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Critical take home points for parents from a 45 year study of 5,000 “genius” children

A four-decade study of thousands of highly intelligent children offers parents some insights about how to cultivate a high achieving child, and how to spot giftedness when they might otherwise miss it.    

Since the study began in 1971, the “Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth” or “SMPY” has tracked some of the smartest children in America – involving the top 1%, 0.1%, and even 0.01% of all students.

 Key findings:

Very bright children often do not get the attention they might need to cultivate their strong intellect, given teachers had found that overwhelming majorities of class time were spent helping lower achieving students get to the middle.

Action item:  If you suspect your child has accelerated abilities, make sure they are being challenged.  It may be you need to consider having a child skip a grade and/or be placed into a more advanced course in the area of their giftedness.  Or, you may need to find ways to supplement the curriculum with outside of school activities that stimulate their skills more than the school is doing.  This could involve placement in a camp or an online curriculum that will move at the pace your child wants to move at.

Even if you are scared of having your child skip a grade, take into mind the finding….from the SMPY study, which found that compared to a control group of gifted students who did not skip a grade versus those who did skip a grade, the grade skippers were 60% more likely to obtain patents and complete doctorates.  Also, the grade skippers were more than twice as likely to obtain a doctorate in a STEM field: science, technology, engineering, or math.

Spatial intelligence is a critical aspect of giftedness!  Many kids who present to my practice to be assessed for giftedness are often very advanced in terms of their spatial reasoning.  In fact, I have found this is often an overlooked aspect of intelligence because our society over values verbal based intelligence.  In other words, we judge how smart a kid is based on the vocabulary they use, not on their ability to visualize things spatially or to evaluate spatial information.

However…what has been found by the SMPY study, from multiple follow-up analyses, is that some of the smartest kids exhibit an advanced capacity for spatial reasoning.  In other words, as a parent you should not just try to develop your child’s vocabulary skills, but also ensure that you are stimulating their ability to analyze visual spatial information. And if your child seems to have advanced skills in this area, such as an amazing ability to complete puzzles or to solve spatially related challenges, then cultivate that talent of theirs and help them accelerate it.

In my practice what I have found is too often people think of intelligence as a one-dimensional concept, whereas actually there is a vast array of dimensions that need to be assessed.  But you have to be a parent who is willing to be on the lookout for the many different ways that giftedness can manifest. 

Want examples of how and why you have you have your child evaluated for giftedness?  Go to this popular link of ours. 

Don’t trust schools to identify what the upper limits are fort your child.  Rather, utilize a professional whose expertise is in knowing what measures to use to capture your child’s potential, so their potential can be unleashed and they can go to their next level of development.    How do I do this?  





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Meet Doctor Brunner

Dr. Thomas (Tom) Brunner is a Tucson based psychologist and published expert who has a 20 year track record of clinical excellence, scientific research, teaching, publications, awards and podcast interviews.  He is the senior author of a psychological measure adapted into 14 languages worldwide, and has written over 250 blogs, many of them have gone viral.  He is revolutionizing the field of career guidance with his fresh and trademarked approach that is spreading like wildfire. Sign up here to be notified of soon to be published book, Find Your Real Me: Career Guidance Making You Truly Free.