First Is Better When It Comes to I.Q. Scores

A scientific study was recently conducted to add to a half-century debate about whether first-born children have higher I.Q.'s than their younger siblings. The study, conducted by Norwegian epidemiologists, analyzed military records of birth order and I.Q. scores of more than 240,000 men born from 1967 to 1976. The finding that firstborns averaged three IQ points higher than their next sibling were reported in Science and Intelligence journals and by the New York Times in Research Finds First Borns Gain the Higher I.Q.

The Norwegian epidemiologists corrected for factors such as parents' education level, maternal age at birth, and family size in order to isolate the birth order factor. They also studied families where firstborn sons died, turning younger siblings into effective "firstborns." The differences in I.Q. varied by family, showing up in most but not all families, but the average difference was significant.

Now, I.Q. is clearly not the only key to success -- or balance -- in life. Other traits such as temperament, drive, adventurousness and creativity matter greatly. However, intelligence, and how families develop their children's I.Q's, obviously are valuable factors well worth studying as well all try to make sure our families, as well as our own lives, are as balanced as possible.

The theory behind the higher I.Q. correlation is that birth order and the resulting parental attention play a more dominant role in I.Q. development than biological traits. Parents with more than one child regularly joke about how unbalanced their parenting efforts are -- that the first child received far more time, attention, worry and nurturing than subsequent children. "Firstborns have their parents' undivided attention as infants, and even if that attention is later divided evenly with a sibling or more, it means that over time they will have more cumulative adult attention, in theory enriching their vocabulary and reasoning abilities," according to the Times article.

I am the third-born child in a family where the firstborn died. I have to admit that I always had a sneaky suspicion that my parents believed my older sibling was smarter than the rest of us (although I always begged to differ). Part of my success in school, work and at home was inspired by my desire to keep up with my siblings. And in my own kids, I see strengths and weaknesses in them that clearly are linked to birth order, but I never saw these differences as I.Q. related per se.

What do you see in your children? In your own childhood? How much -- or little -- does birth order matter in life? Do these findings effect your feelings about the pros and cons of having (or being) an only child? Having twins or other multiples? Or the importance of spacing out children's births in order to balance out the adult attention each child receives?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 25, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Raising Great Kids
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I see the parents supporting more of the first born's activities that conform to the parent's ideals. PAaenting is a new experience. By the time the next child is born, there is more latitude.

Posted by: bryn mawr | June 25, 2007 7:27 AM

Beyond an average IQ of a 100, I doubt IQ has a lot to do with success (unless you are some kind of genius). My guess is that professional and academic success can be attributed to a number of different traits and exposure. Being the third child, these studies are often disheartening. Actually my eldest brother, the first born, is the best academic student in our family and I would be the second best. As far as professional success, all three of us are about the same. If first borns are the smartest, we are in big trouble. Our first born is already in special education preschool!:)

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 7:28 AM

There is more to it than how much parental attention is given to first borns. Read the article and other articles on the same subject.

From cnn.com

"These two researchers demonstrate that how study participants were raised, not how they were born, is what actually influences their IQs," said Sulloway, who was not part of the research team.

The elder child pulls ahead, he said, perhaps as a result of learning gained through the process of tutoring younger brothers and sisters.

The older child benefits by having to organize and express its thoughts to tutor youngsters, he said, while the later children may have no one to tutor."

Having a second child may raise the IQ of the firstborn more than if they were an only child with undivided parental involvement.

Posted by: lurker | June 25, 2007 7:29 AM

Geez, the differences cited are 2-3 points between children. Is this really a notable difference with regard to success in life?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 7:30 AM

I am second in line and my older brother suffered from learning disabilities and excessive "boyness" making his school experience poor. I am sure I would do better on an IQ test but not because I am more intelligent or had more attention. My mother coached him through school and he ended up doing well in college and beyond. However, those early years of my success vs his struggles marked us so that even now I behave like the older and he thinks of me as the smart one. Intelligence is often about self-esteem.

