The word ‘gifted’ is a very popular word among the majority of parents globally. In fact, it ranks one of the highest search terms in Google. Interestingly, it was once remarked that responses to articles on parenting or identifying gifted children were often found to have the respondent either being gifted having one. But what exactly is ‘gifted’?

Till now, no one exactly know what is the true definition of giftedness. While it used to be that a truly gifted child is the top 1% of the bell curve, it has now expanded to those who perform or who show promise of performing at high levels in any one of five categories: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability or visual/performing arts.

How do we measure giftedness then? Some believe that it is innate (nature) while others believe that it can be developed (nurture). Here are ten myths that concern gifted children:

1. Gifted children are usually a product of good household and environment

Not necessarily true. While gifted children of good households are usually recognised and given appropriate interventions, it is also recognised that there are many gifted children who fall under the radar simply because they come from poorer households. Unfortunately, most of the time these children are perceived to be troublemakers or problematic because they can challenge the authority of teachers.

2. Gifted Children need teachers who are smarter than them

Not necessarily. Gifted children really need teachers who are able to promote their curiosity in how the world works and allow them to explore issues that fascinate them. They will, at certain points, may want teachers who are able to ‘spar’ with them intellectually but good teachers will be able to help to develop their socio-emotional competence as well. 

3. Gifted children cannot be trained

Yes and no. The child’s intelligence is largely determined by the genes of both parents, especially the mother. If a child is bright, chances are the parents are quite bright themselves. Some experts claimed that intensive cognition training can also start once the mother is pregnant by taking DHA and playing mozart music to them daily.  A child can be trained to be gifted-like if the parents or teachers expose them to methods such as intensive accelerated learning and cognitive training since young. However, this takes a lot of effort and does not allow the child to have a normal childhood. In fact, this gives a lot of undue pressure on the child and they may eventually snap one day. 

4. Gifted testing should take place in the Preschool

This is a tricky myth to answer. Many educators believe that these children should only be tested when they are 9 as many of these quirks will be ironed out by then. For example, there are some gifted children who can display great abilities when they are young but fall short when they grow older. There are others who display talents in other areas instead of academic. Under the ambiguous definition of gifted, how can they be evaluated?

5. The intelligence of gifted children can be measured by Intelligence Tests

Yes and no. Many of these intelligence tests have similar questions and there are some enrichment centres who have already identified the pattern of these questions. Thus, there are parents who send their children to these centres to be trained on how to take these questions. This makes it harder to separate those from the genuine ones. Yet, those who manage to score well in these tests after training will find themselves floundering should they be placed in the gifted syllabus.

6. Gifted children are model children

It is surprising to know that while many of them are well-behaved, a number become really bored in class as they are too advanced and thus disrupt the class. There are also a few of them who of them who are procrastinators and have poor study skills. While gifted children who have been given the appropriate interventions are able to study well, a good number of the unidentified ones do not develop the process of learning how to study. Sometimes, they do not want to try challenging activities as these children secretly have low self-esteem as well. Thus, their work submitted often fall below par.

7. Gifted children should be asked to Tutor Others

More often than not, many of these children’s thoughts are actually scattered at times and thus, they could not see how to explain something in a fully sequential manner. Furthermore, they find it difficult to understand why the struggling students could not understand things that come naturally to them. They will rather prefer to work on something that may be more interesting to them.

8. Children who can read early are Gifted

Most parents love to compare when their child starts to read. However, reading at a certain grade when they are XX years old does not necessarily means that they are gifted. For one, they may be very good at sight reading or breaking down the sounds. They may read by sight but may not fully understand the words to grasp the material. 

Which ones do you disagree with? Are there any other myths  that you have heard before?