Unveiling brilliance in your gifted child 

by Antonella Dési
Exploring the complexities of giftedness: understanding the minds, meeting the needs, and nurturing the potential of exceptional and gifted children in today's world
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Exploring the complexities of giftedness: understanding the minds, meeting the needs, and nurturing the potential of exceptional and gifted children in today's world writes Antonella Dési.

In a world where intelligence is often measured by standardised tests and academic achievements, gifted children stand out not only for their exceptional abilities in various areas of life but also for the unique challenges they face.

Giftedness is not a one-size-fits-all label; it comes in many forms, from intellectual and academic prowess to artistic or athletic talents. Understanding and nurturing these gifted individuals is crucial for their personal development and for society as a whole.

Read on to explore the characteristics of gifted children and how parents, educators, and society can support and empower these extraordinary young minds

Also read: 10 ways to help your child be successful in the future

Unique traits of gifted children

Educational psychologist, Keziah Coleman, explains what defines a gifted child: “Gifted children typically demonstrate advanced cognitive abilities, high levels of creativity, intense curiosity, and a strong drive for learning. However, giftedness is not limited to intellectual capabilities as it can also encompass talents and strengths in areas such as music, sports, and/or interpersonal skills. It is also important to take note that giftedness is not always easily identifiable and can manifest differently in each child.”

Gifted children often exhibit unique traits and behaviours that set them apart from their peers. While every child is different, there are common signs that may indicate giftedness.

Coleman outlines what to look for: “As we look at each child individually and holistically giftedness can manifest differently and in different periods of times. Some common signs include advanced cognitive abilities (e.g. early language development, strong problem-solving skills, rapid learning, excellent memory, and abstract thinking skills); creativity and originality (being able to think outside the box); gifted children often show interest in challenging academic material and seek opportunities for extension.

“Some children seek out new experiences and take an active interest in learning about a wide range of topics in and outside of the learning environment. Additionally, they can demonstrate extraordinary verbal abilities and take on learning with deep passion and curiosity.

Lastly gifted children may be emotionally more in tune and sensitive to their environment. It is important to note that giftedness is a multifaceted trait and not all children will exhibit all these signs. Therefore, it is important to consult with teachers and professionals to put effective support strategies in place to enable gifted children to reach success.” 

The right steps

If you suspect your child is gifted, taking the right steps can make a significant difference in nurturing their potential, says Coleman: “When it comes to intervention and support, we need to identify ways in which we can meet the needs of the child, but also acknowledge and validate where they are at. Therefore, support needs to address their academic, socio-emotional, and individual needs.

Within the classroom environment we can provide a differentiated approach to learning. Providing opportunities for advanced learning and enrichment would be key areas to stimulate a gifted child’s mind. Additionally, an Individual support/education can can be put in place to outline academic goals, learning objectives and strategies. These plans are developed in collaboration with teachers, parents, and relevant professionals.”

Check out: Teach your kids essential soft skills

She notes that social support is just as important as the academic support: “Social and emotional support may be needed as a form of understanding the child holistically. Emotional support could include connection with like-minded peers, social skills building, and for parents to form part of a community.

Parental guidance forms an important part of emotional support. Support sessions can include empowering parents to find a balance between academic, extra-curricular and leisure activities to prevent burnout and promote well-being. By implementing these support strategies, parents, educators, and communities can create a nurturing and challenging environment that allows gifted children to thrive.”

If you would like to find out more about recognising giftedness, then Coleman recommends the following reading: The Whole Brain Child: 12 Proven strategies to Nurture your Child’s developing mind by Dr Daniel Segal & Dr Tina Payne Bryson, and Raising a gifted child by Carol Fertig.

She adds: “Parents can also use stories to encourage understanding of being unique and embracing differences. This creates room for conversation between the parent and the child. Some picture books include The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, The Girl

Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, Ish by Peter H. Reynolds and many more.”

Also read: The pros and cons of online schooling

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