“Is my child gifted?”. I have been asked many times during my career. Every caring parents wonders if his/her child has the capabilities to achieve success in life and if parents are making sure that their child is reaching its learning potential. In the following paragraphs, I will briefly explain what do you need to observe in your child if he/she is gifted or not?
First, there is always the option of relying on school or preschool programs and systems designed to detect gifted students. Many institutions have tests meant to detect potentially gifted children who then can be placed in advanced programs. But there are many different problems with relying on just the schools or institutions. The standardized testing can be inadequate, especially if the child is more likely to think outside the box. Tests might fail to detect high IQ if, for example, the environment is stressful or the child is not used to such exams. It is very easy to slip through the cracks in such a system, especially if there are limited places and opportunities for children who are gifted. While schools and other institutions might provide official validation for a child’s status as gifted, which comes with its own advantages, it is not always the best solution to detect giftedness or a high IQ. Also, schools might come later in a child’s life, missing important windows of opportunity for developing abilities and talents.
So, parents should try to detect signs of giftedness before this. The process usually starts with observation. Parents have the unique opportunity to truly observe their children and recognize signs of giftedness before anyone else. But what should parents look for?
There is no universal set of guidelines or signs to look for. Some children may not demonstrate clear behaviors associated with giftedness due to being shy, for example, or due to being different from the norm or simply having limited opportunities to do so. However, there are some general signs to look out for.
First, gifted children tend to hit developmental milestones earlier than usual. In particular, this is associated with verbal and learning-related milestones, for example, learning to speak, acquiring a more complex vocabulary, understanding more nuances, or speaking in a more adult way. Children who are gifted tend to learn more easily than their peers and seem to acquire many skills faster. However, many children who are gifted might have more trouble with other areas of development, for example, hand-eye coordination or emotional regulation. Some areas of the brain are going to be better developed, and this is normal.
Children who are gifted might be different from their peers in regards to their interests, capacity to pay attention, memory, and other areas. It is usually possible to see that the child has more advanced skills or capabilities, especially in the things that they most enjoy. Observation provides a strong sense of whether the child may be gifted and might lead the parent to the next step.
The next involves privately assessing the child for giftedness and to identify their IQ. Even if the child does not have an especially high IQ, such an assessment can pay off in other ways, because it may help the parent identify if the child has any learning problems, their skills and capabilities, their preferred style of learning, and many other things, depending on what the assessment actually includes. Professional assessments are not cheap, however, so it is up to the parent where to look and how much to invest in this.
A simple solution can be to take a preliminary evaluation before going all out. For example, a website like Kids IQ Test provides a way of assessing a child that is more accessible for most parents. It is not a full battery but it can give a sense of where the child is on the scale of giftedness.
Something worth considering is that some parents might focus too much on the idea that their child is gifted or become concerned if they find this is not the case. However, giftedness is only one of many ways in which a child is special. Fixating too much on this variable can put excessive pressure on the child and might lead to a sense of disappointment because not every child is going to be gifted, especially in terms of a high IQ. A high IQ is less common statistically, which is what makes it a high IQ. It is important to accept giftedness as a part of who the child is or is not and, if the child does not have a high IQ, find what their talents are and how they can develop. A high IQ can be a great help but it is not the only resource at an individual’s disposal.
So, identifying a child with a high IQ starts with a parent’s observations. After this, the parent might choose to do preliminary assessments, for example, online tests for high IQ (https://www.testkidsiq.com/) or seek out a full professional assessment for the child. While schools and institutions also offer this testing, it tends to be less rigorous and come late during a child’s development. A high IQ is a great asset but it is important not to fixate excessively on this aspect to the exclusion of a child’s other traits and capabilities.