Originally posted at Examiner.com.
Q: Is my child gifted?
Educators meet people, from all walks of life, who notice qualities of genius in their child’s learning. We tend to get asked if it is possible that a child is gifted, talented, or even a genius. Certainly, these are possible. But, it is also possible that as adults, we are not accustomed to observing the quality of childhood thinking that reminds us all of pure genius. Visit any active early childhood program or kindergarten and you will likely see young learners who approach their work/play investigations with raw creativity and innate scientific inquiry. When confronting a given problem, normally bright children are likely to try many more possible solutions and strategies than their adult counterparts. Typical free-play investigations at home or at school reveal children using the traits found in this article on “How Geniuses Think” from The Creativity Post. Articles such as these serve as good reminders to those of us who support children’s growth to both allow and encourage children to explore, question and discover within their natural patterns of scientific inquiry. We can nurture those gifts and talents that we find in all young children, by providing enriching open-ended play sessions where they can tinker with old technology, new ideas, and fresh possibilities.
When choosing books and other written documents to encourage those areas in which a child might be gifted or talented, do not forget such powerful learning tools as visual dictionaries and atlases. Open-ended source materials, such as these, offer children the means to be ingenious and idiosyncratic in their inquiries as they question the patterns and schematics in these texts. The Macmillan Visual Dictionary, for example, is not at all designed specifically for children. However, if you are searching for a book to promote ingenious conversations between children and adults, this one is among the best. When it comes to atlases, many people forget to pull out their road atlas or old maps to offer for a child’s perusal. Sometimes it is of value to find a great book that bridges mapping concepts with culturally-minded photos/text such as this wonderful resource: Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World. Resources such as these allow children to ponder a large view of their world, and consider their own musings as they explore.
With very young children, exploring encyclopedic information, and searching Google Earth is probably best done in the company of adults. However, when life is hectic and/or you wish to let children follow their own gifts, talents and interests, adults will discover that there are many apps designed just for children, that encourage such areas as mathematical concepts, creative thinking, early mapping concepts, and/or playful ideas about real and pretend worlds. Our team would encourage other app-makers to do what we do at Mrs. Judd’s Games, which is to offer adults a set of resources designed to help adult/child discussions push beyond the content of a given app, and offer rich research on a given topic. For instance, if a child is gifted or talented with a knack for complex thinking, they might ask probing questions while exploring the concept of symmetry in an app like Snowflake Station. The “Research” section of our website connects parents to such organizations as CalTech and the Smithsonian Institution enabling parents/teachers to help bright children look further into this topic that extends into the math and science investigations of the college years and beyond. We think this type of research is something that families/teachers deserve.