How to Know if Your Child is Gifted
Gifted or Just Bright?
Sometimes it's difficult to discern whether a child is truly gifted, and therefore in need of special services in order to thrive, or simply very bright and well-served by the traditional classroom setting. Remember, a gifted child is not necessarily a model student.
- A bright child will know the answers, but a gifted child asks the questions.
- Bright children are interested. Gifted children are extremely curious.
- A bright child will pay attention, while a gifted one will get involved physically and mentally - often not seeming to pay attention, but taking in information anyway.
- Bright kids work hard and gifted kids play around but still get good grades and test scores.
- Bright children answer all the questions while gifted children question all the answers.
- Bright kids have same-age peers. Gifted kids prefer adults and older kids.
- A bright child memorizes easily. A gifted child is good at guessing the right answer.
- A bright child learns with ease, but a gifted child gets bored because he already knew the answers.
- Bright children listen well. Gifted children express strong feelings and opinions.
- Bright kids are self-satisfied, but gifted kids are highly self-critical and perfectionist.
We all want to believe our little Johnny or Susie is the smartest thing since Einstein, but only some of us will be correct. If your child is truly "gifted" it's important to get him or her the right kind of educational experiences at an early age. Gifted kids are famous for getting bored with school and therefore actually underachieving if their special needs are not met. The idea is that these kids need a different kind of instruction and classroom experience in order to reach their full potential. In response, U.S. pubic schools have created Gifted and Talented programs.
But how do you know if your child is gifted? Read on.
Is My Child Gifted?
Here is the short list from the U.S. Office of Gifted and Talented. These are the folks who administer the public school gifted and talented programs. A typical gifted preschooler (age 2-5) will exhibit the following:
- Uses advanced vocabulary for age.
- Uses spontaneous verbal elaboration with new experiences.
- Has the ability to make interesting or unusual shapes or patterns through various media: blocks, playdough, crayons.
- Ability to assemble puzzles designed for older children.
- Sense of humor used in general conversation.
- Understanding of abstract concepts such as death and time.
- Mastery of new skills with little repetition.
- Demonstration of advanced physical skills.
- Demonstration of advanced reasoning skills through explanation of occurrences.
Different schools test for giftedness differently, but a common factor is the IQ test because it results in a number, which can then be compared to the school or classroom norm. Kids who school in the top 2%, or with an IQ of around 125, are generally considered for gifted programs.
Often multiple tests will be used and the numbers evaluated in conjunction with one another. However, schools don't use a number alone to determine giftedness. For the purpose of placing a child in the gifted program, checklists of traits observed by teachers and parents are often used. Various qualitative tests may also be used to capture information not easily tested on standardized objective tests.
Not All Children Are Gifted
If your child is not identified as gifted, it may be because your school does not provide any special programs or services for gifted children. Beware the phrase "all of our children are gifted". It's a red flag that tells you there may not be a gifted education program at all. It shows school administration's lack of knowledge about the needs of truly gifted children.
Whether identified by the school or not, you know your child. If she needs extra stimulation you may have to be the one to provide it. And if she has trouble in the classroom due to her giftedness, you will have to forge good relationships with the teachers to make sure she is served.