Thursday, September 1, 2016

Yet again, blogger writing on the matters of giftedness get together this month to discuss community. About a year ago I shared on the same topic how difficult it is for me personally to reach out to others in personal interactions and how much I appreciate help of an online community for parents of gifted kids. However, things have changed since then and now our family is more actively engaged in an "offline" community of parents of gifted children.

Supporting Local Gifted Kids... One Family at a Time


While online communities provide unique opportunity to connect across distance and get moral support, local community provides practical support. The most immediate local community for us is, of course, school community, and we are quite engaged with our local home and school club. We also made friends with parents of other gifted children in Smarty's grade, and we successfully advocated for putting them together in a cluster for two years. I am hoping that this will eventually happen in our new school as well, but we will need to survive this year where so far Smarty likes kids in her class but did not click with any of them yet. It brings the need to find her tribe outside school.
Luckily, our county has its own "real life" gifted community that was in existence for 45 years now. Lyceum of Santa Clara Valley was founded in 1971 by parents who wanted additional enrichment and social opportunities for their kids. We started attending Lyceum events last winter, then one thing led to another, and now my husband is one of the core volunteers in charge of social events. It's actually pretty funny, considering that my husband is not a social butterfly, but we both believe strongly that this organization is critically needed for gifted kids in our area.

What Does Lyceum Do?


Lyceum is an organization run by parent volunteers. There is a nominal membership fee which is refunded if parents volunteer a certain number of hours throughout a year. It used to be that all seminars were run by parents with certain skills, passions, or job descriptions, but now Lyceum also contracts with individuals and organizations providing enrichment services. The organization also conducts social events - picnics or field trips. Membership is open to kids in grades 2-8 who either tested gifted through school or private testing OR they demonstrated achievement scores in national normed tests of 98% and up. These kids get to mingle together during social events and field trips and learn together during seminars - learn things that interest them, such as LEGO Robotics, digital logic, survival skills, leadership, etc.
Lyceum is also beneficial for parents of gifted kids. We get to discuss challenges specific to our ultra-competitive Silicon Valley - balancing of scheduled activities and free time, choosing schools, comparing notes on curriculums and learning what kind of accommodations are supported by various private and public schools. We also have some homeschoolers in the group, but most of the children of the current members go to "brick-and-mortar" schools.

Why Is It Difficult to Run an Offline Gifted Community?

While Lyceum is a great organization in principle, it has its own challenges that come with several gifted adults trying to come to a compromise over organization's direction. A couple of the board members were in Lyceum as kids, and they focus more on additional learning opportunities. Newer members, including us, think that we have learning opportunities galore in San Francisco Bay Area and social aspect is a lot more important. There is also an argument about how much volunteering we want every member to do and even how many families we want to have. I hope we will be able to address some of these challenges this year and continue to engage families of gifted learners - helping every family meet needs of their kids and also needs of adults in search of community.

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3 comments:

JL said...

How many members do you have? Is it difficult to get together in person due to geographical distances? I agree with you on the social aspects but that seems much harder from our experiences in being part of a gifted community. We are now doing the opposite by reaching out to the larger community for social interaction. I find that academic needs are better met individually while social needs are met locally.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Interesting organization! We mostly stick to neighborhood friends, for now. Given where we live, it's something of a "gifted" community anyhow.

Ticia said...

Our current local homeschool group has lots of opportunities for people to come and keep busy. It's really kind of fun to see what's planned for each month.