The truth about the gifted & talented

Chaos theory ... how do you tell if your child is gifted?
Chaos theory ... how do you tell if your child is gifted? 

All parents consider their children to be ‘gifted and talented’ and this term can be quite controversial in many schools, often due to competition for places in specialist classes designed to ‘excel’ high achieving students.

What is giftedness?
Children and adolescents with a significantly higher than average intellectual ability are often called “gifted” or “talented”. They may have generalized ability, or be exceptionally talented in specific areas, such as academics, music, arts and sport.

Gifted and talented students are found in every cultural, social, ethnic and socioeconomic group. However, it is relatively uncommon, and is recognized only in children whose IQ is at or above 130. Exceptionally gifted students, usually have pronounced talents in one specific field of interest – for example, music or mathematics – and are even less common.

What are some signs my child might be gifted?
Gifted children often display some of the following traits:

- Extremely curious about the world
- Excellent memory
- Fluent and flexible thinking
- Excellent problem solving skills
- Learns quickly and with less practice and repetition than their peers
- Unusual and/or vivid imagination
- Very sensitive, emotional and intuitive
- Concerned about fairness and injustice
- Perfectionistic
- Relates well to adults
- Extensive vocabulary
- Reads rapidly and widely
- Enjoys learning new things

How are gifted children assessed?
Giftedness is accurately identified by measuring a child’s general thinking and reasoning skills. Valid psychometric assessments include the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) and the Stanford Binet 5 (SB-5). These are administered by a specialist Educational and Developmental Psychologist or a Registered Psychologist with specialist skills.

What are the challenges associated with giftedness?
While giftedness is generally considered an asset, many gifted children experience challenges that their non-gifted peers will not.

Due to a gifted child’s advanced cognitive abilities, they may find it difficult to relate to, and form satisfying bonds with other children in their peer group. This can lead to social isolation from same-aged peers, identification with adult or elder peers and frustration in class.

Gifted children process information more rapidly than others in their age group, which can make them highly sensitive to their environments. This sensitivity can lead to moodiness, irritability, or anxiousness in gifted children.

Giftedness is often associated with perfectionism, which can lead to procrastination and, paradoxically, underachievement in school.

How can I help my gifted child make the most of his abilities?
Communicate with your child’s teachers. Ask about what accommodations can be provided for your child to help keep him stimulated and learning at a challenging pace. You may also want to ask about accelerated or advanced classes, or special programs for the Gifted and Talented.

Provide learning opportunities for your child outside the classroom. Gifted children excel when they are given the chance to keep learning and developing their talents. He may excel in academically-themed camps, weekend classes in drama, music, languages, sports, or writing.

Trips to museums, science centres, and other cultural events may also be fun and a great way to bond with your child. The University of NSW (UNSW) offers school holiday programs for Gifted and Talented students through GERRIC.

Introduce your child to other gifted or talented children. Research shows that gifted children experience less stress and negative emotions when they have the opportunity to discuss their social and emotional concerns with others of high ability. A Gifted and Talented program, either as part of school curricula or as an extracurricular pursuit, can help your child meet and interact with other gifted students.

Affirm your child as a whole being, not just as a ‘high achiever’.
Qualities such as kindness, tolerance, and fairness – not just intelligence or achievement – are important. Recognition as a ‘all-rounder’ will help reduce the pressure many gifted children feel.

Talk to an experienced Psychologist. Gifted and talented children are often at risk of serious underachievement, social isolation, poor concentration and mood swings associated with frustration. Psychological intervention can assist with motivation, organizational skills, social issues and study schedules and many other related concerns.

Recommended Resources
Quirky Kid publishes a range a resources to support the emotional and social development of children and adolescents. Parents can benefit from some of the resources available in the Quirky Kid Shoppe.

We also provide psychometric assessments and psychological intervention for children and adolescents facing educational, emotional, and intellectual exceptionalities.

Information provided by the Quirky Kid child psychology clinic. Find out more about separation and anxiety at the Quirky kid website.

Do you suspect that your child is 'gifted and talented'? Discuss with other Essential Kids members on the Forums.