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How to raise a two-year-old genius

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

It may sound like a blessing if your toddler is accepted into Mensa, but parents of gifted kids say nurturing them can be 'the biggest challenge in the world' ...Read the full article

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  1. Canuck Abroad from Cyprus writes: If your child is gifted or even a genius then the most important thing you can teach them is emotional intelligence. Introduce them to individual and team sports and other challenges where just being smart is not enough. Humility may be the hardest thing they will ever have to learn, but without people skills they cannot achieve their true potential, and may even fail as individuals if they burnout, opt-out or turn to drugs.
  2. ginny smith from Canada writes: Canuck - the thing is that many gifted children have a lot of humility: they are extremely aware of the world around them and of the space that they take in it. Most are not at all arrogant kids; most have no clue that their intellectual space is well beyond the spaces of their classmates. They are able to see the big picture in ways that other children their age can't even fathom, and in seeing the big picture they also see that they are just one small part of it. The gifted kids I know do not need humility; they have much of that. They do, however, need to find peers who might share some of their talents: often they have a hard time fitting in because there's nobody else who is interested in going as deeply into issues as they are. They will feel left out; they will feel lonely; they will feel as though they don't fit in at all. Ask my son, who was concerned about mortality, the meaning of life, the finality of death and how this played itself out in the human body - when he was four...and who quite happily disappears into long science books and conceptual arguments well beyond his age, but is still, emotionally and psychologically, his own age, and on the young side of his own age.
  3. lets think from Canada writes: We've have 3 of those at home, and it is a challenge to make sure they grow up well adjusted. We try not to have them identified by the public as not to be displayed as 'nerd'/'idiot savants' as in the articles. Fortunately where we live, the school board has a great stream for gifted kids where they can have enriched learning with kids the same age, but it is definitely the exception rather than the rules. I've seen family members burn out/drop out because they were not recognized 30-40 years ago. There are more fortunate drop outs (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs), but I'm sure there are also less fortunates.
    So high IQ is fun and fortunate and definitely a challenge too.
  4. matthew thomas from United Kingdom writes: My worry here is not about truly gifted kids but smart kids being 'hothoused' as a way of satisfying parents questionable goals. The world is littered with 'geniuses' who could not live up to their parents expectations. Why not just raise a two year old? Life is going to be stimulating enough without artificially speeding them up. Maybe we need a new defintion of 'child abuse'?
  5. ginny smith from Canada writes: Matthew - fair point - however, while I don't have hard data to support this, I think you'd find that most parents of gifted children are not interested in 'pushing' their children; for most, it's a case of supporting their children's different intellectual and emotional needs. And allowing them to explore their worlds at the pace that suits them. We had read every single train book - children's and adult - in our local library by the time our son was three. Because he was fascinated by them. And not because we necessarily wanted him to know all the facts...but because he was voracious. He's no longer into trains. Now he's reading about electricity and we're having discussions about electric currents. But he also loves just playing with matchbox cars, or running around in the back yard, or having a discussion about something. And all of those are ok. The only issue that arises is the fact that intellectually he's 1.5 times his age, while emotionally, he's his age. This disconnect is where problems can occur. Because he's got lots of conceptual ability, but doesn't quite have the emotional capacity to deal with it.
  6. Alber Tan from Calgary, Canada writes:
    Sounds like a dangerous concept to discuss with a 2 or 6 year old, when the worst trait that one can have in life is arrogance. (How much genius is there on Wall Street?) Albert Einstein created the physicist Albert Einstein; I think the most you can hope for as a parent is a good person.

    I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
    -Groucho Marx
  7. Eliza Grey from Canada writes: Gifted children have a learning disability when it comes to conventional school. They simply learn differently and because of it do not fit in the mold.
    In the past they pushed you grades ahead so much my father graduated high school at 15. His parents made him repeat grade 13 because they were afraid to send him to university at such a young age. What that does not address is the social aspect of it. You may have advanced knowledge but you are still worrying about spots on your face, will the boy beside me like me and what are my parents wearing today.
    I have raised 3 identified gifted children, it is a challenge. I have been there for the tears and fears as well as the successes.

    At times you have to go out of the school system to satisfy the needs but never forget they are children first and foremost and need to be treated as such no matter how smart they appear.
  8. Eliza Grey from Canada writes: Ginny Smith: This disconnect is where problems can occur. Because he's got lots of conceptual ability, but doesn't quite have the emotional capacity to deal with it.
    *************************************
    You are right on the money on that one Ginny! Smart enough to figure it out but not the consequences.
  9. Nick Beerman from Calgary, Canada writes: I recognize all of the problems in regards to brilliant children. However, as one who has been invited to join Mensa I recommend against it. I find that Mensa is an elitist organization that teaches that members are superior and non-members are not. I also believe their methods of measuring intelligence leave much to be desired.
  10. j m from formerly of North Bay, ON, Canada writes: I was in junior high when my mother received a form letter from the “special education coordinator&8221; for the school district. My mom was confused&8230; I was doing well in school&8230; &8220;Your child has been identified as being..&8221; there at the bottom of the list, below &8220;autistic&8221;, was &8220;gifted&8221; with a check next to it. Mom didn&8217;t see me as being that different &8211; I was just her kid.

    I am fortunate that the schools I attended were able to challenge me.

    I am now in my later 30s; a successful father, husband, and professional..

    To Mr. Nelson and Ms. O&8217;Brian I say &8220;Thank you&8221;.
  11. Rural Nancy from Calgary, Canada writes: I agree with the article that raising gifted kids is a rollercoaster. I agree that teaching humility is not the focus; in our case, nurturing fragile self-esteem is. Our son is perceptive enough to be hyper-aware of his own shortcomings, which cause him no end of anxiety. Arrogance is not usually a problem; he's had many years of being ridiculed by his peers by his fascination with the latest scientific discovery.

