The World Health Organization considers gifted a person with an IQ above 130 points. A child is considered gifted if he has not only an intellectual capacity higher than the average in approximately 30-40%, (his IQ must exceed 135-150 points, when the average is 100, but it is difficult to measure intelligence in children), he must have as well a good personal motivation, a commitment to the task that he performs and must be very creative. Detection is usually done early, when he is five or six years old and in many occasions it is detected because he is a child with problems in his behaviour and/or in the management of his emotions.
Gifted children are a very heterogeneous group, considering their level of intelligence, this ranges from an IQ of 130 approximately to over 200, while 85% of the gifted intellectually have an IQ from 130 to 145. Above 170 there is only one in 170,000 children.
According to some experts gifted students must be defined according to 3 criteria:
• A significantly above-average intellectual functioning. General intellectual ability is defined with IQ (IQ or equivalent IQ) obtained by the evaluation of one or more standard tests of intelligence, carried out individually.
Behaviour associated to:
• A greater maturity in the processes of information (Visual memory and Visual perception)
• A development of the early Metacognitive ability (approximately since age 6)
• A great innovative capacity in the resolution of problems
• Intrinsic motivation for learning
Intellectual giftedness should manifest itself during the development stage, this means that it manifests from conception until the age of 18.
Around 2% of the population has these characteristics.
A Genious is not borned, it is made
This was Laszlo Polgár’s slogan, father of 3 daughters whom he educated together with his wife in Budapest (Hungary).
Judit learned to play chess through his father, László Polgár, who organized an educational program where chess was present in a preferential place for their daughters. Her eldest sister, Zsuzsa Polgár, is also International Grandmaster and the second, Sofia, is international master. The father insisted that the daughters did not participate in female tournaments, but only in absolutes.
What must parents do?
You suspect that your 2-year-old son is gifted. Therefore before subjecting the child to any test, you as a parent can do much for his intelligence. Because parents are the ones who have more information about their children, therefore they are a key element in the identifying process. Many parents react with fear to the possibility of having a gifted child. They fear that having a child with a superior ability to theirs, they won’t know how to educate him or how to react towards a child with these features. Of course, parents of gifted or talented children always need professional guidance. However, parents are still responsible for this gifted brain to develop in a superior intelligence and there is one thing that neither psychologists, nor pedagogues, nor any person skilled in the art can forge, the emotional support that every child needs from his parents and the key role that they have to exercise in the education of their children.
Many gifted children feel rare and it is the parents’ responsibility to let them assess individual differences as a gift. Teach them that other children have amazing abilities to practice judo or to paint and that they have the wonderful gift of having higher intellectual capabilities than the average. Let them see what is special about being special.
It is important that parents behave with his gifted son as they do with their other children. Avoiding, on the one hand, that they do not «become too full of themselves” or feel different and, on the other hand, that feelings of inferiority or insecurity may not appear in the other children. At home all the children must be equal, even though you must provide the child the opportunity to access those activities that most foster their abilities.
Due to the unusual intellectual curiosity that gifted children profess they are exposed to all kinds of information that quite often can disorient or destabilise their emotional balance. Of course, they are able to intellectually process any information, including that related to death, accidents, or natural disasters, however, they are not capable of processing this information or experiences emotionally speaking. In these cases, parents should be nearby, consoling him, reassuring them and using dialogue as a means to help them understand and assimilate emotionally this type of events.
• Let your gifted child know that you value his/her academic achievements
• Help your gifted child to develop his/her language skills well
• Parents that create family bonds at home to help their gifted children develop a positive image of themselves
• Help your gifted child understand that his/her future may be bright with preparation and work
• Parents should be involved at school and extracurricular activities of their gifted children. Always encourage the «social bond» between the school and the family. This will help your child grow up with confidence and appreciation in himself/herself.
Kim Ung-yong (1963) is a Korean civil engineer who was a prodigy child. Kim was mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records under the heading «the highest IQ» with a score of 210. But Guinness publishing house removed this category in 1990 after concluding that intelligence tests were not sufficiently reliable as to deserve to be inserted in the book. Today Kim Ung-yong is 51-years-old and is still a prodigy as a professor at the Technological University of California.
Some IQ Tests for Children
There is great controversy around intelligence tests. How to really know tests evaluate what they say they evaluate? One of the major questions refers to the fact that IQ tests can be influenced by prior learning and school readiness. Children who have different cultural backgrounds may lack the experiences of those for which regulations were based in for the development of tests. The suspicion that these tests may not be fair has made them less applicable.
The most commonly used tests for children are:
• Stanford-Binet, which is a classical proof that puts the spotlight on verbal ability and prior learning.
• Weschler, scale of intelligence for students in preschool and primary school, the school version of this test contains verbal and performance scales.
• MC Carthy, is very similar to the one of Weschler, but also includes a test of motor development (throwing an object, jumping on one foot…) and a section to measure memory.
• ABC, offers a profile to diagnose the style of learning rather than the IQ. It is the first test of individual intelligence that was created, was designed to assess «the ability to reason» and is based on theories that establish different learning styles in the right and left hemisphere: simultaneous and successive style.
• Bayley, the most used test for young children. Consists of 163 topics for infants 2 to 30 months old and verifies the visual, auditory and tactile capacity, comprehension and use of language, memory (for example, where the toys are hidden), the perception and interaction with imitation of adults.
