“Einstein will never amount to anything” says a review by Einstein’s teacher in 1895. And we all know that his teacher was proven absolutely wrong. Einstein was one of the greatest scientists of all times. His theory of relativity forms the basis of modern physics.
Einstein wasn’t an accomplished student. He didn’t have exceptional grades. And he even dropped out of school. Einstein dropped out of school not because he lacked the ability to understand the curriculum, but because he was too smart for the rest of the class. He would find the subjects too easy. He was bored out of his mind. And eventually he lost interest in school altogether. We are lucky that Einstein’s talent survived the horrible schooling of his times and that he ended up being a great scientist he deserved to be. But have you ever imagined, how many Einsteins are being ignored in our schooling system even today?
Even today, many gifted students face the same problems Einstein faced about 125 years ago. Our schooling system isn’t designed to cater the needs of gifted children. As a result, many high potential children with very high IQ don’t end up benefiting from their talent. With over-crowded classrooms, it is very hard for teachers to provide individual attention to their brightest students. In this scenario, it’s a parent’s responsibility to identify the strength of their children and provide them with learning opportunities suitable for their child. Unfortunately, many parents don’t know how to help their gifted children achieve their potential. In this article, we are going to provide basic guidelines for the parents of gifted kids.
Identifying a High IQ Child:
Is your child gifted? Does he/she have the mental ability to be among the best? If you observe that your child is curious, is a fast learner, is good at doing mental math, engages in deeper discussion with older children, then congratulations. You probably have a gifted child.
Best way to confirm the gifted-ness of a child is to take an IQ Test. There are two type of IQ Testing services. Number one: IQ test administered by a psychologist at his office. IQ tests offered by licensed psychologists are accurate and can be used as an official proof for the gifted-ness of a child. However, these tests are prohibitively expensive. A normal IQ test done at a psychologist’s office takes 4-5 hours to complete and costs several hundred dollars.
The second option for testing IQ of a child online IQ testing. Online IQ tests are a less expensive option. Many of them are free and others cost up-to $20-30. The drawback here is that many of these tests aren’t completely accurate. For this article, we tried many online IQ Tests for Kids and found only a handful of these IQ tests to be statistically accurate. One such example is https://www.testkidsiq.com. Our recommendation is that you start with an online IQ test specifically design for children. If according to the results, your child ends up in gifted bracket (e.g. an IQ of 130 means your child is smarter than 98% of the population), then arrange an offline IQ test with a psychologist to confirm the results.
Enrolling a child into a gifted program:
6% of American students are enrolled in gifted programs. However, there is no well-defined process for enrollment of students in a gifted program. The criteria and definition of gifted-ness varies from state to state. Some schools look at the grades of students for admission into gifted programs, other schools rely on partial IQ Tests requiring an IQ of 130+ to be eligible for entering into a gifted program. Other schools require multiple criteria involving a mix of IQ, achievement, teacher feedback and classwork reviews. In our opinion, achievement based testing aka grades aren’t a particularly accurate measurement of gifted-ness. Grade are an outcome of proper education, gifted-ness is the raw talent that requires proper education to thrive. For more details, inquire with your local school to learn about their policy for gifted education. If your child is deemed gifted, then it’s great. If not, then you need to make sure that the assessment of your school about your child is accurate. In order to do that, you can actually appeal the decision or even take a private IQ test done at a psychologist’s office.
Providing nurturing environment at home:
Getting your gifted child enrolled in a gifted program isn’t enough. Parents should provide a nurturing environment at home. By nurturing environment, we mean a lot of different factors. First, maternal bonding should start at a very young age. Second, home must be a safe place for a child, free from domestic and verbal abuse. Third, food provided to a child should be healthy: not the typical junk food. You must keep track of iron and iodine deficiencies in home cooked food. Chemical exposure to children should be limited. Research has shown that household mold, manganese poisoning and lead poisoning results in significant IQ degradation of children. Last, screen time for the kids should be limited. Screen time at home causes hyperactivity and even cause neurological damage. It is a leading cause of ADHD in the new generation. A detailed list of household factors impacting a child IQ can be found here.
Career Planning for a gifted child:
Intelligence has many dimensions including creativity, spatial abilities and general/specialist work orientations. These abilities should play a detrimental role in a child’s choice of a career. Parents need to understand a child’s aptitude profile and then align it with the interests of the child. Career planning for a gifted child should start from the elementary school. During elementary school, parents need to teach their child about various services and products and how many jobs were involved to produce these products. In middle school, the focus should be on explaining the detailed roles involved in a job. It should include how media portrays a job and what is realistic vs. unrealistic. Seeking job shadowing-opportunities would allow your child to get deeper insights into various careers. During high schools, it becomes more serious. In an ideal scenario, you should consider a career assessment with a career coach. You need to prepare your child for choosing the right college and help him with interviewing. Team work is a key success factors to win at the work place. Gifted kids sometimes need special assistance in order to fit in a workplace where they are ahead of their peers in terms of intellectual horsepower. Parents should especially focus on this area to help their child become a good fit in modern work environments.
Socializing for high IQ kids:
Socializing at school is usually hard for gifted children. Imagine being an 8 year old with a brain of 14 year old: while everyone else in the class wants to talk about dolls and super heroes, your gifted kid would like to know more about algebra and chemistry. A note to parents: age is relative. Encourage your child to have friends from all ages. Age mate isn’t necessarily a peer. If your child doesn’t get along with kids his/her age, don’t consider it to be a sign of their social deficiency.
There is another difference between gifted children and normal children. Gifted children prefer quality over quantity when it comes to relationship building. Our schooling system promotes the image of social butterflies while the adult reality is that we grown-ups only have a few close friends. Most people in our circle are just acquaintances. Parents of gifted children should point this fact out to their high IQ children. It is normal to have one or two good friends. Social stigma attached to not having many friends at school is just a short term phase in the lives of most kids at school.
Last words: Having a gifted child is a blessing. But raising a gifted child is a much more difficult responsibility. Nobody is perfect. And we don’t expect parents of gifted children to be perfect at all the aspects of raising their high IQ kids. It is a long journey that has its ups and downs. Good luck with this adventure. Stay blessed.