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THE GIFTED CHILD

Introduction

Inspite of all limitations every child comes with a gift within himself. Ram an 8-year-old boy, lives in the suburban slums of Mumbai and is part of a programme run by an NGO in the evenings for the slum children. It was during one of those classes when I discovered about his talent in drawing freehand with precise strokes. He could create beautiful pictures within minutes and a smile would tell us how happy he felt when his friends appreciated him. Like Ram, there are many gifted and talented children who want to be given an opportunity to do what they enjoy doing, rather than being forced to do something just to " Prove Themselves".

What do we mean by Gifted

Simply put, a gifted individual is one who has some abilities or strengths making him or her special or different from the others. The first time I heard the word "gifted" was in the premises of a well-known Psychological Institute in Pune. This Institute does a lot of work with gifted children. Initially, whenever "Gifted" was mentioned it was thought that a child could be "Gifted" only when he was academically intelligent or did very well in academics. However what helped me change my views towards the "Gifted Children" was a 5-day interaction with professionals from all over the world during a conference in Delhi.

It helped me broaden my views of looking at any and every child as gifted or talented in his or her own way, without always considering his or her level of intelligence.

Dr. Howard Gardner is one such person who has done a lot of work on different abilities and strengths in children and also how these abilities could be put to the best of use in a classroom setup and otherwise. He has given very good guidelines for parents and teachers on how to handle the gifted or as he says the multitalented children of today.
Who are these Gifted / Super Kids
They are no aliens from "Mars", just kids living next door. They don't carry any crown on their head. You cannot pinpoint or identify them as "gifted or genius" just by looking at them. (Unless they have been advertised by their parents or teachers)

Most parents and even teachers usually think that "gifted children" are always academically intelligent. But certainly there are different kinds of gifted too. One child can be Creatively gifted with great imagination and the other can be gifted in athletics or fine arts. Some others can be even good leaders.

In order to make things simpler for you, a small list of behaviours has been put forth as a guideline.

Warning : These behaviours may not be identified easily unless observed for a consistent time period by parents and teachers. And not all gifted children may show all the behaviours listed. There could be some strong behaviours or a combination of some behaviours.

1. Enjoys learning as it takes place easily and rapidly. Anything taught to him may be learned by him easily and with less effort.
2. Enjoys reading, may show preference for reading in free time available at home or in school. Gifted children may begin to show early signs of reading, in a pre-school period.
3. Has advanced vocabulary and communicates well with others.
4. Can retain information easily and grasping is also good.
5. Has long attention span and thus completes a given task before starting another task.
6. Curiosity : may be an explorer, very curious and may ask endless number of questions. May also show interests in different things around and may take up a hobby.
7. Enjoys working independently. Begins to show independent behaviour in the pre school years itself or even earlier.
8. Will be alert and very observant in his environment (at home or school).
9. Will have a good sense of humour. May invent his own jokes.
10. May be an academic achiever in school. However, this is not a necessary or an important trait / behaviour that each and every gifted child may show.
11. Will have good reasoning and understanding towards relationships. Will be able to solve social problems and show sensitivity towards society at a young age.
12. Will be fluent and expressive with words.
13. Will be extremely creative or imaginative.
14. Self motivated.