Is your child reaching milestones early? Are they talking constantly and with an advanced vocabulary for their age? Are they doing things that make you just drop your jaw in disbelief? Chances are, they may be gifted.
There are several characteristics of giftedness, so as they say…If you’ve met a gifted child, you’ve met….a gifted child. No two gifted children are alike.
Here is a list of some of the common characteristics of gifted children that may help you decide if your child is gifted. Your child does not need to show all of these characteristics to be considered gifted. These are just some characteristics that Asher showed right off the bat.
1. Unusual alertness as an infant
If I look back at Asher as an infant, I could have had some clues right off the bat that he may be gifted. He seemed to come out of the womb looking around. I remember holding him on my chest right when he was born and we just stared into each other’s eyes. I also remember a particular post I made on Facebook when he was only a week old. He was smiling at me several times so I quickly got my phone out and snapped a picture as fast as I could when he did it. A friend of mine who was a lactation consultant commented on how early it was to see a smile.
This was just the beginning of the comments that should have raised a flag in my mind, but I was so clueless.
In a group I belong to on Facebook called “Raising Poppies,” often parents will mention “the look” that their gifted children had when they were infants. It always includes a picture of an infant staring straight at the camera with wide, alert eyes. Kind of similar to some of Asher’s newborn photos
2. Learns things quickly, and needs little practice
At 14 months, when we still could barely understand the words that came out of his mouth, Asher started telling us what colors things were and their shapes as well. He would look at a stop sign and tell us “Momma, red octa….stop…octa.” Things like this that he knew usually came from watching it on a tv show, or from things we had told him only once or twice. He has always been this way. Now, if I’m teaching him a math concept, it only requires telling him one time how it works and he’s got it and he’ll never forget it.
3. Has an amazing memory
Seriously though, there are things that Asher reminds us of that blow our mind. Things that we even forgot had happened. I honestly wonder how far back he remembers. He seems to remember every little detail about everything that has ever happened in his life. It’s incredible.
4. Leadership abilities- desire to be a leader
Basically put, Asher wants to be in charge. There was a point, once Asher actually started playing with other kids instead of just playing next to other kids, that I noticed he was always trying to organize others into a game that he has made up or he was trying to get them to participate in whatever his imagination was dreaming up. This quickly “escalated” into other areas of his life, including trying to direct us around and shout commands at us. This is where we had to teach him how to politely ask for things and use manners as well.
This is an ongoing battle as we’re still trying to teach him that there is a difference between being a leader and being bossy.
Asher takes martial arts classes and in the earlier days he would come home from class and pretend to teach his own martial arts class. After I saw this, I pointed out the student leaders in his classes and told him that if he worked hard he could be a student leader like them one day. I told him to start by being a leader in class and showing others the correct way to behave (standing at attention, being respectful, and following directions). He has really ran with this and enjoys when he gets to be a leader.
5. Large vocabulary for their age
We constantly get comments about how well Asher communicates. Almost daily. I can almost predict how a simple trip to the store will go. Asher is not shy and will strike up a conversation with anyone who crosses his path.
He starts talking, they look at me with wide eyes and jaw dropped and then they ask “How old is he?” I say he’s 4. Then it comes out… “He talks REALLY well for a 4-year-old.” If I had a dime for every time someone has told me that….
6. Great imagination
As long as I can remember, Asher has always been pretending something. It goes beyond the typical pretending that a child will do, like pretending to be a cat or a dog, or playing house and pretending to be the daddy or mommy or the baby.
Asher dreams up huge scenarios that usually take him 20 minutes of explaining before he actually starts playing.
Normally it’s him pretending to work somewhere. Lately his newest is pretending to work at an auto shop like Daddy does. The other day, he spent nearly 30 minutes at my parents’ house telling all of us a grand scenario about how someone was fixing his BMW because it ran out of gas and crashed, but he had to get a rental car and then the auto shop finished his car, but then rented it out for someone else to drive. Then the same thing happened with my car that I was getting fixed too. He gave details including the people’s names that they rented the cars out to. This boy has a HUGE imagination.
