Children often impress us with their creativity, their quickness to learn, and the precocious things that they say. You may even begin to wonder if your child is gifted.
In her book Raising Gifted Kids, psychologist Barbara Klein writes that there is “no agreed-upon definition of the qualities of intellect and personality necessary to categorise a child as gifted.” However, IQ tests are commonly used as a measure of giftedness, and the two most well-known IQ tests are the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. According to Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE), both of these tests have “established evidence of validity and utility for the gifted population.”
If you wish to have your child privately assessed, the MOE recommends that you engage a locally registered psychologist to do so. In the meantime, you can observe your child closely for signs of giftedness.
Some examples of “giftedness” that Klein cites in her book include:
- A nine month old who can name the flowers in his garden.
- A 20 month old who can name and categorise cars by manufacturer.
- A three year old who is trying to understand the concept of black holes in outer space.
- A four year old who is able to explain the digestive system.
- Seven and eight year olds who are musically talented and able to play (and perform) highly advanced pieces.
Here are some other characteristics that you can look out for in a potentially gifted child:
- Starting to talk earlier than a typical baby, and being able to engage in adult-level conversations at a young age. This is usually the first clue that a child is gifted.
- Being able to concentrate on an object or a task for a long period.
- Displaying persistence in trying to understand and master a task — gifted children can be unusually highly motivated, as well as driven to perfectionism.
- Intense emotional reactions in daily life, such as mood swings, empathy for others, or strong feelings of fear and guilt about making mistakes.
- Overactive imagination about negative outcomes — a gifted child may be prone to overthinking, and therefore susceptible to anxiety in many daily life situations.
- Being able to reflect on a situation, to try and understand what is happening.
- Having difficulty with learning when a task does not come easily to them.
- Having problems socialising — gifted children often feel like outsiders when in group situations.
- Acting older than their chronological age, or preferring the company of older children and adults.