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Ways for parents to support gifted children’s interests

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While there is no universal definition of what defines a gifted child, there are certain signs that parents can look for. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) states that there are kids who either demonstrate high performance or have the potential to do so. Both parents and educators should be mindful of consistently high test scores or accelerated learning rates, as they can be signs that a child is gifted.

Identifying gifted children at an early age is important, as it can help ensure that these kids are placed in the right academic setting. After these students take an IQ test, parents and teachers will want to evaluate what setting will best meet the child's needs. This may be one of a range of options such as supplementary work alongside the peer group, joining an accelerated learning track, or moving to a new school which is better suited to the child.

However, parents and teachers need to be careful not to fall into the trap of misinterpreting the needs of their gifted children. For example, some gifted students may grow bored in classrooms where they quickly get a handle on new material, while their non-gifted classmates learn at a slower pace.

Liz Perelstein, founder and president of School Choice International, an educational consulting firm, told the Chicago Tribune that teachers often respond to gifted children's boredom by assigning more work, according to an October 11, 2011 article. However, Perelstein said that these students often struggle because they are learning things they already know.

"What these kids don't need is more work," Perelstein told the news source. "What they do need is parents who recognize and respect what they're interested in and encourage those interests."

Perelstein also spoke to the news outlet about one occasion where she counseled a family whose son had a fascination with train routes. In this instance, there were several possible ways to foster this child's interest while also also advancing his knowledge across academic subjects. He could enhance his communication skills by writing about trains, or acquire a knowledge of history by reading about their creation and use over the years.

"Suddenly you're learning reading, writing, history, geography, science, politics and culture, all through his area of interest," Perelstein added. "You push their knowledge to its limits because you're encouraging them to do what's interesting to them."

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