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Identifying Gifted Children

Identifying Gifted Children

"My advice is to make the high school or secondary school experience an end in itself - not a means to an end. What universities are really looking for are children who have learned, who have made the most of their opportunities, who have experienced something and really engaged with that experience."

Liz Perelstein

Identifying gifted children

While every child is unique and has special talents, there is a group of profoundly gifted children (those who test in the top 1 percent to top 3 percent on IQ tests, although some definitions extend this to top 5 percent) who may be poorly served by their schools. These children may be bored in regular classrooms and, in some instances, can be disruptive to the class. As their grades tend to be good, it is easy for teachers to instead focus on the needs of children who require assistance in achieving benchmarks. Often they have poor social skills and have difficulty finding an appropriate peer group in a regular school. Since nurturing these talents, rather than ignoring them, can help these youths lead long and fulfilling lives, parents must understand the importance of identifying gifted children early on.

To meet the needs of their gifted children, parents will want to look for certain characteristics that are often present in these youths. For example, these individuals often display traits that may not be present in their peers, such as an increased interest in a particular subject and higher levels of curiosity, focus and memory. Gifted children are often more intellectually developed and have strong reading skills, advanced thought processes and an extensive vocabulary, although they may be uneven in their development. On an emotional level, these youths can seem wise beyond their years with a subtle sense of humor, or they can be more sensitive to both their own needs and those of others.

Some schools and programs require an IQ test to determine whether a child is exceptionally gifted. An IQ test measures a child's intelligence, in contrast with achievement tests, which can provide insight on what a child has learned. While some parents may not want to subject their children to these tests, they can actually prove helpful in the long run, when a youth's results single out gifted characteristics. With the knowledge that their kids excel in certain areas, adults can better understand their gifted children and look into appropriate schools. They can also help their children understand themselves, explaining to them why they may struggle socially or not fit into an academic environment.

In their efforts to find the best school for their children, parents might decide that independent schools in New York City (NYC) or the surrounding areas can offer the approach to learning and types of educational and extracurricular services that cater to the needs of gifted students. For instance, students who have shown extraordinary talent in the arts may thrive at NYC specialized private schools that are known to offer a variety of creative programs. Other children may benefit from attending boarding schools in the areas around NYC, where living on campus allows them to pursue their intellectual passions before and after classes each day.

No matter where gifted children attend classes, it is important that they enroll in an institution that will keep them intellectually stimulated, have teachers who understand and respect their needs, as well as a peer group of other children with whom they have enough in common to develop friendships.

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