• The test for the detection of gifted which concerns us, is based on two of the most ancient techniques for detecting gifted, namely, precocity and observation.
o The earliness with which certain children manifest behavior that is a general characteristic of older people, was the first thing that caught the attention in the gifted, and the cause, in short, that they are called «gifted». Certainly the well endowed children are usually precocious, but this does not necessarily mean that the inverse is also true. Earliness may be the indicator of natural superiority, but it can also be the result of forcing, by excessive stimulation of the medium. On the other hand, some gifted children do not manifest their actual superiority but from a certain age. And finally, there are also cases of unilateral earliness, where one finds, for example, an imbalance between mental development on the one hand, and the psychic or social on the other. Moreover, while it is true that most of these early children maintain their superiority in later ages, others, on the other hand, end up approaching the average. (R. De Craecker, “Les enfants intellectuellement donés”, París, Press Universitaires de France, 1951). Since our Test questionnaire is based primarily on earliness (as we will see in its later description), the criticisms here aimed at this approach, must be applied harshly to that instrument.
o The observation as a technique of identification of the gifted child, is usually understood as an observation of the pedagogue who takes care of the child in question. It is, in fact, one of the oldest techniques for the detection of the child. Already in Terman’s work (1921), teachers were asked to indicate which were the three most intelligent students of each class. (Andreani, O y Oriio, S.”Las raíces psicológicas del talento”. Buenos Aires, Kapelusz, 1978). This second technique, the pillar of our instrument under study, is also not exempt from criticism, but we expose it in a later section. As already indicated, a great variety of instruments designed specifically to identify gifted have recently been created. For a review of this topic, which escapes the limits of this heading, refer to Chapter 15 «Tests for Highly Gifted Subjects» in «The Psychological Tests» by Adgar Austey, Madrid, Marova, 1976. See also the chapter «Other Techniques of the Study of the Gifted Child» in «The Gifted Child in the Common School» by M. Scheifele, Buenos Aires, Paidos, 1964.
Questionnaire to Intuit if your child is gifted
If you believe that your child’s intelligence, after everything explained above, exceeds the average, fill out this questionnaire, devised by Dr. David Weeks, which includes a wide range of features, lines of conduct, preferences and attitudes. Remember that it is an approximation to the knowledge of whether your child is gifted because the diagnosis, only an expert, and after several tests done individually to your child, can offer it.
Answer all the questions
0, never/it’s not the case
3, some times/in a certain way
6, always/it’s him/her
• My child is hyperactive, but does not suffer from excessive free activity.
• My son understands difficult ideas for children his age.
• My son wants to deepen on the knowledge of the world around him.
• It is clear that my son enjoys daydreaming. My son likes to be different.
• My son thinks people should be more concerned about people.
• My son is not shown self-conscious, but open with adults; I actually think he prefers them to children. He relates with people older than him.
• My son is talkative
• When he is banned one thing in particular, my son endavours to do it.
• My son’s abilities could awaken the envy of the other children.
• My son shows a strong inclination for academic activities.
• My son is anxious to learn more things.
• My son likes solving difficult puzzles for other kids.
• My son uses a vocabulary that’s not common for his age.
• My son doesn’t mind at all staying alone.
• My son likes to learn about men and women who are famous for their ideas on various topics.
• My son feels an insatiable curiosity.
• I’d say my son thinks independently.
• My son is more sensitive than most of the world around him.
• My son does much more than is expected of him.
• My son does not seem to feel anxiety or small fears.
• My son is already able to freely express unpopular opinions.
• My son doesn’t enjoy certain things at school.
• My son loves dismantling things to see how they work.
• My son started drawing and reading very soon and still enjoys these activities.
• I think my son uses his solitude in a constructive way.
• My son seems to grasp abstract ideas from an early age.
• My son tells me his dreams without hesitation.
• My son spends hours studying without anyone telling him.
Add it up. A score above 118 indicates good endowment and creativity.
Documentary carried out by the provinces on the problems of the parents with a gifted son and how to overcome them (7 min.)
The Smartest Spaniard
Marta Eugenia Rodríguez de la Torre is the smartest woman in Spain with an IQ of 218. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojfQD45n7qw She has 26 university degrees, and is the founder of Sapientec, a scientific learning method whose objective is to impart techniques and tactics for people to capture, assimilate and communicate information without difficulties. http://www.sapientec.com/index.php?language=es
C/ Guzmán el Bueno 9, 5º Dcha. Ext.
Telf.: 91 543 18 45 / 91 445 19 44
Móvil: 670 32 84 42
And also founder of Babysapien, a polysensory method that uses the view, ear, touch and smell as an access door to the brain. It strengthens all the mental functions involved in learning (capturing-processing-communicating) and in psychomotor skills.
c/Ferraz 61, Bajo derecha
915440512 / 914451944/ 680177099
She has also written: “Babygenio: estimulación temprana de la inteligencia”, editorial Laberinto.
Different terms around gifted
Different definitions and approach to the subject of the superendowment according to María Peña Fernández’s doctoral thesiss titled “Socio-emotional characteristics of the gifted adolescent people. Psychological adjustment and denial of the superendowment in the concept of themselves.”
«But, according to Benito (1994a), at the Toronto World Congress, it was concluded that the lack of consensus in the definitions of gifted is one of the triggers of the absence of social sensibility and the emergence of erroneous beliefs of great social transcendence, like those that defend that the attention to the gifted favors elitism.”
A clear example of this situation is found in the Spanish panorama, where we notice an indistinct use of multiple terms. Thus, among the most used meanings are those of «gifted», «overgifted», «well endowed» and «person with high capacities». At the same time, other concepts emerge that contribute further to favouring this terminology confusion, adding new nuances to the previous ones. These include: «brilliant,» «precocious,» «genius,» «prodigy,» «talented,» «creative,» «exceptional,» «wise,» etc.
