Do you think your child is gifted? There are developmental guidelines teachers look for to tell if a child is advanced for his age, but first let’s set the record straight about the gifted child.
I have two daughters. At the age of 6 my youngest was tested as gifted by her kindergarten teacher and placed in a gifted program from 1st through 12th grade. My oldest wasn’t gifted. Both my children went on to college and my oldest graduated with a MA in psychology and is now a practicing art therapist and mother of two. My gifted daughter went to law school in Boston and is now practicing family law in Massachusets. Giftedness makes learning easier, especially in elementary school. A non-gifted child has to work harder, but can achieve the same outcome.
A gifted child can retain information and recall it a few months later. For example, you take a trip to the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry. The gifted kid tours the Space Shuttle Endeavour exhibit. Two weeks later he comes home from school with a picture he drew recalling the major details of the spacecraft. That’s gifted!
Your child is interested in bugs one week, mammals the next, and planets soon after. A wide range of interests is a sign of giftedness. Some gifted children develop an ability to read and write at an early age with no formal instruction. One clear sign of being gifted is the ability of a young child to have a long attention span with intense concentration.
Listen to your child’s vocabulary. A normal two-year old will say, “See the kitty.” A gifted two-year old will say, “There’s a calico cat sniffing around Mommy’s prize rhododendrons.” If your child can understand complex concepts, perceive relationships, and think abstractly as well as think of solutions, she is gifted.
An Adolescent Study by Halpin, Payne, and Ellett (1973) shows that there are different characteristics of gifted girls and boys. Where most female gifted children like school and their teachers, the gifted boy dislikes them. He’ll do very little homework preferring to pursue his own thoughts and interests. The gifted girl, however, will read newspapers, magazines and anything else she can get her hands on that interests her. She’s a daydreamer while her gifted male friend is a radical or unconventional. He also isn’t big on team sports and dislikes gym classes.
In the long haul, it really doesn’t make a huge difference if a youngster is gifted or not. As long as children develop their abilities in an environment of love and acceptance, they’ll do fine. Remember, whether your sons or daughters become sanitation engineers or rocket scientists, as long as they do their best, place family first, and giving back to society, you’ve raised a mensch.