Ask An Expert
Universal Preschool's Gifted Child Expert: Corin Barsily Goodwin
Corin Barsily Goodwin, Director and Founder of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, homeschools her two highly gifted, twice-exceptional (2e) children. Before having children, she worked in public policy (KPMG; White House Office of Science & Technology Policy; 3Com) and spent several years in library and archival positions.
She formerly co-chaired the legislative committee for the Homeschool Association of California and was their Gifted/Special Needs Advisor.
We asked Corin to provide information on identifying giftedness in young children and recommendations for resources to help parents of gifted young children.
Is Your Young Child Gifted?
By Corin Barsily Goodwin
Gifted children do not always show their potential early on, but many do (The Highly Gifted Baby, Young Gifted Children), and often their parents are completely unprepared for how to handle the little bundle of energy that they are responsible for. Many people think of giftedness as something that implies easy parenting and straight A's in the classroom. In fact, that is often far from the truth.
Gifted children do, indeed, have high potential, but they also come in a complicated package that includes different social and emotional needs in addition to an entirely different way of thinking, in some cases. If you are the parent of one of these precious bundles of joy, you should probably toss aside all of those standard child development books written for 98% of the population and pick up others that might be more applicable to your challenges. Guiding the Gifted Child by James Webb, Elizabeth Meckstroth and Stephanie Tolan is an excellent place to start. Parents of gifted children need to begin educating themselves early on about what giftedness means so that they can provide the best possible support for their children.
Giftedness is often defined as testing at 130+ or two standard deviations above the norm on an IQ test, but there are many reasons why this may not be a sufficient measurement. Testing is an art as well as a science, and factors include an appropriate testing tool; a tester who is experienced with gifted children; learning differences; and the emotional state of the child at the time of testing. The Gifted Homeschoolers Forum recommends a more holistic view of each child, using qualitative factors as well as quantitative. Research tells us that parents are the best identifiers of gifted children, but if you are not sure if your child is gifted, try some of these resources:
- Hoagies' Gifted Education Page: Parents of Gifted Children
- Hoagies' Characteristics of Gifted Children
- Gifted Development Center's Characteristics of Giftedness
Sometimes giftedness is not obvious - it is all too common that a child who is *normal* (for a gifted child) is misdiagnosed, or their overexcitabilities are viewed as pathologies that need to be treated, especially in schools. Dr. James Webb and his colleagues write about gifted normalcy versus pathologies in their new book Misdiagnoses and Dual Diagnoses in Gifted Children and Adults .
And yet gifted children have special educational needs, and they must have their developmental asynchronies taken into account in order to thrive.
Jowett's 1875 translation of Plato reads that "The most gifted minds, when they are ill-educated, become the worst." As a society, we want to take advantage of the potential offered by our brightest young minds, and for many families, the best route to doing so is through homeschooling. For families prepared to make the commitment to homeschool by choice or by necessity, homeschooling offers the flexibility needed to educate these young individuals in a manner most appropriate to their needs.
The article "Parenting Gifted Preschoolers", by David Farmer, provides an excellent chart estimating the normal developmental timetable for developmental milestones in toddler and preschool development, and the timetable for a child who is 30% advanced, as well as suggestions for educational activities for these advanced children.
Anything by Linda Silverman of the Gifted Development Center is likely to be helpful in helping your gifted child to learn at their own pace and depth. There are many more articles and suggestions on Gifted Homeschoolers: How to Homeschool. More resources, as well as links to web sites, email lists and other resources have been compiled at the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum