Giftedness-the what and how

Can anyone help me understand what is meant by the term "gifted" child? How do you test it- at what age, using what tools, and who does the testing? And lastly, do you treat a gifted child differently or let the kid be a kid? Thanks for any insight.

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www.brainy-child.com is a great website to check out for these kinds of questions, you can join the group, or browse most of the site for free

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Depending on the age of your child, the criteria changes. In school, all districts have there own criteria. As children get older, MENSA is an organization that works with gifted individuals of all ages. There criteria is listed on their website. I am a teacher. Our district assesses students who are in the top 5% to see if they qualify for our program using an assessment called the COGAT. How old is your child? What concerns do you have?

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Hi. I am a Gifted and Talented Teacher. Here in NJ, we have a state mandate that schools must provide services for identified gifted children from K to 8th grade. Like laniesmom stated, all school districts use different measures to identify gifted children. Most use a profile of gifted characteristics as well as a form of an IQ test. (Cogat, Sages, Raven.)

Gifted children have different needs than high achieving children. Many times they think differently and while academically are very advanced, they often have social/emotional deficits. In PA, you actually need to have an IEP if you are gifted because they view it as a function of Special Ed.

How old is your child? What makes you think that he/she is gifted? What issues do you need help with specifically?

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My stepmom is a gifted teacher and she told me before that its based on an IQ test. My brother are both in the gifted program. I'm not sure in there are other factors.

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I am going to jump on this thread. I have a 24 month actual/ 21 month adjusted ex 25 week preemie. He learned the alphabet 3 months ago, counts to 19, knows some shapes & colors. I started words with him after he got done with the alphabet, so he can now read 6 words.

I'm really just trying to follow his lead on learning things. I focus on the things that he is interested in while we play. He is in EI for some gross motor issues, but his teacher did recommend that I get some reading DVD's for him as he seems to be ready.

Right now, I say that he is advance in some things. His dad has a very high IQ, but he is lacking an emotional component of his personality that I would much prefer that my son have.

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Laniesmom and AnniesMommy, thanks for sharing the info. Before I answer your questions on why I wrote this post, let me say two things. One, I am not sure if my 21 month old is gifted. And two,a part of me does not even want to find out and put a label on a kid that might put undue pressure on her. On the other hand, the curious scientific part of me wants to find out and here is why. Like dawnene's LO, my dd knows all her alphabets (can recite and read) and numbers up to 20(can read up to 10 only) for 3 months now. At 17.5 months, she had >150 words in her vocabulary, including 3 syllables words that she used correctly. Now, she has a lot many more words and talks in 3-5 words sentences. Knows about 10 shapes and sight "reads" simple books. She can sing with tune >10 nursery rhymes including some long ones like the long version of "Mary had a little lamb". And she learnt all of this on her own. Neither my husband nor I make her sit and learn anything. My husband gives her his IPhone to play (against my wishes) and she learned to use it properly. My husband has loaded some apps for her and if you ask her to open an app, she knows to go to the right screen and open and then play the app. She can recognize and name 5 planets. She learns a sentence and quickly learns to substitute words to create new sentences. I was really taken aback (in a good way) when 2 days ago, when we were getting in our car, she said "If you see a Prius Car, don't forget to drive"- she sang this to the tune of "if you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream." I thought maybe her nanny taught her that, so I asked her what she would do if she saw a mama. She said (and I swear this is true), "If you see a mama, don't forget to love, don't forget to kiss, don't forget to hug." I almost cried. I do not want to push this kid. I want her to be who she is. But at the same time, I want to provide the right environment for her to grow intellectually. Currently, like I said, we don't do too many intellectual activities and instead focus on physical play and fun stuff. Should I be doing more for her? If so, what? Or can I just do what comes naturally to me and not worry too much about her development? Sorry for the long reply but I would love to hear from you as you have experience in this matter.

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caffeine-T, thanks for the great website.
mommaE, what age did your brothers join the gifted program and assuming they are adults now, did they find it useful or do they regret it?
dawnene, wtg. That is fantastic! :) Do you plan activities around his interests specifically and motivate him to learn more or do you just let it be and let him learn at his own pace. Does he enjoy more focused learning activities? What kind of activities would you recommend?

