Is my child gifted?

Understanding giftedness
Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted definition of giftedness. This makes identification somewhat tricky! However, giftedness is commonly recognised as an individual’s innate cognitive, creative, and/or affective qualities and behaviours that are significantly distinct in frequency, duration and/or intensity when compared to their peers. Although this seems like a lot to take in two main aspects stand out; giftedness spans more than just academic potential and it stands out from peers. Giftedness may then be interpreted and developed in different ways.

Gifted individuals are unique. Although definitions may vary across time and culture common behaviours and qualities can be evidenced in gifted individuals when compared to their peers. No individual will demonstrate all of the following characteristics, nor will they demonstrate any of the characteristics all of the time:

*  reasons well (good thinker)
*  learns rapidly/easily
*  has an extensive voacabulary
*  has a excellent memory
*  has a long attention span
*  sensitive (feelings hurt easily)
*  shows compassion
*  perfectionistic
*  intense
*  morally sensitive
*  strong curiosity
*  perseverance (if interested)
*  high degree of energy
*  prefers the company of older children and adults
*  unique sense of humour
*  early or avid reader
*  concerned with justice/fairness
*  judgment mature for age (at times)
*  keenly observant
*  vivid imagination
*  highly creative
*  tends to question authority
*  good at jigsaw puzzles
*  mana: recognised presence, leads by example
*  humble: uses talent for the benefit of others
*  manaakitangi/tautoko: cares for the welfare of others, puts others before self

Gifted or talented?
Professor Françoys Gagné developed a model which illustrates the distinction between gifts and talents. He defines giftedness as a natural aptitude (potential) in at least one general domain which places an individual in the top 10% of his/her peers. Whereas talent is seen as the advanced development of skills and/or knowledge (performance) in a specific area of that general domain that places the individual in the top 10% in that particular field. For example, an individual may show potential in sport which is developed into a rugby talent as an All Black. Gagné's model shows us that  gifts do not automatically develop into talent and is influenced by various catalysts.

                               Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent DMGT 2.0

The identification process
As potential is harder to identify, and subject to the differing opinions of individuals,it is important to gather a comprehensive collection of information about an individual from a variety of sources; to better understand the individual as a whole.  At Russell Street School identification is an ongoing process that involves communication and collaboration with whanau, staff, peers and the student themselves. There are a number of steps we go through to get the best indicators possible, including involving potential students in extension programmes to draw out qualities and behaviours that may indicate giftedness. As your child's greatest resource, we need to hear from you!  If you think your child shows gifted potential, or you would like to know more about giftedness click on the website links below or contact myself or your child's teacher for further information.

Further information and support

We have the following titles of recommended books available for students and their whanau in the parents section of our library:

You Know Your Child is Gifted Judy Galbraith
Mellow Out, They Say. If Only I Could: Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright by Michael M. Piechowski
The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz
The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids: How to Understand, Live With, and Stick Up for Your Gifted Child by Sally Yahnke Walker
Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students - Helping Kids cope with explosive feelings by Christine Fonseca 
Helping Gifted Children Soar A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers by Carol Strip and Gretchen Hirsch
When Perfect isn’t Good Enough by Richard P. Swinson and Martin M Antony
The Smart Teens' Guide to Living with Intensity by Lisa Rivero
Living With Intensity by Susan Daniels and Michael M. Piechowski
What to do when you worry too much: A kid's guide to overcoming anxiety by Dawn Heubner 

Websites of Interest
NZ Association of Gifted children. This NZ website provides information for anyone wanting to know more about giftedness, seeking support and providers to nurture gifts into talent.
This NZ Education website facilitated by the ministry of Education provides comprehensive information for whanau and educators to identify, plan and provide for gifted students in NZ. The information is being added to regularly.
This American website is an internationally respected go-to place for all things gifted. Take your time - there is a lot in there!

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