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Difference betwey aen G&T and bright?

(50 Posts)
Tailtwister Mon 02-Sep-13 15:38:13

DS1 (5) has always appeared very bright, but I've never felt him to be gifted. However, DH thinks he is very 'different' and tbh I have to agree with him if you look at him in relation to his peers. Of course the variation is huge at this age.

DH had a look at a list common attributes of gifted children and DS fits them all apart from the early reading one. He's shown no interest in reading at all, but he is ahead of what you would expect.

The reason why I'm concerned is that my DB was gifted, but it wasn't recognised in school or at home particularly. He ended up with various issues mentally and socially and still bears the scars in his 40's. If DS is gifted (and in a way I'm hoping he isn't) I don't want the same thing happening to him.

So, how do we tell if he really is gifted and if so what (if anything) do we do about it?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 02-Sep-13 16:53:57

My DD always appeared bright. At 2 my Dad (who reads a lot of hold assessment reports) commented that he thought she was exceptional I just smiled.
She didn't read till she went to school. She is now entering year 5 and it is emerging that she is academically something really special. She is listed gifted and talent for all subjects at school. She has none of the traditional 'gifted' markers.
School do recognise this, though they always act like I should be surprised (who do they think talks to her about mitochondria?). Beyond ensuring she is stretched and subtly suggesting she moves to a different school for seniors they have done nothing else.

Tailtwister Mon 02-Sep-13 17:36:29

That's interesting Lonecat. It's the reading thing which has thrown me a bit. I always thought he would read very early, but he just never seemed interested.

It's reassuring to hear that schools do at least recognise it. Hopefully if there is anything we need to do for him they will highlight it.

Interestingly, my Dad said he thought DS might be a bit different and that his reasoning skills were very developed. He never compliments anyone in that way (especially family), so it was very out of the ordinary.

cornflakegirl Mon 02-Sep-13 17:39:11

There are different definitions of giftedness. One of them (Renzulli) says that true giftedness lies in the overlap of three traits - high ability, high task focus and high creativity. My own DS is very bright, but personally I only see the high ability and high task focus in him - eg he doesn't identify links or patterns that others don't, he just finds that learning comes easily to him. So he needs stretching at school (and at home) but his abilities are within the capacity of the school.

As I understand it, truly gifted children will be operating on a whole different level that schools may not be able to handle.

(I'm not saying that schools automatically get it right with very able children btw, just that there's more potential for them to do so.)

What sort of abilities are you identifying in your son? And what was it that was missed in your brother?

Tailtwister Mon 02-Sep-13 18:41:29

My brother was very gifted at maths, very focussed, high ability to reason and an amazing vocabulary at a very early age. He found the company of other children difficult and confusing and was most comfortable with adults. Later on (after about 8y) he would only be really comfortable speaking with our dad's colleagues (he was a uni prof) and never really talked about anything 'normal'. He just plodded along at school, not really listening but getting top grades. They didn't really notice or address his abilities at all.

DS has a very wide vocabulary (always uses quite complicated words in context without the meaning being explained), very number orientated (he understands things like multiplication, division etc without it being explained), craves adult company, reasons very well and often jumps to the end of a thought process ignoring the steps, very focussed, amazing (to me!) memory. That's just a few of the things which really stand out.

AbbyR1973 Mon 02-Sep-13 21:14:06

I like Ruf levels of giftedness. It reflects the idea that there is spectrum of giftedness from very bright to genius. Most people on here seem to think that gifted=genius/Einstein type levels of IQ...
I think the levels idea helps because the descriptions give you an idea what it would mean to the individual child. I would guess DS1 is about level3/4.

lljkk Mon 02-Sep-13 21:18:04

Well that's funny. I was identified as Gifted from the age of 7, and I ended up with "various issues mentally and socially and still bearing the scars in [my] 40's." Some of which was a very direct result of being identified as Gifted!

Good luck, however your journey goes.

chauffeurmummy Tue 03-Sep-13 01:11:19

Don't be thrown by the reading thing - my dd has been assessed as being "gifted" but she wasn't reading until she started school (was too busy in speech therapy!). All children have different interests and strengths - and this includes gifted children. As a first port of call I would point you in the direction of Potential Plus UK - I mention them a lot on here, but that's because they are a charity set up to support gifted children and their parents/carers/teachers etc so it's rather relevant. They have a lot of documents on their website which will give you a good starting point (most of them free but some are for a small fee).

Unfortunately your brothers experience isn't unique and it's really important that these children receive the support they need. Some schools are great at it - most aren't.

exexpat Tue 03-Sep-13 01:23:24

DS showed no interest in reading at an early age, but was very advanced with numbers, memory and various other things. He started school at 5, got off to a slow start with reading, but then it suddenly clicked, and he was reading reasonably complex stuff (eg Harry Potter and a lot of non-fiction books about trains and snakes) by age 6. He is on G&T lists, but I don't think the label is important - it is more crucial for you and the school to support and encourage him.