Posted by: relativelynewtoblog | June 25, 2007 7:32 AM

I also was a 3rd child, but I had by far the best grades of all four of us kids. My dad told me he learned how to be a parent with the first two children, so he and my mom had it figured out by the time me and my younger brother came along.

Posted by: John L | June 25, 2007 7:32 AM

I can't decide if Leslie is overly competitive or completely insecure. She doesn't seem happy with any part of her life - competes with husband, career associates (why can't women enter the work force after a 10-year break with no break in stride), SAHMs and WOHMs (best mothers, best birthday parties) and now shows that she is competitive with siblings.

Leslie, just relax and enjoy your life. It is a journey, not a perpetual competition.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 7:34 AM

I think there is something to be said for birth order and how it affects personality. I am not sure I am on board with birth order and IQ. My kids are too young to notice any difference yet. But a few points in IQ is not a really a difference to me. And I am also a strong believer that IQ is not an overall measure of intelligence nor does it predict future success.

Posted by: HappyDad | June 25, 2007 7:37 AM

My brother is 2 years older. We never took IQ tests, but the general consensus is that I am "smarter". He would be the first to say that I got the brains and he got the brawn. He's really big and strong.

Posted by: xyz | June 25, 2007 7:38 AM

I agree with the above. I am first born and known as the smart one, even by my brother. I agree with the others--so many intangibles go into success that 2-3 IQ points won't make that much difference. (Are 2-3 points even that statistically significant, even if it is reproducible across large groups? And if it is, how significant?)

Posted by: First and brighter | June 25, 2007 7:44 AM

Life is what you make of it. IQ may or may not have anything to do with professional or any other kind of success. 07:34 a.m. is right on target. Drop the competition and enjoy life on your own terms!

Posted by: Murphy | June 25, 2007 7:48 AM

All of my kids are smart!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 8:03 AM

The first born in smarter because they are told they can't do something but always figure out how to do it. By the time the next ones come along they are allowed to do what the first born wasn't. The parents figure out that the first one survived so let the next ones go ahead.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | June 25, 2007 8:06 AM

Great! Yet another excuse to not succeed. "I would be successful, but my parents had me last"...sigh...you are what you make yourself.

Posted by: bored | June 25, 2007 8:08 AM

My mother joined MENSA for fun but quit when she realized that almost all of the MENSA members she met were only interested in bragging about their high IQs and cared very little about using their talents to help other people or to make this world a better place.

As many previous posters have pointed out: it's not what you have, it's what you do with it that matters.

"People who boast about their IQ are losers," -- Stephen Hawking

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10086479/

Posted by: Allison | June 25, 2007 8:10 AM

Foamgnome -- I think you are totally right. IQ probably matters only if you are in genius territory. For the rest of us, the other traits matter FAR more.

And to anon at 7:26 -- I agree about being insecure. Not so much with your take that being competitive is a negative trait. In men it is certainly seen as a positive by our society. For me, my natural competitiveness has always been an asset, and often a joy. Being competitive is a natural state of being for many women as well as men -- it's a human survival trait. Women are given a strong message, even as young girls, that being competitive is bad (like your comment to "just relax"). This makes a lot of women feel terrible about something that can often be a powerful force for good in their lives. Okay -- off my soapbox!

Posted by: Leslie | June 25, 2007 8:16 AM

"My mother joined MENSA for fun but quit when she realized that almost all of the MENSA members she met were only interested in bragging about their high IQs and cared very little about using their talents to help other people or to make this world a better place."

Yeah, I hear that those MENSA groups throw all that best parties...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 8:17 AM

Leslie, "do these findings AFFECT your feelings about the pros and cons of having (or being) an only child?"

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 8:20 AM

relativelynewtoblog, your post describes my experience too! We never took IQ tests, but I bet he'd be smarter, although I'm perceived to be because I always did well in school.

Whenever he says I'm smarter, I remind him who's getting his PhD first!

