What is a gifted child? Our Education Blogger weighs in on some characteristics gifted children share and how you can foster a continued love of learning.
When young children are speaking, reading and writing at an early age, it is easy to label them as “gifted.” After all, most babies aren’t speaking in full sentences before their first birthdays. Most children aren’t reading chapter books before kindergarten. So if your little one is able to master some of these skills ahead of time, should you assume that he is gifted?
Knowing if your child is truly gifted can be very tricky. Speaking, reading and writing at a young age are not alone signs of higher intelligence. Children develop these skills at different rates. Some children pick up vocabulary quickly, while others remain wordless into their toddler years only to have an explosion in oral language. The same is true for reading skills. Many children are learning to read before kindergarten, which can sometimes give parents a false sense of above average intelligence.
What Is A Gifted Child?
According to the National Association of Gifted Children, there are many characteristics that truly gifted children share. These children tend to be highly sensitive, naturally curious, able to self-teach, interested in a wide range of topics, and highly imaginative. They also tend to problem solve in unusual ways, have long attention spans and ask probing questions. Many of these attributes have little to do with academic skill, they are personality traits that make them interested in learning and problem-solving.
So, what do you do if you suspect that your child may be gifted? Below are some tips to help you challenge your little Einstein.
How You Can Challenge Your Child
1.) Let Her Curiosity Lead You.
The only way to truly know if your child is truly gifted is to have a psychologist test her IQ. An IQ between 90 and 110 is considered average, above 120 considered to be superior. If your child is school aged, you can consult your child’s classroom teacher. She can tell you where your child falls as compared to other children his age.
If he is in fact above average, be careful not to push too hard. Truly gifted children show a natural curiosity for learning. Allow your child to explore her interests. If she is showing an interest in space, schedule a weekend trip to the planetarium. Take out library books on subjects of interest or let him use recycled material to build a model. Try not to sign your child up for too many programs after school, unless he is interested. Kids need unstructured time to explore their interests.
2.) Explore School Programs
Gifted children are typically easy going kids and with high demands placed on teachers today, it is can be easy to overlook their special needs. Ask your child’s teacher about programs for gifted students. Many districts provide pull out services that challenge higher level thinkers. If your school offers programs for the gifted, ask if your child is a candidate. Trust the classroom teacher’s opinion on whether or not your child would do well. Pushing too hard to have your child in a program can backfire. I have seen children placed in gifted programs in kindergarten and first grade, only to struggle in the upper grades. It can hurt a child’s self-esteem to pull him out of a gifted program later, so be cautious when initially placing the child.
3.) Work Together to Enrich Your Child
If your child’s school does not provide services for gifted children, ask your child’s teacher if there is anything you can do together to help challenge your child. Many teachers can modify homework or provide enriching projects either during school or to complete at home. Most gifted children love projects that are creative and challenging. Teachers are great resources for ideas to work on with your child. Try not to expect your child’s teacher to provide all of the enrichment though. Just like a child who struggles, parental intervention is often essential. Be prepared to provide help at home.
4.) Stay on Top of Her Progress
As your child progresses through the grades, be sure to reassess her needs. Just because a child appears to be gifted at a young age, does not mean that school will always be easy. It is important to monitor his progress as the school work gets harder. Kids who breeze through the early elementary years are prone to self-esteem issues if the work becomes more challenging. It is important to reassure your child that it is ok to struggle sometimes. Emphasize that the amount of effort placed on a task is more important than the grade. Encourage your child to work through a tough class, but try not to push him to stay in high-level honors courses if it becomes too hard year after year.
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to let your child’s interests lead you. Provide challenges if your child seems motivated. Encourage creative and unstructured play time and stay in close contact with your child’s school. Try to be encouraging without putting on too much pressure and your little one will be successful!
Hope this helps answer some of your questions about what is a gifted child,
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