Recognizing Talent and Giftedness
There is a grey area where gifted and talented become entwined and the boundaries of both are unclear. Talent is defined as having natural abilities or qualities. Talent can be inherited; a gift; an innate ability; a special way of doing something; a perfected skill; and developed creativity.
Giftedness can be a different learning style to talented and is noted as displaying achievements outside age appropriateness; advanced development of thought processes; a special gift and innate ability in specific areas; and physical prowess exceptional for age. Parents and teachers of gifted learners may find that children have the ability to hyper-focus on areas of interest and may have an inability or reluctance to work in areas that are seen as having little value to their life. They may be physically and emotionally sensitive.
As parents and teachers we need to encourage skills in children so they can recognize what their talents and gifts might be. We are all good at something it is just a matter of being exposed to as many experiences as possible so we can recognize our talents. Whether your child is gifted or talented, or both, here are a few suggestions to encourage their development.
Finding and Fostering Talent at Home and in the Classroom
Treating learners as individuals with their own learning style will enable you to assess their strengths. Ask them what they see as their talents. Encourage them to make a list of things they are good at and things they would like to be good at.
As parents you know your children best, and as a teachers you are in a privilege position, so ask yourself what you see as their talents. Make suggestions in areas of interest. They may love to build things or pull them apart to see how they work. They may love to play piano.
Use positive language. “You have a gift for drawing.” Point out areas you recognize as an emerging talent and encourage them to notice the positive aspects of their own talent.
Learners will be interested in what your talents are so discuss them and let them know how you found and nurtured those talents.
Look for ways for your learner to share their talents with others. This may be at an art exhibition or a talent quest. A healthy attitude to participation can be fostered through sharing of talent.
Encourage private lessons outside the home and school environment for exposure and expansion of their talents and gifts.
Point out the importance of their talents and encourage them to use them across the curriculum. If they have a talent for poetry then a science plan could contain writing a poem about the area being taught. If they are very creative they may like to paint to poetry.
Encourage your learners to join groups with similar interests and talents as this allows for acceptance and recognition of their own gifts and talents.
Talented or Gifted?
Learners can be both gifted and talented and this makes for an interesting mix of personality and performance. Encouraging children to work at their own pace and allowing them to excel in areas of interest will always encourage positive outcomes for development of gifts and talents.
Flexibility in the learning space will suit the learning style of gifted children as they can explore and extend special interests at an accelerated pace. There is often more fruitful use of time for the gifted learner who is able to make choices.
Talents of learners can be encouraged and built on with your help and guidance. Talent with practice and a keen interest can be learned, so be positive and encouraging if a child shows a keen interest in a subject and present ways of enhancing skills to add it to their list of talents.
Weather the learner is gifted or talented you can be sure that your positive input, as a teacher or parent, adds a greater dimension for encouraging a wide scope of experiences within a learning environment. Seeking out groups and online education which is appropriate to the level of the learner, and meets their needs, is a great way to foster and advance gifts and talents.
As a parent or teacher you need to be mindful that learners who are challenged by learning are more likely to become literate if literacy skills are incorporated into an area of their gift or talent. Working with gifted and talented learners can be both challenging and rewarding.
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