Posted by: Meesh | June 25, 2007 8:23 AM

I suppose the same study suggests that the older you get when popping one out, the dumber it will be.

Posted by: The Autistic Spectrum | June 25, 2007 8:29 AM

Autistic Spectrum,

If that's true, then does that mean that young teen girls having children will make them the smartest of all?

Posted by: John L | June 25, 2007 8:33 AM

Leslie, I'll answer your questions directly:

How much -- or little -- does birth order matter in life?

In my experience, some. The oldest child gets the most attention - and that's both positive and negative. (Oldest DD was the first one born so she was an only for a while; she was the first to enter school; play on sports teams; go on dates; get a job; and the first one to deal with picking a college. We learn a lot, but we make mistakes with her that we won't repeat with the others. Youngest DD will always be the "baby" of the family - think Cindy Brady always at the kids' table - and will be an "only" when her siblings are all in college, and she plays that status up for attention when she thinks she needs to.) But it's not the single biggest factor. Unaddressed in the Norwegian study and in many other posters' comments is the gender of children. I'm the middle of three kids, but the oldest was a girl, so I'm the oldest boy - and I'll tell you flat out that I was treated more as the "oldest boy" than as the "middle child" because of it. We've tried very hard not to treat our kids that way, but I think it does play a role.

Do these findings effect your feelings about the pros and cons of having (or being) an only child?

Well, given that the strongest reason for the IQ differential seems to be the presence of younger children, NOT the parental attention, I'd say it makes us happier we DIDN'T have an only child. Well, I'd say that if we really cared about 2 IQ points, which we don't, but hey, one more tool in the argument with those who assert that we're idiots for having four. :-)


Having twins or other multiples?
Or the importance of spacing out children's births in order to balance out the adult attention each child receives?

Again, the most logical explanation seems to be the presence of the younger kids, so this doesn't really enter into it.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 25, 2007 8:34 AM

Great! I wasn't the first born in my litter, so now I know why I failed obedience school.

Woof!

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 25, 2007 8:36 AM

Leslie, anon at 7:26 was not me!

I think social IQ is more important than the traditional IQ score.

Posted by: experienced mom | June 25, 2007 8:48 AM

I am glad that there is finally research to support what I have been telling my younger brother and sister our entire lives - I am the smartest! :)

Posted by: single mom | June 25, 2007 8:55 AM

John L, apparently The virgin Mary was about 14 when she gave birth to her Son.

And he knew everything.

Posted by: The Autistic Spectrum | June 25, 2007 8:57 AM

Single Mom, if you are so smart, then why are you single?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 9:04 AM

IQ tests have long been a questionable measure of intelligence. I don't think the human race has identified what intelligence is (at least in an objective way that can be measured by science), and there is more than sufficient evidence to suggest flaws in IQ test results.

In any case, most IQ tests show a high correlation (not connection) with level of academic degree. Given the high correlation between socio-economic class and academic level, it seems that the study might be biased by the amount of resources a family dedicates to the first born child. I think families that still have an attachment to primogeniture are rare, but perhaps this accounts for the small measure difference.

Posted by: David S | June 25, 2007 9:05 AM

These studies were around for a while, just not so conclusive. For us, firstborns, there was never doubt that we are the smartest. By the way, firstborns tend to choose each other in marriage, my husband is also a firstborn. I don't think having siblings matters much. My sister is 10 years younger, it was like a whole new generation to me, don't remember any "mentoring". I was the first one, the parents did not know much what they were doing, and I was always able to wrestle it my way. The sibling was a result of my mother deciding in desperation that she needed another one to raise it right. Well, sis is a typical younger sibling -- more attached, more emotional, more loving (all the wrong men). IQ measures LOGICAL thinking, and it shows.

In my own family 2 first kids have less than 2 years age difference, so I can't tell who has higher IQ, they are running in a pack. The youngest one (different marriage) is a firstborn in a sense, his siblings were in ther teens when she was born, and incidentally her IQ is off the charts (the only one who got formally tested).

