Ten Questions on Gifted Children to Experts

The Ten Questions on "Gifted Children" for Experts

Gifted children are of course appreciated by all. If Gifted Children are ours, there is no limit to that pleasure. When it comes to gifted children, it may be their fabulous memory, ability to understand, Public Speaking, Writing, Music, Art, Drawing, Creativity, Ability to focus and so on.

Children have such ability by their birth or they may have it even with their constant practice. Giftedness will give them a greater chance of achievement in that field. But Gifted Children need more support from their family and society as well. 

You can download a video with regard to the Gifted Children (an American multi-talented child) on your device. In addition, you can obtain part of an interview with an expert here. 

M.Rene Islas, Executive Director for the National Association of Gifted Children, United States. He will tell us the common characteristics and special needs of gifted children and what you can do to best support their learning development.

Renee, thank you so much for joining us. Tell us, a little bit about what you guys do or what kind of services you provide to people?

Sure, we're the National Association for gifted children and our mission is really to support all of those people who help gifted children reach for their personal best; whether its teachers in the classroom or parents at home or the broader community that serves gifted children like universities and researchers that are doing the work to understand the nature and needs. We are the community and their support network.

characteristics of a gifted child

How do you know a child is gifted?

We say that the children are gifted when their ability is significantly above the norm for their age. You know, it really giftedness can manifest in one or more domains. Whether it’s artistic, intellectual, creative, leadership or even in an academic field like “my child is really gifted in math or really gifted in writing”. Those are ways that we know that they're gifted, if they are performing significantly above the norm for their age.

When you know that they're gifted so on; I mean, can you talk about those or how early can you identify a gifted child?

Well, we think that the labels are important because they help diagnose and give us information about what we need to do. It's really not about identifying or labeling them gifted. It's about figuring out where their needs are and how to support them. And this can happen across the age spectrum.

Whether it's a parent looking at a two-year-old child who said, “Wow! My son or daughter really grabs on to books and has even started to learn how to read that happens.” But it's less about calling them gifted and more about for in the case of that parent saying, “Wow! I need to really support my child in getting them more books, figuring out what they're interested in, helping them develop the skills and talents that are appropriate for their age and even beyond their intellectual age.”

What age you challenged them more and how are they identified I mean labeled, if they are a gifted child later on?

It's not about pressuring them to be at the top or different than you’re the other children in their classroom or in your neighborhood. It's really about challenging them to be the best that they could be. So keep them engaged and interested.

Your child helped him/her figure out how to learn languages and maybe even learn and explore other languages that might be of interest to them. So keep that engagement going when it comes to school; school, we enter into a different domain; most schools or many schools across the country will start the formal identification process in second and in third grade. 

So that's when things start to change schools are having a difficult situation. They are charged with educating all students from all backgrounds. Whether they're hype living in poverty; in high poverty, whether they come from a racial and ethnic background i.e., in a minority group. Whether they are dealing with English language learners.

So schools and the National Association for gifted children actually have a couple of pieces of guidance for schools as they're looking to ensure that they're equitably identifying their gifted students. We want them to test multiple times throughout the early years. So second grade may be first for many school systems. But we also encourage them to keep the opportunities open down the road.

Students may especially those living in poverty or who haven't had the exposure to different types of supports might take a little time to acquire that information in their schools. And then be able to show their talent as they get older. 

gifted child school

The other piece of guidance that we have is really about thinking about looking for talent where it's not usually found. Unfortunately, we have data the National Research Center for gifted and talented education that is funded by the federal government shows that students who are living in poverty, from minority groups, learning English are 250 percent less likely to be identified and served in gifted programs. 

We have to do a better job at spotting & supporting the talent and their needs. So that they too have the opportunity to flourish as human beings and contribute to society.

Can a child reading at the second grade be taught sixth grade math? How do you balance that because maybe socially they aren't ready to be with sixth graders? How do you balance that kind of thing....? 

Definitely is a challenge in some that makes all of us you know whether we're parents and helping our kids grow up to be great people or whether its teachers in the classroom worried about the social-emotional development of the student and their readiness to get into the other classroom. 

But what we're finding from research and from organizations like the Belen Blanc group out of the University of IOWA is that acceleration strategies are really the most effective way to support these gifted children or learner in achieving their personal best.

