7 Signs To Tell If Your Child Is Gifted – And Expert’s Advice To Raise Smart Kids

The earlier giftedness is identified, the sooner exceptional talents can be nurtured.

How do you tell if your child is gifted?  When we think of “giftedness” or “genius,” the first thing that comes to our mind usually is an image of someone who has a super high IQ. 

However, not all gifted children excel in an academic area. Some may display high creative, artistic, musical, or leadership abilities relative to their peers.  Maybe your kid runs faster than others, solves advanced math problems with ease, or has a keen sense of music and can sing on key.

“Is my child gifted?” is a common question many parents wonder.  Finding the answer is not always easy because gifted children are individuals.  Still, there are several traits and characteristics in common with talented children.  

If you are wondering if your child is gifted, look at these below common traits and see how many of them fit your child.  This article will also show you how to nurture your child’s learning environment and help her achieve developmental milestones as she grows up.  

7 signs to show your kid may be gifted

There are no universally accepted traits that you can look for and no definitive signs that will tell you for sure whether your child is gifted.  High grades or testing scores aren’t necessarily indicators that a child is gifted — and while there is no single formula for identifying a gifted child, researchers and educational psychologists say there are some characteristics that may point to high potential in kids:

1. They are curious and ask a lot of questions.

Gifted kids are often curious about the world around them and may ask detailed questions to satisfy their thirst for knowledge.  This curiosity goes beyond simple interest in a topic and can extend to aspects that are seemingly outside of the scope of a lesson.  In a school setting, the child may not be satisfied with only learning what is necessary to do well on an exam or complete an assignment.  While this can be frustrating for teachers, parents and children alike, it’s essential to avoid discouraging a child from asking questions. This can be de-motivating and shut down future communication attempts.

2. They take their own approach to assignments.

Whereas bright students look to please the teacher and finish assignments, gifted children often have their own way of going about things.  This can be due to a desire to focus on only one aspect of a topic or a perceived lack of challenge in the task itself.  For example, in our Singapore Math classes,  a gifted student is usually the one who can find an alternative route to solve a problem than that which was required by the question. Or, when we assign a writing topic in Language Arts classes, the most impressive essays come from students who can interpret the question from different angles. In both situations, we believe it’s important for educators and parents to be tolerant and avoid reprimanding or penalizing the child for not following directions. 

3. They have a large vocabulary and prefer adult conversation. 

One of the first things people notice about gifted children is their vocabulary.  They often understand and use more words than their peers, including abstract and figurative language.  This may be due to their reading habits and exposure to more advanced texts.  It can also be thanks to a heightened sensitivity to syntax and an ability to guess the meaning of new words encountered in context.  It’s also easier for these kids to remember words, requiring less repetition to acquire language.  As a result, they may feel more at ease communicating with adults due to their advanced language skills.  Nonetheless, it is still important to encourage a child to engage with her peers to prevent them from becoming isolated and withdrawing due to perceived differences in intellectual ability.

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

4. They have original ideas.

A child with giftedness is an original thinker and able to access abstract reasoning and bring together ideas from different areas.  They may have a wild imagination and develop their own sophisticated stories, songs and plays.  These examples of creative work can contain complex language and show an advanced appreciation for humor.

5. They are cognitively advanced and able to self-teach new skills. 

Gifted children may teach themselves how to read and write before they learn in school.  They often have advanced cognitive reasoning skills and a good memory.  Some estimates suggest that an average student needs to hear something repeated 8-15 times in order to acquire it, whereas a gifted child may only need to encounter a word, fact or idea 1-2 times.  In Math class, these kids may use logic and reasoning to solve problems before introducing them to the target concept.  They learn quickly and do not require as much practice as other children to develop new skills.  They may easily become bored when a lesson is repetitive, leading them to tune out.  Children with giftedness can often benefit from a condensed curriculum that covers more material in less time.

6. They are sensitive to their environment.

From a young age, the gifted child is vigilant and tuned into her environment.  Some have critical concentration skills and can quickly become hyper-focused on a task.  It is through engaging with new stimuli that they can develop cognitively.  That’s why it is crucial to ensure gifted children receive adequate stimulation, particularly in school settings that offer plenty of room for advancement. 