According to some experts (Hume, 2000;) (Pérez and Domínguez, 2000), the conceptual confusion has its roots in the incorrectness when translating the English term «gifted» into our language. Thus, gifted comes from gift, which means «gift or dowry», being the most appropriate translation of the term gifted «endowed», and not gifted, translation which, however, we have adopted in our language.
In this sense, we can say that the most used term is «gifted». From our perspective we consider that, most likely, in the popular knowledge there are associations, connotations and prejudices like those mentioned previously, that have been assumed almost unconsciously.
In the same way, also in the English literature a great proliferation of terms related to the phenomenon of the gifted is appreciated. Among them are frequently used the following: Gifted, talented, bright, high ability student, exceptional children or children with exceptional abilities, high intelligence children, genius, highly gifted, extremely gifted, etc.
According to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (2001), the term «talent» comes from the Latin talentum and, among the meanings related to the topic that concerns us, we find:
«Intelligence (ability to understand);» Aptitude (capacity for the performance or exercise of a profession); «Intelligent person or suitable for a particular occupation» (p. 2,126).
And, more specifically, the expression of talented would mean:
«who has talent, wit, capacity and understanding» (p. 2,126).
In the specialized literature on the subject it is generally admitted that a talented or talented person would be the one that shows a very outstanding aptitude in one or several subjects and therefore has the capacity to show a very superior performance in them. As stated by Acereda (2000):
«A first difference with regards to gifted would be that, while the gifted has cognitive structure and information-processing capabilities that are adaptable to any content, the talented one presents a combination of cognitive elements that make it especially suitable for a specific theme «(p. 36).
In the same way, Reyero and Touron (2003) maintain that, from the seventies and throughout the twentieth century, the paradigmatic change of the talent superendowment is produced.
It seems that the concept of «talent» currently enjoys greater diffusion and is being subject of more research and study, which is strongly related to the evolution of the theories of intelligence, because, as Jiménez points (2002), «the Concept of superendowment has evolved closely linked to the concept of intelligence «(p. 226).
But as talent is embodied in a concrete area of knowledge or human awareness, for the description of these talents we will use one of the most recognized intelligence theories at present, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (1983, 1993a, 1993b).
In theory Gardner (1983) defends the existence of seven different types of intelligences: spatial, logical-mathematical, linguistic, musical, kinesthetic-bodied, intrapersonal and interpersonal. This theory expands the range of intelligences described to date and also implies a paradigm shift, as it argues that academic intelligence, which until then was the only type of intelligence considered, may be unimportant for the development of many capacities. In addition, this new conception of intelligence implies the consideration of the different types of intelligences as metaskills that can be developed, while explaining the intelligence from a structural, functional, dynamic and adaptive model. As the author points out, we can distinguish the following talents in relation to the seven types of intelligence mentioned above (see Figure 1.1).
As recorded by the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (2001), the word «precocious» comes from the Latin praecox, praecocis, and is designated with such an attribute to all that person.
«That at a short age shows moral or physical qualities that are usually shown later, and par excellence, in relation to talent, acuity, courage or other estimable value» (p. 1,819).
According to experts in evolutionary psychology, we are facing a precocious child when he has manifested a greater development than expected in a certain domain from the evolutionary point of view, given its chronological age. But not all gifted ones are precocious, and not all precocious children are gifted. In this sense, it has been found in the gifted children, an early, normal and even late development (Benito, 1994a; Tannebaum, 1997).
• Verbal Talent
People with this talent manifest an exceptional capacity in the development of the skills and resources involved in both oral and written language and possess high linguistic intelligence. They feel a great interest in activities such as reading, writing, learning other languages, poetry and debate. Among the people who excel for their high verbal talent we can find figures belonging to the world of narrative, poetry, journalism and politics.
• Mathematical Talent
These people are characterized by their great ability to compute, solve problems and develop complex mathematical operations, and have a good intelligence logic-mathematical. Their interests are related to the handling of numbers, the generation and resolution of logical problems, the establishment and confirmation of hypotheses and, finally, enjoying logic-mathematical games. Among those who stand out for their mathematical talents are engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists and scientists.
• Artistic Talent
Individuals with high artistic talent have a good ability to observe, show an optimal development of visuospatial skills and have great spatial orientation. They don’t find it difficult to decipher maps, charts and diagrams and are often characterized by showing unconventional approaches to the phenomena and problems, so that it could be said that they consider things from another perspective. Ultimately, they feel great interest in drawing, sculpting or reproducing objects, so it is common to find sculptors, architects, photographers and art critics in this field.
• Psychomotor Talent
These people have a good intelligence of kinetic-corporal type and therefore they usually have a good coarse and fine psychomotor coordination. In the physical work tasks of these people we observe dexterity, rhythm, equilibrium and dominance. Among these talented people we can find figures that belong to the field of art, dance and sport, fundamental reason why among them also actors, athletes and dancers stand out.
• Musical Talent
People with musical talent are characterized by high musical intelligence; this is related to having a good rhythm, tone and timbre, as well as a very developed sensibility for the understanding of the meaning and sense of the musical pieces. His interests are very similar to collecting music, playing musical instruments, singing and composing musical pieces. Among the members of this field of talent we find mainly musicians, singers and composers.
• Social Talent
People who enjoy good social talent would have a good combination of intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence. Thus, we could define them as very introspective people, with a high emotional awareness and with the ability to express emotionally what they feel and experience through both verbal and non-verbal communication. They can show high endowments of empathy, leadership and ease of social relationships. Professions related to the intrapersonal and interpersonal domains of the intelligence would be, among others, those of psychologist, pedagogue, teacher, social worker and politician.
