WAETAG Conference Report

WAETAG Part 1 – The Knowledge

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the conference for WAETAG (Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted). This is the first year I’ve attended, and I’ve decided it’s going on my must-do list from now on. The two days were full of nationally-recognized speakers, breakout sessions, and a documentary film screening.

You can read about all the offerings in more detail at, but I want to share my Top 10 list for parents:

  1. 1. Part of being highly capable is having different emotional experiences than the general population. As adults, we need to make ourselves aware of those needs, so we can address them.
  2. 2. Helping our children develop grit is crucial. We need to make sure they have appropriately challenging experiences.
  3. 3. Gifted kids often feel overwhelmed. We can offer various ways to help them soothe themselves: sensory (like a rice bin or putty), audio (like soft instrumental music while doing homework), visual (like an intricate piece of art for them to consider). (from Lisa Van Gemert,
  4. 4. If your child is a perfectionist, help them feel emotionally safe to take risks and make mistakes. (from Dr. Kristina Collins, president-elect of
  5. 5. Gifted students don’t do well when they’re just left alone in a regular environment. (Dr. Collins)
  6. 6. Some kids have both high ability and a barrier to learning. We call this twice exceptional. These students need to have both their strengths and challenges addressed.
  7. 7. Kids learn best when they relate what they’re learning to different aspects of their lives. (from Ian Byrd,
  8. 8. Developing visual-spatial skills (such as playing with blocks) develops a child’s mathematical ability. (research report from Amy Shelton, CTY at Johns Hopkins)
  9. 9. Imposter syndrome is when individuals feel that they’re not really gifted, and they fear that once people find out, they won’t value them as much. This is a real threat to gifted kids, increasing as they enter middle school, and it’s more pronounced for anyone who’s not white, middle class, and male. It’s helpful for children to see gifted adults openly acknowledge that they’re gifted, modeling comfort and acceptance of who they are. (Lisa Van Gemert)
  10. 10. Service learning is huge. Teach the children that gifted people use their gifts to help others. (Dr. Collins)

There is so much more that I came away with. If you want the whole experience, definitely sign up and come with me next year!

Michelle Smart