High academic achievement in a school classroom setting is the most common way to identify gifted children. However, there are gifted children who are not high achievers, and these children often get overlooked.
Giftedness, by definition, means that an individual’s intellectual abilities are in the top 2.5% to 3% of the population when measured by a psychologist using standard intelligence tests. High intellectual abilities, however, does not always mean that a child will do well in a classroom setting. Just think about the child that does not find a lesson challenging and loses interest because they are bored. This child is at risk of poor performance or of becoming disruptive because their interest is not being held.
Children with extraordinary minds do not always display their true capacities, which can make them difficult to identify, especially if you do not know the characteristics of giftedness that you are looking for. Parents of a gifted child need to understand they are looking for displays of advanced reasoning abilities and profound empathy, for example, and not necessarily high academic achievement, as they question whether their child is gifted.
It is important to be aware that teachers are rarely taught about the special needs of the gifted in their training programs. This is also the case for psychologists. These facts are frustrating, given that a gifted child’s potential will often not be reached without proper recognition and support.
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Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta