When Does a Parent Know His or Her Child Is Gifted?

By Carol Fertig, author of Raising a Gifted Child

So often I’m asked, “When does a parent know if his or her child is gifted?” I think they are surprised when I respond by saying, “I don’t know. What does it mean to be gifted?”
After all, I am supposed to be the expert. I am expected to have the answers. But I can’t provided any definitive reply.
First of all, what does it mean to be gifted? There are many definitions and many ways of assessing a child’s ability. Is one more correct than another? Who should make that determination? You may want to look at some of the previous posts on this blog about this subject, including
Even if there is some consensus about the definition of giftedness, I think most people would agree that students fall somewhere on an extended continuum. There are children who have strong interests or abilities in just one area, which may or may not be a traditional academic subject. There are students who are more globally endowed and may finish high school before they are teenagers and receive graduate degrees by the time others finish high school. Some young people who are very bright have learning disabilities or physical disabilities or emotional problems. Some fit into a traditional school environment and some could care less about school.
So what’s a parent to do if she thinks her child fits into the gifted category? There are no quick and simple answers; however, if you read my book, Raising a Gifted Child (also available on Amazon and in book stores) and search through this blog, you will find many options and combinations of options for schooling children. You will also find many excellent subject-specific resources. Consider me your personal research assistant. Through both Raising a Gifted Child and more than six years of weekly blog postings, I’ve tried to anticipate questions that you might have about giftedness and find the answers for you. I receive emails from people all over the world who read this blog and ask even more questions. I “listen” to these, answer them personally, and use those questions to post still more entries. You can use the search feature (upper part of the right-hand column) at this site to find the information you need on all things gifted.
In the end, I want parents to know that there are many ways to help very bright children to develop not only academically, but socially and emotionally. The choices you make must be flexible—if one doesn’t work, try another. Mix and match what works for your family and understand that your contributions to the educational process are at least as important as any formal education your young people may receive.
This blog post initially appeared on the Prufrock Gifted Child Info Blog on April 22, 2011.