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 of every population falls 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 and reader, bigger vocabulary and more complex sentence structure than kids his age, self-taught 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 is seen as early as infancy
- Imaginative: interest in experimenting, imaginary play, and playmates, a wide range of interests and/or deep interest in certain subjects, mature sense of humor
- Intensity: intense in everything including temper tantrums, sibling rivalry, power struggles with adults, and even in sleep patterns
- Sensitivity: acutely aware of feelings, very emotional, unusual compassion for the struggles of others, perfectionistic, impatient with others
- High Energy Level: needs less sleep, naps less than age mates
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 just enjoy their children and explore the world through their eyes. Excursions are great – so go to 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.
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