Ayana was reading and writing by the time she was four. Her first attempts to put marker to paper involved drawing, but that wasn’t enough. She wanted to create little poems to go with the pictures she had drawn. She says, “I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to read everything in the house and to write to my heart’s content. Even before I entered school I had a sense of self and a sense of authority. At age five, on a beginning level, I knew I was writing my own book, my own life.
“Home is where I always worked on my inner voice. School did not allow me to go into one subject – my writing – richly. I wanted to dim the noise and concentrate on my real work.”
At age 26, Ayana is weighing her options for a Ph.D. program that will match her interests. She says, “Talent is the currency that we as individuals invest for our future, but first someone must invest in its development. All the affirmations from my childhood encourage me to pass on the message I was given – it is good to show and develop your gifts.”
Smart children are crying out for recognition and support. The following poem is a compilation of comments made by students who were awarded small monetary grants by the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY) to develop dream projects:
Please challenge me,
Give me the guts to be me.
Please notice me,
Give me gold-plated wings to unfurl
Somewhere out there in the world.
Please welcome me,
Give me the way to go forward
And become the me
I want to be.
In summary, there are smart children from all walks of life. Smart children need recognition of their abilities, and home is where they first need it. Early affirmations of talent start building the self-confidence the child will take from childhood into adulthood.