Identifying a child as gifted isn’t about gaining bragging rights; it’s about getting your child the education that best suits its needs, as well as encouraging its talents.
When Thomas Edison was a boy, his teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything. Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school. Albert Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read. A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas”. Caruso‘s music teacher told him: “You can’t sing, you have no voice at all.”
However, Thomas Edison was known as the inventor of the light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture. Sir Isaac Newton was best known for explaining how gravity works. Albert Einstein was famous for the theory of relativity and is nowadays considered to be the father of modern physics. Walt Disney was the creator of the cartoon character Mickey Mouse and the founder of theme parks Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Enrico Caruso was considered to be the greatest tenor who ever lived and the biggest recording artist of the early 20th century.
How did they become so successful?
The answer is simple: they were gifted as children.
How to Identify Gifted Children?
Identifying a child as gifted isn’t about gaining bragging rights; it’s about getting your child the education that best suits its needs.
According to the National Association for Gifted Children:
Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).
In most countries, the prevailing definition of giftedness is IQ of 130 or above.
When compared to their peers, gifted children may demonstrate superior memory, a knack for creating original skits, or the ability to concentrate intensely for long periods of time – just a few characteristics of the children inventoried in the test. Even though teachers and other educational professionals administer the scales, experts say that parents play a crucial role in the initial recognition of giftedness in their own children.
Naturally, parents know if their child is smart, but gifted? Here is a set of behaviors and traits that may indicate that your child possesses special gifts or talents:
- Extremely curious
- Excellent memory
- Long attention span
- Fluent and flexible thinking
- Excellent reasoning skills
- Excellent problem solving skills
- Learn quickly and with less practice and repetition
- Unusual and/or vivid imagination
- Relate well to parents, teachers and other adults
- Excellent sense of humor
- Usually intrinsically motivated
- Skeptical, critical, and evaluative
- Enjoy learning new things
- Enjoy intellectual activity
- Extensive vocabulary
- May read early
- Read rapidly and widely
- Ask “what if” questions
HERE`S A QUIZZ you can take to learn how to recognize the signs of early giftedness in a child.
How to Encourage Your Gifted Child?
According to Joan Smutney, Director of the Center for Gifted at National-Louis University in Illinois, and author of Stand Up for Your Gifted Child, parents can do a lot. “Sometimes we’re so academically focused; we overlook the role of creativity, imagination, and fun.” Genius can’t be taught, but it can be encouraged.
The key to raising gifted children is to respect their uniqueness, their opinions, ideas and dreams. At home, children need to know that their uniqueness is cherished and that they are appreciated for just being themselves.
Practical Tips to Bring out Your Child’s Gifts
- Read aloud to your child. It is important that parents read to their gifted child often, even if the child is already capable of reading.
- Help your child discover personal interests. Stimulation of interests and support are vital for the development of talents. Parents should expose their children to their own interests and encourage them to learn about a wide variety of subjects, such as art, nature, music, and sports, in addition to traditional academic subjects such as math, reading, and science.
- Take conversations with your child seriously. Gifted children are often highly verbal and inquisitive. They can become easily frustrated if parents dismiss their questions. Taking the time to give your child full and complete answers shows that you respect their intellectual inquiry.
- Enroll him in programs specially designed for gifted children. Ranko RajoviÄ‡, PhD, the author of NTC method and founder of Serbia Mensa and NTC Department for Gifted Children says that all children can benefit from NTC program; it is especially effective at detecting gifted children and encouraging development of their talents.
- Visit children’s and science museums. These offer interesting hands-on educational experiences. Provide materials for creative play; give him egg cartons, cardboard boxes, felt squares, paper towel rolls, and so on. Gifted children are often very inventive.
- Encourage storytelling. Gifted children can be endlessly imaginative. Wonderful creative outlets for them involve making up stories, staging plays, or directing home videos.
- Resist the temptation to overschedule your child. Overscheduling isn’t challenging, but rather exhausting. Make sure that your child has time to relax, read for fun, and let his/her imagination wander.
Here is how families of some famous people used to encourage their giftedness and talents:
- Oprah Winfrey – Media magnate and philanthropist
Her grandma taught her to read at age 3, which started her famous love of books.
- Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook founder
His dad taught him Atari BASIC programming in junior high.
- Jay-Z – Rap mogul
Unable to keep him from banging on the kitchen table, his mom got him a boom box.
- Alexander Graham Bell – Inventor of the telephone
After he built a wheat de-husker out of brushes and paddles at age 12, his friend’s father gave him a small workshop.
Is it hard to raise your little Einstein? Share with us your experiences, tips and ideas.