• Scientific Talent
The scientific talent is present in subjects who feel a great interest to know the world and the environment that surrounds them. They tend to enjoy the generation and refutation or acceptance of hypotheses on the nature of things. They have a high naturalistic intelligence linked to the ability to observe the environment and the recognition and classification of plants and animals. In general, their interests are focused on the environment and therefore enjoy activities carried out outdoors.
However, according to the scholars, most of the gifted ones show earliness in the psychomotor and language area (Benito, 1994a; Landau, 2003). Prematurity would in many cases be the anteroom of the superendowment. This is one reason why earliness is also a diagnostic criteria to be considered in the identification of gifted children.
However, in the case of early children, the competition of other characteristics is necessary for the appearance of the superendowment. That is to say, the incipient manifestation of an earliness is not enough to assume that later this will result in superendowment. In fact, many early children, as time goes through, end up showing a homogeneous development with respect to their age group, then disappearing their earliness. Therefore, it is especially ill-advised to conjecture early and risky diagnoses on the basis of the syllogism «if earliness, then superendowment», because when such precociousness disappears the child can suffer important emotional consequences as a result of the influence of the expectations generated both by its environment and by itself on its supposed exceptional capacity.
Also, together with the problem of earliness we find a compromised subject: the controversial environmental over-stimulation. Sometimes the difference between natural prematurity and environmental over-stimulation is not clearly defined by the child’s immediate environment. Thus, when a child grows up in a socio-cultural environment full of opportunities, in which the family also has the intention of promoting progress and progress in the early development of its capacities, we can find difficulty in concluding whether it is an early child because of his or her own early development or rather due to the influence of the family and cultural environment.
In the dictionary of the Spanish language of the Royal Spanish Academy (2001) it appears that the term «prodigy» comes from the Latin “prodigium” and comes to mean:
«Strange event exceeding the regular limits of nature; rare, special or gorgeous thing in its line; miracle (made of divine origin); person who possesses a quality in an extraordinary degree» (p. 1,839).
Likewise, by «prodigious» (which comes from the Latin prodigiosus) we have found in this same source:
«Wonderful, extraordinary, which encloses prodigy in itself; excellent, skilful, exquisite «(p. 1,839).
In the field of study of the gifted, it is accepted that the term «prodigy» would be reserved for those individuals who show exceptional performance for their age in a specific area (art, music, physics, literature, etc.). It may be appropriate to make a clarification between early child and prodigy, given that, conceptually, both terms can save some similarities and may lead to confusion.
The precocious child shows an early development of some of the learning and achievements related to the various evolutionary stages (development of the speech, beginning of the reading, etc.). On the contrary, the prodigy equates and, on many occasions, surpasses the own performance of adulthood in a specific domain of human knowledge. The key, in this case, is in exceptional performance, which differs significantly from superior performance only.
The difference between talented and prodigy could also be addressed in this section, because, even when they are different concepts, they are related, and the establishment of a clearly differentiated boundary is not easy. In this way, as we mentioned before, when we are before a talented person we refer to the presence of a very prominent aptitude in one or more subjects where it shows a superior performance. However, the prodigy is one who presents exceptional performance given his chronological age in an area or subject. That is to say, the prodigy not only performs an extraordinary performance, but also does so at an age in which such performance is not expected, which would not happen with the only talented person.
According to the Spanish Royal Academy (2001), «Genius» (whose root is genius), in its meanings more akin to the scope of study of the gifted, means:
«Extraordinary mental ability to create or invent new and admirable things; person endowed with this faculty. Calderon is a genius. Peculiar nature or condition of some things. «The genius of the tongue.» (p. 1,130).
According to experts on the subject, the outstanding personalities that have been given the attribute of genius have been those that have been characterized by high intellectual capacity and creative production. In this sense, it becomes necessary, to consider a person as a genius, when the creation of what is called a great work has taken place. The value of his work and, therefore, the consideration of whether it is truly creative, will depend on the sociocultural context in which the genius is immersed.
Nevertheless, the genius has been considered, on the one hand, from a purely psychometric perspective, of high intelligence and, on the other, from an approach more related to the development of creative products (Cajide and Porto, 2003).
The percentage of the appearance of a genius in the normal population is much more scarce than that of the gifted. As researchers point out, it is necessary the coalescence of many factors in order for a genius to appear.
Thus, in one of Benito’s work (1994a) this issue appears when the author raises the question of whether it is possible to create a genius. In his argument about it, he points to the following:
«In order for a genius to emerge, a series of determined circumstances must take place at a sociocultural level, at a level of intelligence and creativity, and motivational characteristics, temperamental and a determined personality, factors that in their interaction, are very difficult to handle, not to say impossible» (Benito, 1994a, p. 82).
Representative examples of the genius can be found in the life and work of personalities like those of Einstein or Leonardo Da Vinci. An interesting work that addresses the theme of genius is that of Gardner, under the title Extraordinary Minds (1999). In it, the author presents us a typology of four great types of extraordinary minds, using four relevant and well-known figures: the Master (Mozart), distinguished by his extraordinary capacity for the learning and development of a superior performance in the selected field, being also self-taught; the creator (Freud), who is able to anticipate his time and develop theories or novel theoretical frameworks that assume new considerations of the phenomena studied that break with the traditional paradigms; the introspective (Woolf), highlighted by his ability to reflect and analyse his own experience and experiences, using these as a source of knowledge of the human being; and the Influencer (Gandhi), capable of mobilizing, driving and influencing other people towards a new consideration of the world, of man and of life.
The Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (2001) defines us the term «gifted» as:
«that possesses qualities that exceed the normal. It is especially used referring to the intellectual conditions «(p. 2,109).
As can be seen, the significance attributed to the term gifted in our language is vague and intangible, because it does not specify to what extent they must exceed the normal or what qualities are those susceptible to manifest superendowment. Thus, this definition would be worth to allude to a talented person, as the concept was presented in the previous section. Thus, far from helping to clarify and expose the reality of the gifted people, it helps to favor their indefinition and ignorance from the social bosom.
«That person with an intellectual capacity higher than the average (at the psychometric level above 130) observing cognitive differences at both quantitative and qualitative levels, greater maturity in the processing of information (perception and visual memory),» Development of metacognitive capacity at an early age (about 6 years old) and insight into problem solving, high creative skills, intrinsic motivation for learning, earliness and talent. (Benito, Y., 1999, pag 152)
One of the frequent issues in most of the disquisitions on the identification and diagnosis of gifted persons has to do with the percentage that exists in the population. According to Benito, in statistic terms, 3% of the population can be considered gifted, although for some scholars this percentage amounts to 15%, whereas for others it only reaches 1%. This assertion derives from the fact that the diagnosis of superendowment will be greatly influenced by the fact of where we place the cut-off point quantitatively speaking. There are large differences and population implications and, consequently, psychopedagogical, between considering the percentage of gifted in 15%, or on the other hand, placing it in a conservative 1%.
However, researchers in this field currently transcend the psychometric criteria of intelligence to define the gifted from a more multidimensional view of the concept. Thus, in the more multi-dimensional definitions of the term «gifted» there are contemplated evolutionary aspects, psychometric, creative, behavioral, social and affective. We will have the opportunity to expose these in the section “Models of study of the Gifted.” This more holistic consideration of the phenomenon implies a more complete and deeper approach to the reality of the gifted person and allows a greater success in the diagnosis and identification of the children with high capacities.
Sternberg (1997a) asserts that for most of the past century the gifted have been defined from a one-dimensional level, where the main measurement index has been the IQ or intellectual quotient, considering therefore as a distinctive feature of the gifted only its psychometric and cognitive aspects. Thus, it has been incurred and it is possible to continue incurring in the conceptual error of equating gifted to intelligence. This constitutes a terminological incorrectness, because the amplitude of the gifted level cannot and should not be limited to only one of its constituent elements. Thus, we know that it is now accepted by the scientific community the need to carry out multidimensional diagnostics to get closer to a more valid and reliable measure. The multidimensional perspective of the gifted will be analyzed from the models of study of the gifted that we present in the next section of this chapter.
Observable features in a gifted child are multiple; none of them, in itself, is enough to talk about gifted. There is a need for interaction between traits such as the following:
• They understand and easily remember what they learn.
• Easily remember details
• They have a broad, advanced and rich vocabulary.
• They quickly understand relationships and abstract ideas.
• They enjoy solving problems.
• They have great concentration capacity.
• They like working independently.
• They’re great readers.
• They reject repetition and routine.
• They enjoy challenges.
• They have high expectations for themselves and others.
• Have great leadership skills.
• They have a high sense of justice.
• They learn very quickly and have an excellent memory for what they are interested in.
• They usually start to read very soon and with little-or no-help. They like to consult reference books, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias.
• They are very curious and ask questions constantly.
• Although they have many and varied interests, there are one or two subjects that take most of their time.
• They’re very independent.
• They want to know the reasons for the situations, especially the unwanted.
• They don’t like to submit to authority, they can be non-conforming and very disobedient.
• They can excel in one or more subjects, and usually perform very well in school if they are properly motivated.
• Some are very creative (although it is worth noting that creativity is not necessarily linked to intellectual superendowment).
Students with intellectual overendowment may manifest disabilities in different areas, such as dyslexia, such as Edisson or suffering from the disorder of Gilles de la Tourette as Mozart.
Other current genious are:
• Christopher Hirata, the youngest winner to get a gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad in 1996 when he was 13 years old.
• Terence Tao, an Australian who has a coefficient of 230 and with 24 years was Professor of Mathematics at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
In some cases, overendowment may present disadvantages:
• Gifted children generally have better academic grades than the average, but up to 50% of them fail school because they get bored.
• Many gifted people are introverted.
• Some intellectually gifted people are socially funded (see Asperger’s syndrome).
• Gifted people seem to be more prone to allergies and myopia.
• 48% of Madrid’s high-capacity children have average grades and even fail in high school.
• School failure is around 17%.
• When a gifted child is not being suitably intellectually stimulated, behavioral problems may appear in response to the frustration he is experiencing. These problems can be of an aggressive nature (the child shows signs of violence, both verbal and physical, a strong rebellion, he systematically refuses to follow any kind of rules, etc.) or passive (live in a fantasy world, avoid contact with people, he does not defend himself if someone insults or beats him …). In these cases, especially if the problems take place at school, you should talk to those responsible to find a possible solution – in extreme cases you will have to consider changing school. Normally, when a child is given some kind of enrichment activity, the problems tend to disappear on their own.
Mistaken beliefs about the gifted
• Gifted children always get the highest grades. Not necessarily. Some gifted, used to pass the first courses without any effort, do not learn to develop a study habit and may even be convinced that studying is not worth. As the course progresses, subjects become more extensive and difficult, and they cannot be passed without spending several hours of work. The lack of a study habit makes it more difficult for a gifted to prepare a test than other children who are used to studying from an early age, and that is why school failure is not uncommon among children with high capacities.
