Vol V, No 12 - December 12, 2023


As your holiday train chugs along, we send you hopes for peace, flexibility, and

space for you and your kids to be yourselves whether you are coasting along the tracks or going completely off the rails.

In this issue, GHF's new President, Lisa Sticca-Conrod, shares highlights of 2023 and hopes for GHF in 2024.

Dr. Amy Clark offers gold nugget advice on the best gifts to give G/2e kids (spoiler alert: these are not always the ones that you put in a box and wrap up with a bow).

We feature a hot-off-the-GHF Press children's book by Gayle Bentley and Dr. Lin Lim. Their picture book shows the value of parents' reading to their kids and working through important issues such as worry, perfectionism, and managing “big feelings.” In the Author's Corner, Gayle explains why she and Lin were inspired to write the book and what they hope readers will take away from it.

Merry Jingly Happy everything to all of you. Hopefully we arrive at 2024 with minimal amounts of glitter, slime, and reindeer poo tracked onto our carpets, science experiments contained in safe spaces, roller-blading in the house only performed with helmets on, and tweens and teens gifting us responses of more than one syllable. See you on the flip side.

-- Marna

Marna Walthall Wohlfeld is a mom of four, a former non-profit director and journalist, and now a doctoral student at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education. She has deschooled, unschooled, and homeschooled various kids at various stages. She loves learning about and championing kids' unique brains and learning styles. She hopes to use her graduate degree to support parents and caregivers of twice-exceptional children as they move through the journey of parenting their wonderfully complex kids. She also hopes to advocate for 2e students by creating greater understanding about the need for strength-based approaches and support for vulnerable nervous systems in education and life. Marna is a trained SENG facilitator. She has presented at NAGC and WCGTC and has written for 2e News.

Online G3

Longtime GHF supporter and revered gifted community fixture Online G3 is a best-in-class learning alternative, with courses tailored to meet the needs of gifted and 2e students. By pairing passionate teachers with engaging and interactive academic content, G3 offers appropriate acceleration within an accredited, secular and affordable education program, including dual enrollment opportunities. https://www.onlineg3.com/online-courses-for-kids/

President's Address

by Lisa Sticca-Conrod

GHF President

Season’s Greetings to our GHF Family! My name is Lisa Sticca-Conrod, and I am the new President of GHF. I am so proud to lead such an amazing organization which prides itself on creating a safe place for parents and families to share with each other their experiences and their concerns, as well as learn from professionals about resources, techniques, and opportunities to make the most out of their journey raising gifted children and helping their children reach their full potential academically, socially, and spiritually.

In 2023, we have continued our long tradition of helping our families through a variety of means, most notably through our newsletter, The Journey. To that end, we, the GHF Board and family, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jen Merrill, a veteran homeschooler and educator, who has fearlessly led this large effort for many years, and who has moved on to pursue exciting new opportunities. Your work on this publication that has served so many for so long has left big shoes to fill, but I am equally as pleased to announce the new captain of the Journey ship, Marna Wohlfeld, who has taken on this large responsibility and who is already doing a wonderful job by adding her own personal flare to this much valued publication.

2023 has been an exciting year of change, too! Long-time GHF Board President Barry Gelston, who made GHF what it is today, is transitioning onto greater things in his life. As such, on behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire GHF family, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Barry for his many years of selfless service to GHF, and to wish him well on his new endeavors! We also welcome our new members to our Board of Directors, namely Ric Mejía (Treasurer), Marna Wohlfeld, Erinn Fears Floyd, and Lisa Jobe – all of whom are doing an amazing job!

GHF has always been dedicated to its mission, which is “to empower every gifted family to make strategic, proactive, and intentional educational choices.” To that end, 2023 also saw the reboot of GHF Press, GHF’s book publishing arm! GHF Press has produced so many wonderful pieces in the past, some of which have been best sellers on Amazon, and all of which continue to inform our GHF family and so many others about the ups and downs of being gifted – both as a child and as an adult. As the Executive Editor of GHF Press, I am excited to announce the recent publication of Using Picture Books to Help Little Ones Learn About Themselves, by Gayle Bentley and GHF’s own Dr. Lin Lim, and which was recently touted as a #1 New Release on Amazon this past November! Moving forward, GHF Press will be publishing several books in 2024 which will continue to enlighten, educate, and inspire our GHF family and beyond!

This year, GHF also embarked on an exciting new journey into the Co-Op world! Headed up by Lisa Jobe, the GHF Virtual Co-Op has successfully completed its Fall semester offering enrichment classes to students across the country and even in Canada! It was a big hit, and so GHF is pleased to be offering another round of Co-Op classes starting in the new year! A big shout out to Ric Mejía, Marketing and Social Media guru and GHF Secretary Kathy Turner, and countless others who have made and who continue to make this Co-Op a continued success!