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I refused the gifted program at age 8. I did not like the kids in it. I was put in it in high school due to boredom. 21 months is really too young to know. kids learn at different paces and some level out by 8. My nephew was in it and he was clearly gifted but he did not test until he was 9. My parents taught one taught 3rd grade and the special Ed. My mom would have 5 year olds in her room just for reading but then she would have them for 3rd grade at the correct age and most of the times peers had caught up. I expose my boys to many activities. We play outside and hike all the time. I read to them all the time. At this age playing is the best way for kids to learn and reading books with them is priceless.

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I want to add that my gifted nephew was non-verbal at 3. He didn't read until he was 7. His IQ is Mensa level.

Just let your little ones be little. Skip the DVDs on reading just pick up a book and read to them. Nothing beats it.

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mamadragon---I do read....we read a lot to my LO. He has all of his books memorized, so I get new ones from the library, but reread the ones he knows to help reinforce. I also let him do a lot of self directed play. I know that he is probably just advanced in this area right now & I actually kind of hope that he doesn't have his dad's IQ.

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Dawnene---A friend of mine and I were talking the other day... about hoping our kids are just plain old average. That we can skip the burden that sometimes comes with the gifted label given our own experiences.

I think I'm becoming my mother who always preaches about reading. We've been going to the library trying to get new material but we also read the same books over and over espeically bedtime books.

I found a great book called "In the town all year round" at the library. It has no words but is full of detailed pictures. I ended up getting two from amazon the boys love it so much. Definitely great for little imaginations.

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Mamadragon and dawnene, I completely agree on books and play over any other tools. It was very interesting for me to read your opinion on the gifted label and I am curious to know why you wish your kids would not inherit the high iq? I would think it would be so cool to be so smart. Can you share/ elaborate your experience about the downside of high iq?

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Lovemydd, not Mamadragon, but while I think there are very positive things associated with having a gifted child, there also can be some challenges. There are several former gifted children in my husband's and my families. My one aunt told me once that the higher IQ a gifted child has, the harder they can be to raise and to be happy or fit well into society. This is not in all cases, and is just her opinion. But she had a son with a 130 IQ, who is well adjusted now at almost 32, and she had another son, now 36, with a 140 IQ who's basically been a flunkie since the time he turned 13. Of course, I think part of that has to do with parenting. My husband has a niece who is bright, 123 IQ as a child, but not gifted. She's doing great in all areas now at almost 22, extremely well adjusted and happy. Her sister, 19, is in the 140s, and while just as talented artistically and getting almost as good of grades as her sister, she just never seems as happy with life in general or as comfortable with family. It's hard to explain. She hated high school and never seemed to fit in, so she went to college fulltime the last two years, part of a program that allows kids with good grades to do just that, only she didn't seem to like that either. I think it would be very difficult to raise a highly gifted child, I am talking 150s and above...there would be so many decisions to make and you'd always worry whether you were challenging them enough and what would happen to them once they grew up. Would they fit in well with society? I know in general most are leaders, but it seems like the ones I know really well have some trouble.

I will say from your description that your daughter may very well end up with a gifted label someday. She sounds a lot like my husband's niece at that age. And remember to take her adjusted age into account too, even though past 2 no one else will. It's still her "true" age and can point to her giftedness even more.

At the school I taught at, gifted children were identified at the end of second grade based on testing. There were further IQ tests given in 3rd and 5th grade, and sometimes we'd have students qualify through the 3rd grade test and not the 2nd grade one. IQ can fluctuate, and kids can have good and bad days. Plus the tests were from different companies, and may have emphasized different things. I have an aunt who's a gifted teacher. I think the gifted programs can provide children with good challenges they may need...but there can be a down side if the child doesn't want to be pulled out one day a week, or however often it is.

I looked up things on giftedness in toddlers when I saw your post. Some say that it can be bad if you don't stimulate a gifted child of that age, but they say it can be bad also if you try to treat a child who's not gifted as a gifted one and push them too far. I can say that the mothers of the gifted children in our families didn't push their children to read, and the one girl who showed signs by 17 months of having a high IQ didn't begin reading until preschool, probably around age 5. I didn't learn to read until kindergarten, and my IQ would be under the gifted label were I in school today.

