My genius child??

>> Saturday, April 12, 2008

*Disclaimer: This post is full of thoughts from a proud mommy. Continue at your own discretion*

It is innate in all m
others to think their child is a genius. "You should see little Johnny color a picture....he is an art genius." "You should hear little Mary say her ABC's... what a whiz!" If mothers did not think their children were the center of the universe, would we continue to pick macaroni up off the floor and wipe dirty bottoms and put away the same toys for the millionth time? It is one of God's ways of continuing the species. He gives all mothers the ability to see their children for the great things they do and the great things they will do someday. All mothers think their children are cute and smart and destined for greatness. But what if they really are? How do you know?

All children, all people have their own areas where they excel above the general population. I am not gifted in art, but I have a
very talented friend who is. I have another friend who always has something witty and thought-provoking to say, but that is not me. One kid may be really good at math while the next is a football star in the making. I have always known that one of my jobs as a mother was to discern the areas in which Lucas is naturally gifted and encourage his growth and development in those areas. I also think it is my job to expose him to lots of different things, some that he may not have a natural aptitude for, so that he can grow and learn and be well-rounded. But that being said, I am right now pondering the former mommy responsibility more than the later.

Lucas is a whiz at puzzles. He really is. I don't know when or how it started but for at least the last year, one of his favorite activities is to sit down with a puzzle and just figure it out. He just turned two and can sit (almost) independently with a 24 piece wooden jigsaw puzzle meant for ages 4+ and figure it out over the course of just a few minutes. It is kind of amazing to watch. He also seems to have a knack for language. He is far advanced for his age in terms of vocabulary and ability to construct sentences. He could spell his name at 18months and already uses more abstract words/concepts such as "backwards" and "probably." When I tell him the plan for the day he says, "Good idea, mommy. Sounds good to me."

Here is the dilemma: How do we as mothers draw the line between natural mommy-pride and legitimate potential for genius? How do we determine if it is truly an area of
giftedness or just an aspect of his development that occurred at a faster rate and will level out at some point? Are the areas of "faster development" actually areas of giftedness that if nurtured could become something truly great? Should I be figuring out ways to nurture whatever part of his brain it is that makes him good at puzzles at such a young age?

You hear of these violin prodigy children that can play in world class symphonies by age 5. Those mothers started their children in violin training from the first day they could hold the bow. Or those kids who finish Harvard by the time their peers are starting t-ball. How did that mom know her kid was gifted in that way and how did she nurture it? I am NOT saying I think Lucas is destined to finish college before puberty or play in a symphony by age 10. But, I am saying I think I am getting a glimpse of his area of
giftedness and I want to know where to go from here. I don't want to miss this chance to help him develop this natural strength and have it possibly turn into something really great.

It is not easy to ask your friends for advice on how to nurture a gifted child. People often laugh it off as "of course she thinks he is brilliant." But maybe he really
is. Maybe he is destined to win the Nobel Prize or become an architectural genius. Why not? And how will we ever know unless I give him that chance? But how do I do that?

What is your child great at and how do you nurture that in them? I would really love to know.

Cross posted to the Chicago Moms Blog.


Anonymous April 12, 2008 at 4:42 PM  

You're doing just fine for your son, but the way to really tell whether he is gifted is to have him tested when the time is right.

Read up on gifted testing and methodologies to see what the options are. They will test for achivement and IQ--including verbal and nonverbal reasoning ability. If he scores in the 99th percentile--you know you are onto something.

Testing will also help you better understand any acting out issues that might arise due to academic frustration when he is placed with more typically developing children.

Superior cognitive and reasoning skills are a gift, but if your son has them, he is truly a child with special needs. He may be gifted in some areas but lag way behind in others. This type of asynchronous development presents additional challenges.

As my husband and I have come to realize, our son is at one end or the other of the bell curve on any given skill or ability; he's never in the middle!

Finally, look into the Northwestern Talented and Gifted Program to see what they offer. I think they start programs in kindergarten.

If he tests in, he will benefit from being exposed to other similarly gifted children.

Anonymous April 12, 2008 at 4:48 PM  

I just want to add something to my previous comment.

I understand the surge of excitement you must feel about your son as he starts to develop, but you will quickly find out that even if your child tests in the 99th percentile in more than one area, that level of skill and aptitude will only make him average at the best colleges and universities in the country. They are filled with kids like this.

Just some thoughts to put it all in perspective . . .

Enjoy! Your son son sounds absolutely delightful!

At A Hen's Pace April 12, 2008 at 4:53 PM  

Great advice from your last commenter.

My only other advice is to pray about each new opportunity. As the mom of a special needs child on the other end of the spectrum, I quickly realized that there was no end to the extra services and help and diets, etc. that we could try. I prayed for wisdom to know if something was REALLY worth the time and expense, that God would prompt us to see that, and I think He's been very faithful to that request. There isn't anything I look back on (he's 17 now) that I would do much differently.


Earthmommy April 18, 2008 at 7:54 PM  

Great advice from anonymous....I feel the way you feel because Aspen does seem very gifted in a few areas. Just remember that each and every one of us is given gifts and blessings and those will all play out in time as your swwet biy grows and develops. Oh and by the way....when a child excels in ANY way....give yourself a pat on the back too Mom....because you play a big role in that!

Baby Love Slings


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