Do you think that your bright, curious, highly verbal and capable pre-schooler could be gifted?
Kids First psychologist, Kim Shortridge, has years of experience testing and identifying children who are gifted and says that many parents what to know about their 4 or 5 year old’s talents so that they can make appropriate school decisions.
In this short article, she explains how to find out if your pre-schooler is gifted.
It is important for all children to have the opportunities to experience success, as this builds their self-esteem and their sense of capacity. It is also important for kids to feel challenged academically.
Many parents wait until their gifted child goes to school to start catering to their unique needs, but in doing this, they can can run into problems.
Sometimes what looks like misbehaviour may actually be a gifted child showing that they are not stimulated by their environment. They are bored, and trying to find ways to entertain themselves.
A gifted child who remains in an unchallenging environment will likely not be motivated to reach their potential, and may feel negatively about preschool or school. If you have a gifted pre-schooler, this is something that is best prevented from as early as possible, by ensuring that your child is in enriching environments, with appropriate academic challenges
Friendships and pre-schoolers who are gifted
Sometimes gifted children find it difficult to connect with peers of the same age. You might find that your gifted pre-schooler is not interested in the things that same-aged peers find fascinating, and therefore doesn’t have as many shared activities or common things to talk.
As this can lead to social isolation, it is important to find other ways for your gifted child to feel socially included. This might mean getting them together with likeminded kids (e.g. at a tech group), or by including them in your conversations.
Characteristics of gifted pre-schoolers
Gifted children tend to:
- Appear very keen to learn
- Are interested in the way things work
- Are able to focus their attention on tasks that they’re interested in
- Develop good language skills early on
- Are able think in abstract terms (not just concrete terms)
- Have a good memory
Each gifted child will show different strengths. While one child might start speaking sooner than their peers, another gifted child might start speaking at the same time as their peers, but develop advanced language more quickly.
Testing to confirm giftedness
It is beneficial to confirm whether your child is gifted, as this information can help you and your child’s preschool and school teachers to plan a challenging and interesting curriculum.
This confirmation comes from psychometric testing, conducted by a psychologist. Psychometric testing will assess your child’s cognitive capacity and aptitude for tasks and determine how your child’s skills compare with other children of the same age and stage of development.
A typical testing session lasts up to 2 hours. Usually your child will complete a standardised intelligence test, such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. This will give the psychologist information about your child’s capacity.
Your child will then usually complete an aptitude test, something like the York Assessment for Reading Comprehension, which tells the psychologist how well the child performs. The psychologist will review and compare the information, and write a summary report.
Case Study: Jules
Let’s look at a made up example.
Jules is a 5 year old child who will be starting school next year. Her parents think she is gifted as she shows interest in ideas which are way beyond her chronological age (such as the way that engines work, and deep space). Jules also has an excellent vocabulary for her age.
Jules meets with a psychologist, and completes the two above-mentioned tests. Her results show that Jules has performed excellently across each of the sub-tests in the intelligence test. This means she is in fact gifted. She also performed exceptionally well in the aptitude test, showing that she is performing in line with her capacity.
This provides Jules’ parents with important information that they can use to make informed choices for her schooling and academic future. It suggests that she should be enrolled in a school that offers a variety of extension opportunities, so that Jules can be challenged academically. This will help Jules stay engaged in her learning, and will give her the best chance possible to meet her potential.
Bright or Gifted?
Lots of little kids are bright, but truly gifted children benefit most when their learning needs are identified and met early. Testing is available for children from as young as three and a half, and if you think that your child is gifted, it may be helpful to have this confirmed before formal schooling begins.
Testing for giftedness at Kids First
If you feel that your pre-schooler may be gifted, please feel welcome to contact Kids First Children’s Services to chat about how psychometric testing might help in developing an appropriate education plan for your child.
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