Have you ever wondered if your child is gifted? Many parents do, looking for the traditional signs – the expression of a gift in verbal, numerical, or spatial reasoning. However, the truth is that not all gifted children display their talents in these means.
These three areas are highly regarded for good reason. Used in conjunction to measure the overall IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, of an individual, these three indicators are quantified and averaged into a score or overall IQ. The average IQ is 100; a score that would indicate a child can solve problems and analyze situations on par with the average intelligence of those in the same age group.
Traditional Measures ofifted Children
When a child has an IQ significantly above the average, they are consideredifted. However, there is more than one level of gifted when discussing an extraordinary child. The first milestone is around the 130 mark, rising as high as 150. This range is where children will often perform as much as one or two grade levels above their peers. They can grasp more complex concepts and ideas than they are being taught and seek greater challenges.
The next level is that of the substantially gifted – those children with IQs at or above 180. It is hard to numerically quantify the level of intelligence children at this tier display. It is manifest not only in the knowledge that retain, but in their ability to solve complex problems, understand the intricate rules of geometry and algebra, or memorize musical compositions instantly at ages as young as four. Children who are this gifted will display their gift in any number of wondrous situations, starting at a very young age and are almost always seeking a challenge intellectually.
A Comparison ofifted and Non -ifted Children
As reported in Gifted Child Quarterly in July of 2000, Thomas Oakland, an Education Psychology Professor at the University of Florida tested a sample of 1,554 gifted and non-gifted students between the ages of 8 and 17. He used the Student Styles Questionnaire, an advanced measurement of extraversion, creativity, decision making style, and a general preference for order.
The results show many general correlations in gifted students through the group. Some of his findings include:
o Gifted students are 29 percent more likely to have active imaginations than non-gifted students.
o Gifted girls are 55 percent more likely to have active imaginations than non-gifted girls.
o Girls of both groups preferred making decisions on the basis of values rather than logic.
o Gifted boys are 28 percent more likely to prefer making decisions on the basis of values (rather than on logic), as compared with non-gifted boys.
o Although more girls than boys prefer organized styles to a more flexible style, gifted students in general do not show a preference for organization over flexibility.
o Gifted and non-gifted students show no differences on measures of extraversion.
While these results show that there is a general difference between the gifted and non-gifted students, there is a greater correlation between how a child fulfills and the ability of both parents and teachers to understand the child and how they interact with the world. Across the board, regardless of intellect, children perform better in school when their parents and teachers understand the individual personality trait profile of the child. When their unique temperament and approach to life is actively engaged and nurtured in both home and school, the child will almost always perform better, in some cases even bringing out the practices of a gifted child that may not have been exhibited before.
Recognizing if your Child is Gifted
The key to recognizing your child is gifted does not rest in simply looking for their ability to compose music at the age of four or them solving a 2,000 year old math problem before they are 10. There are a number of signs you can look for, many of them much more more than than the broad spectrum of the Intelligence Quotient test. The following signs are all good indicators that your child may be of above average intelligence. Look for them early and follow up:
o A long attention span.
o A preference for novelty.
o Over activity to physical sensations.
o A good memory for recognition of previous experience.
o Early sunset of language.
o Intense curiosity, drive, and persistence.
o Obsessive interests.
o Metacognitive ability (that is, the gifted think about how they think and can talk about their learning and problem-solving strategies).
o Typically, the ability to read one or two years before beginning kindergarten.
o The ability to excel at abstract logical thinking.
o A fascination with numbers and numerical patterns.
o Typically a more solitary or introverted nature.
o A preference for older children.
o Difficulty finding compatible peers of any age.
o Twice as many social or emotional problems as average children.
o A fiercely independent and nonconformist nature.
o The ability to derive pleasure from work.
o Positive self-esteem about their intellectual ability.
One thing you should always remember though is that not every child is the same. The biggest problem with measurements such as the IQ test is that they generalize a great deal of hits. Your child's emotional development, home life, social experiences, and general outlook on life can all effect when and how well their gift expresses itself. In some instances, a child may not display their gift until they are almost fully grown, well into their young adulthood. In other cases, it may appear shortly after birth.
The best thing you can do as a parent is to nurture your child's development, regardless of what they display, helping them strive to be their best while respecting and supporting their unique personality type. Only through this level of understanding can you provide an environment in which a child feels comfortable exploring every possibility open to them and quite often, they will surprise you with what they are capable of.