Sunday, November 1, 2009

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

Welcome back to the Super Sunday Series!  This week I'm stepping back to the basics of giftedness.  Today begins a study of "gifted signs." I chuckle as I say this because the scope is quite large.  There's no real "cookie cutter" version of a gifted child, which is why schools have so much trouble meeting their needs, I'm sure. 

That being said, however, I've amassed a laundry list of "signs" from the following three sources.  Raising a Gifted Child by Carol Fertig, The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids by Sally Walker, PhD, and A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children by James T. Webb, PhD, Janet L. Gore, MEd, Edward R. Amend, PsyD and Arlene R DeVries, MSE. 

All of these books have commonalities about what "is gifted."  It would be nice to say "you know it when you see it" but I don't think you can.  All of the reasons I started researching books about gifted kids had little to do with her ability to read Charlotte's Web between age 4 and 5.  It was that, combined with all of the quirky, challenging personality characteristics that sent me down the research road. 

So, away we go!

Some signs of the gifted child, according to these three books:
  1. Strong verbal abilities
  2. Unusually good memory
  3. Intense curiosity
  4. Wide range of interests
  5. Asynchronous development
  6. Interest in experimenting
  7. Strong imagination, 
  8. Creativity
  9. Sense of humor
  10. Motor skills delay
  11. Need for reason and understanding
  12. Impatience with others and/or with themselves
  13. Longer attention span
  14. Complex thinking
  15. Awareness of or concern with social/political problems and injustice
  16. Sensitivity
  17. Intensity
Also, it's worth it to note IQ levels, though a single IQ test certainly doesn't lock your child into his or her level.  IQ can fluctuate several points up and down, depending upon the mental stimulation involved.

Two-thirds of the population are considered to have "average intelligence," or an IQ between 85 and 115.  The other one-third falls evenly at each end of the spectrum, 16% below 85 and 16% above 115.  As a general rule, to be considered "gifted" from an IQ perspective (because there are other ways to be gifted, not dealt with in this post), you need to have an IQ greater than 115: 

From 115-129, you are considered mildly gifted.
From 130 - 144, you are considered moderately gifted.
From 145-159, you are considered highly gifted.
From 160+, you are considered exceptionally gifted. 
And Profoundly gifted is upwards of 180. 

Only 2% of the ENTIRE population has an IQ higher than 130.  That's 1 child for every 50 students (though some research says it's more like 1 in 40) with an IQ over 130.  Hoagie's Gifted does a great job explaining what an IQ in the 130's means vs. 160 in terms of behavior.  Because the higher your IQ gets, the more difficulty you have being able to be "mainstreamed."  You think so radically different from your age peers, that they can't really even be considered your peers. 

Lots of research talks about how parents downplay their child's giftedness, or underestimate how smart their gifted child actually is.  I find an interesting dichotomy with that. 

I think people who have merely bright kids overestimate their child's intelligence and parents of gifted kids underestimate it.  Why?  This is my personal opinion only, but I believe the aspects of giftedness that are really hard (see the past 5 weeks of the Super Sunday Series as examples) make you think you must be wrong about having a gifted child in the first place.  Because until you do the research and discover that all of these extreme personality traits are, in fact, the gifted "normal," you think you can't possibly be right about having a gifted child.  No one that smart could be that extreme, correct?  Incorrect. 

So, in conclusion this week, I've listed some comparisons between "bright" kids and "gifted kids" to show how experts differentiate them.  (printed, with permission, from Carol Fertig's book, Raising a Gifted Child, pg 5, see above for the link):

Bright Kids                        Gifted Kids
Know the answers                                 Ask the questions
Are interested                                       Are highly curious
Are attentive                                        Are mentally & physically involved
Have good ideas                                    Have wild and silly ideas
Work hard                                             Play around, test well
Answer the questions                             Discuss in detail, elaborate
Listen with interest                               Show strong feelings and opinions
Learn with ease                                    Already know
Needs 6-8 repetitions for mastery          Need 1-2 repetitions for mastery
Understand ideas                                   Construct abstractions
Enjoy peers                                           Prefer adults
Grasp the meaning                                 Draw inferences
Complete assignments                            Initiate projects
Are receptive                                         Are intense
Copy accurately                                     Create a new design
Enjoy school                                          Enjoy learning
Absorb information                                Manipulate information
Are technicians                                      Are inventors
Are good memorizers                            Are good guessers
Enjoy a sequential presentation              Thrive on complexity
Are alert                                                Are keenly observant
Are pleased with own learning                Are highly self-critical

So there you have it, some guidelines to get you started if you're not sure about your child.  They're not perfect and a wealth of information exists online about this for further reading.  Great books too.  Especially the ones I've referenced today.  Well worth the buy.

Next week, I'll dive into some of the characteristics at the top (like what asynchronous development means, for example).  See you then!  Happy November!
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