think my child may be gifted; what should I do?
answer to this question depends on several factors, but the two most important
the age of your child,
2 whether there are any specific problems relating to your child, or to your family regarding your child, which you need to investigate or to try and take action about.
with the easier scenario first, assume that there are no problem issues
involved, but you suspect, and perhaps others have commented to you, that your
child is gifted and you want to know what action you should take.
and their Children – you can feel confident.
it is important to emphasise that a parent or parent's feelings about whether
or not a child is gifted have been found by research to be the most reliable
form of detecting a gifted child, other than by an IQ test.
I find that parents who contact me are often almost apologetic about
daring to think that their child might be gifted. This is because there is a
widespread stereotype in our community that parents have a greatly inflated
opinion about their child's abilities.
there is a definite distinction here. When
parents are bonding well with a baby or young child, they focus on, and are
delighted by, each small new achievement or piece of progress which the baby or
child makes. From the moment of the child's birth, they begin to enter partially
into the amazing world of the development and growth of children, and in a way
which can only happen if you are a parent or a very dedicated child
psychologist, for the first time they begin to see the wonder and sheer
astonishment of the details of learning and progress which the baby & young
child makes. They are fascinated
with every detail of this process, as they well should be. It is one of the most
amazing phenomena which takes place on our planet and one which not all the
world’s technology can simulate to even the smallest extent.
So the parents talk about it.
Unfortunately any friends and outsiders who are not going through the same
process of parenting, but are in the outside world of business, industry, work,
and day-to-day living, don't have this wonderful insight. So they find the topic
very boring and interpret the parents' talk as meaning that the parents have a ridiculously
high opinion of their child's achievements.
In fact it is the world in general which has a ridiculously low
appreciation of the almost inconceivable process that is taking place as a baby
learns and progresses and grows into a child and eventually into an adult.
the issue regarding gifted children is different.
In my experience, as human beings, most of us are not in reality
over-confident and conceited, and most parents, while certainly thinking their
children are wonderful, are if anything reluctant to begin to decide that their
child may be gifted. So, if you think your child is gifted, you are probably
you think your child is gifted, you need to begin to learn something about the
issues of gifted children, and then to make some decisions and perhaps get some
advice. You can begin by reading
all the information on this website, and on other links, sites and sources which this
can direct you to.
One of the first decisions you may wonder about is whether or not to have
an IQ assessment done for your child.
Test or Not To Test:
If you believe your child is gifted, it's natural to want to have it
confirmed, and to know exactly how gifted – you may feel confused or worried
by the idea, and may well feel that the results of an IQ test would give you
definite information, and some reassuring facts to work with – and depending
on your circumstances this may well be true. Whether you should have your child
tested or not is a matter of balancing three factors: the cost of the test, your
child’s age which affects the accuracy of the test, and the extent of need
for the exact IQ information which only the test can give you.
COST: Unfortunately, testing a child's IQ is complex & expensive.
It can only be done, both legally and realistically, by a child
psychologist who is specifically experienced with gifted children. The test
costs $300 to $400, with approximately a third to a half recoverable if you have
private health cover; so unless money is not an issue for you, it is important
to consider the other two factors when deciding whether to go ahead and have the
test done. Many people contact Australian Mensa to ask whether Mensa is able to
test their child's IQ. Unfortunately Mensa can't help because the test of which
Mensa has the use for testing IQ, is only suitable for adults (I recommend not
before 16 years old).
YOUR CHILD'S AGE:
Although it is
possible to test the IQ of a child as young as age 3, the results of an I.Q.
test are more inaccurate the younger the child is, up to the age of
about 6 to 7 years. A test done on a younger child won’t give a value higher
than the real IQ, but there are many reasons why it may give a lower value, and
therefore a few years later you may want to have the test done again.
In years to come when you are negotiating with schools on behalf of your
child, schools will probably want to see a test which was done after your child
had reached school age – in other words, if you test early, you will very
likely have to test again later anyway.
NEED TO KNOW:
Therefore I usually
suggest that unless the cost is no issue at all, parents don't bother having a
test done unless there is some problem or situation which means you really do need
to know if your child is gifted, and if so exactly how gifted. Common
reasons can be a complex of behavioural problems, leading to a need to know what
is causing them and whether giftedness is a factor; or signs that a child may be
very highly gifted; or even simply wanting to plan a strategy for schooling,
giving you time to find out what different schooling options are available to
WHEN YOU NEED TO
If you do have a
situation with worrying or puzzling behavioural problems, which seem to be
affecting the child or the family adversely, then you probably do need to have
your child assessed. If your child is already
in primary school, and there are problems or issues for him or her at school,
then you will almost certainly need to have an assessment done.
If at any age beyond about 3-4 years there are indications that your child may be extremely
highly gifted (see the page on “Very highly gifted children”), then it is
essential that you have your child tested as soon as possible because special
provisions and measures which are highly desirable for gifted children, are
absolutely necessary for very highly gifted children. If you decide that
you want to have your child tested, or that you need to, check out my
advice and others' regarding how best to go about finding an appropriate
psychologist, and having an appropriate test done.
If at any age beyond about 3-4 years there are indications that your child may be extremely highly gifted (see the page on “Very highly gifted children”), then it is essential that you have your child tested as soon as possible because special provisions and measures which are highly desirable for gifted children, are absolutely necessary for very highly gifted children. If you decide that you want to have your child tested, or that you need to, check out my advice and others' regarding how best to go about finding an appropriate psychologist, and having an appropriate test done.
logically that the situation in which you should probably wait before having
your child’s I.Q. tested, is that your child is still a toddler or
preschooler, and there are no compelling reasons forcing you to undertake the
cost of one test now, and a
possible further test in a few years’ time. In this case, picking up the
again, you think your child may be gifted – what should you do?
If you decide not
to have a test at this stage, it is a fact that you can't go far wrong assuming
your child is gifted (as already stated, parents are usually right when
they think this), and acting accordingly.
Start to learn as much as you can about gifted children, their
characteristics and special needs. There
is a list of recommended websites, especially those of the various state Gifted
& Talented associations, together with other links, journals and books on
the “Further Contacts” page of this site; however don’t expect to learn
everything about this complex subject overnight.
Take time to learn from the wealth of information available, in the time
before your child reaches school age.
As you learn about gifted children, start specialising in learning what
gifted children need from the schools they attend, so that you can begin
investigating what options you have among the schools in your area.
You should be able to get a lot of help and information about this from
contacts and other parents who are also in touch with your state Gifted &
Talented Association. As is the
case with all types of research and information-gathering, you’ll probably get
a lot of varied and conflicting information to sift through; hopefully there
will come a stage where some of the information begins to coordinate.
Follow the course
of action explained in another page on this site, How can I help my gifted
preschooler? This explains a
very practical approach to providing your child with a broad and
stimulating program of activities, and while doing so, developing and
fostering a social group of children of comparable intelligence.
The reason you
can't go far wrong by providing as
much experience & stimulation of all sorts as you can for your child,
and in the process collecting any similarly bright children you meet into a
little peer group for him or her, is that this is basically what all
preschoolers need anyway, and can only benefit any child.
is a Gifted Child?] [Intelligence & IQ] [How
do I Know if my Child is Gifted?] [Problem
Analysis] [Testing Gifted Children]