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Perfectionist, imaginative, curious… gifted children!

January 15, 2015  |  Education

They have a wide range of vocabulary, they learn words easily, they talk quickly, they remember every detail, they’re creative, curious, they ask about things all the time… Today we’re going to talk about gifted children.

All mothers and fathers think their children are the most beautiful and the clever kids in the park. And many never stop talking about how their children were the first to walk, the first to talk, the ones who speak foreign languages best, the best at adding up, subtracting, drawing… There is, however, a long way from there to being a gifted child according to experts in educational psychology.

The question is how can you know if your child is really gifted? Where is the dividing line between a talented child, a bright child, and a truly gifted child? Experts talk about four key areas of development: language, learning, motor skills and creativity.

With regard to language, gifted children have a very wide range of vocabulary, and they begin talking very young, as well as talking fast. They’re able to build long and complex sentences and stand out in class for the way they speak. They’re also able to learn very quickly, have an excellent memory, and enjoy asking questions, observing, in order to have a deep understanding of each question.

Where motor skills are concerned, experts say that they also learn to crawl and walk early, and to control their body, which is another sign of rapid cognitive development. They are imaginative and use their creativity to solve problems and offer innovative solutions.

Brilliant at mathematics

Can gifted children be bad at certain things? Occasionally, according to the National Association for Gifted Children, they may be limited in terms of social and emotional aspects that need to be addressed. Members of the US-based Association also say that a child who is gifted in one field may not necessarily be gifted in general. It is usual for these children to develop different skills in asynchronous fashion, being brilliant at mathematics and mediocre at reading, for example, and they may often suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety that they have to learn to manage.

And how can you know if a child is gifted or merely talented? According to Lewis Terman, the psychologist who first came up with the word “gifted”, truly gifted children are those who are among the top 1% in intelligence tests based on the Stanford-Binet scale. Other experts consider that people are gifted if they have an IQ of 130 or more. But numbers apart, everyone agrees that gifted children have marked personal skills. They are motivated when they like something, they’re very eager to learn, they like to be the focus of attention, they’re perfectionists, very demanding with themselves, capable of leadership, and they have great memories and a very sophisticated sense of humor.

Talented kids

Other children simply have a high level of capacity, with an IQ of 120-130. Then there are child prodigies, who stand out in a specific field at a very early age and are able to play an instrument at concert level as soon as they can walk, or who write books, provide artwork for exhibitions, etc. And there are also children who are talented in certain areas.

They are all brilliant, and their parents and teachers should try to satisfy their insatiable curiosity be it intellectual, scientific, mathematic, sporting, musical, etc. parents should also provide support on an emotional level, because they are, after all, children. These particular children need even more support because, experts say, they tend to be extremely sensitive and are prone to becoming introverted and reserved.

An educational challenge

What are the challenges involved in educating gifted children? Where schools are concerned, early detection of extraordinary skills is important. Some 98% of gifted children in Spain are not identified according to figures published by Spain’s Ministry of Education. In ninety five percent of cases it is the parents who realize that the child is gifted. On an educational level parents have to learn to manage the vast difference between one key facet, i.e. a highly developed intellect, and another, namely emotions, which will develop at a similar rate to those of other children of the same age.

Experts say that for all these reasons the important thing is to encourage children to learn, foster their creativity, and not place too much pressure on them with overambitious goals. Listen to them, understand their need to keep asking questions, to know more, and help them to channel their curiosity by providing them with books, internet access, and by organizing music or science sessions, and visits to museums and libraries as part of family life. There is certainly no denying that it is an educational challenge.