    Though I hate labels, 'gifted' kids are different, like many outliers are different. Young kids now know it is not acceptable to make fun of, say, peers with physical disabilities or intellectual challenges. In my experience, though, the school egghead is still fair game. We had two long years at school before our son made a friend, 3 grades ahead of him. Now he is in a congregated classroom where peers accept him. It's brilliant.
  12. The Conservative Liberal from Ukraine writes: matthew thomas you make a very good point. I have a 10 month old daughter and just watching her grow is probably THE most amazing thing in the world. I think that just letting them grow is the best thing for any child. I believe that all children before 2 or 3 are little sponges of information. I think that if we adults can just take the time out of our busy lifestyle to stop and actually listen to what those 2 or 3 year olds have to say they would blow our minds with what they know. I think we have a lot to learn from these children. Sometimes the simple mind has the simple answer we've been searching for.
  13. Ed Op from Canada writes:

    I find it irritating that an article on giftedness trots out the myth that Einstein had an IQ of 160 - he never took an IQ test. I have no doubt Einstein would have scored quite well on such a test, but the fact this myth gets cited illustrates a misunderstanding about genius. While a high IQ can indicate mental ability it doesn't really equate to 'genius' per se. The term genius can only be applied when one has actually achieved something that is wholly outside the normal range of accomplishment. Einstein's a genius, Hawking's probably a genius, Schrodinger too, so is Mozart, Picasso, Michelangelo, da Vinci. Simply scoring high on an IQ test is not the same thing.

    Personally, I score in the 130-140 range on IQ tests and apparently qualify for Mensa, but I can't lay claim to doing anything anyone would call genius.

    As for the bright kids, I hope they learn to keep it in perspective: it's not necessarily what you got; it's what you do with it. I think the hardest thing about being identified as gifted is realizing you still have to put in maximum effort.
  14. ginny smith from Canada writes: Ed Op - where do you get the idea that gifted kids slack off? The majority are so fascinated by the world around them that everything in their lives is a part of the learning and experimenting and ...dare I say it...living process. Their minds are always active; they're always thinking something through; they're always testing their hypotheses. They are filled with a sense of wonder at the world and eager to find out as much as they can. That said...the times that I have seen gifted children slack off is when they decide they're tired of being labelled the class nerd, or the one that doesn't fit in and they purposely decide to disengage their intellect in favour of trying to become popular. And to me, that's tragic. They have so much wonder...and that wonder ends up being lost to peer pressure.
  15. Denbigh Patton from Toronto, Canada writes: Rural Nancy you are right about self-esteem. Your child has the standard emotional need to belong, but there's no compatible community of kids to belong to. It's difficult for most parents to sympathize with this plight, but there's real pain involved for your child.

    There are risks in adolescence, too, because the gifted kid has the standard emotional rollercoaster, but a different intellectual need for ideas, experiences. A very bright kid is more likely to experiment sexually with grown adults IMHO and in my experience.

    Gifted kids ought to have a community of gifted kids, to make compatible friends. Private schools sometimes provide a better environment but the cost is usurious and they are often far away from parents. Gifted schools, within public school boards are a great idea IMHO but in today's political climate this would be labeled Elitist, which for some reason is considered a bad thing.

    When a gifted student hears the phrase 'stop putting up your hand, let the others have a chance' for the fiftieth time, something shuts down inside him.
  16. Bee H from Canada writes: Time for mixed age classes. Clustering children by biological age doesn't only not accommodate their individual pace and desire to learn but also artificially constrains their peer group. Let children just take whatever course they feel able to take and find their own way.
  17. Ingrid Philipp from Canada writes: I suspect all children are born gifted, but only a few get the teachers they deserve. Imagine a system that didn't stream children and gave them all enriched educational (in the full sense of the word, including music, art, writing and dance) opportunities.
  18. Ed Op from Canada writes:

    ginny smith:

    Partly my own experience, partly what I've seen. I don't know about majority, but yes, many gifted kids approach the world with curiosity and energy. I'm just making the point that being bright isn't enough on its own. There's no substitute for hard work. The few Where Are They Now examples at the end of the article tend to support what I'm saying I think. None of those people ended up solving string theory or curing cancer.
  19. will ashling from braintown, Canada writes: Mensa is a clubby joke among the truly gifted. The myth of Mensa is perpetuated by reasonably-intelligent members, who, like most elitists, desire to feel special, remaining above the fray of desperate humanity, isolated from inferior mortals. IQ tests are nothing more than parlor games played by the self-anointed.

    When an organization of natural leaders is created, gifted in multiple traits and experiences, capable of rescuing humanity from its spiral into obscurity, then we will join the celebration of genius.
  20. Miltonian in Milton from Canada writes: Having grown up in the gifted stream, I would recommend all parents not to enroll their children in it. Although I have modestly succeeded at life (I'll have my Ph.D. in a couple weeks) it is in spite of being in gifted classes, not because of it. In my experience 'gifted' classes are largely taught by substandard teachers who like the idea of smaller class and the smaller workload rather than people with any exceptional talents. Gifted classes are simply a tool to make isolating intelligent children easier for other students and help to dumb down the curriculum for other students by removing anyone from the class who may have been interested. Also, the various classes (math, history, geography etc.) are all taught by a single teacher (usually not qualified to teach any of them) rather than by different teachers who at least specialize. As a result of being in 'gifted' mathematics in grade 7 and 8 I almost failed grade nine math because our teacher didn't teach us what we should have been taught. Anyways, my advise to any parent is that the 'gifted' class is much more for your own ego and being able to tell others that your child is gifted, rather than it being of benefit for your child. Have a hard look in the mirror, and let your kid sort it out for themselves in regular classes, and if they're bored let them skip a grade and be challenged that way rather than joining a class that teaches them they are smarter than everyone else, and enforces their isolation. My gifted teachers idea of English class was sitting it the front of the room and reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull rather than teaching us mundane things like what a verb was... no child should be subjected to that. I also remember being told by my teacher that in a room of a thousand people I would be the smartest one there... and needless to say, repeating that doesn't endear you to anyone. Gifted classes are not places smart children should be subjected to.
  21. PrairieHome Companion from Minneapolis, United States writes: Wow is this ever a loaded subject. A few points...
    1/ Gifted is not just neccessariy restricted to doing well on a test. There is musical genius (Mozart), physical genius (Gretzky), mechanical genius (da Vinci), social genius (Mother Theresa) Need I go on? The true genius has the ability, in my experience, to see beyond the trees to the forest. They process faster, see further, conceptualize greater. This is why the gifted have issues.
    2/ One does not get invited to join Mensa Beer Man. One writes a test to see if One qualifies to join of their own free will.
    3/ Finally, after many years of taking part in Mensa events on two continents (including the 50th anniversary celebration with the founder in England) I have NEVER once heard a single Mensan mention their IQ or ask anyone else theirs!
  22. Bad Lady from Canada writes: Poor Ms. Yusof, what a shame.
  23. Neil Fiertel from Spruce Grove, Canada writes: Mensa is a farcical organisation amongst truly gifted individuals who would rather belong to a rugby team than to show up to a meeting of self congratulatory losers who belong to a club that has as its sole criteria passing a questionable proof of intellectual capacity. One need not be a successful intellect..only have the capabilty as determined by the testing. It is frankly pathetic and sad to realise this entity still exists and as a person who has passed such tests but who has rejected membership with intelligent high school dropouts, high performing janitorial freaks and self promoting or sadly, underperforming neurotics I feel that one ought to be warned off from such a clique of non productive and self congratulatory folks. A person who has the intellectual capacity for higher maths, fine arts, music, physics and other high level thinking ought to just learn to do it and stay grounded by remaining in the world of those who might not be as high scoring on an IQ test but whose other capabilities shine in other ways. One ought to realise that IQ does not test so many of the human intellectual potentials that its real use is by the tester who profits from its distribution. For example, composers of classical music score highly on this kind of exam but visual artists do not necessarily. Does this mean that visually high performing people are less intelligent or does this mean that the exam simply does not test the conceptual capabilities of these visually acute individuals? The answer is clear. Music is mathematical, painting is not. Mensa discriminates in choosing what one often refers to as nerdy folks but the nerdy folks most often do not choose Mensa as some of those nerds are incredibly successful as we all know since nerdiness is become fashionable. Mensa however, will never be fashionable as no one likes a loser who touts his supposed high scores unless they can also deliver intellectual success..
  24. jeff w from North York, Canada writes: Slightly gift, is okay, but if they can't learn to be humble about things, than they are poised to fail in life. The key trait to be successful is to be able to pursade people, make friends, have people like you. If you can't do that, it don't matter how smart you are. You're dumb in my book.

    For those ultra gift kids, I feel sorry for them. Having a wonderfully normal childhood, and regular buddies, just hanging out, is more important to me than understanding black holes and being unknowingly arrogant.
  25. Peter R from Mississauga, Canada writes: As someone who also went through the gifted program, I have to disagree with Miltonian. I do agree that these programs have dubious academic value. But the most important thing about them is not what's taught but who's in the program. Surrounding your kid with intellectual peers is the surest way to make sure they remain engaged and excited about learning.

    One word of caution: parents would do well to abandon the cult of intelligence. Telling your kid how special he is makes you feel good but doesn't do him any favours. As parents, your job* is to *socialize your children. No matter where they go, no matter what they do, no matter how smart they are, those are the skills they will need to succeed.
  26. R L from Canada writes: Gifted at two, four or eight or whenever. I disagree with gifted programs having been 'accelerated' at grade 2. By grade 9 the emotional intelligence had not caught up yet and I would have preferred to be in my own age group with kids.
    If one thinks that pulling the gifted child out of a class and throwing them in with other gifted children helps them to succeed, I would disagree.
    Having teachers who can teach to those levels is the real challenge.
    Smaller classes would make the difference in most cases.
    You can always put your child in Kumon, or send them on 'mensa' weekend courses. However you might be better off letting them play in the river valley and get them off the computer.
    As for the 4 year old who was asking about life and death, how about buying them a puppy. Teach them about life.
  27. Dr Batte from Bangor, Maine, United States writes: I was identified as intellectually gifted at a very early age. My mother (a fifth-generation educator) was actually scolded by the principal of the school where I attended kindergarten because her child 'would never adjust.' In fact, I never have. I am now 66. All of my really close friends are 30-60 years younger than I, because people my own age are not intellectually challenging. I teach at a community college and a university. I like the college better, because the university students are already academically motivated, but I can find the magic words for the tech students to ooen up their capabilities. I'm a musician in a band with one woman in her 40s and 4 college students in their 20s. I like playing on MUGs and other comoputer games. I read voraciously, and I have more and better friends than any individual has a right to have. I'm lucky! Was I raised right? I think so. Was I raised 'specially?' Nope. I graduated from grade 12 at age 16 and have never forgiven my mother or the school system for not letting me do it earlier. There was a 14-year-old in my graduating class and a 12-year-old in my entering university class. I felt that I could have competed, but had been held back. But I've done okay. The only person I knew who really tried to excel, burned out and committed suicide before she graduated from college. My grades were always fine, but never superior. I didn't ace the SATs or the College Boards, but I did well in them. I won no undergraduate scholarships, but I did get a postgraduate bursary for performance. Your kids will do just fine. Treat them as human beings. Encourage and bolster them and show your pride in them -- whatever their abilities, and they'll get on very well.
  28. Some Comments from Canada writes:

    I was one of those kids who identified in elementary school and sent off then to the challenging gifted children courses at the big university in town. I am now an adult an on faculty in research at a major university.

    In those courses when I was a kid were dozens of gifted children, selected as the absolute brightest from the best schools in the province.

    My take, having been there, is that there is no single type of gifted kid. I think several writers above make the mistake of talking about so many trends and so many tendencies where, really, nearly no trends exist.

    Some gifted kids are absolutely arrogant and narcissistic, with antisocial traits to boot. And sometimes those kids wind up directing the parents (tail wagging the dog), leading to nasty and maladaptive chemistries for all concerned.

    Some gifted kids are outgoing bundles of sociability, keen to chat with other kids their age about everything from crushes to music to movie stars.

    I think that a lot of the problems for some (badly) sharp-edged gifted children stems not from intelligence, but rather from a failure of their parents to instill in them a basic kindness towards others, a basic generosity in dealing with others, a basic understanding about the importance of being nice.

    Those should be instilled in all kids. For some children, gifted or not, the reason parents fail to instill those qualities stems from psychiatric defects in the children themselves, in the area of personality disorder traits, or worse.

    Remember: There was once a gifted child named Ted Kazinsky. He grew up to be the Unabomber, blowing the hands off of professors in the way of his wants.

    Society does not exist to give gifted children their wants. Nor should it. The best of society is nurturing, the direct, nice, hands-on giving to help others. That best should be encouraged in all children, gifted or not.
  29. Ursula Seawitch from Canada writes: I too am the parent of a gifted child. She is almost finished her undergrad at University and will start Medical School this fall.

    I always told the Gifted program teacher that it was not our job to teach them to be gifted, it was our job to teach them how to be normal. they already know how to be gifted.

    While she always did extremely well at school and at tests, she was very slow to learn to ride a bike, and it took her 3 tries to get her driviers license.

    We found our salvation in high school in the music program. At least in our town, it seemed like the gifted kids hung out at band pratice. But maybe that was because we had a music teacher who had been identified Gifted as well. Thanks Miss M.
  30. Paul F. from AB, Canada writes: Loved the 'where are they now' section. Very interesting.
  31. S Hussain from Canada writes: The 'where are they now' portion was interesting...though, kind of disappointing!
  32. Sandra B from Canada writes: I was a gifted kid, and am now raising one. For better or worse, gifted kids are different and in my experience, finding a school environment that works for them is extremely difficult. She has been in gifted streams, regular classes, 'alternative' programs and now private school. Keeping her in regular classes bored her. Gifted programs were only offered for two hours a week, when she would be pulled from her classroom to participate. The first time I heard her say, 'Mom, come meet my new friend' was at a Gifted Children's Society meeting, and that was when she was in grade four. Imagine your child reaching that age before being able to make friends! She was terribly lonely throughout her childhood because she just didn't fit in. Now we are living on a very tight budget to afford payments for private school, but she is finally happy. The school has higher academic expectations than public school, and she is surrounded by kids who are highly able, in an environment where doing really well in school is the norm (unlike one school where she was advised by another girl to 'dumb it down' if she wanted boys to like her). My job as her mom is to help her find a place where she can grow emotionally and socially. That will give her the foundation to meet her intellectual potential on her own.
  33. ginny ! from Canada writes:
    I like the other 2 year old genius piece in the Globe's video section: even after 4 days, the headline is still 'U.K.'s youngest genious'.

    Ouch. There's clearly some genius lacking somewhere....
  34. Andrea from Vancouver from Canada writes: I was fortunate to be placed in gifted programs where I stayed with children my own age but was given challenges specific to me. Still, it was really hard to be surrounded by children who couldn't connect with me at my intellectual level, It wasn't that I thought I was better than them. It was that I wanted to discuss politics, science, art, reason, engineering, society and so on...with children who just weren't ready to do that. It was socially isolating, even though I was involved in sports, volunteering and other activities. Although I have a rich and rewarding social life as an adult, I have always had to work hard to find people with whom I can have great conversations...and where I don't constantly have to edit what I'm saying. That being said, I didn't learn to read until I was in school, because my parents wanted me to have strong skills in orality -- reasoning, pattern recognition, spatial abilities and so on. I learned to read in Grade 1 and tested at an 11th Grade level the next year. Going to kindergarten and reading is not necessarily a sign of intellectual prowess. In fact, for most children, learning to read early results in gaps in other important skills and most early gains are offset by Grade 2. My husband and I have made the decision to wait to introduce reading until school for our own children...even though they may be brighter than we were. We are finding other ways to challenge them.
  35. Allison Stark from Calgary, Canada writes: When I was in the third grade I was labelled a gifted child, in the top one percent of my peer group intellectually, and with an estimated IQ of 139. Unfortunately the schools I attended, and my home life, were unable to provide me with the educational stimulation that I would have benefited from.

    That said, I was told regularly by my teachers that I was different. It is my experience that children with intellectual talents, as with those with other talents, need to be taught how to relate to others despite their gifts.

    They also need to be taught to that their gifts do not make them better people than their compatriots, rather it is how they use them that defines them as individuals.

    While enriched program both in the classroom and at home can be wonderful, and exceptionally nurturing it is so very important that these programs are complimented with normal childhood experiences. There can be a tendency for others to view these children as merely brains, and not the people they are. A variety of experiences, including learning how to fail, are integral to a child's development.
  36. My eyes are open, Are yours? from Canada writes: I'd like to ask this forum whether my son should be considered gifted. At age 3 he remembered a family friend who had a broken toe, after not seeing him for six months, went up to him and asked 'how is your toe now'.

    At age 7, at a dinner with relatives where he was the only one under the age of 20, he asked, 'who do you think will win the (Federal) election?'.

    To which my Dad asked, 'who do you want to win'.

    And he said, 'The NDP look like they are more for people than money, but the Green party will help the environment'.

    My Dad then asked, 'would you give your own money to these groups if they came to the door and asked you for it', and he said

    'yes, I think it's important to help people and the environment, because if there are no people and no environment, what use is money?'.
  37. Byron Heppner from Winnipeg, Canada writes: I'm not sure that I was ever labelled as 'gifted', but I was consistently at the top of my class academically through high school and university. From my experience, the bigger issue is a profound anti-intellectual bias in the broader society. Take a look at the portrayal of intellctuals in TV and movies, and tell me how many you see who aren't hopelessly clueless eggheads, or evil geniuses (genii?). In general society, kids are not taught to value the contributions of the academically gifted; unless you are good at sports or have that elusive 'charisma', good luck being accepted as a peer. It's not so much hostility that I felt, but rather a lack of common interests--professional sports bore me to tears, but once you join the chess club, goodbye social standing! Add in the fact that the world is run by extroverts, (they're in charge because they're the loudest:) and a kid with an intellectual bent and poor social skills is just ignored socially by the rest of the class. (yes, that was me;) This is a long post to say this--I think the best thing to do is to concentrate on your kid's sense of emotional security, and to support their curiosity. If the kid is confident in their own judgement (socially as well as intellectually), they will be able to take a course that perhaps only they can see.
  38. Fake Name from Canada writes: The IQ test takes age into account, so scoring a high IQ at a young age is really not much more significant than the same result later in life.
  39. Rick C from Calgary, Canada writes: Of course nuturing a child who is a genius or even just really smart is a challenge.

    All the emphasis in our education system is put towards helping out the stupid kids.

    There is very little effort put towards stimulating and maximizing the talent of smart kids.
  40. Rick C from Calgary, Canada writes: Byron Heppner from Winnipeg, Canada writes:

    'In general society, kids are not taught to value the contributions of the academically gifted; unless you are good at sports or have that elusive 'charisma', good luck being accepted as a peer.'

    I agree not enough emphasis is put on academic achievement; but being accepted by peers is more than just charisma or being good at sports.

    Like you I was top of my class in marks from Kindergarten right through Grade 12.

    I was also the most athletic guy in my school.

    I got teased for both.

    Kids will pick on virtually anyone who stands out from the crowd in either direction.
  41. SusieQ 321 from Canada writes: If you have ever hung out with gifted kids it is interesting the way they converse, patterns of speech etc are different. The number of topics they span and the rapid change of topics at times makes hanging out with just average kids seem boring.
    I have two gifted nephews who have very bright sisters but the gals aren't gifted just smart. I love hanging out with all of them and see them change the boys just give you a different perspective, the level of conversation the depth of knowledge the questions that escape their minds.
    I was a gifted child and I have to say I wasn't streamed outside of my age I did have a gifted school once a week where we worked at our own pace determining our own paths with the help of many teachers. It allowed us to excel within that environment and then go back to a normal school and just be kids.
    But I agree the biggest challenge is to channel the child into normal they don't need help to be gifted that just happens. Learning to like fitness or to hang out with their neighbors is what takes the work.
  42. Willy M from Lower Mainland, Canada writes: There are gifted kids and kids with a passion. Each has a deeper well of experience and learning to fill than kids with apparently less potential or interest. Any kid will benefit from more stimulation and involvement - unless it overwhelms them. With gifted or passionate kids - as with any kid - you just have to find the right level, the right balance and keep it up.
  43. Sara Ivany from Canada writes: Being a gifted kid is hard. I was put into special classes in Ontario but when I moved away from there and started attending a new school that didn't have a system for above average kids, I got bored easily.

    I found out recently the school board where I moved did have more rescources at hand but were too lazy to do anything. When I moved into highschool I was too bored and ended up dropping out. I now have my GED and am working on many things. I'd liek to see more programs placed in schools for gifted children and more for those who have trouble with school.

    A lot of children do not get the attention they need from teachers and end up acting out because either they are too bored or they have too much trouble. On both sides, these kids end up on 'at-risk' lists.

    Hopefully in the next few years, we will be able to help students in all realms of society and intellect.
  44. Whatareyouthinking?! ! from Mission, Canada writes: Oh to be able to share the joys and struggles of others who have similar experiences as you, what a treat. As a mother of three gifted children and a teacher it has amazed me at how others react to giftedness. Some seem to believe that they should do more to get the same grade in school, because they can. Others feel they should change their ways to fit in. Teachers become defensive of their methods when some intelligent students don't meet their expectations. Gifted individuals become isolated from peers because they are different. Sometimes they are just ignored. One of my colleagues. a mathematics teacher recently wrote a chapter in her master's disertation entitiled "Giftedness - Why Bother". The premise was that there are so many ways to be gifted, there is no way to group them and they will do well on their own anyway so - why bother. Why are our expectations so out of line. Then there is the envy. If your child an athletic star - great, lets all cheer. If she can win the musical contest or be a top model, great, lets all be her friend. If she is academically inclined - yuck, don't get to close or you might be considered a nerd too. Being teased and bullied because you are good at something is a common reaction to all. This says more to the insecurites of the person doing the teasing than anything else. But it can hurt. We need to focus on appreciating all individuals including the gifted. My father, who too is gifted, always told me - It doesn't matter what you choose to do with your life, it matters that you enjoy it and you try to be the best you can be.
  45. Byron Heppner from Winnipeg, Canada writes: I think what kept me from tuning out and slacking off was personal motivation--I could get good marks without even trying, but my personal quest to get 100 percent on everything kept my attention on school. That, and always having an interesting book at hand to turn to as soon as I finished my work and had a few extra minutes in class. I think a lot of that had to do with family standards--my family simply wouldn't tolerate me or my brothers doing anything less than our best--regardless of whether that put us at the top of the class or not.
  46. S K from Alberta, Canada writes: When I was younger my parents pondered the idea of putting me in a gifted program in High School...but I would have to move to do so, nothing was offered in our town. Some of their friend’s kids were in such programs. In the end I stayed in regular school. When I got to University I was against "gifted" kids....and I was amazed to see that with my average education I could still beat them. What was even more interesting is that I functioned better in the workplace, moving into management because of my communication skills. I remember speaking with a friend who went to a school for 'gifted' kids and he told me how he felt he was ripped off because most of the student didn't socialize naturally and he found it hard to navigate life outside of school and in University. I'm happy I stayed with everyone else. I learned a great deal by tutoring my peers. Did I occasionally get labeled, sure, I still do, that's life and I'm glad that I know how to deal with it. I'm not big on segregating children. There are some positives but I really feel the negatives don't outweigh them. In life these kids will have to put up with interacting with their boring, non-gifted co-workers, they can't avoid it. Better they know how to interact on their level then to become the co-worker who seems arrogant. If they don’t need school to learn Math, Science, English ect… let it teach them how to function in society instead. They can pursue extra interests outside of school…or if their like I was, during the extra class time they have since they’ll be done all their work early.
  47. Lyn Alg from Canada writes: I chortle when I hear parents tell me that they have a gifted child. It appears that there are more gifted children in this world than not. Listening to parents, every parent has gifted children- yea right. The majority of children can be taught to read at three years of age. In fact, it 's easier to learn to read the younger the age. That's a no brainer. Certainly, knowing how to read and/or count in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten is no sign of being gifted. Let's be very clear about a gifted student versus a student who obtains very high marks in high school through sheer hard work. In high school, anyone who is a diligent and hard working can achieve marks in the 90's without any difficulty. However, when that person reaches University, their marks will plunge. I see examples of this year after year. Although that student is probably studying harder than in high school, the curriculum is much much more challenging and requires 'thinking'. This is where the gifted student excels. They possess the natural ability to be able to think clearly, logically, and abstractly. These are not qualities that one may attain or improve on by sheer hard studying. You either have it or you don't. It's nature, not 'nurture'. Are you gifted? Why certainly !!
  48. G Finn from Canada writes: Having worked with "gifted" children, what often happens is that they hit a "wall" - suddenly the content they were able to dazzle with before no longer "cuts it". While they were able to memorize facts about WWII, or match colours to a spectrum within 30 seconds... suddenly they can't make out Shakespeare or do calculus. Then they either panic, or shut down.

    Gifted isn't always for a lifetime...
  49. Broken Record from Victoria, B.C., Canada writes: If you live in a small town with limited opportunites and inputs and you feel your child is "gifted," move to the city. Go travelling if possible, as much as possible. Small towns limit experiences and stunt growth. Children who are felt to be exceptional will be dragged down by their peers and their limited lives and ways of thinking. I've personally seen this happen. Children who could have gone on to great things can grow up in these limited environments not knowing about opportunities the larger world can offer. They will suffer later in their lives when they realise "if I had only known."
  50. Carl White from Canada writes: Society just isn't structured for children like this. And it's not enough to have a swift mind; one needs a passion for a field to really succeed at it.

    Where would Einstein have gone, for example, if he hadn't really been interested in mathematics. Quite possibly he'd have led an obscure life.

    I suspect the best thing the parents can do is just open doors and let the child explore his own interests. If he seizes upon a subject, support his aspirations there. In any case, give his life emotional balance and support, and don't have any great expectations.
  51. Lyn Alg from Canada writes: Well, I guess I've proven my point. Almost every person posting comments to this site considers themselves 'gifted'. Upon reading the responses, I find that very difficult to believe. For one thing, one would be 'hard pressed' to find gifted people on these sites discussing such mundane issues and arguments. Gifted people like myself, spend time discussing esoteric matters that the rest of you Globe and Mail 'gifted' readers could not comprehend. We revel in presenting arguments, pro and con, involving the DNA embedded in the eleventh dimension of string theory or discussing the algorithm controlling the quantum mechanical effects of quarks on nano particles. Simply remember the old adage, ' . .heiferdust baffles brains. .'. Enough said!
  52. S K from Alberta, Canada writes: Broken Record from Victoria, B.C., Canada writes: If you live in a small town with limited opportunites and inputs and you feel your child is "gifted," move to the city. See my post above. I was in that situation and I'm so glad I wasn't moved to the city. I learned a lot more common sense in my town and still realized my potential in University. As long as you're a dedicated parent your child won't lose their drive just because of their location. It might be hard to for parents to hear but if their child isn't a success maybe it's not so much the environment as the simple fact that they didn't have the qualities to be a success .....the majority of people are normal, there's no way around that. Very few people will do amazing things yet a lot of parents believe their children can or could have if only X, Y and Z had been different. The majority of my 'small town' friends have seen more of the world then my 'big city' friends because they have a passion to go beyond the confines of their small town, first to the city, then another province then to another country. City kids, many who live at home until they're 23 now, think the city contains all they need and are less likely to feel an urge to explore beyond. I work with a lot of well travelled girls...who have been shopping in New York and to some all-inclusives in Mexico (oh and Thailand, they love Thailand, loads of other drunk Canadians on a beach). My town friends choose England, Greece, Italy and Germany. And they had to work harder to pay for it themselves since Town kids don't usually live at home until they complete University, it's just not an option. Personally looking at the maturity of my co-workers I would caution against urban parents letting their kids live at home into their twenties.
  53. Reality Checker from United States writes:

    Broken Record from Victoria RIDICULOUSLY writes: "If you live in a small town and you feel your child is gifted, move to the city - small towns limit experiences and stunt growth."

    Laugh out loud.

    Contrary to that bigoted-sounding nonsense, small towns do NOTHING to keep gifted children down.

    Some of the most successful innovators and scientists at the universities came from small town upbringings.

    Examples:

    George Beadle, geneticist, from Wahoo Nebraska
    Jay W. Forrester, inventor, from Climax Nebraska
    Roscoe Pound, legal scholar, from Lincoln Nebraska
    Stanley Stookey, chemistry scientist, from Hay Springs Nebraska
    William H. Gass, philosopher, from Fargo North Dakota
    Ernest Orlando Lawrence, physicist, from Canton South Dakota
    William C. Menninger, psychiatrist, from Topeka Kansas
    Norman Borlaug, geneticist, from Cresco Iowa
    James A. Van Allen, space physicist, from Mount Pleasant Iowa

    Ever heard of the Van Allen belt? Ever heard of Beadle and Tatum's genetics experiments?

    All local boys from little wee towns in the middle of nowhere.

    Indeed, probably half the chemistry professors who taught me at an Ivy League school were raised in small towns in the Midwest and Plain states!

    Maybe small towns let little kids explore and dream and read, uninhibited and safe and free...
  54. Some Comments from Canada writes:

    Lyn Alg from Canada writes: "Almost every person posting comments to this site considers themselves 'gifted'. Upon reading the responses, I find that very difficult to believe. For one thing, one would be 'hard pressed' to find gifted people on these sites discussing such mundane issues and arguments. Gifted people like myself, spend time discussing esoteric matters that the rest of you Globe and Mail 'gifted' readers could not comprehend."

    Um, Lyn Alg, I couldn't help noticing that you, unlike most writers here, have actually posted TWICE. So by your own criterion - that gifted people would not really post here on the subject at hand - I suppose that must mean you are TWICE as stupid as the people you are criticizing.

    If you want more quantitative evidence of intelligence, my scores in the physical chemistry, organic chemistry and biology sections of the medical college admissions test were above the 99.9 percentile, and I am now a young professor in molecular biology at a major university, with three degrees and dozens of publications, at a major university.

    What have you got behind you, numbers-wise, Lyn Alg?

    Incidentally, you sound remarkably like one of those not-nice antisocial kids I mentioned in my post - maybe you were sitting in the next row back then...
  55. Art Vandelai from Burlington, Canada writes: My eyes are open, Are yours? from Canada writes: I'd like to ask this forum whether my son should be considered gifted. At age 3 he remembered a family friend who had a broken toe, after not seeing him for six months, went up to him and asked 'how is your toe now'...

    Loved your post! A wonderful story of gifts that IQ tests don't measure. Congratulations!

  56. Raymond Lowe from Canada writes: "Experts now agree that a gifted child is someone who "has potential in one or more areas of human capacity placing him or her in the top 2 to 5 per cent of children the same age."

    Well, at least that is some progress (beyond such limited conceptions as measuring primarily abstract reasoning ability). Clearly, then a lot more children are 'gifted' - I would say the only ones who really aren't in 'gifted' in some category (assuming we have found all the 'correct' categories - which is unlikely) are those who have a serious mental impairment of some kind.

    Now can we try to make the next leap and recognize the self-evident truth that not all children at a chronological age level will develop their latent intelligence at the same pace - as they are all unique and endowed with unique perspectives, gifts and abilities. Perhaps then we could ask why we insist on grouping children chronologically into classrooms - with little or no interaction between 'grade levels' and when they go for a long 'break' they are automatically (as if by magic) moved up to another 'level'! (with a 'test' or two in between that will of course determine the learning taken place and who's result may or may not even be taken into account)

    Does this make any rational sense? Ultimately, in who's interest are we doing this - ours or the child's?
  57. okanagan pakman from Canada writes: This whole thing smacks of parents convincing themselves that their children are "gifted"....uh-huh...and some don't just have one of their children as gifted....they all are!!...that is just wishful thinking and hubris....IMHO
  58. Bruce Miller from Ottawa, Canada writes: It is disappointing that only one of the previous 60 comments has emphasized the importance of finding an activity for a gifted child which s/he cannot master simply by throwing brainpower at it. Sports and music are the obvious choices. As in the classroom --- and as with all children, not just gifted ones --- a good leader is, of course, crucial. When giftedness is causing a child socialization problems --- in my opinion, the biggest problem of the "severely gifted" child --- activity where s/he advances no faster or slower than all the others is of great benefit.
  59. j m from Canada writes: Lyn Alg from Canada writes: Well, I guess I've proven my point. Almost every person posting comments to this site considers themselves 'gifted'.
    -------------------

    That might be because the headline caught our eyes and we are sharing our personal expereinces. Somebody who has not participated in a "gifted program" or skipped a grade etc. would not likely click on this story.

