It was one of those nights when I’d sit on my dad’s lap. I will always remember dad’s favorite line ““Study well, little girl. Education will always be with you even if I am not around.”

Education is one of the greatest investments dad could ever give us despite the limited resources. Born from a poor family, dad struggled the corporate ladder just to give us the best education he could afford. Dad may not be around now but true enough, it is education that armed me with the skills, the accumulated knowledge and values to rise up from the challenges that came my way. The words of my dad carried on to my three children. I didn’t have to prod my kids to study and educate themselves. They understood the value of education that is to prepare them even at an early age to educate themselves throughout their lives. I smile as I watch my grown-up ladies from afar, now financially independent and making life decisions with our blessings.

When we come across the word ““education,” many of us strongly associate it with schooling. If you put education in the context of your own child, what is education to you?

As a mom blogger, I get a chance to visit schools and check out their curriculum and programs. This is an opportunity to share these information to my readers and for them to discern if this is the right school for their child. I came across a few heartwarming videos about little girls manifesting good deeds to others at their tender age. It seems to be an advocacy and I admire the institution that helps parents so that the very essence of education and learning — a thinking head, a caring heart, and a serving hand comes out naturally from kids as they go through their daily lives. Take a peek at this . . .

I believe that schools and parents play an active role as partners in educating and motivating our children today to dream for a good purpose, think for a good reason, and care enough to serve others.

Parents in search for schools that value academic excellence, moral uprightness, and social responsibility should consider the development of their child’s God-given talents.

I was struck by the Giftedness Instruction for Talent (G.I.F.T) Development Program in St. Paul College Pasig. I often told my little girls back then that ““you are God’s gift to me.” I believe in honing those God-given talents and made sure my girls got the training in piano, singing, and writing even if their school did not provide for it.

The G.I.F.T Program is a curricular innovation aimed at discovering and honing the students’ talents in the various fields of arts and sciences. More than what our kids get out of school clubs, I read that G.I.F.T. is the most comprehensive talent development program integrated in basic education which features 32 specialized courses in five Talent Learning Centers.

Grade school kids enjoy tinkering with the MAC and learning during their GIFT – Digital Arts and Creative Writing classes.

Brave and aspiring young gymnasts have fun at the balance beam in their SPCP GIFT – Gymnastics class

Young kids do their warm-ups before the GIFT – Taekwondo class. As early as preschool, kids get to explore the basics of this sport.

Bringing out the giftedness in every individual heightens self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence that emanates from integral formation begets good citizens which are what our country needs.

If you are searching for a school, it is important to know what you want for your child. Choose a school that complements your values. While basic education is the focus of an academically prepared, morally upright, and socially responsible child, a formal structure of talent development instruction makes learning truly relevant and functional. Investigate the school’s teaching methods if it will stimulate or hone your child’s talents, strengths, and interests. This might just be the school that matches the individual needs and interests of your child.

What type of education are you looking for your child?

““I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.” Albert Einstein
gifted-child1I had the chance to meet gifted kids from Philippine High School for the Arts (PSHA) when my two girls joined the Manila Children’s Choir in the late nineties. Among my daughter’s circle of friends was Jourdann Petalver and a couple of kids with powerful soprano voices. It was during rehearsal breaks that I got to know more about their life at this exclusive school for gifted kids in the creative field of music, art, writing, dancing and others. I often wonder what have become of them and even of PSHA. If there is one great thing that Imelda Marcos did , it is the promotion of culture and arts and the nurturing of gifted children. I believe parents should be aware of options of their gifted child and the road they travel as they hone their gifts.

The second part of the third part report on “Dilemmas on the ‘Different'”focus on the gifted child. (The first part was about Down’s syndrome.) Part 2 is authored by PCIJ Fellow Rorie R. Fajardo tells the story of the students of the Philippine High School for the Arts, a charmed circle that by all accounts belongs to the two percent of the country’s population that is deemed to be gifted.

Dilemmas on the ‘Different’

The Gifted Give Back

By Rorie R. Fajardo
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Second of Three Parts

THE MOMENT they stepped into the campus of the Philippine High School for the Arts or PHSA in 1988, Roselle Pineda says that she and the other freshmen were made aware they were being trained to be the country’s future cultural leaders.

““Medyo mayabang pakinggan (It may sound like I’m bragging),” says Pineda, now 34 and teaching at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, ““but this makes you realize at the start that you are scholars of the people, the cream of the crop, and therefore you have the duty to give back something to the people.”

Then again, PHSA is no ordinary school. As its name implies, it specializes in the arts, and it takes as students only those who are deemed gifted in writing or in either performing or visual arts. It is, in fact, the creative counterpart of the older Philippine Science High School or Pisay, which caters to youths with ““high aptitude for sciences and math.”

Both schools are government-run, but they are certainly what most public high schools are not. Both boast of the latest equipment, well-trained staff and solid faculty lineup, and a healthy teacher-student ratio. There are no overcrowded classes in either school, and if there is a class that is held under a tree, it would be because teacher and students suddenly felt the urge to commune with nature or take in fresh air, rather than because of a missing roof or, worse, the sheer inexistence of a school building. Aside from free tuition, free board and lodging are available. Each student gets a monthly stipend as well.
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Having Down syndrome is like being born normal. I am just like you and you are just like me. We are all born in different ways, that is the way I can describe it. I have a normal life. Chris Burke

special-childrenMy late father was quite active with St. Martin de Porres, a school for special children. As a young child, my dad often told me how much smarter these special kids (in comparison to regular kids like myself) are for maximizing their brain potential. Some of us are just plain lazy to actually maximize our true potential. I found that out myself as I got older and wiser.

Earlier today, Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism sent me an email about a three-part report on the dilemmas we face when dealing with ““different” children, or the ““special” and the ““gifted” ones among them.

It is by now de rigueur, and politically correct, to avoid referring to them as ““abnormal” — a word laced with the bias of the majority who are supposed to be ““normal.” Societies in both the developed West and the developing East have since launched programs and services catering to the special needs of these children. However, if a nation has only limited resources, should the community devote more to the special children, or to the gifted? Indeed, how could we know how best to care for them?

But more than just a question of logistics, to the families who nurture and care for these children, many other dilemmas unfold daily – burden, blessing, joy, pain all the same most of the time. And in between, too, these families have to contend with people who respond differently, sometimes harshly, to children who are “different.”

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