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How to Recognize a 'Gifted' Child? 

Spot the 'exceptional' brain in your midst.

The word 'gifted' has been defined differently by various lexicon sources, but it is generally associated with a child whose potential in one or more areas of skill, would place him /her in the top two to five per cent of children in the same age group. These skills can be traditionally academic, creative or even interpersonal.

A United States Office of Education definition describes these children as those "who have outstanding abilities, are capable of high performance and who require differentiated educational programs (beyond those normally provided by regular school programs) in order to realize their contribution to self and society." 

How are gifted children identified?

'Gifted' characteristics can be observed either by a parent, a teacher or even a friend or anyone close to a child. Exceptional skills or advanced vocabulary and learning abilities cannot escape the ones close to a gifted child. 

On further testing, an IQ score of over 130 points can confirm the basic observations.

100 to 114 - upper normal
130 to 144 - gifted
145 to 159 - highly gifted
160 and above - profoundly gifted

Most school systems are thus able to classify 10 to 15% or more of its student population as gifted or talented. But the cream will fall into the top 2 to 5%.

General intellectual ability or talent

An amazing general knowledge, high level of vocabulary, good memory and alertness, knowledge of abstract words and exceptional reasoning are signs of a 'gifted' child. Such a child will be extremely resourceful, energetic and persistent. He or she is an avid reader with an interest in science and literature and a very wide range of other pursuits. 

Specific academic aptitude or talent

These children can be identified by their outstanding performance in either mathematics or languages or arts. They are more focused than their colleagues. They have a longer attention span, which is difficult to find in children of their age. 

Organizers of various talent searches identify 'gifted' students as per their specific academic aptitude and high scores in the achievement tests. These students are also given the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). 

Creative thinking and production

Creativity is described as the core characteristic in a 'gifted' child. This helps in generation of creative ideas-the ability to bring together seemingly independent and dissimilar elements. The mind of a `gifted' child is very clear and flexible and therefore can indulge in an intellectual play. Such children can also submerge themselves in a particular task and provide very radical solutions. 

Leadership ability

Many teachers identify this ability through a student's keen interest and skill in problem solving. These children are generally very self-confident, responsible, cooperative, adaptable and quite dominating. They are good at organizing things and have the ability to stimulate and excite others. They are also very articulate and can empathize with the rest of the group.

Visual and performing arts

Special talents in visual art, music, dance or drama show a pointer towards a 'gifted' child. Such children are dominated by moods and whims. They have an ear for music. They are emotional and therefore they often express themselves creatively, either by singing or painting. 

Psychomotor ability

These are kinesthetic motor abilities like physical, mechanical, practical and spatial skills.

Gifted children possess these psychomotor abilities and therefore they are very athletic, coordinated, balanced and confident in physical activities. They are generally quite well built and rhythmic, and very inventive in constructing or modifying games. 

Obviously they are quite energetic and demonstrate great stamina, persistence and endurance. 

Warning for parents

While the above-mentioned sub-heads are characteristics of a `gifted' child, it is important to realize that all 'gifted' children will not display all these qualities. They might possess one or more of these qualities. However, it is for parents to recognize the areas of expertise and utilize it to the optimum level. If these 'special' areas remain unappreciated and underutilized, it might frustrate the child in the later years.

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