How to tell if your child is gifted

We talk to Dr Fang Ning, an educator trained in gifted education and psychology, about how we can nurture our children’s gifts.

Kids-How-to-tell-if-your-child-is-gifted

How do you tell if a child is gifted?

Dr Fang Ning: We could identify gifted children simply by using IQ tests, but unfortunately some might not be identified this way.

Research shows that IQ is not a static number, and it can be further improved to some extent with proper exposure and guidance. We have quite a number of students at our Gifted & Talented Education centre (Gate centre) who have IQs that were improved by 10 to 20 points (say, from 125 to 145) within a period of two to three years with enriched exposure and growth mindset.

Therefore, the IQ test results are not reliable for kids aged below nine. Also, a few top students at our Gate centre — who have been selected for Singapore Gifted Education programme, American School Gifted programmes, Johns Hopkins Centre for Talented Youth programme — do not have a formal IQ test report, but were spotted by our experienced educators over the years.

Researchers have discovered that gifted children tend to show similar patterns of development and behave in certain characteristic and recognisable ways, even at a much younger age.

For example, many of them learned to talk much earlier, or showed a longer attention span than peers of similar age, and they were also exceptionally curious and alert and keen to know “how” and “why” of things.

IQ tests are not constructed to measure creativity, imagination or other talents in music or arts and so on. The best assessment is still the observation over time by experienced teachers in gifted education…

Other than doing tests in IQ and so on, are there other ways for parents to know if their child is gifted?

Dr Fang:
IQ tests are designed to measure various levels of thinking and reasoning ability. Gifted kids are good at mastering abstract concepts and ideas and applying it appropriately in a logical way, and therefore they tend to score higher in IQ tests.

However, IQ tests are not constructed to measure creativity, imagination or other talents in music or arts and so on.

The best assessment [of who might be “gifted”] is still the observation over time by experienced teachers in gifted education or teachers who have received training in gifted education. Actually, we believe that constant observation and evaluation by trained gifted-education teachers is more accurate than the snapshot IQ report.

We read that psychologists found that IQ isn’t the only thing separating the successful from those who struggle — “grit” is touted as a better predictor of success. What are your experiences in that, and how do you encourage “grittiness”?

Dr Fang: At our Gate centre (gifted and talented education), part of our curriculum is pitched above the current ability level of the kids. Therefore, kids will developed the “grit” attitude to conquer the “problems” beyond their comfort zone.

You should also put your gifted kids in right groups, so they will find true peers. At our centre, we group the gifted and high-ability learners together, to inspire each other and create a “grit” culture.

And of course, you should let the right educators who understand gifted kids nurture yours.

Are there signs to look out for? Yes…