Detecting and Nurturing Genius in your child

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As parents we are prone to thinking our little Manuel/Maria is a certifiable genius. While it is true that each child does come into this world with their own unique gifts and talents, how do we really know whether our kids, nieces, nephews, cousins etc., are truly gifted geniuses or not?

There are a few signs that might indicate your child is at least above average, if not gifted/a genius.

Your child can hold a conversation from an early age. According to the Davidson Institute, an education foundation for advanced children, “early and prolific use of language is typical in profoundly gifted children.”

They love fidget spinners because it helps them burn energy. If, even as an infant, your child got bored from being in one position, or made noise because the mobile stopped working, they might be gifted.

If your child has shown an interest in reading even before they started school or can read from an exceptionally young age, there is every chance that they may be a genius.

Their memory is exceptional. Toddlers who can quickly recognize locations (and nothing as obvious as the Golden Arches!) and faces, may indeed be gifted. Of course, having a good memory is useful for anyone and it is a great skill to develop.

Your child naturally gravitates to adults or older children, and holds meaningful conversations with them.

Many geniuses are also very motivated to learn, and will do almost anything to facilitate their burgeoning skills. For instance, picking up books that have been read to them and then matching known words from that book to the same words in another book; they will then extrapolate meanings of unknown words through contextual clues.

A child with a genius IQ will often outpace his/her peers in the classroom and if not encouraged properly can either become bored or disruptive, or find ways to further their own education.

What do you do if you suspect your child might be a genius/gifted? If your child is already in school, talk to the teacher since they should have a good idea if your child is indeed gifted. Work together with the educators to put a plan in for your child.

Ensure your child gets enough exercise! John Medina in his book, “Brain Rules for baby” says, “Encouraging an active lifestyle is one of the best gifts you can give your child. It may mean putting away World of Warcraft.

Enroll your child in some kind of music class. Children who play a musical instrument out-perform their peers who do not play any kind of instrument.

Read to your child as often as possible, and make books readily available to them. According to Evans, author of “Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success” a child who is raised in a home containing at least 500 books is 36 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 19 percent more likely to graduate from college than a child raised in a home containing few or no books. The library can be your best friend in terms of giving your child access to books, or an e-reader where many books can be downloaded for free.

Limit the amount of time spent playing video games or watching television, even ‘educational’ shows. The questions asked in the shows can never be tailored to your specific child, and your child will miss out on important learning skills if all their knowledge is coming from TV or video games only.

Speak a foreign language. Children from bilingual homes have a distinct advantage over their monolingual counterparts. Studies have shown that bilingual children often have a better attention span and can multi-task better than their monolingual friends.

What is it like to grow up as a genius/gifted person? Mia Witt, from San Antonio says, “There is a balance between maintaining your childhood and cultivating and optimizing the intellectual factor.” Her family opted for her to skip grades but balked at her graduating high school at age 14. “We compromised,” she says. “My parents wanted me to have the social interaction with my peers (although she confessed that they actually bored her silly) but wanted me to be academically challenged. As a result I took college credit hours and actually trained as an LVN while still in high school. I went to high school for two hours a day, and then did two hours in a work study program. It was not perfect, but it worked.”

At the end of the day the best way to nurture your child, whether a genius or not, is to give them as many opportunities to learn and to use their innate talents and gifts as freely and as often as they can. All children have a gift, some are just more obvious than others.