Sadly, it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much he enjoys pretending/dramatic play. We were on a trip to Florida in early May and I had packed some toys for him to play with when we were in our condo. He never touched them. He spent the whole weekend pretending to be a Disney World cast member or one of the property managers that rented out our condo to us. It was then that I realized he needed a change in his toys and we got rid of a lot of stuff that he didn’t play with and we started focusing his toys more towards dramatic play.
7. Early readers
It kind of goes along with learning quickly, but I did very little teaching in this regard. Asher started reading at 2.5 years old. Possibly a little earlier. He used to recite with us the words in the books we were reading, but we just figured he had memorized it. We’re not sure exactly when he gained the ability to read on his own, but it was around 2.5 that we started asking him to read us things that he had never read before and he was able to read them to us. As of the last time we assessed his reading level which was sometime in the winter, he was reading at a 3rd grade level.
His bedtime routine now consists of him reading us a chapter in whatever book he’s reading (currently it’s Captain Underpants) and then we read him a book as well because, well, he’s still 4 and reading to him is important.
8. Asynchronous Development
This is simply defined as being “many ages at once.”
For example, Asher is 4. Like previously stated, he reads at a 3rd grade reading level. He also enjoys watching “Phonics Farm” on Netflix that teaches kids the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make. Another parent described their child potty training while reading about the periodic table.
Asynchronous Development is just things that don’t add up correctly. Their chronological, intellectual, emotional, developmental, and social ages do not match up.
9. Dabrowski’s 5 Overexcitabilities
This is a topic that can require its own blog and possibly a different blog for each overexcitability, but it had to be included on this list because it is a big characteristic of giftedness. A child does not need to possess all 5 overexcitabilities to be gifted, but they usually have at least 1 or 2. The 5 overexcitabilities are as follows:
- Psychomotor– high levels of energy, constant/rapid speech, impulsive behavior, constant movement, nervous habits, no need for lots of sleep.
- Sensual- sensitivity to smells, tastes, and textures; sensitivity to the feel of certain fabrics on skin (i.e. clothing tags); sensitivity to touch, desire for comfort
- Intellectual- deep curiosity, constant desire to learn, always reading, asks lots of probing questions, deep thinking, strong concentration on topics of interest
- Imaginational- vivid dreams, imaginary friends, always pretending, daydreaming, love of the arts, fear of the unknown
- Emotional- feels extreme emotions, anxiety, concern for others, feelings of inadequacy or inferiority, strong memory of feelings, slow adjustment to change
Asher possesses a little bit of each of these, but his biggest ones are psychomotor and imaginational. I will be writing a lot more about overexcitabilities in later blogs.
10. Identifies with adults and older children better than children their age
Basically, when given a choice, Asher would usually rather hang out with kids older than him or adults. He has a couple of buddies that are near his age and he’ll always play with them every chance he gets, but other than that he wants to hang with the older crowd. We coach the youth worship team at our church and he has a blast hanging out with the teenagers and chatting with the adults. It is usually hard to get him to go to his Sunday School class with kids his age.
It’s just hard for him to understand sometimes that not all kids his age think the same as he does. He knows he can talk to the older crowd and they can identify better with what he is saying.
These are just 10 of the many characteristics of gifted children. I picked 10 of the characteristics that I see in Asher, and there are more that he possesses, but there also are many others that he doesn’t show as much, if at all.
Most of all, the biggest thing about trying to figure out if your child is gifted is trust your gut.
You know your child the best out of anyone and if you feel like they are gifted- they very well may be. The next step is to decide if you need official results in your hand and if so, then get them tested. I do plan to get Asher tested at a later time. I feel it will help me as his homeschool teacher to adjust our curriculum based on his strengths and weaknesses and it will show me what his true potential is and I can make sure we are working to his true potential to give him the best education possible. Again, testing is a topic for another blog…so stay tuned!