7. They have strong feelings.

These children may be pretty opinionated and have strong feelings about topics that are important to them.  They can also be more aware of the opinions and feelings of other people.  However, this does not necessarily translate into knowing how to deal with this information through appropriate social channels.  They may be quite emotional.  Because some gifted kids are incredibly self-aware, it can cause them to become introverted and feel that they don’t fit in.  This is one reason why parents may choose to move a child into a gifted program where they will have other intellectually advanced kids as peers.

How to create an environment that nurtures your kid’s talent

So what should you do when you notice the early potential in your kid? How can you help nurture their talents without creating unhealthy pressure?

1. Find creative ways to expose them to the activity

Exposing your kid to their interests is vital for talent development.  If they enjoy science, for example, visiting children’s science museums can offer a hands-on educational experience.  You can also provide materials for creative play, e.g., give them egg cartons, cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls. Or why not sign her up for a STEAM Summer Camp? Our virtual camp has been getting a lot of attention and positive feedback from families – and will surely intrigue your child through diverse activities: hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math in a 100% all-English environment. 

When the father of multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran realized that music was the single most important thing in his son’s life, he took the initiative and drove him to concerts every week, hoping his son would find his calling.

(c) CNN

And if you are thrilled by the event of Lionel Messi beating Brazil to win Copa America recently, have you known that his grandmother Ceila is one of Leo’s greatest influencers and admirers? She is the one who recognized his talent, insisted his trainer on having him in the team regardless of little Leo being much shorter than the other kids his age, and routinely accompanied him to matches and training sessions as a child.

2. Surround them with talented, like-minded people

Studies show that children’s skill development grows faster when interacting with, learning from, or feeling inspired by others with similar talents. When kids see people around them shine in an activity, they are motivated to raise the bar and be even better.

3. Find the right influencers

No one achieves greatness alone.  Sometimes, parents must look beyond yourselves to meet the needs of your child — by finding an outside mentor. It doesn’t have to be someone who is much more experienced. Surprisingly, research finds that your kid’s most significant influencers are very likely their friends.
The relationship between Beatles band members John Lennon and Paul McCartney, for example, demonstrates the brilliance of creative pairs. Each provided mentoring, coaching, support and encouragement to the other.

4. Build encouraging family values

Family values provide a foundation of guidance and acceptance.  When kids have a strong sense of support and belonging, they can reach their full potential.  A few types of values that will help create an environment for your kid to thrive:

  • Respectful values: Show that you respect their uniqueness, opinions, ideas and dreams.  Spend time together as a family, provide unstructured playtime and allow each family member to pursue their interests.
  • Work values: For kids, this includes how they approach school and their education. Modeling positive behaviors yourself — e.g., persistence, always doing your best work, not giving up when things don’t go as planned — is one of the most effective ways to teach children these values.

>>> Discover some exercises that  Tony Ngo – Everest Education’s Chairman and Co-founder – uses to help his kids practice self-awareness, critical thinking and reflection skills in his article Rating on Strategy and Effort.

  • Social values: This is key to raising kind and caring kids who look out for others and better the community.  Encourage and praise them when they are respectful and courteous in their interactions, participate in teamwork and volunteer their skills.

While there are some commonalities when it comes to giftedness, it’s important to remember that it is not a one-size-fits-all definition.  If you believe your child displays some signs of giftedness, you can discuss with her teachers or anyone involved in her education.

Knowing your child is gifted also helps you better understand whether the school provides an appropriate educational setting.  It can also give you peace of mind, help you understand your child, and empower you to provide the best academic environment for them.

Believing personalized education is the best way to raise talented students; at Everest Education, we always customize study plans for every single student coming to us. Therefore, students can learn at their own pace, with their like-minded friends, and are given proper challenges every day that pushes them forward. With the help of technology, Everest can now deliver exceptional learning experiences – both online and offline – that are inspiring, fun, and engaging; that are personalized for each student, and that provide meaningful engagement with teachers and peers.

>>> Learn more about our available classes:

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  1. “Is your kid gifted?” by Kumar Mehta, Ph.D., is the author of “The Exceptionals” and “The Innovation Biome,” and founder of Bridges Insight
  2. ”7 Signs of a gifted child” by ReadandSpell


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