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How To Support Your Gifted And Talented Child
A gifted child is defined as a child who gives evidence of high-performance capability in intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership areas, or in specific academic fields. They often require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities.
These children have characteristics such as unusual alertness even in infancy, are rapid learners, have an excellent memory and have unusually large vocabularies for their age. They also demonstrate longer and more intense concentration spans, ask probing questions, are highly attentive to detail and highly self-disciplined, and they have little tolerance for boredom.
Gifted children will tend to get bored at school if teachers do not stimulate their minds. So, it is recommended that gifted children are brought up differently compared to other children. Here are a few tips for raising gifted children.
Provide an intellectual challenge at school and away from school
Gifted children are extremely fast learners. They can often accomplish things faster than their peers and with little effort. Their perfectionism means that they will always strive to over-achieve and this presents them with a lack of challenge in mainstream schooling. Allow your child opportunities to work on things that will challenge them and require them to take extra time to figure out. Also, attempt to have the school provide them with opportunities to learn things that are outside of their comfort zone and that will stimulate and challenge them mentally.
All children need to feel that they are protected. It is not correct to assume that a gifted child will be able to make their own decisions about the best activities for themselves. It is important to listen to their concerns and understand their perspective, however ultimate decisions should always be in the hands of the parents to ensure that the gifted child will receive the best for their needs.
Don’t overburden your child
Although it has been demonstrated that your child can mentally cope with things that their peers would need more practice with, you should not set unusually high expectations for them. You can expose them to different skills and activities, which could nurture their hidden talents and passions. However, it is important to also give your child the freedom to make their own choices regarding the types of activities and extracurricular things that they may like to do. You should also not allow or expect your child to take on too much at once. Set aside time for them to have fun or downtime.
Be patient and supportive
You should avoid expecting perfection from your child. Instead, you should allow them to make mistakes without chastising them, and you should allow them to pursue their interests and abilities freely. You can assist your child to recognize which skills and knowledge will be important in their adult lives.
Praise your child for their abilities and efforts
Gifted children also need recognition for their abilities just as much as anyone else. Try to compliment and congratulate your child when they have put in a great deal of effort or thought into something and when they need encouragement or positive feedback. You should always acknowledge their talents in all areas, whether it’s art, music, sport or gaming.
Don’t use your child as an example for their siblings
It is best to avoid an unhealthy rivalry between siblings, so you should not use your gifted child as an example to their siblings. It is important to acknowledge that each person is unique and has their own unique skills and talents – which are sufficient. A gifted child is no better than a non-gifted child and it is unfair to emphasise this.
Teach your child to prioritize
Gifted children tend to have many interests and can get more done than other people. Sometimes, they may take on too much and not know how to prioritize their tasks. It is important to instil this in your child, and teach them how to manage their time and how to take enough time for them to relax and regroup.
Teach tolerance and humility
Teaching your child about their special abilities is good, and will build their confidence. However, caution your child against developing a know-it-all attitude. Teach them that it is important to accept oneself, but to also accept others as we are all gifted differently and are unique. Instil in them, a sense of humility and that they can always learn something from others. This will develop better social skills that are very important once they are independent.
A gifted child is indeed a blessing, and it is important to do things that will complement their gifts whilst also remembering that they are still young and will need your help. Teach them that they are allowed to make mistakes and that they are also allowed to shine.
GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.