• The gifted do not need help at all; they can manage everything on their own well. It may seem this way, but it’s not true. Additional intellectual stimulation is needed to prevent them from getting bored. In addition, they should relate to other people of similar mental ability so that they do not end up shutting themselves down.
• Intellectual overendowment is something that must be envied. Being smarter than the average is not a greater cause for envy than a slender body or a well-ringed voice can be. A high intelligence is a skill that is useless if not used. And, like everything, it has advantages and disadvantages.
• If the gifted are grouped or included in special educational programs, they will become an elitist group. A group of gifted in a school would not be more «elitist» than the volleyball team or the choir of a parish. Grouping children and young people according to their skills to learn from each other does not make them «vain», but in people aware of their skills that, in the future, will be able to use their skills for the benefit of society.
• Gifted children don’t know they’re different until someone tells them. False. From an early age, gifted children are aware of the differences from other children their age. According to each person’s personality, they will interpret this difference as a quality or – unfortunately in most cases – as a «flaw to be corrected.» Parents and educators who guide children in this situation should focus on making them aware of their capacities and to develop them in an appropriate way.
• Against what many people think, it is not to be done anything special if you have a gifted child. It is enough motivating him to learn. There is no need to go crazy looking for twenty tutors and thirty-eight mentors, or go crazy enrolling the child in a thousand academies «to perform according to his potential»; and even less to discourage him. A gifted child is not a puppet; he is a child like any other, but he has different educational needs. However, different or not, you have to meet those needs in a proper way.
• It is so damaging to force a child to learn to play the violin if he does not like music as consistently responding to his questions with a «you will learn that when you’re older.»
• It is important to note that not all gifted children need help. Many of them are well adapted to their environment and do not need to be given special treatment.
Examples of smart questions and answers
Although the superendowment is not usually detected until he turns five years old, there are symptoms that can alert parents when the child is younger than that age. For example, the capacity of the child to solve the problems by procedures other than those used by other children, by improper responses of his age or by an unusual impatience to collect information.
These are some examples gathered by specialists in these cases.
• How do people know the way to go to Heaven when they die, if they don’t know before they die? (2 and a half years old).
• What’s a book made of? It’s made of brain (2 years old).
• What are senators and deputies for? So that we don’t have to worry about doing politics (6 years old).
• Why are bad guys sent to jail for? So that they do not harm the good ones. (4 years and two months old).
• Does blood go very fast? (3 years old).
• Where’s grandma’s dad? (2 years and two months old).
• Where do the popcorn go when I eat them? (2 years and two months old).
Gifted and Creative child features
Here are some characteristics of gifted children which, according to Torrance, are common to every creative person. Guilford considers these same qualities part of what he calls creative thinking:
• They have a great flow of ideas: the production of a great number of ideas around the same subject. Ideas flow continuously. They have a great wealth of ideas, and they are flexible in thinking. They come closer and closer to the bottom of the problem they analyze. They think about it until they have the saving idea.
• They always have in view the solution of the problem, and also the ability to follow simultaneously several possible approaches. They don’t cling to any of them prematurely.
• They are original: they have unusual ideas, original and more surprising ideas than non-creative ones. They usually see unusual perspectives.
• They have the facility of communicating ideas by getting them to explain them in detail.
• They have the ability to maintain an openness to information and new ideas to allow for original solutions to emerge.
• They have the ability to express sensations and feelings through verbal and non-verbal means.
• They can reflect very quickly and easily. They use objects in a new way. They can make your ideas move from one field to another faster and more often.
• They have a subtle sense of humour. Creative children are characterized by their developed sense of humour, they retain a playful attitude, even when studying.
• They possess great richness and imaginative quality. Creative children have a high sensitivity, even hypersensitivity and show a flourishing imaginative activity (imaginary playmates, personal diary, write verses, invent games and toys, etc.). It can happen that they daydream at school. They invent new games, often have fun playing alone. They play with intensity (they are particularly amused in the games where transformations take place).
• They are tolerant to ambiguity: (It is one of the most important). We can define it as the ability to live in a dark problematic situation and work, couragiously, to dominate it. Unlike most people who endure little time stress before an unresolved problem and resign, the creative, on the contrary, can endure for a long time the insolubility of a problem. This feature depends a lot on age.
• Other nuances that outline their way of being: they tend to be very sensitive, hypersensitive, intuitive, highly curious, possess a high degree of energy, invent new games, often have fun playing alone. They play with intensity (they are particularly amused in the games where transformations take place); Creative individuals tolerate disorder more than those who are not. Creative children can make life interesting for the rest of the family because they give a new perspective to regular thinking.
A child who uses socks or towels like hats or a child who skis in the kitchen with wood attached to his or her feet with tape or a child who builds all kinds of craft with a lot of detail with disposable material can give more enthusiasm to everyday tasks.
Creative children also demonstrate creativity in daily conversation and in their answers to the questions they are asked.
According to some experts creativity is not only related to the mind, the human being is a whole psychic unit.
If creativity is not accompanied by certain character features, lasting and efficient results can hardly be achieved. There is no doubt that creativity constitutes an important intellectual component, but the question of its nature has not yet found a definitive solution.
Teaching the gifted
Dr ESTEBAN SÁNCHEZ MANZANO, professor of the Complutense University of Madrid, understands that at least three conditions should be given so that the gifted child could adequately express his capacity in the classroom, and be able to be identified by the teachers.
Positive attitude of the teacher towards the child gifted
The teacher is one of the most determinant factors in the teaching learning process. The attitude of the teacher is a very important key. In professional practice with parents of gifted children, I have been able to see that, not always, teachers take a positive attitude towards a gifted child, but in some cases they try to avoid what might be thought to be a problem. This attitude influences the child’s school performance negatively. The flexibility of the teacher in methods and programs will help, more or less capable children, in the development of their curriculum.
