It’s something many parents ponder as they observe their little ones sort their toys in unique ways, take their art to great levels, or astound with their gift of the gab: could my child be gifted?
A gifted child is considered to be one who performs at a higher level than the norm for their age, and these advanced abilities can be obvious from as early as infancy and toddlerhood.
So, is giftedness as obvious as a child being an early talker or constructing intricate feats of engineering with their Duplo? Well, while there are no definitive hallmarks of giftedness in young kids, psychologists do look for common characteristics when analysing children. Here are some of the attributes gifted children can have:
Achievement of developmental milestones ahead of schedule
It’s common to see early speaking and walking in gifted children, and some milestones are self-taught, such as reading. Gifted kids often have advanced fine motor skills for their age, such as building and doing puzzles.
The need for a great deal of mental stimulation
This can often be seen from infancy. Babies can become irritated and difficult when they are in one spot for too long, without adequate stimuli to observe. The end result is a boredom-induced meltdown!
A sharp eye for detail
Children who are gifted often notice things and show more interest in the world around them than other kids their age. They often want to know in-depth detail on topics and objects, and ask plenty of questions along the way.
MORE Learning and Development
A preference for new things
Gifted children, even infants, become easily bored with familiar objects. Psychological studies, reported here, showed that infants (who were later confirmed to be gifted through IQ testing at the age of eight years) showed an obvious preference for new objects than for familiar ones.
Advanced language skills
The child may not have been an early talker, but has an extensive vocabulary for their age, great ability to reason (and argue!), and feels very comfortable speaking with adults.
Many gifted children are able to retain information very effectively and have excellent recall. As a result they can master skills quickly, like the alphabet and numbers.
Advanced reading skills and a love of books
As a source of information and fuel for imaginations, books are the best friends of many gifted children, and reading is often learnt much earlier than expected. (Like one-year-old Adam who taught himself to use his potty by reading a book on the topic. He was also the youngest ever child to join British Mensa at age two.)
A tendency to go, go go!
Most children under the age of five are like Energizer Bunnies, but in the sense of advanced brain development, gifted children have been seen to be extremely active, investigative and curious.
High levels of emotion and sensitivity
Gifted kids have been seen to be extremely empathetic and show a great deal of caring about situations that other children might not show much interest in.
And then there’s the raisin test
A university study, reported here, found that, when presented with a raisin, children who could resist taking it for one minute would score higher on tests and have a higher IQ than other children by eight years of age. (I wonder if this would still work with an Easter egg?!)
If you suspect your child might be gifted, the AAEGT – Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented can help with resources, activities and strategies for you and your child.