Since Dale received the Thiel Fellowship, as a parent of a Thiel Fellow, I’ve gotten questions about our parenting journey such as:
- How did we help him get involved?
- How did we make him self-motivated?
- What do you do with self-motivated kids?
- How do you help a kid that is smart beyond you and gifted?
- What if they have ideas other kids or adults have no interest in?
- What should I do with my child who is gifted and has learning disabilities?
Since every child is unique, whenever possible, I take the opportunity to learn from other family’s stories, from either the perspective of the parent or child.
I like to ask kids:
“What did your parent do that really made a difference for you?”
I ask parents:
“What was it like? How did you piece together their education? Find resources? Get advice?”
Another Thiel Fellow parent, Frances Zomer, had been thinking along similar lines. Frances discussed her ideas with the fellowship Program Director, Danielle Strachman, about supporting parents. With the two classes of Thiel Fellows, the many finalists and more coming soon, they realized we have this wonderful opportunity to explore some questions about raising these often misunderstood, different kind of kids.
What commonalities are there? Is it the kids? The Parents? Education?
A twist of fate of who these kids meet along the way?
Are there things we can do to identify and support these kind of kids no matter where they come from?
Can we make a difference for other kids and parents who may be struggling to figure out what to do?
There is a misconception that if a child is really bright, self-motivated, or naturally gifted at something that life is easy.
People often assume you should really have nothing to worry about, compared to a child struggling with learning. But all children have strengths and weaknesses and unique needs to be met.
Some of the challenge arises from how unique the area of interest or talent might be, as well as that the child may have widely different areas of ability and weakness.
The challenges are still real even though often perceived by others as not a big deal.
I hope that by sharing some stories of raising these quirky and interesting kids we can shed some light on how we helped support our children.
Hopefully with broader insights than my own, more parents can find encouragement and ideas to help answer the question, “What can I do with my child?”
As always, if you would like to add your voice and ideas, please join the discussion in the comments, and share with any friends who might be interested. Thanks!