Friday, April 9, 2010

Gifted Children: Excelling in Specific Areas and Interests

In our previous blog on giftedness in intellectual capacity, we were referring more to a general ability to learn, a broader capacity to learn and excel in any problem solving area. In this blog we’re talking more about a specific—almost preternatural—skill in a specific topic.

Everyone’s familiar with the stereotypical nerd with mathematical capabilities, or the 9 year-old programmer. But the topic can be almost anything, even athletic ability (with the winter Olympics fresh on our minds, who would question whether Apolo Ohno or Lindsey Vonn are “gifted”?) Our son, for example, aced the state biology exam, and our daughter has always excelled in English.

What gifted children who excel in specific areas all have in common, regardless of the interest, are an advanced and natural comprehension of that interest. That subject simply “comes easy” to them. They possess the ability to memorize data, perhaps selectively with respect to their interest, and they will read and study their topic with voracity and an ease of comprehension. And naturally they will excel at their area.

If your child is gifted in a specific area, by all means do all that you can to feed their interest. Get them involved in activities that not only encourage them to develop their interest, but pushes them to refine their capability (for example, Apolo Ohno’s dad didn’t just take him to the skating rink, he drove him to Vancouver to participate in competitions).

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