Posted by: The firstborn | June 25, 2007 9:06 AM

I agree with HappyDad. And without having read it (yet), I think this study certainly sounds interesting.

I am an older sister of a brother, and we both had our IQs tested when we were kids (and now I'm wondering why). And he surpassed me by a fair amount . . . twice. But I've always had more confidence (perhaps instilled by being an only child before he came along when I was 6), and am more "successful" in the traditional sense. But he's just as happy as I am. So what does all this mean? Who knows. But from my own personal observations, I don't think IQ can be directly correlated to either success nor happiness. So an interesting study but I'm not sure one can draw any useful conclusions.

As for my own kids, I'm not worried about how their IQs might compare (and don't know how we'll ever even find out what they are). But I will note that the older one (girl) certainly got more attention before the younger one (boy) came along. I spent hours with her as an infant reading books to her one-on-one -- something I rarely did with my son, just due to the fact that he came second. Will this have some affect on a comparison of their vocabularies at a given age? Probably. But it should not affect IQ, which as I understand it is a measure of intelligence capability, not knowledge.

Posted by: Jen | June 25, 2007 9:11 AM

to 9:04AM - I see that you are not a first born... I think that it is smart to be single.

Posted by: single mom | June 25, 2007 9:12 AM

My family is generally quite smart. I have no idea whether my older sister has a higher testable IQ than my brothers and I. IME, birth order doesn't matter nearly as much as social role in the family. One of my brothers and I (the middle kids) were both expected to succeed. My youngest brother and my oldest sister were not as favored.

In terms of material success, my other middle sibling and I definitely did well. No one's hurting, but I think that my other two siblings were hurt by my parents' lower expectations. Or we middle kids were neurotic and more driven. Take your choice. :)

Posted by: It's pecking order, not birth order. | June 25, 2007 9:14 AM

I laughed when I saw this this weekend.

I'm the youngest of 3, and I have the highest IQ. We're all smart though - the differences in our IQ's are not vast.

This is just an exercise in statistics...

Posted by: Youngest of 3 | June 25, 2007 9:14 AM

Single Mom, if you are so smart, then why are you single?

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 09:04 AM


Wow, way to start off a Monday!
Your IQ is obviously in the gutter if you feel the need to make that statement.

I'll marry you, single mom!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 9:18 AM

Being competitive an asset? A joy? A natural state? Maybe it was for you, Leslie, but it certainly wasn't (still isn't) for me.

I grew up in the shadow of a smarter older brother. Attempting to compete with him did nothing more than to make me feel incredibly dumb and like a social outcast. Nothing I did was right in comparison to what he was able to do. This could explain why we've had almost nothing to do with one another as adults. I simply got tired of being the one in the losing position all the time.

After all these years, I'm just now learning that my father went through the same thing as a child, only in his case he grew up in the shadow of a smarter older sister. The competition between them as children has similarly impacted their relationship as adults.

If you experienced sibling competition as a positive thing, I'm glad it worked out for you. For some of us, however, it was a singularly negative experience.

Posted by: Murphy | June 25, 2007 9:20 AM

Thanks 9:18!

I agree that 3 points is not a ton when it comes to IQ - breastfeeding is shown to give the same number, sign language around 10points (according to the advertising), piano lessons a few more. Guess it is that parents may experiment more with the oldest, and become more low-key with the other ones. Book wise I am the smartest, my brother is the peace maker (middle kid)and totally laid back, and my sister is still the baby of the family.

I think that as the oldest you have a lot of responsibility to be a 'good example' to your younger siblings.

PS (BTW - I am the only one of my siblings to go to college)

Posted by: single mom | June 25, 2007 9:34 AM

Of course, when one reads, the article it is not as interesting or universal as people here seem to think. The oldest sibling has the highest IQ in the family 57% of the time, so there is a significant chance that the oldest will not have the highest IQ in your family, there is also the fact that the study showed, that while lower on average, younger siblings are also more likely to have extremely high IQ's than older siblings. There is also the fact that there have been numerous smaller studies that have contradicted this study's findings, so there really isn't much that should be said until there are more studies with these similar results.