Moving on to 2024, GHF looks forward to continuing on with our GHF Expert Series, which will continue starting early in the year, where I will be interviewing professionals, authors, educators, parents, and others who are experienced in the world of gifted! We also look forward to continuing our Conversations Series and our GHF Annual Conference in June, led by Kasi Peters and Carol Malueg, as well as our Professional Series where gifted professionals can join and share resources. Finally, 2024 will bring us the relaunch of GHF Dialogue, our online journal, which will feature articles by professionals in the field of gifted education, counseling, and parenting – and much more!

To all GHF families and friends – thank you for your continued love and support of not only our organization, but of each other. At GHF, we value our community, and we strive to keep building that network for you so that we can learn from each other and grow in friendship! Being gifted, raising gifted children, educating gifted, and supporting gifted individuals in any capacity can be a real challenge, and we hope that GHF can continue to be that source of comfort and fellowship for its families through our events and opportunities to connect with each other. 

As we look toward a prosperous New Year, I would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy holiday season, filled with good times with the wonderful people in your lives! We hope that GHF continues to serve you and your families in ways that will be meaningful in 2024 and for many years to come! To that end, please contact me personally with any thoughts, questions, or suggestions that you may have for GHF programming and other offerings. If you have not done so already, please fill out our GHF survey. We are here for you – and I would love to hear from you!

Again, thank you for all you contribute to GHF, and I am grateful and humbled by this opportunity to serve you, my GHF Family!   

Lisa Sticca-Conrod is an attorney, professor, professional tutor, educational consultant, and executive functioning coach who has taught for several colleges and universities over the last 20 years in various disciplines, including Law, Ethics, Economics, Leadership, Management, Strategy, and Math. She holds a Juris Doctor, an MS Educational Psychology (Gifted and Talented Development), Graduate Certificates in Neurodiversity, Executive Functioning, and Autism, as well as undergraduate degrees in Economics and International Studies, with minors in Spanish and Music Theory and Classical Performance. Lisa has published several textbooks and other academic materials. Besides being the President of GHF, Lisa holds Executive Board leadership positions in two other non-profit organizations that advocate for the needs of the gifted and neurodiverse populations, including SENG and CT Association for the Gifted. She is also the Executive Editor of GHF Press. Lisa is a homeschooling mom, and lives in CT with her husband and their daughter.

December Shopping List: G/2e Gifts

December Shopping List

by Amy Clark, Ed.D.

As the end of the year approaches, we can easily find ourselves overwhelmed by the gift-giving season. I remember as a kid my parents would hand me the giant toy store catalog which translated to the task of shopping for me being as simple as ordering a few of the hundreds of items I had circled. Times have changed, magazines go untouched, and let's face it, shopping for the gifted and twice-exceptional individuals in our lives is rarely straight forward. 

As a mom, and a professional in the space, I thought it may help to hear that some of the best gifts you can give are truly the experiences they will remember. Our children yearn to feel respected for their intellect, to have a sense of belonging among others that share their passion, and above all to feel appreciated by those they love the most for being exactly who they are. What better way to give them these things than through memories that they will cherish? 

To make your efforts a bit easier (since I don’t have a toy catalog nearby!), I thought I’d share a few of our favorite experience-based gift ideas….

