Every parent believes their child is special (in one way or another) but how can they tell if their child is gifted? Being gifted is commonly defined as having an intelligence level that puts you in the top 2% of the population. However giftedness is not always reflected in intelligence; it can also be demonstrated through exceptional creativity, motivation, leadership, or adaptability.
Traits & characteristics of gifted children
Early reading skills often represent advanced cognitive and language development. Learning a language often follows a sequence of stages while you might see gifted children progress rapidly or skip steps altogether. According to Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, children in the Concrete Operational Stage (6 – 11 years old) typically do not have the ability to think about abstract ideas. Oftentimes children who pick up reading early have already been logically thinking about abstract issues long before they were 6.
Exceeding developmental milestones
Developmental milestones are separated into physical, cognitive, social-emotional, and communication aspects. You can view them as essentially a checklist of skills for your child at different age ranges. Although it is normal for each child to learn at their own pace, gifted children typically exceed average developmental milestones.
Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski theorizes that children often exhibit intense behaviors in psychomotor, sensual, emotional, intellectual, and imaginational areas- these are called “overexcitabilities” or “supersensitivities”. Research has shown that gifted children tend to have one dominant overexcitability while also exhibiting additional overexcitabilities.
The National Association of Gifted Children recommends that you should wait until your child is at least 6 years old before you test them. Although IQ testing or achievement testing is a straightforward way of quantifying whether your child is gifted, keep in mind that children display giftedness in different aspects, not only intelligence.
Why does all of this matter?
Ultimately, parents want to find out if and how their child is gifted to best understand, and provide the best for them. Knowing that your child is gifted is also important to choosing an appropriate preschool that will compliment and challenge their gifts.