Coaching for psychosocial skills- Pt.3 of Helping children develop talent+ #33

+ GenWise Dec 2021 Program | Upcoming Events

Quote of the Week

“If you look at the critical psychosocial skills that olympic athletes need, you will see that these are exactly the same skills that students need to succeed in academic areas. The difference is that in sport, they are much more deliberate about fostering these, than we are in the academic area.”

-Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Director, Center of Talent Development at Northwestern University


Hi, this is the GenWise team- we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and collaborating on this. We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network- if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (https://t.me/GiftedIndia).

This week’s main post ‘Coaching for psychosocial skills- Pt.3 of Helping children develop talent’, is the third of a 3 part-series that highlights key points from the inaugural expert talk of the Gifted India Network by Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubelius, Head of the Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University. The talk was titled ‘The Importance of Non-Cognitive Skills in Talent Development’ and the recording of the full session can be accessed here.

You are invited to be an early member and beta-tester of the GenWise Club (ages 13-90), a community of interested students, parents, and educators. Check out this link for more about the club and how to join it. It is open to all in the current beta phase. 

Join this conversation on learning, by commenting on our posts, or joining our club community for more regular and closer interactions.

Contents

  1. Coaching for psychosocial skills- Pt.3 of Helping children develop talent

  2. GenWise Residential Program, Dec 2021

  3. Upcoming External Events

Coaching for psychosocial skills- Pt.3 of Helping children develop talent

This post is the third of a 3 part-series that highlights key points from the inaugural expert talk of the Gifted India Network by Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubelius, Head of the Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University. The talk was titled ‘The Importance of Non-Cognitive Skills in Talent Development’ and the recording of the full session can be accessed here.

The 3 parts in this series on ‘Helping Children develop talent’ are-

  1. Identifying ability

  2. From potential to expertise

  3. Coaching for psychosocial skills

In the first part we looked at the how specific abilities emerge as children grow, what signs parents and educators can look for, and the importance of using assessment tools to identify the same. In the second part, we looked at what kind of opportunities we should provide at different developmental stages to help the child develop this potential into expertise. In this third and concluding part of the series, we look at the emotional and social challenges gifted students face and how parents can support them in developing the psychosocial skills necessary for achievement.

High ability is necessary but not sufficient for achievement.

"I excelled in grade school without having to put in any effort. I would show up to finals, asking which exam we were taking that day, and get top scores. I never learned how to do homework or maintain any sort of work ethic, but I became very skilled at coasting through courses and bulls---ting on essay questions (writing what I speculated the teacher wanted to hear, and not something with actual substance). Once I hit university, I couldn't get away with not doing any work anymore, so I hit a wall that I'm still trying to overcome."

-Words of a gifted student in college

There comes a point in the journey of gifted students when they can't coast any longer. If they have developed a fixed mindset about succeeding at things, it can become difficult to transition to a ‘growth mindset’. Like Calvin in the comic below, a gifted student may believe that ‘smart people do not need to work hard’.

From our own experience as adults, we have seen that achievement depends more on psychosocial skills such as persistence, motivation and resiliency, rather than on innate intelligence or ability. And most of us have developed these psychosocial skills when we had to face challenging projects or circumstances.

“…it is how we handle ourselves in our relationships that determines how well we do once we are in a given job.... many people with IQs of 160 work for people with IQs of 100, if the former have poor intrapersonal intelligence and the latter have a high one”

-Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

What psychosocial skills do gifted students need to develop?

Everybody needs to develop psychosocial skills, but it is useful to recognize some of the needs and challenges specific to gifted students, such as-

  • developing peer to peer relationships (because they are not in a sufficiently challenging environment)

  • managing perfectionism (because of high expectations of self and fear of losing the ‘gifted’ label)

  • managing anxiety and stress (because they are competing at an advanced level)

  • low self-esteem (when they are achieving below their potential)

  • developing executive function skills (because lack of adequate challenge may have resulted in not working on these)

  • avoiding burn-out (because the student is good at school, may take on too many activities)

When we recognize the challenges students face and the underlying reasons, we can work on helping them to develop the mindset and skills needed to meet their goals in a balanced way.

How parents can consciously help to nurture psychosocial skills?

The quote at the start of this newsletter highlights how psychosocial skills are developed deliberately in sport. There are sports psychologists who work with coaches to build the mental discipline, strength and balance that is needed. A similar deliberate approach can be applied to gifted students in academic areas as well.

