My older child may be gifted
Older children who may be gifted
If your child is already in primary or secondary school when you start to think he or she is gifted, or teachers or friends suggest she or he may be gifted, it is important to have an IQ test carried out by a Psychologist experienced in testing gifted children if you want to be certain that your child's needs are being met, and that she or he is being catered for in a way that will allow him or her to reach his or her potential. Check the information about IQ tests that are suitable for gifted children on the page "Testing Gifted Children" - the section "Using the correct test" about halfway down the page.
If you think, or if it's suggested to you, that your child may be gifted, and your child is in the normal school class for his or her age, it's likely that there are problems. These may be obvious, and causing major difficulties at home, at school, or both; there may be no doubt that an IQ test should be carried out.
However, depending on the personality of the child, problems at school may be subtle, and may seem to you not greatly different from the problems many children have at school. In reality I believe that unhappiness and problems experienced by any child at school should always be investigated and understood if possible. It should be possible for almost all children to have a reasonably happy and helpful experience at school, and if this is not happening I believe strongly that the causes of any problems need to be discovered, and whatever measures that may be necessary taken to deal with them. Definitely if your child has problems at school and the suggestion is made that he or she is gifted, it is very important that either a multidisciplinary assessment be carried out, or at least an IQ assessment. No good can come of leaving a gifted child to struggle unrecognised with whatever problems he or she experiences at school.
Possible examples of fairly subtle problems can be any or several of the following. Your child may complain that she or he doesn't like school, is bored, or is unhappy there. She or he may read and work on projects of his or her own at home, which seem of a higher level than her or his schoolwork or homework; you may know that she or he is able to read at a higher level than the teachers seem to be aware of. Or she or he may have enjoyed home reading and home activities at a younger age, but now seem to be losing interest in any academic-oriented activities. He or she may seem difficult and depressed during school terms, and much happier during holidays, particularly during the long summer holiday. She or he may seem to have difficulty making friends, or make friendships which seem very inappropriate to you. Your child may want to leave school early, or show little or no interest in schoolwork and school activities. He or she may not be achieving highly at school, or may even be failing at school in some subject areas, which may make the suggestion that she or he is gifted very puzzling to you. He or she may often be in outright trouble at school, or conversely may seem to be quiet, undemanding and withdrawn at school.
While waiting to have an IQ test done, the most important thing for you to do for your child is to start learning as much as you can about gifted children, so that you can begin to help him or her to start building a self-concept of him or herself as a gifted child - you have to understand that concept yourself to be able to support your child's construction of a self-concept. I know this sounds a bit "touchy-feely", but it's actually the most important factor; more important even than the provisions your child's school does or doesn't make for him or her.
First, read the beginning of the page on this website "Helping Gifted Pre-schoolers" in order to get some understanding of how the basis of a child's self-concept is established. In your child's case this probably didn't happen when he or she was young, but you can begin to see how the corresponding process, especially that of support from parents and family, is important for your older child also.
Next, read the page on this website "If my child seems happy at school, is everything fine?" This page will help you understand what the school process is like for a gifted child in a normal school, and (whether your child has seemed happy there or not) it will again help you to understand the importance of your own understanding of what a gifted child is, and your support to your child in developing his or her self-concept as a gifted child; this latter process probably won't be easy for your child, and may take quite a long time - up to several years in some cases. If your child has been achieving highly, that unfortunately doesn't mean that he or she has a good and realistic (by realistic I mean high enough) "gifted" self-esteem. If he or she hasn't been achieving highly, this often happens with gifted children, so don't let that mislead you.
Next, follow the links on my page, read whatever you can, follow links on those pages etc, and keep working on your own understanding of gifted issues. It may help you to join a parent's support group such as "Oz-gifted" on the NSWAGTC site; this excellent group has members from a few overseas countries as well as Australia.
Once you have your child's IQ result, you'll know whether your child is in the gifted range, the highly gifted, or above the highly gifted (often called "profoundly gifted"). (Gifted is in the IQ range roughly 125 to 145, highly gifted roughly 145 to approximately 170, profoundly gifted approximately 170+).
There are many ways in which the lack of suitability of a normal school environment for a gifted child may cause a situation with a vague group of problems; if the child is found to be gifted and the situation is properly examined, the causes of these problems are likely to become clear, and the problems that were apparent may turn out to be merely the tips of icebergs.
Is it possible for a child to be happy at school, with no problems of any sort, and the suggestion to be made that he or she is gifted? If so what are the issues in this case?
Practical solutions in the classroom are usually more difficult to achieve for a child in secondary school than a child in primary school. To Be Continued
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