“I have three children and my eldest — he’s 16 now — is gifted. He’s been just amazing since young ― he makes my jaw drop every time. I was teaching Primary 5 and 6 children for six to seven years, so I know what it means to handle bright children. The way a gifted child grasps things and extends their knowledge is amazing.
“A gifted child is usually very engrossed in things they are really passionate about and they will neglect the whole world, their whole lives just to focus on that [subject they love]. Whereas a bright child will try to get As for every subject.
“My son — he’s gifted in maths and science — would say ‘don’t care’ about Chinese. ‘O’ levels this year? ‘Fail then fail, lah!’ This is why the gifted child is a ‘special needs’ child. When we have gifted children, we, the parents, have a lot of struggles as well.
“My son — he’s gifted in maths and science — would say ‘don’t care’ about Chinese. ‘O’ levels this year? ‘Fail then fail, lah!’ This is why the gifted child is a ‘special needs’ child.”
“I did not have any [preconceptions] of my first baby — it didn’t occur to me that he is gifted. So, when my second child came along, we worried that she was slow... Because by that age, ‘kor-kor could do many things!’ We actually took her to a psychologist to take an IQ test to see what was wrong. [She turned out to score in] the top 10 per cent. It’s just that my son scored in the top 0.01 per cent...
“There is no direct clash [between my first and second children] — my second child is a bit more creative and more artistic. My third child is very bright ― she hoped to get into the Gifted programme, having kor-kor as a benchmark, but didn’t make it. She was very upset and [insisted on me] writing a letter to MOE. [It turned out that she was just a little short of getting in.]
How does a parent support three very different kids? Read on…
“Then she wanted to be a lawyer because she is very strong in her language and [wants to] rectify all the wrongs in the world. But after watching the SEA games, plus being in the school track and field team, she wants to specialise in it in university. So, to prepare herself for that, she wants to go to a secondary school with a very strong background in track and field!
“My second child loves to draw and she was [fascinated by the dancing and moving in Bollywood and wuxia movies]. When she got a flyer at P6 for an open house at Sota, she was really excited and slept with it under her pillow, reminding me every day, ‘Mummy, remember to bring me to Sota.’ And when I brought her there, I could see the light in her eyes. I told myself, “Okay I need to help her. Because that will be the only thing she will be really happy doing.” I sent her for a very intensive training course in theatre, before the final audition. She’s in Sota now.
“Parents need to pay heed to all the little signs the child is dropping.”
“Parents need to pay heed to all the little signs the child is dropping. [They may or may not say things] but it’s the little things that come naturally from their natural intelligence, behaviour and likes. Basically, as parents, our job is to make sure we give the child the best education and to support their education in school. And with that, if the child does well, great. If the child doesn’t do well, also fine.
“Our schools have a very heavy focus on linguistic and logical skills, so as parents, we must make sure that the child is exposed to other domains of learning, other activities so that the child can find [areas where they are strong in]. American developmental psychologist Professor Howard Gardner, a major proponent of such domains (aka multiple intelligences) believes that everyone is talented and has natural talents in one of the eight forms of intelligence his work has identified.
“[When a parent says ‘I wanted a doctor/lawyer’] that’s the parent’s expectations… Children are very different from us ― even between children, they are very different.”
Isabelle Loo, 43, is the mother of three children, Nicole, 11, Tiffany, 14, and Damian, 16. A fomer educator and senior education officer with the Ministry of Education, Loo is the founder of education resource actualyse.com, a one-stop interactive directory that supports educators, parents and learners.
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