Is Your Child Gifted?
Giftedness is a term that is used in educational settings and refers to children who demonstrate advanced skills and abilities compared to their same-aged peers. While children can be gifted in many different areas such as art or physical ability, educational settings, when referring to giftedness, tend to be referring to children in the top 2-5% of their peers on tests of cognitive abilities.
Indicators of Giftedness:
What are some clues your child might be gifted?
- Learning to speak earlier than peers
- Noticing details around them and making connections with other information they know
- Speaking with sentences and vocabulary that are more complex than peers
- Able to solve puzzles at an advanced level compared to peers
- Able to recall information at a level more advanced than peers
- Curious and enjoy solving problems
- Seem self-motivated to learn about topics of interest
What is involved in Gifted Assessment?
When children are evaluated for giftedness, they typically complete a cognitive assessment, also referred to as an IQ test. This is an individually administered, standardized assessment where your child is asked a series of specific questions and to complete specific tasks such as building with blocks or puzzles. The assessment is usually completed by a psychologist. The score on this assessment compares your child’s performance to other children the same age (year and month) in the population. Children who meet criteria for a gifted program tend to score in the top 2-5% of the population. The assessment measure that is most commonly used is in assessing for giftedness is the Wechsler tests. There are different Wechsler tests for different age groups. For young children, the assessment measure is called the WPPSI-IV (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Test of Intelligence- Fourth Edition). For school-age children, it is the WISC-V (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fifth Edition). For older teens and adults, it is the WAIS-IV (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition).
What if my child doesn’t do well on the assessment?
The assessment is standardized, which means that your child will be asked to do the same things as other children their same age. What this means is that many children who are 4 years old, for example, may struggle to sit to complete tasks, and therefore if your child is 4 years old, they would be expected to have the same developmental challenges with sitting to complete tasks as other children their same age. Thus, the results reflect how your child did when completing the same task as other children their same age.
Some children do struggle with completing the tasks and we all have bad days sometimes. If you feel that your child’s results really don’t represent them, speak with the psychologist about your concerns and have a discussion about what the psychologist observed and results and what you observe at home. Sometimes children are able to show different levels of ability with supports or different questions; while this is important information, what is being assessed when using standardized assessment measures is how the child responds when given the exact same instructions for the task.
If you truly believe you’re your child was having a bad day or that the results don’t reflect your child, some options are:
- Complete another assessment using a different assessment tool (e.g., the Stanford-Binet 5)
- Wait a year and have the child complete the assessment again (with another year of maturity they might manage the testing situation better)
- Talk with the psychologist who completed the assessment to see what other recommendations they might have
Why would I want to see if my child is gifted?
For any child, it can help them to learn and to thrive if their learning is developmentally appropriate and targeted to their capacity. This is why there are developmentally-appropriate curriculum standards in education – the standards fit most children that age. However, when a child is gifted, they learn differently and at a different rate than their same-aged peers. Finding out that a child meets criteria for giftedness helps the child’s parents and school to make a plan to ensure that the child’s needs are met. It may mean, for example, that the child is taught at a faster pace, has opportunities to learn curriculum concepts at a deeper level, or that the child can choose to spend time learning about areas of interest in addition to managing the curriculum. Without an educational program that meets their needs, some gifted children find that they become less interested in school or learning, don’t develop good work habits, or because they are used to easily succeeding or being the best, they may struggle when they do encounter challenging tasks because they haven’t had experiences of overcoming struggle to help them build resiliency.
Gifted Schools and Programs in Calgary and Area:
There are a variety of educational options for gifted students. In the Calgary area, Westmount Charter school is a charter school that specializes in working with gifted children. See (Westmount Website – Website for Westmount Charter School – Gifted from the Inside Out) for more information. Calgary Board of Education also serves gifted students with the G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education Program) starting in Grade 4 (see FAQ | GATE Calgary).. Alternatively, the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic Board of Education also support gifted students to be integrated into the regular classroom with an Individualized Program Plan. The GATE Parents’ association website is also a helpful resource to parents
Resources for Parents of Gifted Children:
Please see this link from Westmount Charter School and GATE Parents Association for reading lists and resources: Giftedness – Westmount Website (westmountcharter.com) and Schools | GATE Calgary
If you would like to have your child assessed for giftedness, please contact Rocky Mountain Psychological Services at 403-245-5981 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.