One of the greatest things about the work we do at Fempire is that we get to work with inspiring and talented female business owners all across the country.
Marnie recently had the opportunity to chat with one of our Fempreneur graduates, and founder of Our Gifted Kids, Sophia Elliott.
As you may have guessed from the name, Our Gifted Kids is an organisation that aims to provide support and resources for gifted children, parents of gifted children, and educators.
They understand that gifted children are often misunderstood and that their needs are not being properly met within the current educational system.
The organisation was created with the purpose of creating conversation in the broader community, and connecting parents with people who work with gifted kids in their area. They also provide a platform for parents to come together and support each other, speak honestly, and just talk about their gifted kids without having to edit themselves.
It’s a wonderful organisation with a great purpose, but what inspired Sophia to create such a business?
Marnie sat down with her to find out. (You can watch the full interview in the video at the bottom of this article).
I have 3 gifted children and they’re all very different. My oldest son was five years old when he was first assessed as being gifted. His behaviour had started to change, he was depressed and he didn’t seem to find joy in anything.
He was lashing out at his siblings, was frustrated, and his behaviour had gone downhill fast.
This was a kid that was delightful, had always been delightful. And as parents, my husband and I were intensely worried and stressed out by this. We didn’t know what was going on or what to do.
He had always been a pretty cluey kid, and it was actually a teacher friend of ours who said, “you know he’s gifted right..?”
This sent us on a frantic Google search to figure out what being gifted was all about. This led to him having a psychological assessment to find out where he was sitting cognitively. We were surprised to discover that he was in fact, profoundly gifted. It was overwhelming and quite surreal, we really didn’t anticipate having to deal with that as parents.
We took the assessment back to his school, but as they weren’t seeing the issues we were, they refused to enrich or accelerate his learning. They kept pointing the finger back on him for not asking for harder work, and on us for not getting him to sleep better.
We quickly understood that they had no idea what gifted was all about and that we were going to get nowhere.
We were lucky, however, that in Adelaide there is a school for gifted children, and we were able to get him in very quickly.
Once his needs were being met, and he was surrounded by peers he could relate to, he went back to being the kid that we knew and loved.
There’s a stigma around the word ‘Gifted’
Gifted kids are these complex little beings, with really unique needs and they’re often misunderstood.
There are a lot of links between gifted kids and mental health issues, being bullied, and not being understood.
Our education system is geared towards most kids, and if you’re typical for your age you’re fine. The system is set up to provide extra support for children with learning challenges as quite rightly they need the support.
They do this relatively well, but on the other end of the spectrum are our gifted kids and they are not supported at all. There is a myth that just because they’re smart they’ll be fine, that they don’t need any extra help.
But the truth is that within our current educational system they are not getting the support, recognition, and understanding of the different ways they learn – the different kinds of educational outcomes they need or approach they require.
I recently learned that within a university course on becoming a teacher, there could be as little as 45 minutes of work about gifted kids. Ten per cent of our population is gifted. And if you think about the numbers, in Australia alone that would equate to about 360 000 kids, with 78 000 profoundly gifted kids alone.
That’s 78 000 kids who aren’t being catered for in their learning.
An unsupported gifted kid might go through a whole year without learning anything new. They may get to the end of primary school never having to try hard for anything, which is really damaging, as trying and failing are such important foundational skills.
You need to fail sometimes – and learn that it’s okay to fail – in order to build resilience.You need to fail sometimes – and learn that it’s okay to fail – in order to build resilience. Click To Tweet
If you don’t learn these skills as a child it makes life as an adult very hard.
We’re doing our gifted kids a disservice by not supporting them at that primary school level that allows them to stretch, to try and fail and to have to learn how their brains work.
Why Sophia started Our Gifted Kids
I started Our Gifted Kids because there wasn’t a lot of resources online about gifted children, and what I did find was mostly geared towards teachers. I couldn’t find any information geared towards parents on how to parent gifted kids and what you need to know.
A lot of parents gather online in Facebook groups, and they are great at providing support for each other, however, there are usually no experts in the mix. I’m someone who wants to see the science, the research, the data. I want to talk to people who are talking to gifted kids daily.
It’s somewhat ironic that I ended up doing this. I took four years off work when I had my kids, and before that, I had a great career. I did some cool stuff in politics, the not-for-profit sector, and in state government as a ministerial advisor. My work had always been important to me and I had always been very busy.
But when I wanted to get back into the workforce, I hit that wall that I think a lot of mums hit, where I couldn’t find anything near that level of working that was family-friendly or even part-time.But when I wanted to get back into the workforce, I hit that wall that I think a lot of mums hit. #mumpreneur Click To Tweet
So it was either go back to work full time or not at all. I thought I might get into a company where I could work my way up, but so few companies understand women in my position. I kept going until I hit rock bottom and took any position I could, which was, of course, a total disaster.
I gave it a go and it killed me inside. I eventually ended up quitting, and decided that I needed to figure out a better way to be both fulfilled and a good mum.
When I met Marnie and signed up for Fempreneur, I was thinking of starting a business dealing with either gender equity or the circular economy. But out of the blue, I had this little nugget of an idea to start Our Gifted Kids.
Social justice has always been very important to me and ultimately I thought I could make the world a better place by changing the way we look at gifted kids, helping parents, and by helping change the policies around them.
I’d felt the gap in that market for years, and while doing my fempreneur course homework on it I thought, I’m going to give this a go. It was very much a moment where everything aligns and you follow the flow because it feels like the most natural thing to do.
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster building a business during the pandemic, but it’s 100% been a project of passion for me. I get those emotional reactions every time I hear a parent tell their story about their child and their journey.
But I’m excited. I realise that my business will be as successful as I will allow it to be. I just need to invest in myself and get myself in the right place to ensure that I can do this.
Did Sophia’s story resonate with you? Let us know in the comments xx
If you want to learn more about our 6-week Fempreneur course, click here!