All work and no play will make for a very unhappy gifted child. Here are some ideas on play activities parents can include in the gifted child’s day.
Even the gifted child herself can become so absorbed in learning activities, computer or video usage, and reading, that she neglects the art of being a playful, young child. Parents need to schedule a time to ensure she gets a break from the work of learning to relax and play.
Games for the Gifted
A very proficient reader will inevitably discover a love for word games. These kinds of play activities include Boggle, Word Yatchzee, Book Worms, Flip Words, and Word Whomp, to name a few. Many are available in digital format that can be played on Chromebooks for elementary students.
Math proficients will enjoy puzzles, science games and anything to do with numbers. Give her access to the library and bookstores where she can find the kinds of games and challenges that appeal to her the most. Solidary games are fine, but social activities are the best.
Traditional games like Monopoly, Life, and Pictionary are also great for any child, particularly if they are playing with a group of kids. Games involving chance and skill alike will absorb many gifted children, who will be learning and absorbing social behavior in the process. Play with adults is also fine, but it is crucial for all children to have many opportunities to play with peers.
Artistic Play for Gifted Kids
Any activity involving personal expression is a great way for the gifted child to relax. He may even develop a lifelong love of the arts. It could be in the form of musical instruments, dance, vocals, acting, sculpture, pottery or traditional artwork with paints, as all of these possibilities are wonderful ways for the child to express his individuality and intrinsic talents.
There is, however, a big difference between pushing a child to learn the cello at age three and a young child picking up an instrument on his own. The parent can encourage lessons and practice, but this would qualify more as skill development than play. The same goes for other forms of art. The child who spontaneously writes a poem to recite to the family, because he loves the act of writing, can be seen as play and relaxation. A poetic homework assignment is another matter entirely.
The child will guide herself to the artistic activities that are rewarding for her. The parent can provide the necessary resources without pressuring the child to accomplish anything, other than having fun with the process of whatever she produces.
Free Play for the Gifted Child
Too often, gifted children easily become “little adults” much too soon. When a parent sees this inclination, it is time to encourage play activities. This can include outdoor play, hikes, pick-up sports, or other physical games. On occasion, the parent may have to wedge himself between the child and the computer to make this happen, but it will be worth the effort to give the child a wider scope of experiences.
Playing house, making up games, plays, and different scenarios using dolls, costumes or other props is another one of the best creative outlets for children to express themselves. As many gifted children are highly imaginative, this kind of play is both fun and satisfying.
All gifted children are different and the parent knows his child best. That being said, many gifted kids do not require much of a push to learn, read, study, and do computer activities. However, if the parent is going to push the child a bit to step out of his comfort zone, he may need to invest more time in play activities than in school-related tasks. Helping the child find the things that are the most fun and satisfying for him is key, and will pay dividends in terms of a well-balanced gifted child.