Training of teachers in the education of gifted children
Witmore (1988) has said that teachers can become good identifiers of the gifted with low performance, if they are formed to recognize critical indicators
Individual curricular adaptations in the classroom.
Attention to diversity requires that curricular adaptations be made, taking into account the capacities of each student and their peculiar characteristics.
As the gifted is different, the curriculum should be different.
These adaptations must be made in the basic elements of the curriculum:
• What to teach or the subject to teach, which for the gifted has to be broader in depth and breadth
• How to teach or the methodology used. How good it would be to gifted the exhibition of the subjects in a creative way! (Gifted do not like so much reproducing — it bores them—, but to produce).
• When to teach or relative to the teaching time. The current law allows the gifted child to be accelerated in two courses during compulsory education.
• What, how and when to evaluate.
Educational programs for gifted students
Heller (1997) has said that in order to optimally develop the capacities of the gifted, they need to be encouraged (see, also, Weinert, 1992). Some indicators of the high capacities are: cognitive curiosity, interest to know and need to explore.
It has been observed that from the first years of life, these children try to actively influence the learning environment in order to satisfy cognitive and emotional needs. The direction of development depends on the conditions of the environment to learn. The school is therefore essential to the progress of students.
In the following scheme are exposed the mutual influences and relations of the capacities and the environment to learn.
Multidimensional, typological model of giftedness (by Heller & Hany, 1986; Heller, 1991, 1992b; Perleth & Heller, 1994).
It is possible to summarize in three models the different programs that have been applied in the education of gifted children:
Grouping consists of segregating children from children of their age to give them specialized education. It is based on the formation of homogeneous groups, taking into account the capacities, and not the age.
In general, this type of schools, specialized in gifted children, are not well seen, since it is thought that, not only capacities must be taken into account, but also psychological and social aspects. Boxtel (1992) said that an inquiry by the Council of Europe recommended that «only schools and special classes for gifted persons, isolated from their peers, are acceptable for a very limited set of special talents, for example: Music and Performing Arts”.
In spite of everything, there are some authors who in their work recommend this type of schools, citing many other reasons. Kuo (1981) concluded that research carried out to test the consequences of putting the gifted in special classes showed no negative effect, as students had no higher levels of anxiety, no loss of self-concept. And Chiba (1981) found an improvement in the inteligencta of two-year-old gifted children, who had been grouped into classes to follow special programs. Rogers (1993), having consulted different investigations, says: “while grouping for full-time capacities (segregation), for regular instruction, does not produce clear differences in medium and low student academic achievement (Síavin, 1987, 1990;) Kulik & Kulik, 1982, 1984, 1990), produces substantial academic advances in gifted students, enrolled in full time special programs for gifted and talented (Vaughn). High-capacity high school students who are «segregated» make more plans to go to college (Gamoran & Berens, 1987). Also, the grouping (segregation), for the previous researchers, meant a considerable increase in overall performance, the critical spirit and creativity of gifted and talented students. As an intermediate solution, the satellite school for secondary education has been proposed.
Each of these schools groups children, from other schools, who will attend one or two days a week; these schools are specialized in a particular field, with two levels per course. And the school within the school, a classroom within the same school to pay attention to these children, providing them a special curriculum.
This method pretends to place the gifted child in a more advanced course, taking into account his mental age. The accelerated child of course or courses will gain in time, and may finish his studies sooner.
Termen and Ogen (1947) pointed out that the gifted students who had benefited from the acceleration method, not only assimilate better than older classmates, but did not manifest any disturbance in terms of social adaptation.
In the U.S. there are at least six curriculum acceleration strategies: unitary class, which refers to the practice of trasversalizaring the entire curriculum, allowing students to progress at their own pace in all subjects; Compact curriculum, term coined by Renzulli, which allows students to skip the subjects they dominate; shortened schooling or allow three courses to be made in two or four in three; thematic acceleration or acceleration in one or more specific areas, for example: mathematics, language, etc…; early admission to the university, before completing secondary education. With this system shared between the university and the middle school, students will be able to obtain credits in certain subjects; advanced position, which refers to accelerated programs for advancing courses, after having passed a rigorous examination.
In our country, the law allows the acceleration of students with two courses in compulsory education; however, before the student is accelerated course, it should be taken into account, not only his cognitive abilities, but also different psychological characteristics, as well as the social environment in which the student will remain.
Kulik & Kulik (1990) warn that the greatest benefit of these grouping strategies for gifted and talented students is implementation, through enrichment and acceleration of the curriculum.
The method is to provide the gifted student with extracurricular learning opportunities. Such activities may be developed during school; in non-teaching hours, within or outside the school; on weekends; on holiday; etc…This is to broaden the child’s horizon in various subjects. It is not intended, in any way, to replace school programs. On the other hand, it has been proven that relating gifted children among them is a very effective method to balance their personality and to motivate them to study. (We must not forget that gifted children also have significantly different personality traits to other children: social sensitivity, cognitive-affective dyssynchrony and interest in solving problems with a certain degree of difficulty).
This is a method, generally accepted by the majority of people, who dedicate themselves to the education of the gifted, and researchers of the gifted and the talented. In the course 1994-95 the “Enrichment Program for Gifted” was launched in Madrid, with very satisfactory results: better integration, better academic performances and improvement in the motivation of children attending the program. The program has a team of professionals, directed by me, and in collaboration with the Spanish Association for Gifted and talented. It has as fundamental objectives: the school and social adaptation of the gifted, the optimal development of their capacities and the orientation to the families of these children. (The appendix shows a synthesis of the program.)
