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Dealing with Gifted Children

Many years ago, a child who achieved a score of 130 or higher on an IQ test was considered gifted. However, today giftedness is not determined by a single test. Children undergo a battery of tests that are interpreted along with written observations of the child by parents and teachers. According to a local news report, more and more parents are now sending their children to consult child psychiatrists who refer them to Mensa for IQ tests to determine if their children are gifted. 


How do we know if our child is gifted?


A gifted child usually possesses a significantly higher ability compared to an average child with IQ of about 100. The child could display giftedness intellectually, artistically, musically, creativity or in terms of leadership or psychomotor skills. In order to fully develop their abilities, these children may need services beyond what is usually available in the standard school curriculum.


Researchers Betts and Netherton classify gifted individuals into six types – successful, challenging, underground, dropouts, double-labeled and autonomous. But the characteristics of gifted children are much more diverse.


While they may not exhibit all characteristics all of the time, gifted children sometimes share the following distinct characteristics in varying degrees or combination. The gifted children usually unusual alertness, are very fast learners; have excellent memory, enjoys solving problems, highly sensitive, desire to organize people/things through games, have vivid imaginations, etc.



Coping with a gifted child

It is important for parents to identify a gifted child early so that they can decide and help the child maxmise his or her potential skill. Otherwise, the child will be held back on his/her progress by conforming to the pace of his or her class. The parents can decide if the child should be sent to a school with gifted programme or to stay in the current school.


Parents also need to help the gifted child cope with the challenges. Children who are academically gifted may sometimes feel that they are different from their peers or their peers may ostracise them. In some cases, they may be the subject of bullying, resulting in them having low self-esteem. Parents can find a sport or hobby for the child to boost his/her confidence or Create opportunities for the child to spend time with his/her friends.


A gifted child will always want to strive for perfection. He/she will spend a lot of time planning to achieve the best results. If the perceived results are not attained, the child will be very disappointed. Parents can talk to the child and manage his/her expectations and goals in the tasks.


Impatience when things do not go his/her way and the desire to be in control in every task are the other two challenges faced by a gifted child. One way parents can teach a child to control such emotions is to ask him/her to close the eyes and take a deep breath whenever he/she is about to lose patience.



Gifted Education Programme (GEP)

The Singapore education system has a highly selective academic programme known as Gifted Education Programme (GEP) to identify 0.5% of students from each academic year with outstanding intelligence. The tests, determined in two rounds, are based on verbal, mathematical and spatial abilities. These students will then be transferred from normal classes to the GEP classes, whether in their current school, if the classes are available, or in another school. GEP classes will bring the students to higher levels (such as higher mother tongue, complex mathematics, intensive science and a wider expand of English knowledge/facts). The programme has now been expanded to 1% of the students from each academic year.


GEP was launched in Singapore in 1984 by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to allow each student to learn at his/her own pace. According to MOE, they have a commitment to ensure that the potential of each pupil is recognised, nurtured and developed. It was recognised that there are pupils who are intellectually gifted and that there should be provisions to meet their needs. Beginning with two primary centres and two secondary centres, it has now expanded to nine primary centres and was at its peak before the start of the Integrated Programme.


About 4,000 Primary 3 children with highly intellectual ability undergo selection tests to identify those suited to join the GEP in Primary 4. The selected 500 GEP students are given an enriched curriculum, built on the regular curriculum, that is pitched to challenge and stretch them. The main advantage of the GEP is the differentiated curriculum that offers individualised enrichment and attention to the gifted student. Basically, the government has designed the GEP to cater to the learning phase of the gifted children so that their gifted abilities will not be neglected.

This MOE FAQ website answers queries on the process and other concerns of parents on GEP:



Parents’ views on GEP

In the forum topic “Opinions of Gifted Education Programme (GEP)”, some parents feel that the programme is too academically driven, thus too pressurising for the child. On the other hand, some parents feel that it helps to nurture the children in their learning phase.


Should parents prepare their children for the GEP? What do they think of the GEP? Are your children being pressurised by the GEP? Join in the lively discussion with other parents in our forum “How to tell if a child is gifted?”.


If children are gifted, should parents send them to special enrichment programmes for gifted children or allow them to learn at their own pace? Parents generally feel that they should not pressure their children even if they are gifted. Giftedness is a natural talent and not a trained skill. Share experiences with parents of gifted children in this forum “Any parents of gifted children here?


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