Jamie started speaking in full sentences when he was only 10 months old. He was reading by the time he was 3½. Ellen could add and subtract large numbers at the age of 4. At age 3, Mimi drew pictures of her family with lots of detail and skill.
Gifted children have a high level of intellectual, artistic, or physical skills. They also have unique challenges. Parents may not always know how to give them enough stimulation and support.
Experts advise focusing on abilities rather than age. For example, if your son uses big words, use big words when you speak to him. If your daughter likes being with older children, let her have some older friends. Your child may want to spend all his time reading. Give him books on various topics.
Understanding and Helping
It is a big responsibility to help a gifted child develop. Their abilities and skills need to be nurtured. Parents need to encourage the child's questions and explorations.
A gifted child can seem like many ages at the same time. The child's intellectual or artistic talent can be like an older person. However, their emotional development is often the same as kids their own age. "Ellen can handle math a lot better than her brother who is 2 years older," her father says. "But they both fight about what to watch on TV. She acts just like any other whiny 6-year-old."
What Does "Giftedness" Mean?
There are many definitions of giftedness. Gifted children often understand things in different ways. They may notice things that others do not notice.
Children who are gifted may:
- Learn faster than other children
- Do well on tests or other measures
- Be very motivated
- Like to make their own decisions
Gifted children do not always do well in school, however. They can have learning disabilities and other problems. It is good to be aware that each child is unique.
There are also different types of giftedness. Some children have high ability with certain subjects in school. Others may have a high level of creativity, artistic talent, or leadership. Then there are those who are physically gifted, such as with dancing or sports.
Schooling for Gifted Children
Many schools are structured by age. This assumes that most children develop similar abilities at the same time. This is often not true for gifted children. If your child tests as gifted, a special program can help. Find out what is available at the child's school.
A child with high abilities may skip a grade or two. However, skipping grades can make it hard for some children to adjust socially.
One option is for the child to take advanced classes in certain subjects. "Ellen does math with the fourth graders," reports her father. "But she studies all other subjects with her regular classmates. This way she maintains her current friendships. But she gets to explore math at a higher level."
Some public schools do not have special programs for gifted kids. In this case, you may want to consider a private school with gifted education. Gifted children can get bored in schools that do not meet their needs. Sometimes this can lead to behavior problems. In a gifted education program, the child will get more attention and challenges.
Parents also have the option of home school education. To do this, you need the ability and patience to teach. One parent also has to be home during the day.
Programs Outside of School
Gifted children can benefit from special after school and summer school programs. These can help them develop their talents and interests. The programs may focus on a variety of subjects.
Making Friends and Socializing
Children who have a special gift often feel different. It can be hard for them to meet others with the same interests.
Explain to your child that there are different kind of friends. Tell them that they can share different parts of themselves with more than one person. Let them know that it is okay to have friends who are older and younger.
Allow your child to take the lead. If problems happen, talk to the child about them in a kind way.
Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development
University of Connecticut
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
CanTeach: Educational Resources
Education for gifted students. Hamilton University website. Available at: https://academics.hamilton.edu/government/dparis/govt375/spring97/Teacher_Training/tt2.html. Accessed June 10, 2021.
Depression in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/depression-in-children-and-adolescents. Accessed June 10, 2021.
The challenges of twice exceptional kids. Understood website. Available at: https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/empowering-your-child/building-on-strengths/gifted-childrens-challenges-with-learning-and-thinking-differences. Accessed June 10, 2021.
What is giftedness? National Association for Gifted Children website. Available at: http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/definitions-giftedness?id=574. Accessed June 10, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 6/10/2021