Sunday, December 25, 2011

How Can I Tell if My Child is Gifted?

Academy for Gifted ChildrenImage via Wikipediaby Eleanor Munson, PhD

Parents have many hopes and dreams for their children. Whether reality or just our imaginations, we as parents want to believe that our kids are extraordinary - that they will become a prestigious doctor, lawyer, or athlete.

But when it comes to intelligence, only a small percentage in every population fall into the category of "gifted."

What are the signs of giftedness in children?

Only a formal assessment can tell you with certainty, but there are common characteristics that gifted children share. As a rule of thumb, the more of the following qualities your child exhibits, the greater the likelihood that he or she is gifted:

Strong Verbal Abilities: early talker, bigger vocabulary and more complex sentence structure than kids his age, self-taught reader, early and avid reader

Enhanced Learning: persistently curious, grasps concepts early, great memory, complex thinker, rapid processing and learning

Long Attention Span: intense, focused, and all-consuming concentration seen as early as infancy

Imaginative: interest in experimenting, imaginary play, and playmates, wide range of interests and/or deep interest in certain subjects, remarkable sense of humor, daydreams

Intensity: intense in everything including temper tantrums, sibling rivalry, power struggles with adults, and even in sleep patterns

Sensitivity: acutely aware of his feelings, very emotional, unusual compassion for the plight of others, perfectionistic, impatient with others

High Energy Level: needs less sleep, naps less than others his age

Next Steps for Pre-School Age Kids

At this age, optimizing for a child’s giftedness is not as important as it will be later. Special enrichment programs are fine but not necessary.

Instead, parents should feel comfortable getting to the know the child and fostering a love of learning. Excursions are great - so go the park, to story hour at the library, or to the children’s museum.

There will be ample time to pursue advanced programs; for now experts recommend that parents allow their children to be children and enjoy childhood. As your child nears the age of 5, you may want to consider having him tested, as a beginning benchmark.

Next Steps for Older Children

Once a child is in grade school, experts recommend formal testing to determine a child’s level of giftedness. As children grow, it becomes increasingly important to understand their unique capabilities and needs so that they meet their potential, feel understood, and feel motivated.

Creating a plan to address the different ways your child learns is what is important. Consider seeing an educational consultant, like myself, to address your child's unique educational needs.

About the Author

Eleanor Munson, PhD is an Educational Consultant in Dallas, Texas who offers parents private school guidance and help with summer enrichment program placement. She authors a blog about the private school admissions process and other educational topics at:
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