Did you know that giftedness can be seen in babies and toddlers?  Well, it can!  Some gifted children are formally identified at ages 3 or 4 years old.  Giftedness doesn’t just magically start at one particular grade or age.  Unfortunately, some schools think so and do not start gifted services until 3rd grade, 6th grade or some other arbitrary grade.  Only a few school districts in the US actually identify giftedness in the preschool years and start services then.  Secondly, giftedness is often not in all areas.  Sadly, some schools still only provide gifted services to those who have scores in all areas.  Worse yet, some schools only provide gifted services one day a week as if the child’s giftedness is only on one day.  In addition, giftedness doesn’t just end at a particular grade either.  Sadly, some schools stop gifted services after middle school and only service high school students through AP or honors courses.  Despite school districts’ attitude or policy, giftedness stays with the child into their teenage years and into adulthood and is a daily issue.  Giftedness is there from birth through adulthood.

So how does one know if their baby, toddler, preschooler, or school age child is gifted?  Well, I can tell you first hand, we missed some early signs.  I even blogged about it before here.  However, we had urging from our son’s private preschools to seek testing.  We finally sought formal testing at age 4.  During the 2 years in public school, we were repeatedly told the following: public schools can’t meet his needs, grade skip, double grade skip, acceleration is not going to be enough, homeschool or grade skip, gifted services are only pull-out once a week, and you need to find gifted support groups and programs.  Thankfully, our school’s gifted coordinator got us in contact with the Texas Parents of Profoundly Gifted and the Davidson Young Scholars organizations.  Now, we are on an amazing homeschooling adventure where we meet our son’s educational needs at the appropriate grade level for him (currently 7th grade and above).  

In order to fully understand giftedness or recognize early signs of giftedness, one needs to first understand what is considered “normal” or “typical” developmental milestones.  The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has a great chart of “Social Communication Benchmarks” from birth to adult.  The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) has an “Articulation Development Chart” covering sounds children should be able to make between 1 and 8 years old.  First Years has a “Developmental Milestones” chart covering hearing, speech, language, and cognition between birth and 8 years old.  The Metropolitan Community College (MCNEB) has a “Developmental Milestones for Children” chart covering physical, fine motor, language, mental, and social development between birth and 16 years of age. 

Once you understand what is considered “normal” or “typical” development, it becomes easier to identify a gifted baby, toddler, or child as they will be hitting the developmental milestones faster or sooner.  In addition, many gifted children are asynchronous which means they might hit some milestones extremely quick, other milestones will be at what is considered developmentally appropriate timelines, and even other milestones might be slow or delayed.

Here are some early signs of giftedness:

  • Meeting developmental milestones early
  • Unusual curiosity
  • Asking lot of questions
  • Interest in language (often, early talking & reading)
  • Interest in numbers (often, early counting & number correspondence)
  • Sits through longer books being read to them
  • Sorting things
  • Doing puzzles (quickly or high number of pieces)
  • Excellent memory
  • Intense focus (longer attention span than others)

Another factor in helping to identify a gifted child at any age is to understand the levels of giftedness.  Most people do not understand that there is in fact a spectrum to giftedness ranging from mild or moderately gifted to highly gifted to exceptionally gifted to profoundly gifted.  Some specialists break it down into 5 levels of giftedness.  Ruf’s Estimates of Levels of Giftedness created by Dr. Ruf explains the 5 levels of giftedness.  For a fee you can purchase her online assessment to help more accurately determine the level your child is at.

For articles on early signs of giftedness, try these:

Here are some books for helping parents raise gifted children:

  • Gifted Children: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Kate Distin
  • Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers by James Webb
  • Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings by Christine Fonseca
  • A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children by Nicholas Colangelo
  • Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy and Successful Children by James R. Delisle
  • Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, Ocd, Asperger’s, Depression and Other Disorders by James T. Webb
  • Living with Intensity by Susan Daniels
  • Young, Gifted, and Bored by David George
  • Gifted and Talented Children 4-11: Understanding and Supporting Their Development by Christine Macintyre

Remember, whether a child is gifted or not, what they most need is to feel loved and secure!  And, all children need stimulation.  Our brains are built to love novelty and have interesting experiences.  Most importantly, all children need to be read to and allowed to free play.  Gifted or not, love your child for who they are!

Acknowledgments and Credits

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Ages and Stages of Giftedness.  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the titles, blog names, and links of other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_ages_and_stages.htm