Is Your Child Gifted?
by Katherine West
Many children’s gifts go unrecognized until later in life. I think that this is such a disservice to our children. There are so many talents that may go undetected by conventional tests given by our current educational system. This can foster frustration and depression, making school much less enjoyable for a child.
Although I was recognized as gifted at the age of six by a standard I.Q test, this didn’t make me aware of my true gift. Many standardized tests just check for left-brained or analytical intelligence. Too many people grow into adults and are unaware that they are indeed gifted individuals. Even though I had an I.Q. in excess of 140, I was frustrated for my entire childhood and teen years. Why? It was so hard for me to see people enjoying their talents. Yes, I was so envious of them.
I didn’t think I had any talent at all other than getting straight A’s. You see my singing is reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard. My dancing looks like a drunken elephant trying to do a pirouette. My drawings have inspired art teachers to run screaming from the room. Although I was so-so at sports, my rather pudgy body made most sports unpleasant or embarrassing. I thought I was a no-talent, clumsy imbecile that was just destined to be known as “the brain” forever more.
No, not all children are born with a high IQ, but many children have a specific gift. Nearly everyone has a talent. Recognizing the talent, many times, must be done by the parent. Since schools focus on intellectual traits, many artistic gifts go unnoticed. Many people may be unaware that public schools now have gifted programs for many children that are talented in countless other areas. Yes, schools test for the normal areas of science, math, written expression, spelling, problem solving, spatial concepts, and verbal expression. Some of the newer areas that tests can be requested in are in the areas of art, music, dance, creative writing, athletic achievement, and other more right-brained gifts that include many kinesthetic (involving physical movement) talents.
Since this is new to many local school districts, many times a parent must initiate the first step in recognizing their child’s abilities. In many cases, the parent must request testing in a specific area. The school psychologist is able to perform tests to determine giftedness in nearly any area.
In order to spot a gift, the child must be exposed to many different activities. Get feedback from your child’s teacher about his or her progress in different classes. If the art teacher suggests art classes, enroll your son or daughter in a weekend art program. If your child is like my daughter, you can tell what she loves by the amount of time spend doing a particular activity. Her favorites are drawing, painting, computer graphics, reading, and writing poetry. Make sure the child has ample materials for honing his or her craft. She is also very interested in science so I buy many magazines books on this subject for her to peruse.
It was not hard to notice that my daughter Cayli had a gift. She won a statewide art contest in the first grade. Her work has toured the state of Ohio. You can see one of her computer graphics here. My daughter’s art teacher is the one who came to me, but I still had to push for the additional testing with her school. She is now in the art gifted program. Cayli will receive additional art classes and even individual instruction. I also have her enrolled at the local museum’s youth art program at her teacher’s urgings. This often is not the case, though. Many times a talent can lie hidden for many years. Don’t let this happen to your child!
You may be asking yourself this question; How do I know if my child has a gift or talent?
Answer these questions:
1. How old was your child when they began talking?
If the answer to this question is between the ages of five and ten months, your child may be gifted.
2. How old was your child when they used complete sentences?
If the answer is between the ages of eleven and sixteen months, your child may be gifted.
3. At what age did your child first draw recognizable pictures?
If the age is between twenty and twenty-six months, your child may be gifted. This can vary greatly. Check with the local Art Museum, College Art Department, or an art teacher in your area.
4. Has your child ever won an art, dance, writing, or music contest?
This may be his or her talent.
5. At what age was your child able to write his or her own name?
This one is a little more difficult to determine, depending on the difficulty of the name. The age here varies, but your child may be gifted if it was before two or three years of age. Many times a giftedness in art, drama, dance, music, singing, cooking and other kinesthetic talents may not be recognized by these factors or other conventional tests. My other daughter Caitlin did not know this until she started choir. She learned her talent for baking and cooking when she won a regional cake-baking contest.
Now you may be asking yourself this question; “How do I know what my child’s talent is?
These next questions will help you to pinpoint what their gifted area may be.
What is your child’s favorite activity?
Does the child always do this in his or her their spare time?
Do they tire of it easily?
Are they particularly good at this activity?
Does the child ask for tools to help with this activity?
Have they received praise from people or awards for achievements in this activity?
Are they almost obsessed with this activity? You see almost a perfectionism emerge when they engage in this particular thing that they enjoy.
What area do standardized tests and instructors say is your child’s best subject? These are probably the areas that your child has the most talent. Give them opportunities to develop that talent.
If the answer to these questions is multiple for any one given thing, your child may be gifted in that specific area. Start watching your child for signs of his or her gift. Many adults find out so late in life where their talent lies. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know at a very young age? I know that I wish I had known much earlier that I had talent as a writer. Think of all those poetry and fiction contests I missed as a kid!
* Before using this information or any other you should first check with your child’s doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.