Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about giftedness in early childhood
How relevant are early reading and mathematics skills for diagnosing children with high cognitive ability?
In the self-help literature, one often finds statements to the effect that gifted children acquire their reading and arithmetic skills at a very early age. Does this allow us to conclude that early reading and arithmetic skills indicate exceptionally high cognitive ability?
Even during the Kita years, many children show an interest in symbols, numbers, and letters. This is not at all unusual. Whether their preoccupation with them is indicative of high ability depends, in part, on the level of proficiency attained by the child and on how these competencies were acquired.
Reading texts independently and comprehending them is qualitatively different from simply recognizing frequently seen words (e.g., bus stops on the daily bus routes or the names on doorbells). Can a child apply the principles of addition to problems in everyday life, or has the child memorized the “solutions” as a result of frequent playful repetition (“two plus two is four”)? Also, how much systematic instruction has the child received? In general, the more self-motivated a child is to engage in reading and arithmetic, and the less pedagogical guidance he or she has received in acquiring these skills, the more likely it is that above-average intellectual abilities can be inferred from the child’s achieved proficiency level.