Due to my eldest son’s asthma I kept him home and began homeschooling him. In the process I discovered he was different. He had a gift for language and had an extensive vocabulary, an understanding of mathematics and science from a very young age. He had an interest in topics far beyond his age or that of his peers. It was only once I started sending him to play groups on his own that I noticed a real difference between him and other children.
He reached all of his milestones early and had a deep sense of knowing. He understood complex topics from a very young age, often adults would be deeply engrossed in conversation with him and I would be in awe of their conversations. Strangers at restaurants would, and still do, ask me how old he is because he sounded like a little adult. He would ask me questions about God, about justice, about morality from age 3. He would be burdened for the world, distressed by pollution and homelessness at age 4. He was, and still is, a truly amazing child.
My mother directed me to a website that listed the characteristics of a Gifted Child, he met nearly every trait listed. The list reads as follows:
Has an advanced vocabulary
Demonstrates a great appetite for books and reading
Entertains self for large blocks of time
Has good recall
Consistently organizes, sorts, classifies and groups things, and names them
Heightened curiosity (Asks ‘why’ often)
Shows sensitivity to other people’s feelings and empathy in response to their troubles
Demonstrates leadership abilities
Likes to discuss abstract concepts (such as love, justice, etc.)
Has an advanced sense of humor
Prefers the company of older children or adults
Is a keen observer
Expresses concern for the world’s problems
So why is it important to identify a gifted child? Gifted children learn and process information very differently to other children even other intelligent children who are not themselves gifted.
This child unidentified in the school environment will most likely be labeled as remedial and never fully realize their full potential. To put a child into an education system that has no tools to deal with his type of learning ability will fail him. Just as a remedial learner can not cope in an average school neither can a gifted learner. A gifted child is more than an intelligent child. It is a child with specific traits, specific methods of learning, specific areas of genius. Each gifted child is very unique. These children learn in a very different way. They are often misdiagnosed with ADD or overlooked in the classroom as they tend to shut down and not engage on any level that does not meet their unique and specific way of thinking.
I have used the word unique and specific repeatedly. Those two words really define a gifted child. The number one identifier of a gifted child is the parent. Identifying your child as gifted will not only help you to choose the correct school for him or her, it will help you understand your child and understand how they learn and how they need to be taught.
As previously stated a gifted child is often misdiagnosed with other learning disabilities as they can not thrive or even function in a typical learning environment. If you have a feeling about your child being gifted look into it, save your child years of going through school thinking that they are stupid when in fact they just need help to let their true genius shine.
As Brooklyn gets older he often doesn’t let his genius shine for fear of standing out too much perhaps. When playing with his peers he has very different interests, like building and designing pulley systems (that actually work) or building complex Lego inventions or whatever new obsession he may have, which he will be all consumed by and only able to discuss and play games surrounding that topic. All this can be very off putting for other 8 year olds who just want to play hide and seek or tag. Trust me it even gets a bit much for me as his mom, his last obsession was dragons and snakes, we had to research and research the topic everyday, every moment. It consumed him for 2 months. He had to get every fact, every bit of information on these creatures. Now he’s moved on to the next topic of obsession: all the people born in his birth month: what are they like, what are their ages, what do they like about the month of May and what do they share in common with him. Unique and specific.
Some days I do wish kicking a ball in the garden would be entertainment enough for him, but that’s not my child.
While I know that now he may “cope” at school he would never thrive in the way he is at our homeschool. We discuss issues that interest him from global warming to different religions. We debate moral issues and really dig deep into all the areas that interest him. He is allowed to do free research time where we search topics that interest him. He just can’t get enough information. He loves information, specific information. We garden and grow our own vegetables. We do science experiments weekly. He has chosen electives that he wants to learn about. We have weekly themes that are chosen by him and we tailor our lessons to these themes. We have also added 3 other gifted treasures to our class, his brother and 2 cousins. They add their own areas of interest and themes and unique giftedness. Much to my son’s surprise they have valuable inputs and actually challenge him to think outside of his obsessions, unique and specific as they are. In time my daughter will join as well.
I haven’t mentioned my other gifted children in much detail as my eldest was my introduction to it all, once the others came along, I knew just what to do, how to identify their giftedness and their genius.
Through what I perceived as a struggle with my son I have uncovered my passion for educating theses precious children. I can’t thank my son enough for standing out, for scaring me into researching and uncovering the wonder of a gifted child.
I am reminded of past gifted children who were failed by the education system. Albert Einstein was told by his teacher that he could not do mathematics. Walt Disney was told that he had no imagination. I want to ensure that my children’s genius does reach the world.
I think Brooklyn summed it up perfectly when he was 3 years old. He said ‘ Mom I have all these ideas in my head that I want to shine out through my eyes to the world’. I want to unlock that potential in him and other children like him to help them shine.