Gifted youth have long been important to American Mensa; one of the first two Special Interest Groups recognized in 1965 focused on their unique issues. American Mensa has more than 2,600 members under the age of 18 with the youngest being 3 years old.
Membership benefits for Young Mensans
It can be tough to be the smartest kid in the room, and Mensa provides wholehearted understanding and support.
Locally, each group plans its own activities. Some groups hold activities specifically for children and others offer activities that are "child-appropriate" but open to all ages. There is no "junior" category of Mensa membership, so youth are welcome at most Mensa events — unless the activity is limited to adults for some obvious reason (such as an activity in a casino or nightclub). Activities often include game nights, science days, visits to museums and guest speakers.
Nationally, American Mensa has more than 140 Special Interest Groups devoted to topics ranging from astronomy to literature to games. There is a national SIG for teenagers, TeenSIG, that offers teens from across the country a network of like-minded friends with whom to connect.
Families are also welcome at national events such as Mind Games® and the Annual Gathering, where TeenSIG plans special activities for its members and the Tweens Room provides a meeting place and activities for AG attendees of "tween" age. In addition, the AG's youth programming provides full days of activities planned and supervised by educational professionals for children as young as 4.
Founded in 2009, YM2: The Magazine for Young Mensans provides another way for Mensa's gifted youth to interact.
Benefits for parents
Raising a gifted child can be a challenge. Many parents enjoy the opportunity that Mensa meetings and events offer to connect with other parents of the gifted. Through the organization’s national gifted youth program, parents can get information about support groups, research about giftedness, and places to learn more about encouraging gifted youth. Parents of Mensa members may also join the Brightkids group on Facebook, where parents debate the virtues of various forms of education, ask opinions about raising the gifted, and swap stories about their experiences.
Resources for parents and teachers
Do you want to learn more about raising a gifted child? Are you looking for materials for teaching gifted youth? Our resources will present new ideas and direct you to Web sites that offer information, support and educational materials specifically for you.
For more information about the Mensa Gifted Youth Program, see American Mensa's Gifted Youth webpage.