So while we have those concerns. We need to also be open to discovering and determining whether it is the right thing to do to let our child skip a grade or maybe access the next grade level work within the classroom setting or even more things that are that teachers are accustomed to do doing such as grouping the kids with certain talents all together in the same class. 

So there are different levels of acceleration. But we understand from research objectively that acceleration works and it might have an impact on social-emotional development. It many times is good for the social-emotional development. Because the gifted children understand that they have skills and they're not frustrated with doing the same thing over and over again.

The public school setting a good place for gift a child or do they need to be going to a special kind of a school?

I'm gonna give you an example of my children. I have four children. They're all dramatically different. They have gifts and talents. But they all have gifts and talents in different areas. And the same school doesn't set as perfect for each one of them. 

So in our case my wife who's also an educator. We had to look at the needs of our individual children and determine what is the right setting and where are they going to get the challenge & support as well to reach for their personal best.

In our case, to our home school one is in traditional middle school and then the other one is in private school. So it's really depend on the needs of the children and it puts a lot of pressure on us the parents have to find out what is the right thing for that child. 

But I should say that it's not about public & private charter or any of those different combinations that's going to be the right thing. It's about the fit for the student, the school and the teacher. 

characteristics of a gifted child

Do you think giftedness is something that you're born with or is it something that's cultivated through the environment and the parents and people that are raising them?

It's a both ends, right! So we know that difficult answer. Sometimes hard as we think about various different topics. But when it comes to gifted children, we know that there is an ability, an aptitude that is innate where children will be able to express faster rates of learning, deeper levels of understanding, increased interest. But that won't express itself unless it has the stimuli or the inputs from their environment as well. So it really is nurture why it's so important for schools and our communities to really try to spot that talent wherever it exists.

You were saying not to put too much pressure, but a kid who is very gifted then you want to push them and challenge them more. But there can you risk squelching their love of learning and curiosity by pushing too hard and accelerating them too fast?

Well, you're a parent and I'm a parent. We know that we are scared every single day about how we're trying to raise our children to be the best that they can be. There are times when we need to support them and challenge them. But there are other times when we need to step back and help them fit into where they need to be.

But there is when it comes to instruction and education there is something called the zone of proximal development. It was a theory that Leavitt got ski an old child development expert used to talk about.

He showed that we learn best as humans as children growing. But all of us in the human race grow best when we are in a sweet spot that zone of proximal development. That means that we are right above where we can comfortably do things on our own. And that's the challenge that schools have to embrace and work with to cultivate learning in their students. 

  • Can I figure out where this child is? 
  • What he potentially can do that now he doesn't?
  • But needs instruction and support to get to the next level?
  • Can I put him there rather than putting him back to the beginning which he with things that he already learned? 

We know for example that children who are gifted often know 60% of what will be covered within a full grade on the very first day of class. So we're not doing a great job right now at meeting that child in the sweet spot and helping them grow. 

What we need to do is shift our eyes, focus & understanding and work outside of the current box that we're in. Maybe that is accelerating, skipping grades or at least giving the content of the next grade to the student in the class that they're in.

the drama of the gifted child

Can you give a very specific example of a tip that you could give to a parent to help them challenge I mean something more tangible that you could take away?

Sure, let me go back to your child who's interested in languages and expressing herself through language specifically English language. You know one of the things that children often do it and maybe sometimes are challenged because we don't ask them to do is to write. So they may be interested in reading. But we don't always ask them to write. 

And so when we're asking them to write one of the tips that we often use is actually to give what we call a mentor text. Or have them dissect the great poem or the great paragraph written in their favorite book. 

And ask them to write something like that after having examined what made that passage really special to get into the mind of the author and to really think about it. But then cultivate their own talent to try to emulate it. Does that make sense?

My son who does extremely later math and puzzles just building and you know kind of more mathematical mind, how would you was a tip he could give to help because he is just the most focused people with ever seen?

You know that your son is a lot like one of my son's, I have four. So I had to pick the right one, but there's one of my sons who is a third grader who's performing mathematics at sixth and seventh grade levels. 

And the best thing that I can do for him is really support him in exploring these math concepts. You know it's really about teaching him the words, the problems giving him the exposure to challenge his mind. At the same time, giving him exposure to other topics.

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