a robot, now is your chance to do that—and bond with your child at the same time. “It is paramount that parents demonstrate the characteristics of a lifelong learner because that is also what we want our children to be.”

Above all, remember that gifted children need to be challenged. You don't need to deplete your savings to challenge a brilliant mind. Instead, look around you and inside of yourself, and use what you have to boost your child to the next level.

Have you considered getting your kid to skip a grade? Our article on grade-skipping is a good resource to help you decide.

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