Identifying and nurturing the gift-area for your child
Created by Nitin Updated on Jul 05, 2013
We were on a study at some schools recently. The project involved understanding parents’ and teachers’ expectations around the learner’s progress. One of the interesting aspects to surface was their query around gifted children. Both parents and teachers had observations but were not sure whether they were doing the right things. This prompted me to write about it and address some of the key aspects around nurturing gifted children.
How does one know that a child is gifted?
Perhaps this is the key question. Here is a starting point. A gifted child is someone who shows consistent signs and instances of being distinctly above average in one of these abilities: intellectual, creative, physical and social. It’s a myth to just look at intellectual and creative abilities in our society, though a gifted child may just not be limited to these two. The key lies in spotting this gift as early as toddler years in some cases. I believe that our true potential is a mix of impetus from nature &nurture.Surroundings perhaps have a defining impact on each child's growth and development, especially from parents in growing years.A gifted child perhaps needs evenmore support and guidance from parents and their teachers to achieve their true potential. Imagine a LataMangeshkar not getting an adequate support and encouragement for grooming her voice right from an early age from her father, siblings and surroundings. Imagine a Sachin not getting the support and mentorship of his brother and coach.
As parents and educators, once you discover that your child is gifted, you need to:
1. Understand the child's talent, moreover understand the related developmental needs. For e.g. If you have a child asking you questions beyond her usual age, and may be having a tough time answering the child's queries related to patterns or numbers, you may want to read more about workshops, for pattern spotting, Vedic mathematics and so on, rather than shunning the child or avoiding their queries.
2. Set appropriate expectations from the child. It's a misnomer that a child gifted in one area may be gifted in all areas. In fact, research has shown just the opposite. Children gifted in creative talent may still struggle in social abilities. As educators, we need to guide parentsto understand that different skills may develop at a different rate for the gifted child.
3. Treat the gifted child and the other children the same. Educators perhaps need to take extra care to ensure that this doesn't create an added pressure for the class; even worse could be damaging another child’s self-esteem. Treat all learners the same. There are ways I shall suggest to nurture the gifted children, which may not translate into treating other learners differently.
How do we nurture the gifted child’s talent? Do we need to seek professional help?
Parents and Educators of gifted children need to be consistent in their behavior and response to thelearner’s needs and interests and at the same time stay flexible as thelearner's need change over time. This is easier said than done. Hence, as educators, you may reach out to professionals for specific areas. You may collaborate to create a handholding cum acceleration coaching mechanism for the learner from time to time. Moreover collaborating with parents of gifted children is always a good idea. The following tips may be of help:
1.Provide the child with opportunities to learn and try new things.Special sessions, meeting guest experts shall add value.
2.Assort a mix of activities for the learner, so that she has some things to do that he or she finds challenging, as well as some that he or she likes and can do easily. Some of these activities could be in the class and some could even be done back to home.
3.Encourage the child to participate in a broad range of educational and recreational activities.Lateral thinking exercises may be helpful.
4.Discuss the child’s gifts with him or her, also with the child’s parents; what it means to be gifted, and help with ways to deal with any difficulties that may arise. Collaboration between the educators and parents can truly help the child achieve her true potential.
5.Encourage the social skills to enable the child to fit comfortably in his or her social world with other learners. Being gifted is not an excuse for bad behavior
How do we ensure that we don't push or pressurize the child to perform in the process of nurturing?
Giftedness may bring a number of rewards and difficulties. Here are some “not-to-dos”. Try not to:
1.Push or apply undue pressure on the child
2.'Show-off' the child in public or to the rest of the class
3.Expect the child to be gifted and talented in all areas of his or her development
4.Be too 'Top-down' in the class, Talking down to the gifted child
5.Forget that the gifted child is still a child, and has all the normal needs like other children
Do you give the child special preference or treat him/her different from other kids?
We need to keep reminding parents, that the child may be gifted but is still a child. We also need to coach parents so as to treat their child normally and avoid creating imaginary lines of superiority for both child as well as themselves. This is a mistake, which some parents do and start expecting their child to be gifted in almost all abilities. It’s the biggest disservice and dampener a parent could perhaps provide to their gifted child. Remember, s/he is still a child and has all the normal needs of children, including the need for love, support, stability, routine and fun. Make sure, that you tell parents to always be there for their child.
What role may the preschools and schools play to help such gifted and talented children?
Schools, after parents perhaps play the most important role. Parents and schools may collaborate to do the following to help gifted children and their parents:
A.Fast track: Depending on the giftedness of the child, the school may promote the child to skip some grades and some subjects. Again easier said than done. This requires careful consideration and is best done through researched, tried and tested approaches.
B.Varied difficulty levels: Gifted children could be given a higher order difficulty task, project or worksheet so as to accelerate their learning. This could be done through home assignments or quiz without having to do a separate process as such.
C.Dedicated mentor: A dedicated senior teacher or mentor excited about helping the gifted child, to handhold and answer the child’s queries from time to time.
D.Cross age tutoring: Getting a mix of age groups in the same class so as to give a varied mix and exposure to the child. This is still not so much tried in our schools, but is fairly effective and tried process in some other countries like Korea, Finland and now in USA.
E.Competitions: This brings out the potential of a gifted child, schools may support, sponsor gifted children to participate in national and international competitions
Childhood is a great gift and perhaps as parents, it’s our responsibility to make it fulfilling for our child. Today, in the 21st century, it’s perhaps not just the good grades in school, but a new way of exploring surroundings and learning that shall encourage our gifted children and moreover the gift of childhood.
| Jul 19, 2016
hi Adi! i understand your excitement and about helping your child's talent. you could continue to help your child with music and movement and get him to experience as much variety of age appropriate music. it would also help him with his gross motor development at this stage. observe for some more months before you look at a teacher for him.
| Oct 07, 2013
That's an interesting thought Adi. You are perhaps providing for timely inputs and that's great. :)
| Sep 21, 2013
Hi, my son is 2. 8 years old. He loves dancing. And while at Home he will put songs n dance for hours. I got him to to attend dance classes, there he doesnt jus get downs from the chair. Wat to do? I really think he can s talented and given proper training wiø get bettet
| Jul 21, 2013
Very well written Nitin! I truly agree with every point you have made.
| Jul 05, 2013
Very informative and helpful blog should be read by every parent as many a times we overlook the gifted potential of a child in a certain area as nothing great but just as a little smarter types. As it is a general tendency to believe a child that is gifted to be a child prodigy capable of learning and performance in all areas without any special support.