How do you determine if you have a gifted child?
It’s “not too difficult” to find if a young child is gifted, according to the past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Bettye M. Caldwell, Ph.D., writes in Working mother magazine,
“Most of the indicators involve a child’s achieving developmental milestones significantly earlier than other children, although some characteristics involve a child’s doing a thing in ways that are qualitatively different from the way most children do them.”
Caldwell provides some of the indicators of giftedness in young children:
- They use advanced vocabulary. What is important here is not, so much the number of words used as the complexity of the ideas expressed.
- They have keen powers of observation. A gifted child will be extremely observant and, as she learns to speak, will comment on things she has observed, or ask questions about something she has noticed. She will figure out relationships and put things into categories.
- They are enormously curious about everything. This means they have many questions. They may develop specific interests, with areas of specialization.
- They have impressive memories. Gifted children can amaze you with the array of details they retain from something that happened a long time ago.
- They display relatively long periods of intense concentration. Even as infants, gifted children will stay with an activity for a long time. They tend to tune out people and things in their immediate surroundings and give total attention to the activity at hand.
- They like to pay and work independently. This stems from their aptitude for intense concentration. Gifted children often like to work by themselves, using others only as resources to provide information that is not otherwise available or help that is absolutely essential.
- They are innovative and creative in their play. Gifted children may sometimes frustrate their parents by not playing with a toy in the way parents (and toy manufacturers) think it should be used.
- They show unusual talent in a specific field, such as music or drawing, and painting.
- They show an early interest in reading and writing.
- They demonstrate sympathy and concern for others. Some people worry that gifted children will be selfish and totally egocentric, but this is not the case. They often show concern for the feelings of others and will take action to see to it that responsible adults do not ignore the apparent needs of a particular child.
“Some gifted children will have virtually all of those characteristics, other children only a few. There are also some gifted children who do not display any significant indicators of talent early in life and who at first may even appear ‘slow’ in certain areas. Famous examples of this are Albert Einstein, who reportedly was slow at learning to read and do basic math, and Winston Churchill, who was late in talking. But in general, gifted children will show a cluster of indicative behaviors fairly early in life.”
Betty Caldwell was an early childhood education trailblazer with strong connections to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is fondly remembered for her ground-breaking work and contributions to education throughout the country.
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