How can I know if my child is gifted?
The assumption that one can “know” whether her or his child is gifted is based on a totally false one: that a child is either “gifted” or “not-gifted”. There are a few dozens of definitions of “Giftedness”, all “reasonable”, “legitimate”, and even “good”. For example: Avner Ziv had defined it as “potential for excellence”. For Erika Landau “being a gifted child is having to deal with the gap between one’s emotional and cognitive development”. Alice Miller had chosen a very short definition: “being gifted means being sensitive”. These definitions are listed as “characteristics of gifted children” in all available “lists of characters of giftedness”. However, each of these mentioned scholars had chosen one of the listed characteristics as the “most important” and as thus decided it should be “THE definition”. As these characteristics are complicated – almost impossible – to measure, when children have to be divided into “gifted” and “nongifted” in order to be eligible to a gifted program, the more common definitions of giftedness are IQ-relied. But while in most countries the giftedness threshold is an IQ of 130, in some it is different – higher or lower. We can thus summarize, that when there is no “acceptable definition” of giftedness the question of “knowing if one’s child is gifted” is practically meaningless. But the question whether my child has a visible or hidden potential that should be developed still remains valid, and it should be of interest to parents and educators. This does not actually mean that “every child has some talent” – or “one child is good at something and another – at something else”. We all know adults who do not excel either in sports, or in business, in any verbal area or in the arts. Many of these adults had been well-nurtured during childhood, sent to the best tutors for extra-learning and training, given all opportunities to choose any field with full support of their devoted families but the results were quite poor. There are also children and adults who are very good – even excellent – at science, have a remarkable talent in at least one sports field, are very musical as well as highly social. The rate of mathematicians who are also musical is very high, for example. Many great athletes have been defined as gifted at an early age: it is very hard to achieve highly in school while dedicating dozens of hours per week to being trained as a professional gymnast, for example… Unless you are gifted and thus not having to invest time and energy in order to succeed in school it is almost impossible to be a good student AND a super-athlete. Practicing is the main thing that should be recommended for “suspected as gifted” and “suspected as ‘regular’” children. We, parents and educators, must encourage each child to work – read, write, sing, build, draw and paint, etc. We must not put any pressure on the child but rather remember, that learning, singing, playing an instrument or dancing are enjoyable activities for many children. If they keep on dancing they might be professional dancers, but there are higher prospects they will not. In any case, dancing will be an integral part of their lives, help them be active, happy, and healthy. If a child does become a professional dancer, a footballer, or a scientist – this should be a happy surprise, a non-expected gift rather than the materialization of her or his parent’s expectations. This is the first in a series of posts intended to give at least partial answers to the most frequent questions asked by parents of gifted, talented and creative children.
Yousef Methkal Abd Algani born in Nahif, Israel, June 2, 1981. He graduated from the Department of Software Engineering, Technion in 2002, and graduated B.Sc. on Mathematics and Co
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