“Is my child gifted?” This is a question many parents ask. They may have seen evidence of early reading or excellent memory. There is not one clear-cut answer to this question as all children are different which we will further expand below.
One reason parents and many others have trouble understanding whether a child is gifted or not is the conflicting definitions of the term ‘gifted’.
There are some characteristics that, when in a cluster, can indicate that exploring giftedness is a logical step to take. Early characteristics can include reaching developmental milestones, such as speaking or walking at an early age.
Giftedness tends to run in families, so many of the characteristics that indicate giftedness are common among extended family members. Parents can look at a sign of giftedness and consider it perfectly normal, average behaviour. After all, several family members have the same trait. Looking at what is advanced development compared to children of the same age is a good guide.
Contrary to some opinions, parents of gifted children are often reluctant to share this information with their community. However, it can be beneficial for a child to be identified (and the research suggests the earlier the better) so that structures and strategies can be put into place to ensure the best outcomes are achieved through childhood and school.
It is best to read as much as possible about giftedness to identify what you may see in your child. The following characteristics, when found in a cluster (not all of them but several), can be useful in the first instance.
Intellectual characteristics include:
Creative characteristics include:
Physical characteristics include:
Social characteristics include:
IQ testing can help parents determine a child’s ability and whether they are gifted. It is usually not necessary for parents to have their child tested unless it is necessary to advocate for a more appropriate education than what a child is receiving. Testing can provide peace of mind for parents who have constant doubts about their child’s abilities. Achievement testing shows if a child is sufficiently challenged or supported and to provide guidance on how to achieve the best educational outcomes.
Parents of gifted children are often concerned that they will be seen as ‘pushy parents’ and told to stop ‘bragging’ or to ‘let your kid be a kid’. People who don’t have gifted children often do not understand the issues involved. Gifted children often surprise their parents with what they can do. Quite often, these parents just want confirmation that what they are seeing is, in fact, what they are seeing, that their child does seem to have more advanced abilities than other children of the same age.
Knowing your child’s natural ability, whatever it is, helps you better understand whether the school is providing an appropriate educational setting. Some children, especially gifted children, become underachievers because they are not challenged. Other gifted kids are achieving (gaining high grades) but they still aren’t being challenged. In both cases, the children can run into problems in school and in life.
Knowing your child’s natural ability can give you peace of mind, help you understand them, and help you provide the best academic environment going forward.
Please check the following by the NSW Department of Education on their newly introduced Highly Gifted and Education Policy.