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How Can I Tell If My Child Is Gifted?

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Updated June 20, 2014

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Question: How Can I Tell If My Child Is Gifted?

My child is quite advanced in math and language. For instance, at two she could count to 20 and recognize numbers up to 100. She also knew many shapes, including pentagons, hexagons, trapezoids. Her language skills were advanced, too. She knew the alphabet at two and could recognize many words.

Sometimes I think she must be gifted, but other times, I'm not sure. Is there a way I can tell if my child is gifted?

Answer: It would be great if there were a way to test for giftedness like there is to test for the chicken pox or for an allergy to dust, but there isn't. However, you can get a good idea by learning about giftedness. It's impossible to learn everything you need to know all at once, so start slow and then just keep reading! The more you learn and the more you understand, the more sure you will be. This is true whether your child is just a few years old or a teenager.

The best place to start is by looking at a simple list of the most common traits of gifted children. If your child is young, you can look at the traits that can be recognized in young children. Giftedness can even be seen in infants if you know what to look for. Of course, chances are that if you look at a list of traits, you'll see some that apply to your child and some that don't. This is one of the reasons that it is so hard for parents to be sure that their child is gifted.

In addition to looking at the traits of giftedness, you will want to compare your child's development with the typical development of children. Gifted children end to reach developmental milestones early. This refers not just to physical milestones, but to cognitive and language milestones as well. Once again, though, while you can see that your child reached some of the milestones early, you may also see that your child didn't reach all of them early or maybe she didn't reach them so early that you don't see any significant differences.

You really need to do some in-depth reading on giftedness and gifted kids. A good way to do some relatively easy reading is by reading some books on parenting gifted children. Not only do they provide information on recognizing whether your child is gifted, they also provide great advice for parents of gifted kids. If you are the parent of a gifted child, you know that most parenting advice doesn't seem to work very well for your child. One of my favorite parenting books is A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children.

If you have the opportunity to attend any presentations for parents of gifted children, take advantage of it. For example, your state gifted association might offer a special night for parents as part of their yearly conference. This is an invaluable experience because you often have a chance to talk to experts in person. It gives you a chance to ask about your child and his abilities and clarify any issues that might be a problem for you.

But why does it matter? Will you treat your child any differently if you know she's gifted or not? Will you love her any less? Or any more? One reason parents like to know if their child is gifted is to make sure that they are nurturing their child's abilities. But really, all parents should do this for their children, no matter what their abilities are. There are some other reasons you want to be sure whether your child is gifted or not and that is to be sure that he gets the kind of academic services he needs in school. Without it, he can experience some problems in school.

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