Dr. Paula recommends this book to parents to help them understand their children and coach them on psychosocial skills. 2 areas of challenge and tips from the book to address them are shared below.

An ability to manage stress and anxiety

High performers feel stress and anxiety but have ways to deal with it. Parents can help children manage these emotions in the following ways-

A willingness to work at the edge of one’s competency

Without an appropriate level of challenge, children do not learn to study, manage their time, or cope with disappointments and setbacks. Risk taking is key to higher levels of talent development—taking advanced classes, participating in a competition, entering a gifted program, going to a gifted summer program are all risks. Children need to engage with a mix of tasks at different levels of difficulty (see figure below), with some of their time in the ‘edge of competence zone’.

When making a decision about participating in a special class or event or competition, identify where it falls on the comfort chart. Talk with your child about the pros and cons and challenges of working beyond your comfort zone. Focus on effort, growth and improvement rather than absolute performance.

Share your comments and questions with us below.

GenWise Residential Program, Dec 2021

With the COVID situation showing significant improvement, we will be running a 2-week residential program from Dec 18-30, 2021 at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence in Bangalore for children currently in Grade 8, 9 or 10. The recommended duration is 2 weeks, though participants are free to choose either week. 2 course options are offered each week as listed below. Ei ASSET Talent Search (ATS) Gold, Silver and Bronze scholars are eligible for the advanced courses. If you do not have ATS scores but are interested in the advanced courses, contact us. For more details and to register, visit the program page

Our residential programs are much more than the ‘academic enrichment component’ the above courses represent. The benefits of attending a GenWise Residential Program are highlighted here.  GenWise co-founder, Vishnu Agnihotri, has also shared his personal take in a previous edition of this newsletter titled 'The Magic of Residential Programs for Children'.

We have very high standards in ensuring the safety of children. Several young athletes (age 9 and upwards) have been staying at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence Residences for the last few months- a child-friendly facility with strong COVID protocols for all residents and visitors.

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Upcoming External Events

  1. Ei ASSET Talent Search (ATS) 2021- This is India’s premier above-level test for identification of gifted students that is recognized by world-class gifted programs of the likes of Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development, Purdue University’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute (GER2I), University of California, Berkeley - Academic Talent Development Program (ATDP) and GenWise, who recognize ATS scores in their program application process.

    The test can be taken by children in grades 5-8 who have qualified for this through their performance in the grade- level ASSET test they might have taken earlier.

    Ei ASSET Talent Search test dates:
    India: 21st, 27th and 28th November 2021
    Rest of the World: 20th November 2021 and 4th December 2021

    To know more or to enrol, please visit: www.assettalentsearch.com 

    If students have not already taken the grade-level ASSET test, they can take the Ei Supertest between Dec 15-20, 2021. The top 15% of students in Ei Supertest will be invited to take the next round of ATS in February 2022.

  2. How can Ecology solve some problems faced by Agriculture? This week’s edition of ‘Talk to a Scientist’ features Chaiti has a BS in Viticulture from UC Davis, and has returned to India to enable technology in farming communities.. On Sat, Nov 20, 2021 at 5 PM IST for children from ages 6-16. Register here.

  3. What’s that Bird Outside? is part of the highly popular Chai and Why series from the cool TIFR outreach team and is scheduled on Sunday, Nov 21, 2021 at 11 AM. Zoom, YouTube & FBLive links available here. Here’s what the session blurb says-

    Even in the midst of a densely-populated and polluted city like Mumbai, there are so many birds that call it home. If you are lucky to be in a space with more greenery, there are surely many types of birds around.

    Observing birds is like watching a cinema whose plot-line is never known. The amazing variety, the beautiful colours and fascinating behaviours of these tiny winged wonders of the natural world have me glued to observing birds for life, be it in the forest or the city.

    Watching and documenting birds can help hone many skills such as-observation, paying attention to detail, writing an accurate scientific description, maintaining logs, organising information, etc. But most importantly, it is so much fun! But how does one go about figuring out what kind of bird are you observing? What are the features to look out for? A good starting point is here.

    Join us as we discuss how to start on this exciting journey and explore the world of birds!

    About the Speaker: Adithi is a Scientific Officer with the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai. She is an avid nature enthusiast who is easily distracted by birds! She blogs on www.earthlynotes.com