If you’re wondering whether your child is intellectually advanced, the answer isn’t always easy to find. According to the National Association for Gifted Children, “Children are gifted when their ability is significantly above the norm for their age.” While every gifted child exhibits individual traits that set them apart, some common characteristics can include one or more of the following:
1. They reach developmental milestones early.
A young child may develop language skills above their age level and show an advanced ability to learn and process information rapidly. This can be a sign that they are ready to be challenged.
2. They recognize patterns at an early age.
Gifted children start noticing repetition when very young, not only in color and shape patterns but also in behaviors and actions. As they get older, they might easily find relationships in ideas, objects, or facts.
3. They love to read.
Many gifted children learn to read quickly and earlier than other children their age. They enjoy reading for meaning and pleasure as well as for more detailed knowledge or interest in their favorite topic.
4. They have a vivid or unusual imagination.
While children are generally quite imaginative, a gifted child will exhibit their originality in unique and surprising ways. They will use their imagination to experiment with ideas and views of the world.
5. They grow frustrated with mundane or repetitious activities.
A gifted child will get bored in class when the work is too easy. They have a need for constant mental stimulation and they will be persistent in seeking it out.
6. They prefer the company of adults or older children.
An intellectually advanced child often can’t relate to the interests and abilities of their peers. They may find adult conversation to be more stimulating. They may also have a well-developed sense of humor beyond their years.
7. They have an insatiable curiosity about the world.
Gifted children ask endless questions. Instead of being satisfied with an answer, they dig deeper with their inquiries. They have a need to understand the world, and for it to be logical and fair.
8. They hold themselves and others to high standards.
Gifted children will often stick with a task until they have mastered it. They are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves and their environment. They may have a sense of justice at an early age – a need for the world to be logical and fair.
Keep in mind that a child does not have to show all these traits to be gifted. It’s also important to note that giftedness is represented through all racial, ethnic, income levels and exceptionality groups.
Why it matters
Determining whether a child is gifted is important for many reasons. Gifted children are often a mystery to their parents, who can be surprised at their abilities. Quite often, parents are looking for confirmation that what they’re seeing is, in fact, advanced for a child their age.
Knowing that they’re gifted can give parents peace of mind and a better understanding of their child, so they can provide the best academic environment for them. Additionally, early identification in school improves the likelihood that a child’s gifts will be developed into talents.
The dangers of not knowing
Sometimes a child’s advanced abilities can be viewed as problems if they’re not understood. They may have difficulties relating to other children their age and finding same-age friends. The high expectations they place on themselves and others often lead to feelings of frustration. They may grow discouraged by their abundant skill in one area but not others.
The struggles can show up in the classroom as well. When lessons are geared toward the average student, the gifted student may grow frustrated and bored. When they don’t receive an education that challenges them, research shows this can lead to underachievement or even dropping out of school. When children are known to be gifted, it is easier to navigate these issues and know where to look for help.
Helping your gifted child
Parents and caregivers are usually the first to identify that the extraordinary abilities and interests in their children are different than in others they see. Acknowledging that your child is gifted allows you to gain a better understanding of whether the school is providing an appropriate educational setting for your child. If you feel your child isn’t being challenged in class, talk with the teacher about how your child works best and try to build a partnership in their education.
While educators play an important role in the lives of gifted children and their families, it is essential for parents to support the growth and development of their gifted child as a whole, including their intellectual, social, emotional, and physical sides. Nurture their love for reading, help them find new ways to explore their world, engage them in conversation about their interests and passions, and encourage them to take on projects and creative endeavors outside of school. You can also locate resources in the larger community to nurture your child’s specialized learning needs. The important thing is to make sure your child is getting what they need to live their best life.
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