Exploring the values and aspirations of mothers with highly intellectual gifted children of their participation in out-of-school programs

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Pendergast, Donna L
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Grootenboer, Peter J
Ronksley-Pavia, Michelle
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The unique learning needs of gifted children present parents with many challenges. Despite this, the voices of these parents have received little attention from scholars. Australian schools are not always able to appropriately provide for the learning needs of gifted children. As it appears that school programs are not adequately meeting the academic and social needs of many gifted children, parents are seeking out-of-school programs to cater for their children’s unique academic and social needs. However, the values and aspirations of these parents remain unclear. Using bioecological and sociocultural theories as a framework, this study collected data from eight mothers of highly gifted children in Years 3-6 on their values and aspirations for their children’s attendance in out-of-school programs. The study only focuses on intellectually gifted children, one of Gagné’s (2012) six natural abilities. Data were collected through background information collection via written responses, and face-to-face interviews via Skype. Data collected for this study went through a thematic analysis process suggested by Creswell (2008), with minor adjustments, as suggested by Smith (2008). The findings indicate that mothers are seeking opportunities for social interaction with like-minded peers in these out-of-school programs. The findings align with the core element of both bioecological and sociocultural theories, which propose social interaction as a key element for a child’s learning and development. This indicated that mothers wish to create a social environment where their highly gifted children can feel a sense of belonging. The findings also suggest that other aspirations these mothers have for their gifted children in these programs include cognitive development, physical development, and psychological enhancement. Mothers seek advice from professionals (e.g., school counsellors) or fellow parents with gifted children when making decisions on out-of-school programs for their children. Although mothers wish to send their highly gifted children to as many appropriate out-of-school programs as possible, there are practical considerations. Mothers consider the cost and the experience of the facilitators for the programs. Ultimately, mothers want their highly gifted children to have an enjoyable experience attending these out-of-school programs. The findings confirmed existing research that mothers of gifted children seek social interaction opportunities for their children. Therefore, recommendations for providers of out-of-school programs are to consider incorporating social interaction activities for gifted children, and for schools that cannot cater for the needs of highly gifted children to be flexible and allow those children to attend other appropriate programs during regular school days. Providers of those programs need to be flexible with age requirements. In addition, facilitators need to attend training on gifted children’s unique characteristics to understand how they process information. These recommendations provide practical guidance to provide highly gifted children with the support and opportunities most valued by their mothers.

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Thesis (Masters)
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Master of Education and Professional Studies Research (MEdProfStRes)
School Educ & Professional St
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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
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out-of-school programs
social interaction activities
gifted children
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