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Is my child gifted?

March 15, 2011

This month, we’re focusing on how to identify gifted students.

First, rest assured:  “Research studies consistently show that parents are better judges of a child’s intellectual abilities than classroom teachers.”

There is no one set definition of giftedness.  “Some professionals define “gifted” as an intelligence test score above 130, two or more standard deviations above the norm, or the top 2.5%.  Others define “gifted” based on scholastic achievement: a gifted child works 2 or more grade levels above his or her age.  Still others see giftedness as prodigious accomplishment: adult-level work while chronologically a child.  But these are far from the only definitions.”   [HoagiesGifted]

There is also no one set way to determine if a child is gifted.  In fact, the state of Montana is just now working on a manual about identification of gifted kids, and even though they ask districts to identify their gifted children, the state does not specify how to do that.

Jill Schaunaman, Gifted and Talented Coordinator for Bozeman ISD has outlined how the identification process works (or should work) in Bozeman.  Note that part of the process can be a parent nomination.

So, as a parent, what can you do?

  1. Observe your child’s sense of humor.  A teacher of gifted students once asked me, “Does your son chuckle at the sign above Pooh’s tree house?”   In her experience, most non-gifted kids didn’t get the joke.   A poster presentation at the National Association for Gifted Children reported that humor was one of 3 personality questions that identified 72% of gifted students.
  2. Compare your child’s behavior to the chart of high achievers, gifted learners and creative learners.
  3. If your child is still in preschool,  the U.S. Office of Gifted and Talented says to watch for the following behaviors:
  • Uses advanced vocabulary for age.
  • Uses spontaneous verbal elaboration with new experiences.
  • Has the ability to make interesting or unusual shapes or patterns through various media: blocks, playdough, crayons.
  • Ability to assemble puzzles designed for older children.
  • Sense of humor used in general conversation.
  • Understanding of abstract concepts such as death and time.
  • Mastery of new skills with little repetition.
  • Demonstration of advanced physical skills.
  • Demonstration of advanced reasoning skills through explanation of occurrences.

If you think your child is gifted, ask your school what their identification process is.  Then ask them to test your child.

If the school doesn’t think your child is gifted but you’re still sure he is, you may have to pay for outside testing to convince them otherwise.   Read the blog post about IQ testing.

If your child has dyslexia, be aware that most tests used to identify giftedness discriminate against students with dyslexia.   You may need to request an oral IQ test, rather than the more common written IQ test, for your child.  And, yes, a child with dyslexia can also be gifted.

In fact, many gifted students are misdiagnosed as having other disorders and the giftedness is missed.  Conversely, some gifted students do merit a dual diagnosis.  Dr. James Webb is the leading authority on misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis and we’ve included an article outlining one of his presentations on the topic.

And, once your child has been officially identified as gifted, watch out for the Myths about Gifted Students!

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