Guest Author - Bonnie DeLong
No one knows a child better than his or her own parents. This is no exception for parents of gifted children who may begin to recognize, even from the time their child is a baby, that he or she is unique. There is substantial research which indicates that parents can often identify their own child or children as gifted more accurately than a school can. And while many educators may adhere to the old adage that “everyone thinks their child is gifted”, the truth is that it’s worth pursuing the identification process when a parent brings up the topic.
Parents may not even realize that they hold such an accurate assessment of their child due to lack of experience in this area. Hindering a parent’s ability or understanding of their child’s giftedness can be because he or she does not have a reference point for considering their child’s behaviors when compared to those of their peers. Once a parent can see his or her child among a group of similarly aged children, the differences may become extremely apparent. Not recognizing the characteristics of giftedness is another factor that may prevent parents from acknowledging their child’s abilities.
However, enabling parents to better understand their gifted children from an early age is extremely beneficial. Even babies and toddlers can be identified by their caregivers as being unique, which can lead to appropriate ways of nurturing their needs. Whether homeschooling or placing the child in a school setting outside of the home, recognizing giftedness in the early years benefits the child greatly as it is never too early to begin tailoring the academic program to the requirements of the specific child.
Some qualities of gifted children which may show up even in babies and toddlers can include: unusual alertness, needing less sleep than others their age, prolonged attention to activities of high interest (such as being able to sit and listen to books or play with a favorite toy for 10 minutes or more as a baby or toddler), early walking or other gross motor milestones, early talking and/or an advanced vocabulary, the ability to learn new tasks quickly, a robust memory and the ability to take information and adapt it to a new situation.
Parents who begin to recognize some of these tendencies in their children will find ways to stimulate and enhance these qualities through the types of interactions they have with their children such as activities, games, books, toys, outings and vacations which appeal to their nature. Getting to know how children learn and process the world around them is one of the first steps on the journey of helping gifted children adapt well to their unique qualities. This is significant not only in terms of the success children will achieve throughout their academic career, but also in how they feel about themselves as a person. Possibly the most important thing a parent can provide for their gifted child is a sense of security, acceptance and understanding for their distinctive child.