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An Overview of Support Groups for Gifted Teens

Gifted Resources

Middle and high school are prime periods in our lives as human beings to learn about ourselves, develop strong social and emotional skills, and build friendships. As parents, we want our children to find fulfillment in academics equally as much as in their social life. Yet making friends can be difficult for profoundly gifted children, especially if they don’t have the opportunity to be around other like-minded individuals.

There are several challenges gifted students face in traditional schools that cause them to struggle to find a sense of belonging. One reason is that they are disengaged. Oftentimes, the curriculum isn’t challenging enough, and the gifted student doesn’t have the opportunity to explore subjects or topics they are passionate about. Or, the individual may be unable to build deeper connections with their classmates as they don’t share similar interests.

That’s why support groups tailored to gifted teens can make such a difference in their lives.

The Benefits of Support Group for Gifted Teens

The number one benefit these kinds of groups provide for gifted teens is emotional and social support. They go through the world differently than others, which is why knowing other people who have shared experiences is crucial to forming meaningful connections. Meeting peers with similar intellectual capabilities and interests can help mitigate feelings of isolation or being misunderstood. Support groups for gifted teens serve as a safe space where they openly discuss their struggles—such as dealing with perfectionism or asynchronous development—and eventually develop a sense of belonging and self-acceptance.

Additionally, support groups provide a platform for gifted teens to engage in intellectually stimulating conversations that might not be available in their classroom or everyday social circles. These interactions foster growth, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Of course, your child will only reap the full benefits of a support group if they find one that works for them.

Finding the Right Support Group

In general, there are three types of support groups for gifted teens:

  1. In-person groups are for people to meet up and connect with others in their immediate community. For gifted children, in-person groups tend to be school-based programs, such as clubs, local events, and gifted education networks.
  2. Online groups still offer a different kind of face-to-face interaction—one with more flexibility. Through forums, chat rooms, and video calls, gifted teens can receive emotional support, collaborate on projects, and develop social skills in a way that complements their busy schedules and locations.
  3. Specialized groups may cater specifically to a particular topic of interest or subset of the gifted community, such as twice-exceptional (2e) individuals.

Those explanations might help you and your gifted child understand which type of support group would be best for them. Follow these three steps to narrow down your child’s options:

  1. Research: Know what to look for when identifying potential fits.
  2. Evaluation: Make sure the support group matches your child’s interests.
  3. Explore: Encourage your child to try a few different ones.

This process may seem easier said than done. To help you navigate all of the options and ultimately find the right support group for your gifted teen, we will dive further into each step.

Researching Options

With so much information out there, thorough research for support groups will help parents and their gifted teens find the right fit for their unique needs and circumstances.

Our first tip for finding a support group is to check with schools in your area. Ask school counselors (or, if they have them, gifted education coordinators) what kind of support groups they offer. Then expand your search to community centers, libraries, and professional organizations. Social media platforms are good tools as well.

Once you have a few options, determine their ethos. Online directories, forums, and review sites, such as Niche.com and GreatSchools.org, offer detailed listings and parent reviews that can help gauge a group’s reliability. Recommendations from trusted psychologists, educational consultants, and other experts working with the profoundly gifted are also valuable.

Evaluating Fit and Compatibility

When exploring support groups for your gifted teen, consider, “Does this meet their needs? Does this align with their interests?” Parents should look into the types of activities and discussions the group engages in, ensuring they’re relevant to their child’s passions and strengths. Additionally, you should assess the support group’s approach to addressing gifted students’ common challenges to ensure this will help them grow holistically.

Trying Out Multiple Groups

You should encourage participation in different support groups. This exploratory method gives your teen an opportunity to see which settings, activities, and peer interactions feel best to them. Trying multiple groups also empowers your teen by involving them directly in the decision-making process.
As they test out these support groups, check in with them. Ask how the session went, if they met anyone new, and what they learned. You should also observe how your child acts. Do they actively want to attend sessions? Are they involved in discussions and activities? What’s their overall mood after each meeting? An ideal group is one where your teen feels relaxed, valued, and intellectually stimulated.

How Davidson Institute Can Help

Created to aid the profoundly gifted and their families during secondary school and beyond, Davidson Institute has plenty of resources to help your child. From providing coursework that is appropriately challenging through Davidson Academy and Davidson Academy Online to sharing social and emotional resources, we’re here to make sure your gifted teen can reach their full potential.

We have several offerings that could be considered support groups for gifted teens, including our year-round Young Scholars program and our summer programs.

Young Scholars

Here, your child will feel like they belong—and so will you. Young Scholars is a free support group for gifted teens and their families, connecting them with others in the gifted community. Now you’ll have direct access to people who understand your child’s unique needs and to resources that will help you navigate your journey.

Learn more about the application process and eligibility requirements.

Summer Programs

When school’s out for the summer, it can be even harder for your child to make friends. Fortunately, there are support groups for gifted teens that take place during school’s off-season to continue that sense of community. Here are two that Davidson Institute offers for this age group:

  • REACH Summer Seminar: an academically rigorous residential experience for our Young Scholars, ages 11-13
  • THINK Summer Institute: a three-week residential experience where gifted students aged 13-16 have the chance to earn college credit for their work

If you don’t live in Reno, Nevada, there is still a wide variety of gifted summer programs out there, some of which hone in on particular topics of interest.

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