All children, in the eyes of their parents, are highly intelligent and unique. Our mental bias tends to attribute to our children traits of ‘almost genius’ or at least ‘gifted’ in numbers larger than statistics allow.
A gifted child is imbued with cognitive abilities, natural curiosity and creativity in a much greater degree compared to the general population. In terms of IQ, we are talking about 135 or higher.
How to trace toddlers with the potential of being gifted
Sometimes parents or any other care giver notice the child’s unusual cognitive skills. Infants with the potential for giftedness tend to be more alert and highly active. They sleep less compared to their peers. They recognize familiar faces at a relatively early age. And, generally speaking, they complete the various stages in developmental milestone earlier than the average.
For example, most children are able to say a few simple words at the age of 18 months. A gifted child will be able to do it when she is 1 year old or even a little younger. She may be able to understand propositions and properly use pronouns (I, You, We) already when she is 24 months old while most toddlers will have these abilities at the age of 3.
It is much easier to notice signs of high intelligence in toddlers and preschool children.
- have excellent memory
- are insatiably curious
- are enthusiastic about learning new things
- are rapidly able to apply what they have learned to other fields
- have the ability to solve relatively complex problems in innovative ways
- are highly creative and imaginative
- have the ability to observe small details and are highly aware of their immediate environment
Gifted toddlers and children will impress you with their inquiring questions, to some of which you will have no answer. Parents often find it hard to keep up with a gifted child’s constant need for mental stimuli. Many gifted children are also imbued with athletic or artistic talents. They may also have good ear for music.
The Raisin Test
It might sound strange to you, but a simple test involving a raisin can help determine whether a toddler will succeed in school in years to come.
In 1985, researchers from Warwick Medical School in England have come up with a way to measure toddlers’ attention and learning abilities. They gave 558 toddlers at the age of 20 months a sweet raisin on a plate covered by a sealed plastic cup. The toddlers were asked not to touch the raisin. 37% of the children were able to hold back for no more than 10 seconds before touching (and eating) the raisin. 39% were waiting for up to 59 seconds. The remaining 24% could hold themselves for more than a minute.
The same toddlers that participated in the experiment were psychologically examined to measure their cognitive attention abilities around the age of 8. They also took standardized test to assess their reading, spelling, writing and mathematical skills. It was found that toddlers who had shown low self-control with the raisin had lower academic achievements at the age of 8 than those who had shown better self-control. The IQ of the children who resisted the temptation was, on average, seven points higher.
One final word
It should be noted that the signs and parameters mentioned above are not conclusive. As a child, Albert Einstein was reported to be a slow learner. He spoke late (His parents even consulted specialists) and found it hard to think in words. Today no one doubts his genius.
In addition, parents should be aware that, in many cases, the intellectual and verbal ability of gifted toddlers is above the average, but their physiological and emotional development might be average or below average. This gap should be taken into consideration as it can affect the child’s development and daily functioning later in life.