Giftedness: What is it all about?
All of the parents at GATE Academy have travelled similar paths as we tried to find out what was going on with our kids and how we could help them. We hope that hearing some of our stories may help you on your journey.
Below are some commonly identified characteristics of an academically gifted child.
An Excerpt on Giftedness from The Giftedness Development Center:
"It certainly is a term that makes people uncomfortable. [Some] equate giftedness with achievement. After we tested his son, one Dad said to us, “He's only five. What could he have done in five years to be gifted?” [Others], on the other hand, perceive giftedness as developmental advancement. Developing faster than other children makes a child vulnerable, and [some parents] are keenly aware of this vulnerability. When they can ignore it no longer, when the fear of “What will happen to my child?” rises in their throats, they gulp twice and call a specialist for guidance on their child's unique developmental progress [with one part of them screaming in their heads, “Do you realize how foolish you're going to look if you're wrong and this is all in your head?”]. Despite the myth that “All parents think their children are gifted,” nine out of ten of the parents who break down and make that phone call are right.
So what is giftedness? [Many parents] are right: It is developmental advancement that can be observed in early childhood. But the child doesn't advance equally in all areas. As she asks what happens after you die and “How do we know we aren't part of someone else's dream?” she still can't tie her shoes! An eleven-year-old highly gifted boy got off the plane with his calculus book in one hand and his well-worn Curious George in the other. The higher the child’s IQ, the more difficulty he or she has finding playmates or conforming to the lock-step school curriculum. The greater the discrepancy between a child's strengths and weaknesses, the harder it is for him or her to fit in anywhere.
Boys are far more likely to be brought for testing than girls and are more likely than girls to act out when they are insufficiently challenged at school. Therefore, they are more likely to get their parents’ attention and concern. It is essential for gifted girls to be identified early, before they go into hiding.
Gifted children and adults see the world differently because of the complexity of their thought processes and their emotional intensity. People often say to them, “Why do you make everything so complicated?” “Why do you take everything so seriously?” “Why is everything so important to you?” The gifted are “too” everything: too sensitive, too intense, too driven, too honest, too idealistic, too moral, too perfectionistic, too much for other people! Even if they try their entire lives to fit in, they still feel like misfits. The damage we do to gifted children and adults by ignoring this phenomenon is far greater than the damage we do by labeling it. Without the label for their differences, the gifted come up with their own label: “I must be crazy. No one else is upset by this injustice but me.”
It’s time we took giftedness out of the closet and separated it entirely from the concept of achievement. It’s time we recognized it, valued it and nurtured it in our schools and in our families."
Excerpted from "What is Gifted?" by Dr. Linda Kreger Silverman
Director, Gifted Development Center