Rogers and Span (1993) propose some guidelines on how to educate the gifted at school:
• Intellectually gifted or talented students must spend most of their school time with students of similar characteristics and interests. Schools that are not able to have a full gifted program can form groups (gifted or talented) in a class. The teacher of this «grouped class» must be sufficiently trained to educate these students. If there are not enough students for a full program of gifted, then you can make a special group of teaching in which they can participate. Different options for the acceleration of the curriculum should be offered to the gifted.
• You should also offer the gifted different ways to enrich the regular curriculum. This enrichment can be done within the classroom (for us, through suitable individual curricular adaptations in the subjects), or outside the classroom.
It is very convenient for gifted children to have regular contact with others of their own characteristics. For this purpose there are several associations in Spain that can be visited. Often these associations also teach enrichment classes. In Spain:
• Sociedad Española para el Estudio de la Superdotación (Centro de Estudio de la Superdotación de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
• Centro Huerta del Rey Superdotados de España Colegio y asociación (Valladolid)
• SCIDIS – Centro de Investigación y Diagnóstico en Inteligencia y Superdotación
Miembro de la Sociedad Española para el Estudio de la Superdotación
Miembro del European Council for High Ability
Miembro del European Consultants for Potencial Development
Pedro Muguruza,1-6ºD -28036-Madrid
(Metro Pl. Castilla)
Tlf .917350367 /629565583 Fax: 917302862
• AEST – Asociación Española para Superdotados y con Talento
Miembro de la Confederación española CEAS
C/ Almansa, 58 – Bajo local 1
Bienvenidos a la web de altas capacidades y superdotados
• AESAC – Asociación Española Superdotados y Altas Capacidades
• SMIAS – Sociedad Madrileña de Investigadores para la Atención de Superdotados
• ASA – Asociación de Superdotados de Andalucía
Miembro de la Confederación española CEAS
C/Practicante Fernández Alcolea, nº 74
Edificio de Asuntos Sociales
• ADOSSE – Asociación para el Desarrollo y Orientación del Sobredotado de Sevilla
Miembro de la Confederación española CEAS
Apdo. de correos 12.302
615.425589 (Presidente) y 615.425584 (Vicepresidenta)
Página web: www.adosse.org
• ASTIB – Associació de Superdotats i Talentosos de les Illes Balears
Palma de Mallorca.
Web: ASTIB (Associació de Superdotats i Talentosos de les Illes Balears)
• FANSC – Fundación de Ayuda a los Niños Superdotados de Canarias
Miembro de la Confederación española CEAS
• ASAC – Asociación de Altas Capacidades de Galicia
981-599603 Santiago de Compostela.
• AVAST – Asociación Valenciana de Apoyo al Superdotado y Talentoso
Miembro de la Confederación española CEAS
• ACAST – Asociación Castellonense de Ayuda al Superdotado y Talentoso
Miembro de la Confederación española CEAS
Marisol Brenchat (Presidenta)
C/ Juan Herrera, 10
• ASENID – Asociación Española de Niños Superdotados.
• APADAC – Asociación de Padres de Alumnos de Altas Capacidades del Principado de Asturias
Miembro de la Confederación española CEAS
• CREENA – Asociación Española de Altas Capacidades
International Gifted Associations
• Mensa Internacional
• Mensa España
• CreaIdea (Argentina)
• Mensa Argentina
• Asociación de Padres de Niños Superdotados de Puerto Rico
• National Association for Gifted Children
• National Research Center for Gifted and Talented
• Great Potential Publishing – Gifted’s Book Store
• The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
• Fundación Promete organizes during the summers a residential meeting for the development of creative talent, open to every young person between 10 and 18 years with sufficient interest and motivation to develop a personal project in any area of knowledge: language, music, The arts, science or technology.
Sara Díaz Rábanos
Secretaría General – Fundación Promete
941 512 885
• Escuela de pensamiento matemático Miguel de Guzmán. The goal is that the talent of today’s children (from 8 to 18 years old) will benefit the society tomorrow. At school we pretend that none of these high-and very high-thinking children lose, due to lack of resources or attention, the opportunity to achieve the bright future that their talent deserves. (classes are taught in the afternoon and are free)
Web Pages of Interest
• http://www.teleline.es/personal/jsm00001/gifted/superdot.htm In this page you will find the associations that support the gifted and addresses, e-mails, links to other pages that can be interesting, etc.http://www.civila.com/universidades/superdotados.html On this page you will find the educational legislation concerning the giftedhttp://www.santillana.es/scripts/santies/saberest/saber.asp?cod=1804#2010
• Niños superdotados. La inteligencia reconciliada. Ed Paidos (2005) Arielle Adda, Hélène Catroux
• Manual internacional de superdotados. Manual para profesores y padres. Editorial EOS (2003) Juan A. Alonso, Joseph Renzulli, Yolanda Benito.
• L@s Niñ@s precoces. Su integración social familiar y escolar. Editorial: Narcea (2004) Jean-Marc Louis ISBN: 9788427714519
• LOS SUPERDOTADOS: Esos alumnos excepcionales. Editorial Algibe (2000). Mª Dolores Prieto y Juan Luis Castejón
• A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children. Great Potential Press (2007) James T. Webb, Janet L. Gore, Edward R. Amend
• Different Minds: Gifted Children With Ad/Hd, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits. Jessica Kingsley Pub (2003) Deirdre V. Lovecky
• Exceptionally Gifted Children. Routledge (2003) Miraca U. M. Gross