A gifted child is both a blessing and a challenge. They are not the easiest of children to raise - many parents often feel ill-equipped to deal with their questions, their complexity and their demands. Bianca Wright explains
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to identifying the gifted child, but an IQ of 145+ is a good indication. Generally, they will have high cognitive abilities.
They might also possess a vivid imagination with heightened creativity and sensitivity. There are high levels of curiosity and these children are driven to learn faster, with a capacity for abstract reasoning.
They sometimes see ordinary things in very different ways. They tend to ask many questions, thrive on complexity, work independently at an earlier age, concentrate for longer periods and have a strong drive to autonomy.
Most South African IQ tests are standardised individualised IQ tests (SSAIS-R) that have been adapted from international tests.
An IQ test is designed to measure intelligence potential and does not focus on prior learning but rather on general mental ability. Neither does it indicate giftedness in specific areas, but rather, overall intelligence potential.
It’s a myth that these children will always realise their potential if simply left to their own devices, so it’s important that parents recognise and understand the signs of giftedness in children.
How to cope with a gifted child
Gifted children are both a blessing and a challenge. Parents are often ill-equipped to deal with the questions, complexity and demands of gifted children and may label the child as unruly or naughty.
Patience, understanding and support
Patience, understanding and getting the support you need can make the difference in helping your gifted child flourish. Parents need to be aware that while gifted children need recognition like all children do, they should be careful not to ‘show off’ such children or put undue focus on how clever they are. Balance is necessary.
Get your child to socialise
Socialising is important, and if a child is held to be somehow separate from the others she might find it difficult to mix, and be less inclined to enjoy other things she might have enjoyed, such as sport.
Gifted children in school
Gifted children can concentrate for hours on activities they enjoy and have an interest in, but when they are bored in the classroom, they can be challenging for the teacher.
Usually work is given to children in small bits, but a gifted child can take in lots of work in a very short space of time; she can grasp the whole idea at once.
They also tend to give unexpected answers which could be beyond some of their teachers. Since most gifted children attend mainstream schools it’s best for the child, teacher and parents to learn to deal with this constructively.
For more information and support, see: Gifted Children Centres: Johannesburg (011) 484 7966/7, Pretoria: (012) 341 7818 or Cape Town (021) 617 088
The National Foundation for Gifted and Creative Children: www.nfgcc.org