The Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has created a webpage with educational resources to help parents of gifted, talented, and high-ability students stay engaged and academically challenged while learning at home.
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Arkansas were closed,” said Dr. Christine Deitz, associate director of the Jodie Mahony Center. “Much of the learning that would typically occur during the day moved online and are, for our younger learners, managed by parents. Professionals at the Jodie Mahony Center quickly recognized the need for organizing resources for parents and established a webpage that offers multiple links to carefully curated learning activities, articles, and resources.”
The dynamic resource page, Exciting, Enriching, and Exceptional Resources for the Curious, the Advanced, and the Gifted Child.” is updated daily and will help parents locate great resources and programs that will help excite and engage young learners during this time of changing learning environments. While the resources work great for all students, they are especially helpful for gifted and talented children.
“Our goal in creating the Exciting, Enriching, and Exceptional resource page was to assist parents in finding materials that offered rich learning experiences and stimulated creativity and curiosity,” Deitz said.
The site includes a wide variety of direct links for all learners – from daily doodles with the artist-in-residence for the Kennedy Center to Khan Academy, a no-cost and well-established online learning hub for grade-leveled content courses. The page also has resources for parents and education professionals as well as for Advanced Placement learning.
“If you are a parent, this is a whole new world for you,” said Dr. Ann Robinson, director of the Jodie Mahony Center. “This is seven days a week for moms and dads who get no breaks. Parents need some creative relief to support them. There are directions for hands-on activities that children can do with common objects around the house to encourage kids to stay curious.”
The Jodie Mahony Center, which has been providing educational resources and training for Arkansas’s teachers for more than 40 years, recommends that parents engage in activities that they find exciting as a way to connect with their children.
“You should select activities that you as a parent will get excited about,” Robinson said. “The conversations, activities, and enrichment will continue after the online link has closed. We included links for parents, because I’d like to think it’s a family learning experience. If the parents are excited, the kids will be excited.”
Professors at the Jodie Mahony Center emphasized that informal learning, the type of learning taking place at home, can lead to great benefits such as increased creativity and motivation from children.
“Informal learning is learning done outside the classroom. It is usually associated with museums, science centers, theaters, and art galleries,” Robinson said. “It has a history of being extremely effective. Parents can access informal learning activities and talk about them in conversations around the dinner table. Informal learning between parents, grandparents, and youngsters works to sharpen children’s interests.”