Four of the Most Frequent Questions About Gifted Children
The four questions about gifted children that parents have asked me time and again in the last 30 years are:
1. How do I know if my child is gifted, or how do I know if my child will be identified as gifted?
2. At what age is it recommended to be identified as gifted?
3. Is it a “must” to be mathematically gifted in order to “succeed” in the gifted identification process?
4. Shall I let my child stay in the regular classroom or it better to let her or him learn in a special gifted class? Today we are going to get an answer to the first question: How do I know that my child is gifted? or: How do I know if my child will be identified as gifted? The assumption that it is possible to “know” if my child is gifted is based on another one, namely that each child “is” either gifted or non-gifted. This assumption is false as there are a few dozens of definitions of giftedness, so a child can be labeled as gifted by some definition and “non-gifted” by another. However, in most cases the subtext of this question is: “How can I know if my child will be defined as gifted after taking the ‘giftedness examinations’ given at a certain age in a certain place, whether financed by the parents of by the public education system”. Unfortunately, one can never “know” what will happen in any examination, but there are some clues that might help parents decide whether to have their child identified for giftedness or not. ·
If the child has any learning disability, including ADHD/ADD, and this disability is not taken into consideration such as a longer examination time, a room isolated from external noises, permission to circle the right answer rather than fill the answers form, etc. – prospects are high that even a very brilliant child would “fail” the examination. While failure does not always have a negative influence on a child’s self-esteem and her or his believability in their own abilities, when the child is learning disabled a failure might “prove” to her or him that they are not capable, not talented, and that their inner feeling, which says otherwise, is wrong. ·
If the child is diagnosed by a qualified professional experienced with the subject of giftedness, prospects are higher that he or she will be diagnosed as gifted. The results of giftedness examinations might be biased either because the diagnostician does not have enough knowledge about gifted children or because he or she is not familiar with analyzing the results of the examination when they are substantially deviant from the norm. For example: when the diagnostician does not get full cooperation with the young child, he or she might interpret it as a result of “not understanding” the questions, or “being un-responsive due to emotional problems”. The truth, when the examinee is gifted, might be quite different. For example: the child does not like the fact that the examiner has made a language/pronunciation mistake and thus does not cooperate; the examiner’s smell is repulsive to the sensitive child who avoids breathing as much as possible when physically close to the examiner; the child does not wish to participate in the program that requires these identification process, and thus fails her- or himself deliberately; the examiner is not familiar with the fact that the diagnostic tool he or she uses does not have a high-enough ceiling so the very high achievements in some sub-tests do not compensated for the average and especially the very high ones of others; the examiner is not familiar with the rule that a difference of 15 points between the verbal and execute parts of the Wechsler’s examination does not necessarily mean a learning disability when a child has a very high IQ.
If the examinations are not valid or reliable. As most parents do not have enough knowledge about the examinations used for giftedness identification in their country, city or school, they can use the following criteria in order to get decide whether the examination is good-enough or not.
I. If the test-results implements affirmative action towards some sub-populations, and the child does not belong to any group that benefits from it. For example: Israel implements affirmative action towards girls in the giftedness tests taken by all qualified school children, so that 40% of the pupils invited to all gifted classed and enrichment programs are girls. When a boy is not highly gifted prospects are very good that a girl with a lesser IQ will be accepted to a certain program while he will not, and sometimes the prospects of a girl to be accepted to a gifted program is twice as high as those of a boy with the same intellectual abilities. If a boy is mature enough we might consider explaining him this situation, hoping that if he does not “pass” the giftedness examinations it will not cause a permanent damage. But if the child finds it very hard to accept injustice, especially when he is the subjects of this unfair situation, it is sometimes better not to put him into such a frustrating situation.
II. If the examinations are not standardized by age. Some giftedness examinations are done to children learning in the same class at the same time regardless at the age differences among them. This is the case, for example, in the Israeli giftedness examinations, given usually in the middle of grade 2, when some of the children are hardly 7- and others are already 8.5-year old. As has been shown by Segev & Cahan (2013), older students have approximately 3.5 times greater chance of acceptance than younger students.
(To Be Continued)
Segev, E. & Cahan, S. (2013). Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice: Older children have a greater chance to be accepted to gifted student programmes, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, DOI: 10.1080/0969594X.2013.822847
Hanna David received her PhD, "magna cum laude", from Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München and was a college lecturer in Psychology and literature. Dr. Dav
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