If your child has been recently identified as gifted, you, like many parents, might simultaneously feel elated and also nervous about the label. You may be wondering what the term gifted really means and if and how it changes your views about your child and you expectations of him or her. Any search for "the" definition of gifted is likely to be unsuccessful as there are a multitude of different ones, only adding to your confusion.
If you have mixed feelings about your child being labeled gifted, you are not alone. Many people within the field of gifted education share your ambivalence about the term.
In many ways, the use of the word gifted reflects an older perspective on intelligence and ability that is not consistent with current research and thinking. This perspective emphasizes general intellectual ability or IQ as something that is a relatively stable characteristic of a person – something you are endowed with at birth, an unchangeable part of who you are – much like your hair or eye color. From that perspective, identifying who is gifted is the primary task of educators.
Currently within the field, there are many who prefer to use a different set of terms to refer to gifted children, such as academically talented, mathematically talented, or artistically talented, which capture the specific strengths and areas of giftedness for an individual child. And, some prefer the words talent development rather than gifted education to refer to their education and training.
Pretty confusing, right? Is this just semantics or a bunch of scholars being picky and pedantic? No, it isn’t. There are some very real and important distinctions between these perspectives. As a parent, though, you just want to know how to think about your child and his or her talents and abilities. What is important for you as parents to know about talent development that will affect your expectations for your child and what you do to support him or her? Here is my list of “gifted essentials.”
The most important to remember is that giftedness is a process of growth and development, not a category or label. Our job as parents is to monitor that process, provide or access opportunities, help children with challenges along the way, and provide love and support.
Reprinted with permission of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) http://www.nagc.org. No further reprints are permitted without the consent of NAGC.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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