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  • If You Have a Potentially Gifted Child, Here's the Crucial Step You Need to Take

    It’s not enough to just know that your child has a gift.
    by Kate Borbon .
If You Have a Potentially Gifted Child, Here's the Crucial Step You Need to Take
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • How do you know if your child is gifted? In a previous article, we had talked about SOME characteristics of a gifted child. Note our emphasis on the word "some" — assessing a child's giftedness can't be a black-and-white list because kids are not the same — they will manifest giftedness differently. But you as a parent is likely the first person who will notice AND identify your child's special gift, which is good because your work has just begun.

    Merely pointing out the potential of your child is not enough. It is just as crucial to document how that potential develops as your child grows. It is one vital way to help you discern the best way to develop your son or daughter's gift. So how do you document?

    How to document your child's potential

    During the media launch for "Promil i-Shine Talent Camp Season 7," Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho, president of the Philippine Center for Gifted Education, discussed how to make your child's "portfolio" to assess your child’s progress.

    “[Portfolios] are authentic and ongoing assessment tools,” Dr. Peñano-Ho began. “These are tools which even developmental pediatricians, as well as psychologists, will eventually use in formalizing the assessment.”

    Your child’s portfolio is meant to contain a “collection of products and observations” of your child, beginning at the age when you see his potential. It offers concrete pieces of evidence of his talents and abilities in different settings, not just in school or at home. Some items you can include in your child’s portfolio are artworks, photographs, written assessments from teachers, and even small constructions your child made by himself. Eventually, this portfolio can be submitted to educators and medical professionals to help them determine the most appropriate academic program and who can aid you in developing your child’s gift.

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    Aside from these materials, Dr. Peñano-Ho also talked about other information that needs to be included in a potentially gifted child’s portfolio.

    Write down your child's 'physical data'

    A doctor will need basic information about your child’s development at birth (when they were born, how much they weighed, whether or not they were full-term or premature, etc.) and as they grow.

    Record your child's developmental milestones and needs

    Dr. Peñano-Ho classifies four types of milestones you can watch out for: physical (motor skills), cognitive (ability to think, learn, and solve problems), social/emotional (ability to understand their emotions), and communication (language and verbal communication).

    Take note of your child’s developmental needs as well. An example Dr. Peñano-Ho had provided involved a child who can draw and grip a pencil well but whose drawing still appears incomplete, even though he seems to have an understanding of what that drawing depicts. Instances like this might be considered a developmental need and should be considered in the assessment.

    Note your child’s strengths

    Observe what your child appears to do well for his age without an adult’s help. These strengths can be a sign of the gift your child has or of other abilities that have yet to be discovered.

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    A portfolio can help educators and medical professionals to figure out the best way to develop your child's gift.
    PHOTO BY iStock

    How to create your potentially gifted child’s portfolio

    Now that you know what to include in your child’s portfolio, how should you go about the process of creating it? Dr. Peñano-Ho shared some helpful tips on how parents can document their children’s giftedness well.

    Observe silently

    The first step to documenting your child’s gift is to observe. You want to gather evidence of their abilities, how they use it, and the impact it has on the way they interact with people or surroundings. Watch how your child acts and reacts to different situations at home and outside. If your child already goes to school, ask for written feedback on his performance from his teacher.

    However, when you take this first step, it’s important to do it in a way that won’t be too obvious to your child to keep the situation as “normal” as possible.

    One of the best ways for you to observe is during playtime, so create a lot of opportunities for recreation. Dr. Peñano-Ho said, “You [should] give your child a chance to play…it is during playtime that you [will be] able to find a lot of the other gifts you probably don’t notice when you are trying to teach the child.”

    Choose quality over quantity

    Kids, especially during their first years in school, do a lot of different activities that can help develop their skills. Parents often keep every single artwork and activity. For the purpose of the portfolio, however, you need to select those that exhibit their talent that is beyond his age.


    Dr. Peñano-Ho gives a question that parents can use as reference: “What will show that my child is really gifted in a particular age?”

    You want to show quality, not quantity, and Dr. Peñano-Ho your child can provide helpful advice when selecting items to keep and discard for the portfolio. “The child is encouraged to self-select. You have to ask your child, ‘What do you want us to [get]? What do you want us to show if your teacher wants to know what you’re good at?’ Help the child select the things that he is proud of having done.”

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    Reflect carefully

    The next step is to look at the records and objects you have and reflect what these say about your child. “What does this show you?” Dr. Peñano-Ho said. “What can you conclude about your child? Your child’s personality, your child’s interest, your child’s ability — what are the reflections that you have?”

    The answers you have for those questions can then serve as your basis on what you are going to do to develop your child’s gift.

    At the end of the day, Dr. Peñano-Ho stated that developing and nurturing a child’s gift is not meant to be a solo effort but a collaborative one that requires efforts from the child, the parents, and the professionals and experts who can help. And Dr. Peñano-Ho hopes it will be an endeavor of paying forward.

    “Please remember that if you have a gifted child or potentially gifted child, you [don’t just] develop the child for himself or herself, [or] for the family so they will have a trophy,” she expressed. “You develop it so that the gifted are able to give back. And to me, the real gifted is the one who can do that. And that’s what we need in the Philippines.”

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