Part of the difficulty with gifted children is the mismatch between social and intellectual growth. They may be able to read or do maths at a level years above their chronological age but they are still emotionally only the age they are. All of mine, who are very bright and maybe gifted, have had to learn that not everyone is interested in your current passion whether that be dinosaurs or black holes or code breaking. We worked quite hard on the social skills thing and learning how to do small talk and listen to what other people are saying. We were honest about the fact that you have to tone down the geeky and general wierdness which is normal at home, but gets you picked on at school. If you add into the mix some specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and the like then being gifted at school can be hard as the teachers are unlikely to have ever come across that combo before. School, for my kids, became about the basics that they had to learn and the social stuff that was part of life but the fun stuff was at home where we could do all the extension activities the school wasn't geared up for.

Tailtwister Tue 03-Sep-13 08:02:39

lljkk your experience just goes to show that even if a child is recognised as Gifted it's still possible for things to go very wrong.

That's interesting about the reading chauffeur & exempt. It just seemed to be one of the major things to look out for, but I guess it's very hard to quantify.

thegreen I really worry most about the social thing. DS does really try with other children, but they don't seem to 'get' him. He is very intense and tries to organise them to play complex games (even tries to use subjects he knows they are into, bless him), but he doesn't seem to understand the randomness of their play. When I went to collect him yesterday he was deep in conversation with one of the teachers and had kind of given up trying to play. I don't know how to fix it tbh.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 03-Sep-13 08:32:56

One of the things pre-school and then school worked really hard with DD over was allowing other children a chance to organise the games and this was put as letting people take turns.
They also emphasised that it is as important to a member of a team as it is to be the leader. DD was lucky she is in an exceptional cohort of children so there are others to give her a run for her money in the playground. However, the school feel that she should move somewhere where she is more the middle of the pool. I am lucky that I can afford private school fees and that I have a truly exceptional school on my doorstep that is suitable.
I do feel that being with other similar children does really help, I probably also fell into the same category and learning not to boss others about was a hard skill to learn, but has been the most important skill to ending up with a successful career. I did help that I went into a career that merely to enter the Uni course you need to be in the top 1% of population academically, with good interpersonal skills, a high level of empathy, strong leadership skills and good self analysis. School helped me with a lot of these skills, but also learning that often I hide my academic light a little so as not to overbearing my peers.

richmal Tue 03-Sep-13 08:33:59

If a child is achieving above the majority of their pier group, I think it is impossible to say if it due to being gifted, bright or having had more education. Education can even inrease IQ.
At the end of the day all that can be measured is accademic ability, not how that ability came about.

Tailtwister Tue 03-Sep-13 08:49:17

Yes, lonecat I agree that the choice of school is key. Fortunately we are also able to go the private route (small class sizes being the main advantage), but haven't highlighted anything to the teachers. I would imagine that if there is an issue they will recognise it and mention it to us? I don't want to go in saying I think DS is gifted etc (I'm not even sure if he is), but at the same time want to make sure we're doing our best for him.

We have a parent's evening in a couple of weeks, so I imagine we'll get some insight into how he's been interacting in the classroom/playground. I don't know much about the other children in his class, but think there's likely to be a few who are similar. There are 3 P1 classes and I know they thought carefully about creating a mix of ability, so maybe it's just a matter of time until he finds a group where he's comfortable?

richmal yes, I see what you're saying and I'm reluctant to put a label on DS. I'm probably over thinking this due to my brother's experience.

metranilvavin Tue 03-Sep-13 09:26:34

Agree with what everyone says about peer groups, but there are also some more lateral ways of helping. Out of school activities in areas in which they don't excel are a good start, and helps them to get used to being just one of the gang.

Also, there is no reason why children's peers need to be exactly the same age, so things like Scouts can be good.

But it doesn't all have to be doom and gloom. I never really fitted in at school, had a few friends but never really belonged and found it hard because my interests were different. But when I got to university, I felt at home for the first time and had the time of my life. Since then, I've never been short of friends or a social life. School is a bit of an artificial environment, and doesn't 'work' for all children.

Richmal - not sure I agree with that. You can have a very bright child with a sky-high IQ who is not interested in academics and may not achieve above their peer group. Does that mean that they are not really bright?

The social thing is hard and Tailtwister's little one has the right idea in trying to play games around subjects his peers are interested. It might be that some work on taking turns with who organises the games could be in order so we play this game in the way Fred wants to play it and then we play another game in the way Mary wants to play it and them we play my game. The intensity thing is tricky and 5 is very young to understand the need to chill a bit. It does come with practice and getting a bit older. My youngest, now a teenager really struggled with this when he was in year 1 and wanted to talk about 'Rome Total War' and the fine detail of the battle of Thermopolye all his friends wanted to shout 'zoom' and run around the playground. It did come right and he is accepted as quirky but it took time. Not much help I'm afraid sad

richmal Wed 04-Sep-13 08:23:13

I think all I am trying to say is that intellegence is a mixture of nature and nurture. The word "gifted" suggests it is a fixed given and unalterable. I don't think it is.

GooseyLoosey Wed 04-Sep-13 08:40:07

What you do about it depends on where you want to end up and what you consider to be important.

Ds (now 10) is classed as gifted. He supposedly has an IQ of 157. His reading age was 13 at 6 and could do A'level maths at 8. Even now I am not convinced he is much more than bright tbh. He doesn't scream child genius to me.

