The Baylor TIP Sheet - 1.1

Welcome to The TIP Sheet, a blog for exploring the experiences, mysteries, and ah-ha moments of life with exceptional children and adults. The journey through discovery of potential and the development of talent ranges from predictable pathways to unexplored opportunities, some of them unique to the individuals who pursue them and some surprisingly familiar to individuals who thought they surely had traveled that path alone. You may be coming here as a parent, eager to understand and support your child academically and socially. You may be here as a teacher or coach, curious about how best to guide and motivate students who learn differently from most. Whether charmed by precociousness, stymied by twice-exceptionality, or just worn out by incessant eager questions, you are invited to join a larger community here as we explore the intellectual, social, and emotional characteristics and needs of gifted learners, while simultaneously integrating the insights of research into areas such as optimal educational environments, talent development, motivation, and individual differences.

April 2, 2024

Nature, Nurture, and Navigation

When Baylor’s Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development held its 5th annual Parent Conference in February 2024, a quick glance at the session titles revealed an unplanned common theme: Navigation. We had not set a particular theme for the day—experienced and diverse researchers, teachers, and parents had been invited to offer their expertise in a range of topics in small sessions and keynote addresses.  But as I looked over the presentation titles and descriptions, the same word kept popping up: titles included “Navigating the School System” and “Helping Your Child Navigate the College Application.” Session descriptions offered to equip parents and children to “navigate the complexities of today’s world,” “navigate…intensity,” and “navigate …the everchanging landscapes of intellectual and emotional rollercoasters.” There were ample synonyms, including “support their unique journey,” “buckling up for a fun-filled journey” through the “intense world of gifted kids,” and “bridg(ing) the gap from childhood to young adulthood.” 

“Navigate” is hardly a trendy word.  It’s not even a decisive word. Navigation implies a need for planning ahead, and may require a choice of routes, analysis of options, and necessary but beneficial detours from a main path. There is often an assumption that education follows a predictable path and sequence. Clearly, these experts on the care, feeding, and education of gifted individuals recognize that the optimal development of talent rarely follows a straight or crowded path.  Challenges and opportunities abound, and a clear sense of destination and strategies can influence the success of the journey. 

Learning to assess and trust alternative paths can be hard for parents charged with steering a child through years of educational and social experiences with the goal of near-as-we-can-get-to perfection and maturity by about age 18. What if the local school that works for the neighbors’ kids and the cousins doesn’t work as well for their child? What if their child resists or becomes withdrawn? What if parents disagree on the road best taken, or if there appears to be no visible other road at some point? 

Remember the African proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child?” Finding or developing a community of parents seeking information and positive options for their exceptional children can be a valuable resource. Gifted children typically learn quickly and may exhibit a delightful sense of humor, but they also may operate on unending energy, tenacity, intensity, and/or minimal need for sleep that exhaust their parents physically and emotionally. (Stay tuned for future blogs!)  Finding teachers, coaches, and counselors who understand and love being with gifted children can be life-changing for all involved. Finding them often requires purposeful navigation. 

Reading suggestion: Navigation has always been challenging. If clouds hid the north star, ocean-going ships could wander aimlessly, sometimes with tragic results. Science researcher and author Dava Sobel provides a fascinating account of how English clockmaker John Harrison changed the course of sailing history and our understanding of global measurement in Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. Walker and Co., 1995.


Donna Hulsey is a doctoral student at Baylor University focused on understanding and supporting gifted and 2e individuals across the lifespan. She has worked with the Baylor Center since 2020. In 2005, motivated by the needs of her own children and others, she co-founded and led a non-profit organization in Austin that offered year-round programs, parent resources, teacher training, and research opportunities for GT/2e learners. Contact: