Children who have an IQ of 130 and above are classed as “exceptionally gifted”. But what does this really mean? And how should parents and schools deal with such children?
What is intellectual giftedness?
There is no official definition of giftedness. In general, the term describes a level of intelligence that is a lot higher than average, explains Martina Rosenboom, president of the German Society For The Highly Gifted Child. Many experts use an intelligence quota (IQ) of at least 130 as a cut-off score.
How can you recognise an exceptionally gifted child?
Giftedness may become noticeable at a young age, for example through rapid speech development or a high level of interest in numbers or science. Some children are very knowledgeable, says psychologist Annegret Mahn. “For example, a four-year-old child that can identify all the different dinosaur species could be exceptionally gifted.”
At what age should children be tested?
If parents or teachers suspect that a child is highly gifted, an IQ test does not have to be done straight away. However, if problems arise, such as unusual behaviour, a test can provide clarity and a reason to open discussions with teachers, says Rosenboom.
“However, I always advise parents to put the test in a drawer and get it out only if they feel there is a need to talk about it.” Children who are getting on well at school might feel pressure from the results of the test, with high expectations being placed on them.
What does the test involve?
Psychologists and psychiatrists recommend taking the test at no earlier than four years of age. After a preliminary discussion, the child is tested for his or her intellectual abilities and individual personality profile. The most important thing is that the child is motivated and relaxed during the test.
How can parents encourage and support an exceptionally gifted child?
Depending on the child’s motivation and interests, it might be a good idea to encourage them to take on extra-curricular activities such as music lessons.
Karsten Otto, chairman of the Association For Promoting Exceptionally Gifted Children, recommends signing children up for classes and activities with other gifted kids. Team sports are also a valuable learning environment for children, adds Otto.
How can schools react to the needs of gifted children?
Teachers are responsible for designing classes in such a way that all pupils are adequately encouraged and supported. “In a class with 30 pupils this is easier said than done,” says Mahn.
Skipping to the next school year is not always good for highly gifted children, as it can overburden them socially and emotionally. As a starting point, Otto advises giving exceptionally gifted children extra, more difficult tasks on top of the standard workload, as well as changing some homework assignments.
If this turns out not to be enough, Otto recommends the “revolving door” model. This means children skip to the next school year for certain subjects only. The most important thing, however, is what the child wants. – dpa/Bettina Levecke
To find out more:
National Association For Gifted Children (Malaysia)