It starts simply enough: your child seems to catch on to things quickly. People are often surprised to learn how young they are because of how well they talk, or that they can recite the alphabet at an extraordinarily young age. Over time, these little incidents may start seeming more significant, especially when compared to peers of the same age. Recognizing a gifted child often takes time, but typically, before a child is school age, parents will have a good idea of a child’s giftedness. Signs of a gifted learner include:
- Consistently meeting development milestones early
- Learning to read at a young age
- Having the ability to understand more complex ideas
To recognize a gifted child, several other indicators are usually present. Does your child ask more in-depth questions? When other children are asking to have a snack, does your child want to know how it is made? Does your child seem to see and understand the patterns in things, whether it is music, math, or language? Does he or she learn without being taught and demonstrate new knowledge to you on a regular basis? Does he or she seem unusually starved for information or obsessive about learning everything about a specific topic?
When you have a gifted child, it is a blessing and a challenge. All children need love and attention to succeed, but often, gifted children require more attention and intervention than those who have learning disabilities, because while they might be capable of reading chapter books and doing algebra, they also concern themselves with the world on a grander scale. Your five-year old gifted child may worry about death or world peace or the environment.
Gifted children often have difficulties fitting in with their peers at school. Extra time may have to be taken to help them socialize and adjust. In addition, a child can be gifted in one area and struggle in another, or be gifted academically but struggle with motor and spatial skills. It is important to make no assumptions about your child but to treat him or her as an individual. Address your child’s needs without assuming that because of the giftedness, he or she can figure things out on their own. If anything, these children need your support and need to be encouraged to still be kids.
Your gifted child may be obsessed about learning, but don’t forget to encourage physical development and social development as well. Encourage your child to play and be a kid. Even the best young minds need to climb, skip, hop, jump rope, laugh, and play.
The most important thing to remember is that all of our kids are gifts regardless of their academic ability, and each child deserves to be treated as an individual.