Gifted Child: What Characterizes a Gifted Child? Tips for Encouraging Their Strengths

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.Starting a Day Care Center

A gifted child is a child whose potential in one or more areas of skill would place him or her in the top 2-5% of children of the same age. However, this does not assume a narrow view of academic intelligence - the areas of skill can be traditionally academic, or creative, intrapersonal etc.

The United States Office of Education definition suggests giftedness as "children or youth who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities." Many states and localities use this definition or a variation. School districts use a wide variety of methods or tests to decide which children qualify for gifted programs or services. Those who manifest giftedness obviously have some inherent or inborn factors plus the motivation and stamina to learn from and cope with the rigors of living.

Following are some signs of a gifted child:

  • Abstract reasoning and problem solving skills
  • High level of curiosity
  • Ability to process information faster and more effectively
  • Early and extensive speech development
  • Exceptional memory
  • Does not require much sleep during infancy
  • High energy and activity level
  • Unusual alertness and responsiveness
  • Vivid imagination

gifted child

Raising and nurturing a gifted child can be an exciting yet daunting challenge. Such an individual is, above all else, a child and needs all the same nurturing, understanding and love as any other child. Parents of gifted children may be intimidated by the child's mental abilities and verbal prowess.

Following are some tips for parents of gifted children:

  • Be positive. A gifted child might display behavioral issues such as persistence or stubbornness.
  • Determine as early as possible the degree of giftedness and decide on a "management plan" to include school and enrichment activities.
  • The brighter the child is, the greater is his or her emotional complexity and potential vulnerability. You might have to discuss with the school and educators about the child's potential and how to deal with it.
  • Parents should expose their child to their own interests and encourage the child to learn about a wide variety of subjects, such as art, nature, music, and sports, in addition to conventional academic subjects.

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