Smart is not Easy


This list was adapted from the blog, “12 Things I Wish I Had Known About My Young Gifted Kids.”   For the full, awesome, original article, visit: 

Gifted programs are not elitist. They are essential for social justice. 

Gifted kids have significant special needs – perfectionism, intensity, sensitivity, higher incidence of learning differences, misunderstood by teachers and peers – and those needs deserve to be addressed.

The point is developing grit and growth mindset, not achievement

Schoolwork needs to be hard enough for gifted kids to have to put forth real effort, so that they develop grit, growth mindset, persistence, perseverance, tolerance for mistakes, and a solid work ethic. Those life skills matter more than any single subject taught in K-12 schools. To build those skills with a gifted kid, we need to provide them with additional depth and complexity, so that school is actually challenging. 

Stealth disabilities are common

Gifted kids with a disability, learning difference, or other neurodiversity are called “twice exceptional” or 2e for short. When a 2e kid is in a too-easy classroom, they may be able to compensate so thoroughly for a disability that it becomes nearly invisible. Sometimes they are working so hard to compensate, that they don’t appear to be gifted either.

Perfectionism / Risk Avoidance

Kids who struggle with perfectionism seldom hand in perfect work. Instead, they avoid doing the work. They procrastinate. They have trouble making decisions, because they aren’t sure which is the right answer. They are impatient with others who aren’t “doing it right.” They melt down at the first sign of trouble. They are super sensitive to criticism. They are afraid to try. What’s really going on? They are dodging any chance of making mistakes. Perfectionism is about avoiding risk. And long term, that risk avoidance can snowball and become an even bigger problem. Helping kids learn to take appropriate risks, tolerate frustration, and get up and try again is an important life goal, and it takes lots of practice.

They need peers

Gifted kids have more sophisticated conceptions of friendship earlier than typically developing children, but may not have the practical social skills to go along with it. And all kids, typically developing or gifted, go through crucial social development stages that are all about “friends who are just like me.” Without access to other similar peers, it’s no wonder why some gifted kids’ social development gets pretty bumpy.

Smart kids don’t have it easy

Whether it’s perfectionism, sensitivity, intensity, existential angst, imposter syndrome, multipotentiality, or more – there’s a lot for gifted kids to manage that goes far beyond academics. People assume that gifted kids will be successful without help, and that gifted kids are overachievers in every area. But that is rarely true. The vast majority of gifted kids have uneven, asynchronous development, and have unique challenges in their social-emotional development.

The What Ifs: A book about anxiety for kids

From A Mighty Girl

What if my dog runs away? What if I forget my homework? What if the sun stops shining? What if my crayon breaks?

Cora is constantly worrying about everything. Because of this, the Whatifs love her. They sneak up to her and give her all kinds of doubts: big or small, silly or frightening, likely or impossible. As she prepares for an upcoming piano recital, the Whatifs cling on tighter and drag her down, making her anxious about messing up during the concert. Will she be able to change her worry-filled thoughts into hopeful ones?

This picture book will speak to any person, young or old, who has been plagued by the Whatifs when they’re anxious! Author Emily Kilgore provides tips from cognitive behavioral therapy in the story, encouraging kids to turn their Whatifs around, and provides notes about her own experience with anxiety, too, help kids feel confident they can overcome their worries and thrive!

Photography Lessons from Hilary at National Geographic Kids

I can’t think of a more fun assignment than a photography class to get kids creative! Now, they would need access to a camera, but you could create a picture book using photos you took, a photo essay, or do a Harris Burdick of their own: A photo and a title of a story (but not actual story).

IDEA: have kids take photos of garbage in their neighborhoods and create photo essay on littering and pollution. Which essay was the most powerful and why? Which photo techniques make the images more powerful and why?

Photo Tips with Hilary
We love photography—and so do you! With these tips from National Geographic photo editor Hilary, you’ll be on your way to becoming a great photographer. Challenge yourself and wow your friends with these tricks from a pro!

Philosophy Intro for young kids

Philosophy for Kids

Philosophy for kids? Yes! Children are natural philosophers and ask these types of big questions all the time.  “Why…?!” We’re often quick to dismiss  Thinking about the nature of things will help them to become critical thinkers.  First, watch this video called “Intro to Philosophy for Kids”.


Philosophy means “love of wisdom. ”  When we know the truth, we are wise…But how to know the truth? Therefore if we want to know the truth, we need to figure things out.  If you love to figure out things, then welcome, you are a philosopher! And it does not matter how old you are.

Questions for kids

  • The Ring of Gyges: If you had a magic ring that made you invisible, would you use it? What would you do when you were invisible? Why wouldn’t you do it if you were visible?  What makes those kinds of thing wrong? 
  • Is it ever okay to lie? When?
  • Why do we have rules? Are there good rules and bad rules? What if there were no rules? 
  • What does it mean to be GOOD? Is it the same in every culture? Is the definition different for your parents or teacher? Was it the same in history? 
  • Why do people hate each other? 
  • What is happiness? How can you become happy? 
  • See what your class comes up with! 

P/J Think like an Engineer: Are you a problem solver?

Do you like using your imagination to build things that solve problems? If you do, you’re thinking like an engineer! Learn how engineers identify and solve problems, then help Jessi with a big problem of her own!

Ask. Imagine. Create. Improve

Watch the video. Find problems in the school/classroom and brainstorm a way to solve it.  Use this as a catch phrase all year to get students to become problem solvers in their classrooms and communities.

Character Education: Empathy

Showing empathy is an important part of being a friend and getting along with people. It means you can think about and understand how other people are feeling. Children are less likely to hurt and more likely to help someone if they can imagine themselves in that person’s place and can share that person’s thoughts and feelings.

These activities will help your students understand how to describe their own feelings and how to be supportive of each other. 

Empathy Activities

Financial Literacy: Income vs Property Tax

Stephen Punwasi is my favourite person on Twitter. And whenever he does a thread, I think, gosh, I wish I could teach this to my students. So here is one of his threads on Income Tax vs. Property Tax.

I have turned it into a slide show here. (If the images don’t match, that’s a misinterpretation on my part.)

And here is a worksheet on Income Tax.
Government of Ontario website on Property tax;
Government of Canada website on Income Tax:
Government of Canada website on Tax FAQs and 101s, and student worksheets

Other Financial Literacy Resources