Is my child gifted? Encouraging gifted kids to flourish

* Have you noticed that your child has developed faster than other children of the same age?
* Do other people comment on how bright and articulate your child is?
* Do childcare workers or teachers mention that your child is demonstrating abilities that are well beyond their age?
* Is your child saying they are bored at school?

It may be possible that your child is showing signs of gifted development.

One aspect of what I do here at Attuned Psychology is assessments of children who show signs of gifted development. There is still sometimes a stigma around identifying giftedness in children. Parents are sometimes reluctant to even enquire about an assessment as they don’t want to be one of ‘those’ parents who overestimates how bright their child is. So here is some information to help you understand what ‘giftedness’ might look like.

What is giftedness?

There are a range of traits and behaviours that might be associated with giftedness. Children may have gifts and talents in a number of different areas, so there is not necessarily a single definition or feature that describes all gifted children.

IQ – To be classed as “intellectually gifted” for eligibility for organisations such as MENSA or for DECD gifted and talented policy, a child must demonstrate an IQ score at the 98th percentile. It could also be argued that children who have an IQ above the 90th percentile could be referred to as ‘mildly gifted’ and would benefit from consideration also.

Academic – There are also those children who show advanced academic skills, with or without the gifted IQ. They may be performing at a level well beyond their actual year level at school, be achieving extremely high grades, and be very eager to extend their learning beyond what is being taught in the mainstream curriculum.

Creative – Some children show gifts and talents in creative fields, such as playing a musical instrument, or drawing. Sometimes very young children show advanced creative abilities well before formal lessons.

Personality – Characteristics associated with ‘giftedness’ may be:
* High levels of emotional sensitivity or perfectionism, such as getting frustrated when their work doesn’t look like what they imagined in their mind
* Being able to concentrate intensely on subjects or activities that interest them
* Deep curiosity to learn more about topics that interest them, and a strong memory for facts
* Differences in social interactions with other children, such as gravitating towards older children or adults, or becoming the ‘leader’ in games with their peers
* Awareness of being ‘different’ from others, which may lead to underachievement in order to fit in
* Reluctance to do tasks that they have already mastered, and finding repetitive school work ‘boring’

How can I encourage my gifted child?

There are a range of things that you can do to encourage your gifted child’s learning and development.
An intellectual (IQ) assessment can be a good place to start, as that can give you and your child’s school a sense of your child’s level of cognitive ability. Also:

* Follow and encourage your child’s interests. If they are fascinated with dinosaurs, for instance, then allow them to explore the topic widely and deeply.
* Get them involved in extra curricular activities. Participating in activities in which they show skill can help extend their learning and development, and also put them in touch with like-minded children
* Make sure school is providing the appropriate learning experiences to suit your child’s needs. Speak to school about early entry, or about an individual learning plan for enrichment, extension or acceleration. Check with the school about any programmes on offer for gifted and talented students.

A risk for gifted children is to feel disengaged with learning or their peers. Getting the right support for your child can ensure that their gifts are translated to achievement and positive relationships with others. Please contact us for more information about giftedness assessments.

Rebecca Rossi

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