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Early Signs That Your Child is Gifted

Primary schools

Of course every parent knows their child is special. Sometimes other people don`t see just how perfect their little one is. Even teachers can fail to notice the true genius of their wonderful sweet darling. That is their failing though. A parent knows from the moment their child is born how remarkable they are; and if others fail to realise that, well, its their loss.

Adopting a more serious tone - what if you suspect your child is truly gifted? What early signs of future brilliance would manifest in their early years?

A new study form the Netherlands suggest that the signs of nascent intellectual gifts can be spotted in young children by the way they draw stick figures. Yes, you read that right: the way a child renders stick men and women can be a window into their cognitive powers

All children draw stick figures - it`s almost like a rite of passage. The few extant specimens of my early `art` shows lots of smiling heads with long, spindly arms branching out. Not a torso in sight - but then many i`m a late developer. According to this new study, a child including a high number of extra details in their stick figure drawing may be a prodigy in the making. These details would include features such as freckles, make up, a moustache, a tie, hair on the arms, jewellery, and other such superfluous elements that I obviously never thought were needed in my `blob-man type` pictures. I believe I was embracing the minimalist style.

Sven Mathijssen, co author of the paper ; `Identifying Highly Gifted Children by Analysing Human Figure Drawings: An Explorative Study` has responded to criticism over his study, specifically the claim that `drawing IQ` bears no relation to academic intelligence:

`What is considered to be gifted goes beyond a high IQ. For example, the role of creativity in the form of generating novel ideas, thinking flexibly and out-of-the-box is widely considered to be a sign of giftedness. But these children give unusual answers to intelligence tests. Their answers are not necessarily wrong but cannot be considered correct, because they are not mentioned in the scoring manuals of the used tests.`

Most schools have what is called a `Gifted and Talented` coordinator, and it is up to them to ensure the needs of exceptional children are met. In reality though, if a child is a true prodigy, the parents will have to be extremely active in ensuring these rare gifts do not go to waste.

Early indicators of talent usually manifest in specific abilities, such as music, mathematics or language. A gifted child will have a far larger vocabulary than its peers, using both longer words, and constructing larger sentences than their friends. It is also likely that they will begin talking earlier, making significant forays into the world of language in their second year.

Mathematical talent should be easy to spot - is your child adept at manipulating numbers? Do they know their times tables before any of their friends? Perhaps they show a focused interest in numbers and computer programming, and and attempt to express themselves through algebra and coding.

Exceptional musical ability should also be easy to discern - does your child always appear to sing in tune? Can they remember many different melodies, and sing them on command? If they are learning an instrument, their teacher should be keenly aware of any signs of precociousness. Does your child process the rare gift of perfect pitch? Can they sing, without the aid of a reference tone, any single note on command? This simply means that if you ask your child to sing a C, or an F#, they can do so immediately. They will also be able to reproduce a melody (or part of it) on their instrument after hearing it just once. Perfect pitch is a very rare gift - one that cannot be learnt as an adult. In the west its incidence is as sparse as 1 in 10,000 people. In the eastern countries where the population speak tonal languages, such as mandarin, and words change their meaning depending on certain pitch characteristics, its occurrence is 30% higher.

For gifted children to become gifted adults their talents must be nurtured. To even say a child is `gifted` is somewhat misleading. A more accurate labelling - if labels are needed - would be that they have potential. If a child with prodigious mathematical talents is not guided and taught, their mind stimulated and encouraged to grow to its full potential, they will only be frustrated, and their potential squandered. If a musical prodigy is not given the right kind of training, their gifts will atrophy, and the vestiges of their talent may be nothing more than knowing what tones the doorbell chimes with.

17 months ago
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