Posted by: Chris | June 25, 2007 9:38 AM

In the short term, I actually think younger siblings gain from having an older sibling. My daughter wanted to learn to ride a bike but we were too big to fit on the tiny tricycle to show her how. When a friend who was a year came older visited, she jumped on the trike and started riding it. My daughter saw her and figured out how it works. So I think having someone physically smaller showing you how to do some things must give you some advantage over being the oldest or an only. On a side note, studies show that only children fare as well as first borns. Again the theory is the additional attention paid to a first born and an only gives them a very slight edge.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 9:39 AM

If we're planning on going off on a tangent today (as we inevitably will), I'd like to talk more about Murphy's post. What do you all feel about competition -- among siblings as children and adults, about how you yourselves were raised and how your children are dealing with competition.

Our parents always treated us like racehorses and we knew EXACTLY where we ranked vis a vis our siblings -- and now we are not close as adults. I suspect the competition within the family had a lot to do with that.

Personally, I hate the whole notion of measuring intelligence using an IQ test, as well as the idea that kids know what their score is, parents know what their kid's scores are, and that these numbers are bandied about and compared. (I'll never forget standing outside my kid's Fairfax County school waiting to pick them up, and hearing parents talk about the COGAT scores which they had just received. I heard a mom say, "Well, apparently I have two GIFTED children and one who's just regular." Can you imagine being that poor kid, the regular one? I hope they've started saving up for the psychotherapy already.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | June 25, 2007 9:44 AM

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/Features/Columns/?article=GrammarEthics

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 9:46 AM

Seems the big story about the youngest Mensa member (2 years old) mentioned that she is the youngest of three -- or maybe it was four. Anyway, her parents attribute her IQ to the attention given her by her elder siblings.

Posted by: Jen S. | June 25, 2007 9:55 AM

You quoted something that the article clearly said was mitigated almost immediately: it isn't, they don't believe, added parental focus that makes the kid score higher. That is parental angst at work, not science. And please, let us not make the mistake of equating a higher IQ score with a higher IQ. I have a shatteringly high IQ score, it doesn't help much when I go to put together IKEA furniture.

I would suspect that what you get in an oldest is a cautious, risk-averse, focused acheiver. The kind of person who likes tests, because they expect the test to show what they can do. They ponder, they choose the most responsible choice, they achieve because it is what they are supposed to do. Being the product of all the fuss and worry does do that to many, many first-borns. I can (anecdotally in my own life, for example) readily see where that would translate into better test scores than impulsive, risk-taking, chip-on-their-shoulder wearing younger kids might get. I doubt it has much to do with underlying intelligence which, within narrow parameters, should be similar among siblings (being as it is heavily genetically influenced).

Besides, let's be honest. You said that IQ was "obviously" an important factor. Uh, I'd heartily disagree with that. I think that my kids are probably clustered around 115 - within one standard deviation of the mean (I have the test scores to prove it on the two boys, who had to be evaluated as part of their autism work up). They are plenty smart enough, and I don't think that being 3 or 4 standard deviations from the mean has helped me in life in a real way. Actually it made a lot of things harder. All those middle-class parents think that they want a genius kid so they can brag at cocktail parties, but I know better. REAL gifted (as opposed to wishful-thinking, parent-demanded gifted) is special ed -- essentially, we're at-risk youth and it takes tremendous work to raise a happy gifted kid. I feel lucky to have my "normal" ones.

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Posted by: Grammar Goddess | June 25, 2007 10:03 AM

I think this is fascinating. First, yes, 3 points across the entire population is very worth noting, because it's an arithmetical average. I'm not completely up on the IQ scale, but I believe only @ 20 points separates "average" (100) and "genius" (120), so to have an average that makes up 10-15% of the ground between those two is pretty significant. Foamy, care to weigh in?

Second, of course part of the difference is attention. I am very conscious that I don't play or have as much undivided time with my son as with my daughter -- even when I'm trying to focus on my son, she's always there, always talking. It's probably not a coincidence that he started really talking during the week that she went to Disneyworld!

But I also think a big part is expectations. Interesting article by the Freakanomics guy a few months back on why the European soccer elite had so many players with birthdays in January-March. Answer: because the junior league age cutoffs were Dec., so people born Jan-Mar. were older, therefore on average significantly larger and more coordinated when they started. So they were pegged at an early age as "stars," and as a result got better training, more attention, and higher expectations.

So why would it be any different with kids in a family? At least in my own experience -- both growing up and with my own kids -- the older kids are expected to take on more responsibility, earlier. The constant cycle of being expected to accomplish things and succeeding in them builds confidence and competence, which then leads others to perceive her as "smart," which ultimately leads to her perceiving herself as smart. And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: once the kid is pegged as smart, people treat her that way and expect her to be that way, so again, she is challenged with high expectations.

I can't tell you how many people think my daughter is brilliant -- not for any substantive reason, but just because she is very verbal and confident. She just "seems" smart. My son is much quieter -- anyone would be, growing up with Doppler Girl -- and is so more likely to play by himself. And then, of course, if he wants anything, she's there to get it, whereas she had to figure everything out for herself -- so, again, she continues to grow more competent, while he continues to have stuff done for him.

Personally, I think they're both very smart in different ways. But she would score better on an IQ test (at comparable ages, of course), because she has a much better vocabulary. And she's likely to be the one pegged for G&T classes, because she just won't let herself be overlooked.

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 10:06 AM

One other thing-- I think one of the researchers said it wasn't so much that the elder has higher IQ because of receiving more parental attention but because of NICHE filling-- i.e., an elder child is more likely to decide for one reason or another to act more like an adult and fill the "adult" niche of the children cohort-- and therefore will act more like an adult and take on the attendant IQ of an adult compared to a child. Subsequent children will pick up that the "adult" niche has already been filled, so instead will take on another niche rather than compete with the eldest to fill the adult niche-- other available niches would be "the creative type", "the nuturing one", "the athletic one", etc.

PErhaps with the super smart, yet youngest of several elder siblings, English girl, the elder children had for some reason decided not to fill the "adult" niche and that left it open for her to step into. Perhaps the parents had somehow made other niches more valued than the "adult/intellectual" one so that the elder ones were drawn to filling those niches first and leaving that one for the youngest.

Posted by: Jen S. | June 25, 2007 10:08 AM

Amazing...I don't see a single comment here that looks at the sample that was used for this 'study' and finds the flaws. First of all, they only used MALE firstborn data, so there was no gender diversity, and secondly, they only used data from a military database. Not knocking the military, but you'll not see a very balanced picture across society from a military database! And 2-3 percentage points difference, but only 57% of the time? Considering that they don't state the statistical plus/minus variance - which undoubtedly exists anyways - doesn't this effectively make the results meaningless?
This is yet another example of the media trying to create a frenzy using inflammatory phrasing, when there is really no news to report on the topic.
This 'study' is yet another perfect example of what my stats teacher in college taught us: All statistics can be twisted to suit the theory of those who conduct the survey (or those who report on it) - always insist on knowing information about the statistical sample before just swallowing the results shown to you.

Posted by: seeford | June 25, 2007 10:09 AM

How do all you posters know if you have higher IQs than your siblings? Did your parents have you formally tested or something? I find that a bit weird. I think there may be some truth to the research though I'm sure there are LOTS and LOTS of exceptions. The first born in my family scored highest on the SATs and the score dropped with each yougher sibling.

But in the end, it doesn't matter. We are all happy and successful in our own right. While my youngest sibling had the hardest time with the traditional academic subjects, she ended up excelling in the arts.

