You may have heard “Every child is gifted in their own way,” — although certainly every child is special — this saying no longer holds up any more than saying “every child is tall in their own way.” When we measure giftedness, some children score higher in domains like abstract reasoning and mental control than others. Children who test in the top 1-10 percentile (depending on whose definition of giftedness is being considered) are gifted.
It is important to identify gifted children who may need specialized education and differential parenting to account for their differences. And while private IQ testing can make the determination, here are some other not so obvious signs your child may be gifted.
- They can exhaust you with questions
Show me a child who absorbs concepts like a sponge and asks a million questions about it and I’ll show you a parent who is exhausted at the end of the day! Many gifted children integrate concepts and show incessant curiosity. One 7-year-old gifted child watched a video on Bangladeshi children walking over bridges to get to school and said: “well at least they don’t have to travel on that treacherous road that’s in Bangladesh to get there.” This was followed by about 30 questions about the road conditions in the country in general, and what the school might actually be like.
- In earlier grades, they may not start off knowing more, but they don’t need as much repetition to learn
Kids whose parents emphasized early learning might appear gifted in early grades, but these differences may be a factor of exposure and may wash out over time. If a kindergartener starts school knowing a lot of math facts, I’m not going to assume that child is gifted. It’s the abstract reasoning that is the key. Observe the children who say “yeah, I got it” or “yeah, I know” when they’ve learned something and don’t need repetition that other children need to retain it. Making gifted children show their work or copy things over and over to learn when they’ve already mastered a concept is tedious and often unnecessary, and teachers should consider not wasting their time on repetition after they master a concept, which is often faster than you might think.
- They might have terrible executive functions
There are many reasons kids might be messy, hyperactive, or poor at planning and organizing tasks. However, there is some evidence that gifted children’s brains mature at a different pace than others and they may have poorer executive functions until around age 13. So if a child seems smart but is disorganized, don’t assume that means they aren’t gifted. The opposite may be true.
While school testing attempts to identify giftedness, these tests only correlate to the actual IQ tests. So if you think your child might be gifted, seeking private testing from a licensed neuropsychologist may give you a more definitive answer.
By: Dr. Amy Serin, Neuropsychologist & Co-Founder of The Touchpoint Solution