Childrearing

Stop Trying To Mold Your Child Into A ‘Gifted’ Student

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shutterstock_120365929Full disclosure—I was a gifted student throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school. With that being said, I could give two shits about whether my sons make it into the “gifted” classroom when they start school.

This is not to say that I don’t care about their education and schoolwork. I definitely do. I love to read and learn, and I hope that they feel the same way. I also believe that children appreciate education by example; meaning, my kids will respond better if they see me reading often (which I do) than if I try to cook up a ridiculous plan to nourish their “inner gifted child.”

What am I talking about? One Reddit commenter asked how parents of gifted children worked with their child to become that way:

I’m always curious when I see children who talk well at a very young age or perform feats like reading or identifying countries/states as a toddler, is their intelligence just with them from birth or did their parents work harder than the average parent with them to teach them? Or is it a combination?

I suppose this is a fair question. But at face value, even though I don’t know this parent personally, I am wondering WHY they would ask such a thing of an Internet forum. To be honest, I sense this competition and tension in many parenting relationships I encounter—even among close friends and family. This could be my imagination, but I doubt it.

When I spend time with other parents who have kids of the same age, I have to consciously tell myself to stop. Just because their child is advanced or has a certain skill does not mean it is a poor reflection of my child. And just because my child didn’t master a certain skill or shine at the top of his class doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent. That’s really all I read out of the comment above.

Other Redditors provided their wisdom on the subject:

Being truly gifted is innate and usually genetic. Being gifted is different from being intelligent. Gifted kids are able to conceptualize advanced concepts from a young age. That’s why IQ tests have things like pattern recognition, logic, number sequences, etc. A real IQ test is often administered by a psychologist or other trained professional and often takes into account the time taken for questions and/or the approach to them. A truly gifted person’s neurons are wired differently. They often have other defining characteristics such as hypersensitivity. Being gifted can present in different ways and is a combination of intelligence, high ability, task commitment, and creativity.

My brother and I were both gifted children. My brother actually learnt how to read both French and English by himself as he was 5 and we have absolutely no idea how he managed to do this. As far as I can tell, we were both naturally curious and creative and our parents provided us with answers, books but the thirst for knowledge somehow came from us. As mentioned in some other comments, it did come with other features such as hypersensitivity and gosh…that part was awful but again, it had little to do with how our parents treated us.

Well my only child is 19 months, so with him it’s too early to tell, but I was a gifted child. I started reading at 2.5. My parents read to me, but didnt do anything that any other parent didnt do. It somehow just “clicked” in my head a little earlier. I’m sure that some people really push their kids, but I think that’s different than someone who is truly gifted.

I would agree very much with the last commenter. Either your kid is gifted, or he isn’t. (And based on the definitions above, I am beginning to doubt that I really was gifted in school.) I do think it is wonderful to participate in your child’s education and to believe in their ability, but it’s hard to separate myself from the sense of parental competition on this topic. I don’t care where my kids are placed in their class, as long as they are learning and enjoying themselves. If they are labeled gifted, wonderful. If they aren’t, that is equally wonderful. Gifted kids are born, not made.

(Image: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock)