The intellectual precocity in children
Contrary to what many people believe, to be intellectually precocious or gifted does not mean to be smarter than others, but "to function with a different way of thinking, with a different structure of reasoning. The intelligence of the gifted child is atypical."
Jeanne-Siaud Facchin, clinical psychologist, specializing in gifted people in "The Over-Gifted Child, Helping them to grow up, help them to succeed", Odile Jacob, 9/2002 ", ISBN 2-7381-1159-9
How do I know if my child is intellectually precocious?
The only way to know if a child is intellectually precocious or not is to have it sit through a IQ test administered by a professional.
There are many different tests, the good choice depends mostly on the age of the child.
Please find attached the list of psychologists working in Luxembourg who perform tests on children.
The earlier the precocity is detected, the better. Indeed, precocity which has not been identified as such can lead the child to difficulties with parents, teachers and other children.
Schooling of gifted children
Statistically, if 1/3 of gifted children have no problems, 2/3 can meet more or less serious academic and social difficulties due to:
- a difference in behaviour with children of their age,
- incomprehension by adults, professionals and parents,
- often a negative self-image,
- a gap between the pace of personal development of the child and the pace set by the school system,
- a school system which is unsuitable to the functioning of the brain of the child,
- sometimes a delay in psychomotor and graphomoteur development
The child may react with boredom, disinterest in school, passivity, and sometimes revolt.
Skipping class is one of the solutions offered to gifted children. It has the advantage of reducing the problem of boredom which is often the cause of disciplinary problems.
Since 2009, the Luxembourg primary school system (LINK TO THE SITE), organized in teaching cycles, allows to adjust to the progressing speed capabilities of the child. Indeed, each cycle normally lasts two years, but a student may, in exceptional cases, take a cycle in one year.
Moreover, there are special schools for gifted children abroad (link to page useful addresses, schools section).
Emotional and social problems possible
As Jeanne-Siaud Facchin said, "to be gifted (...) is also growing up with hypersensitivity, intrusive emotions that mark the personality."
The intellectually precocious child has a heightened sensory perception ("hypersensitivity") often paired with an extreme sensitivity. It is "equipped with multiple sensors permanently connected to its surroundings" and shows an "amazing ability to feel with great finesse the emotional state of others."
"A true sponge, the gifted child has always been literally assailed by the emotions, sensations, and multiple pieces of information so much that it is often difficult for him to live, to integrate and to develop."
"This hypersensitivity is both an asset, due to the fine perceptual environment that it allows, but also a source of suffering and emotional hurt."
Thus the gifted children may experience emotional and social problems (social adjustment problems, depression, eating disorders, school phobia, etc..).
You may find more information about the associated problems (www.douance.be/douance-troubles-accueil.htm) on the site of the douance.be asbl.
What should I do to help them?
Here are some tips to help your child:
- identify the precocity of your child,
- explain its particularity (indeed, the gifted child need to be aware of its difference to be able to accept it. Moreover, for a child that has failed or is suffering, this gives him back self-confidence and allows him to bounce back),
- accept its peculiarities,
- trust him, give him confidence, a sense of value,
- help him to benefit in his school from a differentiated instructional approach that respects his differences of thinking,
- offer him extra-curricular activities that are suitable to his capacity,
- let him meet other gifted children,
- support his development.