At 8 we moved him from the state sector to the most academically selective prep school we could find (on the advice of an ed pysch). We did this for 2 reasons:

1. The most important thing for me is for ds to have adequate social skills and he does struggle with this. The ed pysch said that this is typical of the highly gifted child - they have no understanding of the motivations or thought processes of their peers and vice versa. Ds had been the victim of some bullying as a result of this. The ed pysch said that if he was with children more like him, the difference would be less apparent and he would fit in better. This has been largely true. I would not say it has been without problems, but ds is much happier and is surrounded by children and parents who celebrate academic achievement and therefore perceive value in him.

2. His work ethic was dreadful. He never had to work at anything and was becoming used to coasting along. His last state school teacher said that he was complacent because he thought he could do everything. When I said "can he?" she said "well, umm, yes". Expectations are much higher where he has moved to and if ds is finished the task, he is expected to do more. He has re-engaged with subjects like English and the school have taught him that, for him at the moment, the most important mark on him report is his effort grade.

What I do not consider to be important is ds being given extension work to take him beyond a syllabus he will have to work to in secondary school. I do not want him to be doing GCSEs at 11 (and he could). I have never met someone who was a child genius who was happy as an adult and I want that for ds more than anything else. I want him to have friends and a job he likes. That is why he went to the local state school at first - to learn to intigrate.

wearingatinhat Wed 04-Sep-13 09:46:37

GooseyLoosey, a lovely post and much of what you say resonates with me. However, if you do not consider your child to be a child genius, I do not know what the definition would be! Doing A level maths at 8 is (a mere!) 10 years ahead! Presumable, he had only been in school 3 years at this point.

wearingatinhat Wed 04-Sep-13 09:47:07

Oops presumably

Tailtwister Wed 04-Sep-13 10:23:27

Thanks for everyone's input, it's been really useful for me to read. DS came back from school yesterday talking about a few children he seemed to identify with, so hopefully he's starting to get to grips with things socially.

Once we have a meeting with the teacher in a few weeks I'll be able to gauge the situation and I know they've had a few assessments already (I presume for the teacher to understand where everyone is), so if there's anything to be identified/addressed she'll speak to us about it then.

GooseyLoosey Wed 04-Sep-13 12:04:16

Wearingatinhat: I suppose I expect to be in awe of genius and feel in the presence of something special. With ds, if you explain a thing to him once, he understands it (whatever if is), but I have no sense of him being extraordinary and no sense of him forging far ahead of his peers (but perhaps that is because I don't want him to).

richmal Wed 04-Sep-13 13:23:20

GooseyLoosey, if you don't want him going on to GCSE, have you thought of the ukmt tests? My dd (also 10) did their junior maths challenge ealier in the year and really enjoyed it. The test has to be done through school, but if your school does not do it you could still look at past papers on their website.
It is more problem solving questions, and attaining the higher levels would challenge him.

chillikate Wed 04-Sep-13 13:25:28

GooseyLoosey - have you read the book written by Rod & Alison Thompson about their jounrney with their son Cameron. Cameron is 16 and has just taken his GCSEs and a degree in Maths. They have a very down to earth outlook on Camerons education.

thegamesafoot Sun 08-Sep-13 21:45:42

Here's a link to show the spectrum between bright and gifted (as mentioned above) Ruf estimates. According to her chart bright is high average and gifted starts with level 1 (IQ 117 to 129 with some overlap of IQ points for each level).

I do find it odd that MN only seems to have two levels, bright and profoundly gifted.

Many MNetters dc are seemingly bright, as in at least above average, but only those whose dc are intense or a bit strange and at least 4 years ahead (preferably more) are considered gifted (but not geniuses oh no).

It's almost as if being gifted was something to apologise for, like being born into a rich family, where you haven't earnt the wealth yourself... or perhaps the parents are themselves so highly intelligent, and naturally travel in similarly intellectual circles, that they are not impressed by their DCs abilities.

An analogy would be that on MN, the female population can be 5'6" (somewhat above average for a woman in the UK) and say 5'11" for a man OR womwn can be 6'+ and men 6'5"+ (i.e. extremely tall). You can of course be shorter, but if you are higher than above average but below extremely tall you get lumped in with everyone who is 5'6" or 5'11" depending on gender.

I'm not saying that the measure used by Ruf is entirely correct or without flaws, however the 2 levels used frequently on MN seem crude and one consequence is the oft repeated phrases of "not gifted but", "bright but not gifted", "no genius" and the classic myth that a dc is not gifted unless they are so profoundly bright that it causes them problems, not social problems (because that usually means you've been valuing academics over play dates) but problems for their teachers (i.e a dc is only gifted if a school finds it a challenge to differentiate - as schools can usually manage this quite well for at least a 3 year + or - it's back to a dc is only gifted if they are 4+ years in advance.

Not everyone here is like this - I am generalising terribly, but these attitudes are quite prevalent. Tbh I wish there was a MN gifted 101 and that mums of moderately bright dc were cut some slack (I'm only referring to threads I've read, nothing experienced iyswim).

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