If you notice your children excelling in certain areas or mastering specific skills, you may start to look for signs that your child is gifted. After all, a hunch alone is not enough to determine if a child has exceptional abilities. But even though gifted can be a tricky term to qualify, don’t despair — there are ways to determine if your child might become the next U.S. Snowboarding Team gold medalist.
Before you start researching whether or not your child is gifted, it’s important to understand what that term encompasses. Depending on who you ask, gifted can mean different things; schools, states, psychologists and researchers all have their own parameters for what they considered to be gifted. But the National Association For Gifted Children (NAGC), offers this definition:
“Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10 percent or rarer) 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).”
When assessing a child’s potential, NAGC suggests looking at certain characteristics and traits that typically sound the gifted alarms.
The most important thing to remember when reading over these characteristics, is that each child is unique, and no one child will check all these boxes. This list is a big pot of soup containing common ingredients associated with giftedness. Consider these traits below if you are wondering about your tiny genius.
1. They Have Advanced Language Skills
As Psychology Today points out, children with gifted tendencies each language milestones earlier than most children. So if your child has an impressive vocabulary, asks tons of probing questions and can detect nuance in adult conversation, your radar should be buzzing. Add to these accomplishments the ability to read early and independently and it’s likely you have some evidence of a gifted learner.
2. They Are Daydreamers
Don’t let your kid’s drifting thoughts and dazed eyes fool you. Their dreamy thoughts could be cooking up new solutions for repairing the ozone layer. A 2012 study led by Harvard University psychologists noted a correlation between daydreaming and high levels of problem solving and creativity. Isn’t it wonderful when science turns a guilty pleasure into an accolade?
3. They Are Quick and Able Learners
Psychology Today notes that one of the first signs parents of a gifted child may notice is the ease in which a child picks up new information. These children usually have razor-sharp memories, become very focused on things that interest them and are able to initiate activities on their own. For these kids, new information is met with enthusiasm and curiosity.
4. They Are Emotionally Intense
Strong and overpowering emotions can be so much a part of giftedness, that the organization, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), was formed. SENG has found that intellectual depth and emotional depth often go together like a magnet and steel. Strong emotional responses (positive or negative), fear and anxieties as well as self-critical thoughts are just a few of the emotional traits associated with giftedness.
5. They Have A Strong Sense Of Independance
Gifted children have a strong sense of who they are and what interests them at an early age. In an interview with Forbes, author Judy Galbraith said that a gifted child’s learning is self-guided and they are often , “interested in a specific topic far beyond their same-age peers.”These are the kids who pick up a smart phone and figure out all the functions without help from an adult. If your child has a strong desire to complete tasks on their own, it may be time to make an appointment for an assessment.
The concept of giftedness is a constant work in progress, and one with mixed meanings. Because of this, children with gifted potential and abilities can get lost in the shuffle. Factors such as poverty, lack of motivation, emotional issues or discrimination can cause children who possess high levels of aptitude to go unnoticed as gifted. When considering whether or not your child may be gifted, take a holistic approach and chew over these characteristics and traits. If you believe your child may be gifted, contact your local school system or university about tests and assessments.