  • Volunteer: Gifted and twice-exceptional students are often deeply moved by a sense of justice or a cause that they believe in. Consider how you might support them in their cause of choice by providing volunteer opportunities that allow them to directly contribute to the effort: plant trees, organize donations for a food drive, create informational animations about the alternatives for plastics, or make signs for an election.  
  • Animals: Spending time with animals is not only therapeutic but often provides a sense of connection to another living thing that loves unconditionally. Consider how you might bring the joy of animal experiences to your child: set up a fish tank together, visit with therapy dogs in your area, adopt an endangered animal like the vaquita, or if you want to embark on an experience that lasts for years consider adopting a dog or cat of your own. (keep in mind adding a family pet generally means you are taking on the majority of the responsibility yourself and definitely should be carefully considered)
  • Vacations: Near or far, staying away from home for a night or two can mix it up just enough to disconnect from devices and reconnect to each other. Some ideas: pitch a tent in the backyard, house swap, stay at grandma’s, book the fancy hotel downtown for the night, or plan a destination vacation to build excitement about for the weeks to come. 
  • Staycation: For some kids, leaving home feels like too much and the safety of routines and comfort objects is more important. If so, plan a staycation. Schedule the date, clear your calendar of all obligations (Hello! No school!), order in favorite foods and cue up the video games. No matter what you do, give them your full attention in whatever they are most interested in without distraction. When you find yourself slipping away, use your running tally of exactly how many twinkles you’ve captured in their eye to bring you back. 
  • Clubs & Classes: Our kids often have interests that just don’t line up with others their age or mainstream school. But, that doesn’t mean they are alone. Spend some time searching for a club or class that is centered around their interest, a place where they will encounter others that share their passion, and commit to a membership. Some ideas to consider: nature school for outdoor lovers, the local astronomy club for stargazers, a class at the glass blowing factory downtown for artistic scientists, an online origami session, or even an afterschool minecraft virtual meetup.
  • Tools & Supplies: What is your child into these days? Are they pursuing a creative outlet that could benefit from having experience with the true authentic tools of the professionals? Are there rental options for the tools or short subscriptions? Some ideas: online creative applications, 3d modeling programs, development environments for programming, or time on a 3d printer at the local maker space.
  • Making Something Together: Is there something that your child really wants to do but you’ve felt like was not quite developmentally safe for them yet? Give them the shared experience of creating that thing together and cherishing it for the year ahead. Some ideas: cook a special dessert together, make your own essential oil-scented candles, create eco-friendly cleaning supplies… toilet bombs are always a favorite! 
  • A Special Book: Select a book that you know you will both enjoy reading together and plan a regular date to read aloud like old times. Snuggle by the fire, grab the popcorn, and share the experience together - both while you read and in the conversations that follow between reading sessions.  
  • Event: Perhaps your child has a favorite artist or dreams of going to a special event, consider arranging tickets to attend either with you or with friends so that they have a memorable experience enjoying something they love. Sometimes you’ll need to think outside the box on this one to make it realistic. For example, one student I work with loves skyscrapers so the event we organized was a tour of the tallest building in the state complete with behind the scenes rooftop access. Be brave, it never hurts to ask! Or, consider: special museum showings, traveling events, concerts, ballet, real estate tours, or sporting events. 
  • Get Active: The new year always brings promises of exercise routines. Make this year different and select an activity you both can enjoy together. The shared experience may just make it something that is easier to maintain: pickleball doubles partners, a goal to hike every trail at the local nature park, a commitment to complete a 5k together, or a trampoline to jump the day away at home. 
  • Dedicated Space: Sometimes their interests need to be honored and embraced with dedicated space that gives them the freedom to pursue it to their heart’s content. When my son became deeply interested in the making of natural pigments, we gave him the opportunity to redesign his childhood playroom into his very own art studio. I can’t even count the number of hours he has spent in that space and the pride he has in sharing that he created it for himself is heartwarming. 
  • Mentorships: Last but definitely not least is a reminder that the experience doesn’t have to be one shared with you, it can also be a life experience that brings connection with someone new. For many of our children, finding others that understand them and their interests is difficult. Look for a mentor that truly shares your child’s passion and is willing to embrace their asynchronous abilities through mentorship… guide them to ensure the connection takes hold… then watch how your child transforms as a result of the positive relationship and sense of belonging that forms.

Dr. Amy Haynes Clark earned her Doctorate in Education at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity with a focus on Innovative Leadership. She supports neurodivergent individuals as well as their families, educators, and employers through her consultancy, Exceptionally Engaged. As a mom that travels the asynchronous education path with her own child, she combines her professional knowledge and personal experience to help parents in adopting strategies that foster harmony in the home while also designing individualized learning approaches for the most complex of students. In her twice-exceptional mentoring sessions, she creates a sense of belonging and builds self-efficacy by exploring how an individual's strengths, talents, and interests can guide their future. Her personal passion and current research focuses on supporting the multi-exceptional individual with anxiety on their unique pathway to flourishing.

GHF Press Featured Title

Parents today lead busy lives and it’s difficult to “get it all done.” Gayle and Lin have created a guide encouraging parents to strengthen their connection with their youngsters using shared reading time. This book provides a selection of carefully curated picture books that can be used by parents to address important issues with their children, such as worry, perfectionism, and managing “big feelings.” Gayle and Lin also provide expert advice to gently guide parent-child conversations using simple, science-backed methods, including ways to help your child develop empathy, self-regulation, and self-acceptance. All of this is artfully accomplished as the authors share both research-based strategies and their own parenting experiences to bring out the very best in children using a strength-based approach.

Purchase Using Picture Books to Help Little Ones Learn About Themselves here.

Author's Corner

By Gayle Bentley

Co-author of Using Picture Books to Help Little Ones Learn About Themselves

Lin and I wrote this book to remind parents how important it is to read with our young children. We inherently know that they will benefit academically in the future - reading is good for their brain development - and will challenge the quick minds of those who appear gifted or twice-exceptional. But, we want you to consider another aspect. Close reading time is bonding time between our little ones and us. This is an important way to connect with our children and convince them that we will be there when the road ahead gets bumpy, as it will. Both Lin and I have teenagers now, and we rely on that close bond that we worked hard to forge as challenges arise. 

A second point that we ponder in this book is the idea that we can address “tricky” topics, even with young children, by using high-quality picture books. As a teacher, I have worked with many anxious teenagers and a number of anxious little kids. I can assure readers that the little guys are more open to discussing the characters in a book with whom they can identify and discussing strategies to allay their anxiety. My teenage students have spent over a decade fostering their anxiety, and it is tough to break habits and change neural pathways! Other topics that we address in the book include developing empathy, accepting differences in themselves and others, perfectionism, and managing “big feelings.” We hope that our research-backed strategies and personal stories are helpful for all parents of young children.

Gayle Bentley is a third-year doctoral student at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education and the mother of three neurodivergent sons. She taught K-12 instrumental music in the public schools for 23 years. This fall, she became the Academic Director at 2e4me Academy, a nonprofit learning academy for twice-exceptional students. She also recently founded The Bentley Center, a place of resources and support for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children.

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