Parents often say to me, “I think my child is really smart.” followed by the statement, “But then again I am his/her parent and I am biased.” I am here to remind you, as a parent you are your child’s very first educator. If you think your child is very bright, more than likely, they are! No one knows your precious wonder better than you.
Sadly, there are not a great deal of formal assessment tools for the young genius. Additionally most young children will not open up to an individual they have just met in order to score accurately on a psych evaluation. But that doesn’t mean that you have to wait until age five or six to get a good read on your child’s chances at having higher level abilities.
Numerous studies show the critical age for maximizing brain development is birth through age three. (85 percent of a child’s core brain structure is formed by age 3) With proper stimulation, a child’s brain can be taught to perform at higher levels, resulting in higher intelligence quotients. When young, high-ability children are placed in classrooms designed for low or average-ability students, they typically experience boredom, frustration, and decreased motivation. While gifted students do have an extraordinary level of potential and ability, their high aptitude for learning can easily go to waste if not fostered properly. This makes the identification of young geniuses critical.
Identification is actually easier than you think IF you know what you are looking for. Oftentimes I can identify a child as gifted just by speaking with their parents regarding some of the child’s behavior traits. Below are a few of the questions to ask yourself when determining a child’s propensity towards giftedness:
Does your child
- have extensive language development and vocabulary for age or grade?
- developmentally reaches milestones earlier than average?
- love books?
- have a vivid imagination (includes having imaginary friends)?
- have a keen sense of humor, developed at an early age?
- demonstrate musical aptitude?
- seem to need less sleep than you would expect?
- struggle due to manual dexterity development lagging behind their intellectual expectations, resulting in frustration at the inability to complete envisioned tasks?
- likes to organize and bring structure to things, people, and situations?
- sensitive? General anger or criticism is taken personally; they suffer along with the starving children on TV, the injured animal, etc.
- extremely social?
- read far more into what is for most a simple situation?
- display greater reasoning powers, from a very early age?
- associate more with older children and adults?
How many did you identify with? If you found yourself recognizing more than less of these characteristics, get ready! As parents, we are the very best advocates for our children. To help your child reach their maximum potential, seek out educational opportunities that are structured specifically for the highly able. Recognizing your child functions on a different “playing field” and needs an innovative approach to capitalize on their maximum potential is the first step to success.
Enjoy the journey; the future is in your hands!
Kimberly K. Wilson is the author of The Right Preschool, Behind the Scenes from an Industry Insider and the Director of Innovation at Lutz Learning Center, “Maximizing Education for Preschool – Grade 8 since 1980” – located at 621 Sunset Lane, Lutz, FL 33549. For more information call (813) 949-3484.
This article first appeared in the March 2015 edition of Khass Baat Newspaper