Gifted Babies: Is there Such a Thing?
We all want our kids to be smart, and let’s be honest—most of us think our kids are pretty bright, but does the rest of the world agree? With gifted programs at nearly every school across the nation, it would seem that your child would have a fairly good chance of being born with a superior intellect, but is being gifted really as common as it seems? Perhaps the even more important question is: can you do anything to increase your child’s cognitive abilities, or is being gifted something that is entirely predetermined?
A Rare Gem
Unfortunately, the term “gifted,” although widely used in parenting and education circles, may not mean that your child is any smarter than the next child. Because getting into a gifted program is based largely upon grades and test-scores, it could mean only that your youngster is dedicated, studies hard, and tests well—all great qualities, but not prerequisites for a truly “gifted” child. According to experts, only two to five percent of children really fit the bill, and only one percent is considered “highly gifted.” So, what exactly does gifted mean anyway, and how do you know if your little one is among the brightest of the bright?
Characteristics of Gifted Children
Truly gifted children aren’t necessarily strong in every academic area; instead, they usually show an impressive edge over other children in one particular subject. For example, a real gifted child may struggle to read but be able to perform unbelievable mental calculations that far exceed the abilities of his peers and even individuals much older than him. This indication of giftedness won’t show up during infancy, or even toddlerhood, unless it is extremely pronounced. For instance, if your two year old begins reading fluently, out of the blue, then there’s no question that you have an uber-gifted child on your hands. Other than such an obvious clue, there’s really no definitive way to tell if your child has a superior intellect until she is at least school-aged. You can look for some early indications, however, such as early talking and letter and number identification.
Can You Create a Gifted Child?
Unfortunately, the data suggests that there’s really nothing you can do to make your child gifted or even increase the chances that he will be. Despite the recent trend in toys, books, and videos designed to enhance baby’s cognitive abilities (think Baby Einstein), the number of gifted children per capita has remained relatively the same. That doesn’t mean that you can’t help your child develop the life skills he needs to be successful in school and eventually, work, however. Reading to your child often and early, for example, greatly influences how easily and effectively he’ll learn to read on his own down the road. Talking to your child, engaging him in a variety of stimulating activities, teaching him his ABCs and 123s—these are all good things to do and certainly they have their merit, but they won’t make your kid a genius or a prodigy no matter how diligent your efforts. The very best thing you can do for your child—both cognitively and emotionally—is to provide him with lots of love, attention, and most importantly, acceptance, no matter what his IQ score ends up being down the line.