When someone mentions the term ‘gifted’ regarding their child, one question pops up in everyone’s mind: How do you know?
Who has the magic wand to bestow the ‘gifted’ label or not?
Even though that’s what if feels like sometimes, there’s no magic answer. The most common answer is a discussion about test scores. Or perhaps reading before kindergarten or painting the Mona Lisa without any training whatsoever. (But usually test scores.)
I don’t mean to be flip, as lots of children can do lots of amazing things. This is precisely why test scores aren’t the best indicator, even when they are the easiest, standardized indicator.
Test scores indicate giftedness, aptitude, or IQ, sure. However, scores never gives you the whole picture of what a child is like, what their strengths and challenges might be, and how quickly they are able to put on shoes and get out the door.
Because if that were an indication of giftedness, we’d be nowhere close.
Some people really care about test scores. All the tests and the numbers. Validation. Proof, I suppose, that their concerns or comments are truth. I’m not one of those people. (Full disclosure: yes, I love when my kids (or I) do well on tests. Who doesn’t? I also know there’s more to the story.)
I don’t care at all about test scores or if your child is in the ‘gifted’ program at school. What I do care about is supporting you and your family through whatever you’re experiencing. Some kids have all the signs of giftedness, yet don’t score well on tests. Maybe there’s something else going on, such as being twice exceptional and having other learning challenges, or maybe they simply don’t test well. Or maybe they daydream through the test because their inner world is so creative and complex that each question starts a new story in their brain and they can’t focus.
What do I consider gifted? It’s when I notice kids (and parents) who think differently, who have a certain quirkiness, an interest and enthusiasm about the world, THAT’s what giftedness means to me. There’s something different, not quite typical, and that results (often) in the feeling of not fitting in. It can impact a child’s abilty to adapt to the school system or even to understand its hierarchy (and the unjustness that posits them at the bottom).
There are enough people worrying about test scores and special programs, and yes those can be important resources. There is certainly a place for testing academically, and for certain diagnoses when you’re trying to figure out what’s actually going on with your child. In that sense, tests give you a certain amount of information. More information can be helpful, but it doesn’t always answer all the questions.
What happens to the children, who by action, word, and interest are gifted, bright, and quirky souls, but they don’t perform on the test that gets them into the program or the school. And so you’re left with this feeling that you must not be gifted. Not smart. Not good enough. When really, you’re right there with the rest of them.
Focus on what matters – encouraging and supporting their strengths – while also acknowledging that placement and scores do not define anyone.
What matters most is supporting your child (and yourself) to grow into your best versions. That you maximize the resources and experiences available to them without worrying about being ‘that’ parent. That might mean advocating at school. It could also mean seeking out unconventional activities for a child who doesn’t want to play soccer or run for school office.
Also, when I’m talking about how to support gifted or twice exceptional kids (and their parents), the strategies and recommendations are great for everyone. If we treat our children (and ourselves) as whole beings, acknolwedging their complex emotions, their desire for independence, and focus on their strengths, they do better.
Seriously great for everyone!
Actually, I don’t care if your kids are gifted or not, or twice exceptional or not. What I care about is that you and they get the support you need. If something doesn’t feel quite right, or things aren’t going as you’d expect (more challenges in school, for example), you know you have someone to support you without worrying about being judged or compared to someone else. (Perhaps someone who’s *really* gifted.) If parenting feels harder than other people’s experience, and no one really gets what you’re talking about, there’s perhaps more to explore in the realm of giftedness or twice exceptionalism.
All people, kids included, have gifts and strengths that make them exceptional humans.
We need to foster strengths in everyone. I also fully believe that there are people, kids included, who’s brains work differently. And that they (and their parents) need support to identifty HOW it works differently and maximize the strengths, and support any challeneges that arise.
The key is to connect to the spark – that thing that makes you or your child different no matter how your brain works – and keep that spark alive. Test scores can’t measure feeling, but your mind and body certainly do!
If you want to learn more about what kinds of support I offer, make sure to subscribe below and reach out to schedule a chat!