    If this was a story about laid-off autoworkers, one would expect a lot of autoworkers to be posting.
  60. Canuck Abroad from Cyprus writes: So many gifted children that are adults now, and so many parents of gifted children. Wow. Are you all outstanding leaders in your respective communities now? Fortune 500 CEOs? Professional athletes? Nobel prize winners? Presidents of colleges? Inventors? I stick with my first comments. The most important things someone who is intellectually gifted can learn are humility and emotional intelligence. If you cannot have a normal converstation with another normal person about a normal subject without getting bored and wondering what is the meaning of life then you lack basic social skills. I happen to know a great deal about finance and economics. Every Thursday we have Boy's Night at the local pub. If someone is interested about the global economy or The Great Recession they will ask me my opinion. We will spend a few minutes talking about it, and then move on to other topics. No one wants me to go on for hours about it. So we might talk about football or rugby instead. The most successful people I know are intelligent, but they are not geniuses. They do have emotional intelligence and highly developed people skills though. As someone else said, it is not what you have, but how you use it. If you have to surround yourself and your children only with like-minded people then you really are a loser despite whatever IQ or other gifts you possess. Get over your egos.
  61. j m from Canada writes: Canuck Abroad from Cyprus writes: If you have to surround yourself and your children only with like-minded people then you really are a loser despite whatever IQ or other gifts you possess. Get over your egos.
    ---------------------
    1) I don't think that anybody is proposing full isolation here, your use of "only" implies.
    2) High IQ does not imply low EQ.
    3) My experience in the pub is simmilar to yours, although people seldom ask me questions related to my profession
  62. Canuck Abroad from Cyprus writes: You're right high IQ does not imply low EQ. I am not proposing isolation either, but too many comments were along the lines of it took my child four school years to find her first real friend; my child is bored by other children his age; finally my child is surrounded by other gifted children; which is all well and good if you're looking for a special group where your child fits in rather than helping to teach your child to fit into many groups. I was gifted in subjects like English and History where I scored very high on standardized tests, but well below average in the Maths and Sciences. Ironically, my mother enrolled me in special reading lessons as a child because she thought I was a slow reader because that is what my teacher told her. I simply finished reading first, and then wandered over to the window of the classroom to see what was going on outside. So my teacher also identified that I had trouble concentrating. Duh. On the otherhand I have degrees in science and maths, which were very hard for me, as I was put in the class for dummies during junior high. It may have been Churchill, but someone once said, 'greatness is not only heights achieved, but obstacles overcome.' Getting university degrees in Maths and Sciences instead of staying in my comfort zone were ultimately more satisfying than sticking with what I was good at. Also, as a ski instructor, amoung other hobbies, I often try to learn new sports, such as snowboarding or tennis, so that I can understand how my students feel when they get tired, frustrated or scared. It has been too long since I learned to ski, so that empathy has to come from me trying and failing at other sports. As a Canadian who grew up playing hockey and not soccer I can tell you how frustrating it is to be the worst player on the football field surrounded by friends and colleagues that see you as the worst player, and not as someone who can play many sports very well, just not soccer. Strengths and weaknesses.
  63. Canuck Abroad from Cyprus writes: Booker T. Washington:
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.
  64. Ingibjorg R. Makepeace from Nanaimo, Canada writes: I have been so inspired by the discussion and some of the wisdom in this commentary that I've created a document.
    Reminders such as, "'greatness is not only heights achieved, but obstacles overcome"....

    And...."it's not necessarily what you got; it's what you do with it. I think the hardest thing about being identified as gifted is realizing you still have to put in maximum effort"......

    And....." As parents, your job is to *socialize your children. No matter where they go, no matter what they do, no matter how smart they are, those are the skills they will need to succeed".....

    And...." As parents, your job* is to
    socialize your children. No matter where they go, no matter what they do, no matter how smart they are, those are the skills they will need to succeed".....

    To name a few.....

    Journalist, Author Chris Hedges is contributing to an important dialogue regarding what I think is about how very dangerous our thinking can be when it runs unchecked, gains momentum and gets the gold stamp from some of our worlds influential and powerful 'thinkers'. I celebrate the dialogue I see here sharing the experience and ideas of a diverse group. My belief is that strength and progressive thinking are the result of just this kind of dialogue--on every topic. ! Thankyou all.
  65. Simon Fogel from Toronto, Canada writes: Labelling your child "gifted" is just a fad of pop parenting. Notice how most of the "gifted" 3-year-old have idiot yuppies for parents who just LOVE to shove it in your face. Most of the people I assumed were gifted in high school weren't actually in the program, and most of the people in the gifted program weren't exceptionally smart, just incredibly full of themselves.
  66. PH Sak from Canada writes: Reality Checker from United States writes: Broken Record from Victoria RIDICULOUSLY writes: "If you live in a small town and you feel your child is gifted, move to the city - small towns limit experiences and stunt growth."

    "Contrary to that bigoted-sounding nonsense, small towns do NOTHING to keep gifted children down.

    Some of the most successful innovators and scientists at the universities came from small town upbringings."

    Reality Checker - you are absolutely right. And for examples closer to home, google and behold the accomplishments of 2 Alberta small-town boys:

    Joseph V. Charyk (Canmore, AB)
    Raymond Lemieux (Cold Lake, AB)

    By the way, no one has ever explained why a child, gifted or not, should not learn to deal with boredom. Boredom is a fact of life and sometimes training oneself to think in solitude can result in some amazing things!

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