Sunday, November 8, 2009

Super Sunday Series - Week 2 - "You know your child is gifted when . . . "

Last week in the Super Sunday Series, I gave you the broad overview of "gifted kid traits." 

This week I promised to delve into some of the traits.  Bring it home a little, humanize it. 

Let's start with asynchronous development.  To me, this is one of the biggest hallmarks of gifted children, these huge GAPS in abilities.  In A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, the authors say "intelligence and knowledge are simply not the same as emotional maturity, understanding, or wisdom."  Guide, pg. 122.  Further, they break it down into three categories:

  1. Emotional and intellectual maturity - where you "have the intellect of an older child, adolescent, or even an adult, but have age-appropriate emotional development.
  2. Asynchrony of abilities - saying the "brighter the child, the more widespread her abilities . . . it is common for a young gifted child to be frustrated that her fingers will not do what her mind wants them to do. 
  3. Interpersonal asynchrony - where the child "doesn't fit into the world around her."
Guide, pages, 122-123

Carol Fertig goes on to say the following about asynchronous development:
Asynchronous development is uneven development academically, physically, and/or emotionally.  A student might be a whiz kid at science, but can't throw a ball; or she may read years ahead of her classmates, but perform at grade level in math.
Raising a Gifted Child, Carol Fertig, Prufrock Press, 2009, pg. 32.  She also notes that asynchronous development is particularly difficult at the K-3 grade levels because these ages are not "mature enough for independent work."  Id. 

Maybe this is why many gifted programs don't start until 4th grade in elementary school?  Just a thought.

In our house, the biggest asynchrony we see is in the abilities, or #2 above.  Oldest couldn't write, at all, until between 4 and 5.  At school, she had mastered the alphabet and was starting on Easy Reader Books, but when she was asked to write her name, sometimes the tantrums she had would be so forceful that at minimum she would lose playground time - sometimes I got a call from school.  The teacher thought she was being stubborn - the truth was she just couldn't do it.  And that, as you gifted parents WELL know, is unacceptable to a gifted kid - it makes them self-destruct when they think they can't do something they should be able to do - especially at 4 when they don't yet have emotional maturity to handle it better, even if just a little bit. 

Her conferences are in two weeks. I'm cuirious to see how her math level and reading level compare. Last year, at mid-year, she was at 5th grade for reading and 1st grade for math. HUGE difference. I can't imagine if we had her in a public school, trying to get her language needs met, and I feel so much empathy for those of you who do have this struggle.

The other big one we see here is academic "age" being so much more advanced than emotional age.  Oldest, as I have mentioned, was completely computer proficient by age 4.  She could navigate her way through Google to "her" sites and get anywhere in any particular site she wanted - even before she could really read the stuff, she just had a good instinct with it. 

I completely take this for granted, by the way.  Two nights ago, she came to me crying in the middle of the night because she'd discovered a "movie so scary I can't even talk about it, Mommy" on the Kiki Strike website and it was haunting her at 3am.  I just assumed if she was reading Kiki Strike at school, then it wouldn't have "keep you awake" stuff at night on the website.  Because if something's on a site that she's allowed to go on, she will find it.  Period. 

Though she has all of these abilities, she has the emotional maturity of a 7 year old (sometimes younger, too, I suspect, depending on what's going on in our lives, time of year, etc).  Things she can handle reading because she can are not necessarily going to be things she can handle emotionally. 

And finally, "interpersonal asynchrony," where the child doesn't fit into the world around her.  We see this in certain venues - a club we belong to tends to be very rough for her in the summer.   She thinks very differently from the kids there and ends up in tears or fighting quite often.  She has no CLUE how to "play the game" socially.  And a lot of these kids, while nice, have a different level of Social Savvy that she doesn't have.

Her school environment is great for her - Montessori - it truly does have the potential to change the world, one child at a time.  Plus her fellow Suzuki kids tend to be on the same playing field as her.  It's amazing to see how seamlessly they blend together at the recitals when they don't even know each other - all age levels!  So different from other places we go where she doesn't know people. 

So this is asynchronous development and it's longer than I thought.  I'm going to save my other planned "stuff" for down the road. 

Next week?  Perfectionism, though I've been avoiding it because I'm afraid I won't get it right. 

Get it?  Avoiding doing something for fear of failure?  Perfectionism in a nutshell.  We'll talk about the positives and negatives of it next week. 

See you! 
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