A gifted child is often defined as any child with a high degree of intellectual ability or general extraordinary ability in a specific activity. In most countries giftedness is linked to an IQ score of 130 or above, but increasingly schools now use multiple measures of giftedness and assess a wide variety of talents, including verbal, mathematical, musical, and interpersonal abilities.
It is generally agreed that gifted children differ from their peers in ways other than intellectual ability alone. There are also cases in which gifted children stand out because of poor academic achievement. This is often surprising for parents to learn as many people assume that giftedness is always associated with high performance. Yet it is possible for a learning disability to overshadow giftedness. This is especially true when a child has ADD/ADHD or dyslexia. There can be giftedness in one subject, such as Math, but a learning disability that affects performance in other areas of the curriculum.
It has also been established that giftedness is somewhat hereditary and the earlier giftedness is identified, the sooner exceptional talents can be nurtured.
It is advisable that parents wait until their children are about 6 years old before they undergo any form of formal assessment and maybe enter into a gifted education program, as most schools for young children do not have the resources and are not equipped to provide opportunities and mind stretching challenges for learning for gifted babies and toddlers.
How to know if your child is gifted
It is almost impossible to find two students excel in exactly the same way and so that poses a challenge for those who might be looking out for sure signs to know if a child is gifted or not. That said, there are some traits and behaviours that both parents and teachers have observed when a child is gifted. We have listed some of them below
- They usually take their own approach to questions or assignments. While bright students are eager to be the best or impress, gifted children often are out to find a different way of solving a problem. They more often than not are the ones that would take a different method or way than what is required to solve a math question or do something or simply go off tangent. While this may be frustrating to teachers and parents, it is advisable to be patient and open to discussions to know how their minds work than to reprimand them. This can damage morale and self-esteem and result in less effort being put into future assignments. Teachers may also notice that gifted children prefer to work alone and can easily get lost in their thoughts.
- They ask a ton of questions. Gifted children are known to ask a lot of questions to expand their knowledge. Their curiosity usually goes out of the context of the particular discussion or lesson. Such children are often not satisfied with just knowing enough to pass an exam. They usually want more. Parents should try as much as possible not to discourage them from asking questions as this can shut down future communication attempts.
- They can learn new skills on their own. They can learn to play an instrument on their own or teach themselves to read and write before they learn it in school. They often have good memory. They learn quickly and do not require as much practice as other children to develop new skills. They may easily become bored when a lesson is repetitive and this can lead to them tuning out. Children with giftedness can often benefit from a condensed curriculum that covers more material in less time.
- They usually prefer adult conversation. Maybe as a result of their reading habits and exposure to more advanced texts, gifted children feel more at ease communicating with adults and are able to understand more words than their peers. It is also easy for gifted children to remember words, as they require less repetition in order to acquire language skills. While this may be appealing to adults, it is important to encourage them to interact with their peers so as not to get isolated.
- They have strong feelings. They normally would have strong feelings and be opinionated about topics that are important to them. Sometimes they feel they cannot relate with their peers on a deeper level as their reaction to certain incidents may seem too extreme for their peers to understand.
- They are sensitive to their environment. From a young age the gifted child is very alert and tuned into his or her environment. Some have acute concentration skills and can easily become hyper-focused on a task. It is through engaging with new stimuli that they are able to develop cognitively. That’s why it is important to ensure gifted children receive adequate stimulation, particularly in school settings that offers plenty of room for advancement.
Children with learning difficulties and giftedness may benefit from programs that help them focus and stay on task, while developing vocabulary and literacy skills at the same time.
If you don’t send your child to a school for gifted children, it is still possible to find online support groups, including forums that allow both children and parents to develop friendships and exchange ideas.