[ExI] FW: Gifted Children

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Nov 23 07:48:41 UTC 2012

Dear Spike: Could you forward this onto the Extropians List with this Subject? It's  a little later and the conversation is pretty much ended, but it still might be helpful. Thanks.  Amara

Dear Amara, done diddley done, neighborino!  spike

-----Original Message-----
From: Amara Graps [mailto:graps at psi.edu] 
Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2012 8:59 PM
To: spike66 at att.net
Subject: Gifted Children

Dear Spike: Could you forward this onto the Extropians List with this Subject? It's  a little later and the conversation is pretty much ended, but it still might be helpful. Thanks.

I had a really startling dream last night, that brought me back to my old self (*). Which brought me to look at the extropians list. Curious.
Then I saw Sondre's post. My goodness. I had to say something.

Dear Sondre:

First, you have my support to move to whatever country suits you. I moved to Latvia from the US this past summer. I researched their support of kids and at least for the young ones, what they provide is awesome, especially compared with what I faced in the US. And so far, I think it was a good decision  for shifting the financial equation in my life of: my work, my time with my daughter. Still grappling with lack-of-time issues, and lack-of-me-time, especially, but those isssues are  not suffocating like it was in the US.

Second, I don't recommend moving to the US. Childcare costs will put you on the road to bankruptcy. If that doesn't, then your little girl's medical bills will.  If that doesn't bother you, then daycare regulations might. Or perhaps the knowledge that policeman patrol many public schools. And that U.S. public schools vary widely in their quality, with a good portion of them being pretty awful. Private schools will put you in bankruptcy, if the childcare and medical bills didn't.
And if that doesn't bother you, then the food quality might (Monsanto tainted fruits and vegetables). And if that doesn't bother you, then where to live where one doesn't need a car? Few cities permit you to live your daily life using your own feet or wheels. These are all reasons that were compelling enough to me, to move my little girl out at age 3.5 years.

Third: Beware of putting screens in front of such a young one. By screens, I mean videos, TV, interactive video games, games with flashy noises and lights.  Believe in the power of less to support the cognitive development of your child. The first years are the most important years of a human's brain development. At these ages, they are the most vulnerable to the screens' effects. From 0 to age 2, most of the brains' development including its fundamental neural architecture occurs, in relation to and in interaction with environmental stimuli.
Neurologists have identified three types of stimuli or interaction that optimize brain grown: babies need interaction with parents and other humans, they need to manipulate their environment (to touch things, to feel and move them), and they need to do problem-solving activities (such as the 'where did it go?' problem-solving of peekaboo). Screens don't help with those things. You do. You are your baby's most important cognitive supporter. Additionally, until about age 6, children are developmentally and psychologically unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy. All of this and more is written in Kim John Payne's _Simplicity Parenting_. If you are going to buy any parenting book, this one should be the first, in my opinion.

As for my own daughter, I _think_ I have a gifted 4yo, but I don't really know. People who have followed my Facebook page can say more. It only seems that she has an easy time with whatever she tries and is amazingly expressive and articulate and fearless. I'm doing my best to support all of her inclinations. I haven't addressed which/how/what school she will start at age 6-7 (when public school starts here) and how to challenge her. Right now, learning her fourth language (Latvian, after English and Spanish and sign language) is proving enough of a challenge for her. Yes, she is probably linguistically gifted, but languages come amazingly easy for babies, so if you're going to move, now is a good time.


(*) Many of you know that I have been consumed in the last years with the combination of starting my family and trying to be fully funded in my research. Solo. Totally successful on the first. Partially successful on the second. Moved from Boulder to Latvia June 2012 because I wanted more time with my daughter and I was headed to being many tensofthousands$$ in debt due to childcare. Changing the equation is making a difference, but my life is not yet settled from my international move (another apartment move possible soon, but at least it would be in the same city).


Amara Graps, PhD             www.amara.com
Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Riga, Latvia

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