All children are talented at different things, but only some are especially gifted. In fact, ‘giftedness’ in children is very rare, with only 2-5% fitting the bill.
But how do you know if your child is gifted?
In this article, we’ll be breaking down the early signs of giftedness, exploring the common characteristics of gifted children, and ending on the steps parents can take to nurture their child’s talents.
What is giftedness in children?
A gifted child is a child who is especially talented in a particular subject or activity.
There is no one ‘form’ of giftedness in children, and a child can be gifted in a wide variety of areas. A child who struggles at school, for example, can still be gifted in other avenues like sport, art and music.
Equally, gifted children can come from all kinds of backgrounds and are an extremely varied bunch — there is no ‘criteria’ for being gifted, beyond simply being great at something.
That said, there are some common characteristics that most gifted children display.
Common characteristics of gifted children
1) Cognitive abilities
- Problem-solving skills
- A large vocabulary
- A wide variety of interests
- An understanding of abstract concepts
- A lively imagination
- Understands humor
3) Emotional intelligence
- High levels of self-awareness
- An understanding of emotion
- Sensitivity to how others are feeling
- High expectations
- Likes to communicate
Early signs of giftedness in preschoolers
Signs of a gifted child will vary depending on their age. So, let’s get a little more specific and break down what to expect from giftedness in preschoolers.
1. Reaching milestones earlier than their peers
If your child is quicker to talk, walk, use the toilet and, generally, reach a more independent level than their peers, this could be an early sign that they might be gifted.
At this stage, of course, it’s unlikely that your child’s particular skill will be clear, but their speedy development is a sure sign that something is to come.
2. An eagerness to explore
Curiosity in preschoolers, particularly when it comes to exploring their environments, is often a sign of giftedness.
An eagerness to explore shows a strong sense of inquisitiveness, which can be an indication that your child will be a quick learner and, as a result, will be able to pick up skills more easily than their peers.
Gifted children are known to be particularly good at drawing, painting, and building things like Lego sets.
Creativity indicates a high level of understanding, and also shows the ability to express abstract concepts — both of which are early signs of giftedness.
4. Can separate fact from fiction
If your child is quick to start asking questions about Santa or the tooth fairy, chances are, they have very logical thought processes and are able to separate fact from fiction.
In toddlers, the ability to do this is very rare and, as such, it’s usually an indication that your child might be more advanced than their peers.
5. A need to stay active
Gifted children like to keep busy. Whether it’s playing with new toys, getting outside, or interacting with others, a child that is unhappy when they’re sitting idle is a sign that they have particularly active minds and will be gifted as they get older.
Early signs of giftedness in middle schoolers
Next, let’s take a look at what to expect from gifted children in middle school.
1. A preference for adult conversation
Gifted children are often very perceptive and enjoy stimulating conversation.
As such, it’s often the case that they will prefer adult conversation to communicating with their peers. This allows them to use their wider vocabulary, and communicate in the more advanced way they’re capable of.
2. Highly emotional
Since giftedness usually leads to a higher level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, gifted children can be especially emotional and aware of how they’re feeling, as well as others.
If your child is particularly reflective and is able to understand nuanced emotions, it’s likely they’re cognitively gifted and will be high achievers.
3. They enjoy reading books
Books are great sources of entertainment, imagination, creativity and inspiration — all of which gifted children crave. They’re also likely to enjoy the narrative developments and character motivations within a book, as this provides the level of emotional connection sought by gifted children.
4. They value independence
When it comes to keeping themselves busy, gifted middle schoolers are highly independent and like to do things on their own, and in their own way. When it comes to school assignments, this means that they’ll often take their own approach and prefer to work alone, without any support.
This is a sure sign of giftedness, as it shows self-determination, original thinking, and an ability to get things done.
5. They ask lots of questions
Asking questions is a sign of perceptiveness and an eagerness to learn new things, which are two of the core characteristics of giftedness in children.
If your child is particularly inquisitive, curious, and constantly wants to understand their surroundings and why certain things are how they are, it’s likely they’re a high-level thinker and will develop new skills very quickly.
6. They have high standards
Both of themselves and others, gifted children have high standards when it comes to things like schoolwork, morals (‘good’ behavior), and performance. This can be stressful and frustrating for the child themselves and those around them.
But, it’s often a sign of a strong work ethic and eagerness to excel, which are common traits of giftedness.
How to nurture giftedness in children
If you’ve noticed early signs of giftedness in your child, it’s important that you nurture your child’s gift.
A big part of this comes down to challenging your child and encouraging them to put time into their talents so that they can grow.
If your child’s skill is academia, ask them to complete extra worksheets in their free time to build their research and writing skills. Our library of high-quality, ready-to-print worksheets is a great place to start.
And, similarly, if your child isn’t so gifted in the classroom but has other talents, encourage them to join extracurricular groups where they can hone their skills with other gifted individuals.
The bottom line…
In the end, practice makes perfect — and even if your child is especially gifted, this couldn’t be truer. At the same time, though, you also want to make sure your child isn’t overworking themselves, as this will be counterproductive to their work ethic and could be seriously detrimental.
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