News articles about a child genius or two whose abilities far outstrip those twice their age crop up every now and then. It can be a mathematics genius who treats calculus as a game, or a young musician playing Chopin with ease. These children are absolute wonders.
For Ryan Tumbocon, it was the combination of nature and nurture that allowed his gifts to flourish.Tumbocon has been found to display verbal-linguistic giftedness and was chosen to be one of the kids that starred in commercials of milk supplement brand Promil highlighting multiple intelligence.
During his talk at the National Gifted Week conference held last November 29, Tumbocon shared that his parents played a pivotal role in the development of his gift. “Growing up, you have these abilities, but these were greatly developed first and foremost by my parents. Prior to my great mentors, I had my mom and dad first and foremost, and nurturance was at the very heart of it. They closely observed how I was and gave me the perfect level of attention. Attention that allows you to catch certain observations, certain things about the child without smothering them,” he shared.
Tumbocon recounted that his parents also worked as a team in developing their children’s talents. “There was effective teamwork when it came to teaching. My dad was more of a mathematician and a science guy so he was in charge of teaching me the hard stuff – science, math, and sports. Meanwhile, my mom focused on teaching the arts, teaching language, literature, English, and everything in between. There was constant encouragement for me to explore and try new and different things. There was a stimulation of curiosity and inquisitiveness, and very importantly, there was an emphasis on holistic development.” he said.
He noted however that growing up gifted can also be difficult for a child. Most gifted children are accelerated in school, making them younger and smaller than their peers. This leads to a sense of isolation, making it difficult for them to form close friendships in the classroom and making them targets for bullying.
Tumbocon said that one of the ways to address this is fir parents to establish a very open line of communication with their kids. “There is this stigma that if you tell off on a bully, you’re a tattletale, you’re weak, or you’re a wimp. So I tried to deal with the problems myself. My parents said that if they had known this, we could have been done something about it, even transfer schools or do something discreetly,” he shared.
“Parents can’t control what goes on in the schools of course, but communication between parents and child is a good starting point. Some people would say that because gifted kids are smarter, they are more mature. They can handle that on their own. But sometimes, gifted kids need more emotional support and emotional attention.” he added.
Now a father himself, Tumbocon has taken these lessons to heart. A father of a gifted kid as well, he wants to instill in his son a sense of fun in learning, rather than competition “There was a time that he came home after a contest and he said that he was sorry that he didn’t have a medal. I said that it is OK. As long as he has fun, it is all that matters,” he said.