“How can I tell if my child is gifted? Is he really just quite smart or could he possibly be gifted?”
Usually my posts typically deal with topics of interest to families who are supporting their children with learning challenges, therapy needs, behavior, emotional or sensory concerns, etc. This month I want to focus on the questions above as it comes up more often than you’d expect in conversations with parents.
While it is not uncommon to misinterpret high achievement as giftedness, it is important to be aware that “not all high achieving students are gifted and not all gifted students are high achieving”.
High achieving learners are recognized for their organized, well developed, on time and impeccably completed school work. Parents and home learning support teachers comment on these learner’s consistent high grades and how well they participate, adhere to rules, routines and expectations. Some might assume these students are gifted because of their “school appropriate” behaviors and their high grades. They are typically the pleasers. They may work harder than their gifted peers and receive praise for those efforts. They are rarely challenging, get A’s across the subject areas and always complete their assignments. Parents and teachers alike are happy to have these kinds of learners. Their qualities however are often mistaken as signs of giftedness.
Signs of giftedness can often be recognized at a very young age; giftedness can present itself in many different ways in children (creatively gifted, intellectually gifted, talented). Years ago, children whose IQ scores were over 130 were considered gifted. Today the range of intellectual giftedness begins at 115 (Mildly Gifted) and continues to 160+ (Profoundly Gifted) The range for average intelligence is 90 to 110. IQ however is just one factor among many that need to be evaluated before a child is identified as gifted.
| Some Signs of Gifted Children May Include:|
While IQ testing can help teachers and parents determine if a child is gifted, most psychologists recommend that children not be tested before age five and preferably not before age nine since the results may not be entirely accurate at the younger ages. It is usually not necessary for a child to be tested unless it is necessary to advocate for a more appropriate education than what a child is getting. The flexibility we have through RCOA with DL learning allows parents and teachers to plan programs that uniquely address the gifted child’s needs. Surprisingly, a child can be both gifted and learning disabled. Often, the learning challenge is recognized and giftedness is undetected.
In 1989, Janice Szabos published a comparison of the bright child and the gifted learner. Her comparison helps to describe differences between the two groups and provides a useful format for consideration.
Bright Child vs. Gifted Learner
|Bright Child||A Gifted Learner|
|Knows the answers||Asks the questions|
|Is interested||Is highly curious|
|Is attentive||Is mentally and physically involved|
|Has good ideas||Has wild, silly ideas|
|Works hard||Plays around, yet tests well|
|Answers the question||Discusses in detail, elaborates|
|Top group||Beyond the group|
|Listens with interest||Shows strong feeling and opinions|
|Learns with ease||Already knows|
|Six to eight repetitions for mastery||One to two repetitions for mastery|
|Understands ideas||Constructs abstractions|
|Enjoys peers||Prefers adults|
|Grasps the meaning||Draws inferences|
|Completes assignments||Initiates projects|
|Is receptive||Is intense|
|Copies accurately||Creates a new design|
|Enjoys school||Enjoys learning|
|Absorbs information||Manipulates information|
|Good memorizer||Good guesser|
|Enjoys straightforward sequential|
|Thrives on complexity|
|Is alert||Is keenly observant|
|Is pleased with own learning||Is highly self-critical|
-Janice Szabos, Challenge Magazine, 1989, Issue 34
The Learning Assistance team of RCOA offers support to families educating their high achieving and gifted children. Our desire is always to work with parents and teachers to ensure that all learner’s academic, social and emotional needs are met. When considering gifted and high achieving learners who require unique enrichment programs or subject acceleration, we provide the program opportunities they need to experience the greatest success and satisfaction. If you want further information around gifted and high achieving learners or if you believe that your child should be screened for potential giftedness, please have your teacher request the involvement of one of our Learning Assistance Coordinators.