A gifted child is one who has advanced cognitive (understanding) skills and motor skills for her age. She can walk, talk, and reason earlier than average. She will be a high achiever in most areas and she may have an IQ over 150.
Having a gifted child is rare. Although many children may be advanced for their age in a particular skill at a particular time, only about 2 percent of the population are truly gifted. If your child is gifted, however, you will probably be the first to notice.
Diagnosing a gifted child becomes easier as the child gets older, but one of the first signs that your child is more able than her peers is early language acquisition, particularly speaking fluently before the age of two. Early reading may be another sign of giftedness: some able children learn to read at four years, although environmental influences are obviously a factor. Other possible qualities of a gifted child are as follows:
- Good powers of reasoning and observation.
- A good memory for places and names.
- A strong creative and imaginative drive.
- Sharp powers of observation.
- Being curious and always asking questions.
- More at home with adults than with children.
- An ability to grasp abstract ideas.
- Ability to solve problems or puzzles.
- Having an extensive vocabulary.
- Assimilating facts very quickly.
- Long concentration span.
- Ability to describe events, people, and situations accurately and vividly.
- Eagerness to spend time studying or learning.
- A specific talent, such as artistic ability.
- A high IQ.
Although you may perceive giftedness as an asset rather than a problem, your gifted child may not always be provided for adequately at school and she will have specific emotional needs that are different from those of the average child.
The gifted child may find it hard to relate to her peers. She may be impatient with other children for being slow and this may make her unpopular. Although your child may be condescending toward other children she will probably still want to be part of their group, and this may lead to frustration and isolation. Alternatively, your child may try to conceal her talents in order not to seem different and thus be more readily accepted by other children.
Interacting with adults can also be a problem. Teachers may treat gifted children as arrogant, precocious, or defiant. Gifted children are likely always to know the answers to questions and to be able to point out inconsistencies and question the reasons for doing something. The gifted child doesn’t mean to be attention-seeking or trouble-making, and the negative response she gets from adults can make her withdrawn and antisocial.
A gifted child who is denied the chance to exploit her potential may show a confusing mixture of intellectual prowess and immaturity. She may sulk and have temper tantrums; she may be bored by basic school subjects; and, if she’s restless and inattentive, her teachers, far from recognizing her talents, may believe that she is of low ability. You may have to intervene and discuss with your child’s teacher the kind of specialized or accelerated learning your child requires and make sure that she gets it.
CAN GIFTEDNESS BE CULTIVATED?
Intelligence is wholly innate and overrides all cultures and backgrounds; cleverness is partly innate and partly environmental.
Although you can provide an environment conductive to intellectual development, it is unlikely that you can “create” a gifted child. Evidence suggests that some gifted children come from relatively affluent homes with educated parents who spend time stimulating and encouraging their children; it is debatable whether the extra boost can turn a very bright child into a gifted one. Being overly pushy as a parent will not help cultivate giftedness in a child, however. You can help your child fulfill her potential, but you cannot change that potential.