I am not a believer in the Teach Your Baby to Read programs or using word flashcards with toddlers. But I do believe in following your child's lead on things. Andrew, who tested high average on the Bayley a couple of months ago, not close to gifted, has shown interest in the written word since 15 months adjusted. He went through a phase about 7 months ago where he wanted to know what some words in titles or large print ones in books were, and I told him whenever he asked. He learned some of them pretty quickly, pointing and reading them. He knows around 8 words by sight, including his name, and probably half a dozen letters, some numbers, colors and shapes. He does have some of the signs of giftedness I've read about in toddlers, such as an insatiable curiosity, unusual alertness, focusing on a task for a lengthy amount of time, being able to watch an entire show (Baby Signing Time) before 1, extremely early interest in books and the written word, a big vocabulary before 18 months (adjusted), early recognition of letters, numbers, colors, and some words (before 2 adjusted), and early empathy for others' feelings. But he isn't gifted, at least not yet. We'll see if someday that changes. Who knows--if IQs can fall 20 points over a 5-year period (and someone's in my husband's family did), then surely they can rise 20 points too. But I think it's also possible for average and above average children to have some of these characteristics too; it's probably natural they would. However, in your daughter's case, I can definitely see what points to a gifted child, so far.

Here are some links to more about gifted toddlers:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/234896/everyone_wants_to_think_the ir_toddler.html?cat=25

http://www.ehow.com/info_8115957_signs-giftedness-toddlers.html

http://www.suite101.com/content/identifying-a-gifted-toddler-a119334

http://www.thehealthymoms.net/2011/03/early-signs-that-your-child-is-gifted .html

I remember back when Andrew was maybe 14 months adjusted, and I was trying to find out how many shapes he should be able to put in a shape sorter (he could only do one), I stumbled onto this website about this gifted boy, listing all the things he could do at every age. My goodness, there was no comparison! But we have to realize, with preemies, our kids are all gifted in their own way because they are here. That alone is a real blessing. And with the kind of fighters they are, who knows just where they'll end up, and that includes in the world of future IQ tests. But I totally support the "Let them be kids" motto too. I was reading up on preschools, and one school apparently had a sign hanging up that a mother read when she escorted her 3-year-old to his first day of preschool, that said something like: "If your child already knows everything in our curriculum, then they haven't spent enough time in the sandbox." I like that!

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Courtaney,
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond in such detail to my post. Your response answered almost all my questions. After going through the web links, I believe that while my dd might be advanced, she may not necessarily be "gifted". Either way, I subscribe fully to the sign at the preschool that you mention in your post. I would much rather have a well balanced, happy, and confident child than a child who is extremely intelligent but unable to cope with life. I have read about Andrew's skills on your other posts and believe that he is a "super kid" considering his extreme prematurity as well as the fact that he is a boy and boys usually lag behind on linguistic skills. You must be so proud of Andrew. BTW, love his new profile picture, looks like he is thinking hard about what prank to play next :). Thanks again for the very informative response.

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@Courtaney and lovemydd- I actually have gifted children. Everything said about high anxiety and more difficult to raise is pretty spot on. I also have an extremely high IQ and might fall into the flunkie category described. I am very good behind the scenes but because I am always thinking and questioning, have to do things just so so I tend to over think everything. In school I was the brightest but always seemed too old for my age and never really understood some of the crazy stunts other children pulled. I'm quiet and introverted as is my son. My daughter is also quiet but with support she's really branching out and trying new things- not so afraid of failure. One thing I will say- knowing your IQ at an early age can be a very bad thing. People expected me to be a walking, talking encyclopedia and it quickly wore me down and always made me question myself. Anxiety? Too much of it I'm afraid. If your daughter is gifted (and she does sound exceptional) I would seriously provide a rich environment, engage in quality conversations and let her just be a child. Enjoy her ability to relate information but don't push or force more and more information in. She'll pick it up quickly with little to no extra effort from you. Love her above all else for all the little things she does and keep the genius comments to a minimum. When we put all our self worth into one label it can be hard to handle. Many gifted children find it difficult to understand why it's such a challenge to fit in. My fairly normal child is the most personal and out going of the bunch. She's so happy and engaging I find myself wishing I could be just like her!!!!

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Avasmom, thanks for sharing your personal experience with being and raising gifted children. You helped reinforce my thoughts on parenting style. I hate to push my kid. My parents never did and all three of us turned out just fine- average to above average intelligence but real happy and content adults that love life. I want to do the same for my kid. My husband was pushed as a kid and he hated it then and still only has not-so-happy memories of his childhood. We both agree that a kid should be let to learn at his/her own pace. While we are both very proud of my dd and often tell her so, we will try not to put a label on her that she feels she has to live up to. For now, I will just keep doing what I do which is take her out everyday, play in the dirt and the grass, and the water, chase butterflies and bunny rabbits in the backyard and just "laugh and play" as my dd puts it. Thank you so much.

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