How to Identify your Child`s Talent?
If until recently it was considered that talent is a gift that you get when you are born, recent studies in psychology focus on increasingly on the dynamic aspect of talent, now seen as a process that is in continuous development from its potential until its fulfilling.
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What Is Talent?
A definition which may take all suggested aspects by scientific studies into consideration include the following criteria:
- Talent has an innate character.
- Its manifestation is possible not to be visible even since childhood, but there are some clues that may help in identifying talent before the person reaches performance.
- Talent appears at a reduced number of people.
- It`s specific for a particular area.
Transforming a potential talent in a real one is a complex process which involves a series of personal factors (motivation, personality, physical and emotional health) and external (family support, school, society, life experience, chance, etc). – More info!
Talent can manifest in many areas:
- Academic (math, science, literature, etc).
- Artistic (music, painting, etc).
- Technology (construction, IT, etc)
- Games (puzzles, chess, video games, etc).
How to Develop Talent?
Most experts consider talent is based on skills (potential innate), which become visible from an early age. However, the potential is rather general and undifferentiated in the first part of childhood. We talk here about based skills: intellectual, creative, social-affective, etc.
At an early age, motivation and interest for certain activities are the ones that can offer clues about the child`s potential, which supported and developed, may lead to the manifestation of talent.
While children grow and accumulate experiences in the family, at school or in society, they get to demonstrate more specific abilities.
For instance, a 2-year old child, who recognizes different musical instruments and can mimic or reproduces the songs he hears and moves to the music, shows signs of an early musical talent. But it`s too early to know his talent will be manifested in the future. Similarly, a 4-year old child who makes elaborate drawings has an increased sense of colors and shapes. This may be a clue of creativity, increased ability of concentration and developed learning or observation sense, which means that his talent could manifest later not only in artistic areas (drawing, painting), but also in technical fields (architecture).
After infancy, when abilities and potential are non-specific, there are the following stages:
- 4 – 10 years – developing cognitive control by observation and exploration.
- 10 – 13 years – developing talent with the help of mentors, contests, patterns and periods of practice learning.
- 13 – 18 years – idealization and devotion of talent, the child/teenager adjusts to his own talent.
- 18 – 22 years – crystallization of talent by choosing a career.
How Do I Recognize and Support My Child`s Talent?
For the potential to develop and the child to reach performance, the first step is to identify his own abilities. Most of the times, the parents and family are the first to notice the early manifestations of the little one. Here`s what you can do on this matter:
- Make it easy for your child to take part as many varied activities so you can be able to identify certain inclinations he may have.
- Spend as much time as you can in his company, play together, read to him, talk to him about topics as diverse as possible and encourage him to ask questions; this way, you`ll be able to notice and stimulate some of his interests and concerns.
- If you noticed a potential talent, don`t put pressure on your child. You need to have patience, because most of the times it takes time to develop the necessary abilities to support his talent later.
- Even if the little one manifests inclinations towards a certain field, an important conditions to reach performance is to be passionate about what he`s doing. You can help him get familiarized with that particular area and find elements to arouse his interest, but without insisting or enforce your expectations or desires.
- If you aren`t sure that a certain ability is over the average level of development, talk to his teachers or psychologist.
- Support your child`s orientation towards other activities and fields as well, not only towards that particular area for which he now shows interest.
- Praise his effort, motivations and strategies that you notice he uses in accomplishing his activities, not the abilities (intelligence, talent). The latest research in the field show that this way children understand the importance of work and constant study, and this way learn that talent needs to be built and that isn`t given naturally. In addition, it was noticed that children praised for their intelligence, in time have bigger chances to become fragile and defensive.
- Limit the child`s time in front of the television as much as possible.
- Take your child in places where learning is stimulated: visit museums, botanical and zoological gardens, buy books together from libraries, etc. – Read more!
Summarizing in 2 ideas, experts` recommendations for the child`s development are:
- Notice what he likes to do.
- Praise the effort he puts into doing what he likes.
While children grow and you notice their interest for a certain field remains constant, while their abilities for that particular area develop, it`s recommended to take into account switching the next level: finding a mentor to help him develop his potential. You shouldn`t overlook the fact certain field require more efforts or even financial sacrifices from the family to support the development of the child`s talent. – Check this!
The school environment is also very important in developing the abilities that support talent, starting with educators and teachers which need to notice and encourage any special skills to the point where the educational program can be adjusted to an accelerated capacity for the gifted child. Some schools offer optional courses and programs dedicated to children with abilities above average for certain subjects, and interaction with children of certain ages or similar interests can only be beneficial.