Posted by: londonmom | June 25, 2007 10:13 AM

My daughter is "gifted", she is 3 1/2.
I don't plan on getting her tested, but I may be foiled, as she most likely will need to attend a private school, as I can already see that she may thrive in an alternative setting (Montessori, Waldorf, etc) where the work is more student-based. Boredom is a big issue among gifted kids.

I really don't want to label her at such a young age- or any age- because I want her to socialize with all kids and not feel singled out. I also don't want her to learn to leave other "non-gifted" kids out. In the end, it doesn't matter whether she is in the gifted program or AP classes- I just want her to be a loving empathetic woman with all types of friends.
So many parents fall into the trap of only identifying their gifted kids with their giftedness- already talking Ivies and the like,...It makes me so sad that the kids can't just be kids.

My daughter is an only. Most "gifted" kids I know are onlies. I think the fact that they are gifted is the reason they are onlies! They tend to be difficult, non-sleepers. Take a LOT of energy. A LOT. I planned on having 2, but I'm not even thinking of it for at least another 2 years and hopefully my daughter won't take as much energy! lol


Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 10:19 AM

According to http://wilderdom.com/intelligence/IQWhatScoresMean.html
the distribution falls as follows:
140 + genuis
120-140-very superior intelligence
110-119 superior intelligence
90-109-normal
80-89 dullness
70-79 borderline deficient
lower 70-definite feeble midness

I wouldn't take IQ, especially just a few points, as meaning much. People who have taken the test multiple times often score with in a few points each time. I know my husband's half brother (who is borderline deficient) gets tested by the state several times a year. His score flucates from just below 70 to slightly above 70 on a regular basis.

It sems like the Standard deviation is + or - 15 points. Again, I don't think you will see an obvious difference till around 120 range. I don't know my own IQ and would fathom to guess it is in the normal range. I often wonder if it is wise to ever tell parents or kids their IQ score. What does that prove? If your kid is a genius, you would probably figure it out without the IQ test. Same with the opposite direction.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 10:19 AM

How do schools determine if a child is gifted?

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 10:22 AM

Definition

I.Q. stands for intelligence quotient. The I.Q. test, developed by Alfred Binet at Stanford University in 1905, was the first modern intelligence test. Developed originally for children, the test was modified and administered to adults. Reinterpretation of the test for adults is necessary. The mean or average IQ score over a large population is set to be 100. Approximately 68% of the population scores between 85 and 115. This range can be thought of as "normal."

The I.Q. test is seen by many as controversial. Developers of the I.Q. test claim that I.Q measures intellectual ability. Some argue that the test measures not raw intelligence but literacy and educational breadth. The Wikipedia link here is quite helpful, as it contains links to primary sources and discussion about the controversy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ

Posted by: Classmates Assigned to Look at this Blog | June 25, 2007 10:30 AM

Fascinating tangent: does your birth order affect who you choose as a spouse?

I've dated (and married) almost exclusively first borns and only children. They are such a pain! But so am I so I guess it equals out.

Anyone else care to weigh in here?

Posted by: Leslie | June 25, 2007 10:37 AM

foamgnome to answer your question on how schools determine gifted - For fairfax county anyway.

It is based on a combination of test scores, teacher recommendations and an application filled out by the parents. The key factor seems to be the test scores. This is done in the second grade. If you think your child should have tested higher you can get private testing done but there is no guarantee that the test scores will be high enough.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 25, 2007 10:38 AM

I am the youngest of three and married a middle child. I dated a couple of oldest children and frankly they seemed very bossy to me. But small sample. I find middle children are the easiest going.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 10:39 AM

No, I doubt my kid is gifted. We are just hoping for normal. Actually, her mild autism doesn't seem to effect her cognitive ability. She seems very normal and tests that way. I was just curious. It seems like there are far too many children statistically in these gifted and talented programs. But I guess they get around it by also labeling it talented. My goodness how to you measure talent. I can picture all these parents trying to get their kids into these programs. It does seem like a large number of parents on these type of blogs have gifted kids. I wonder if parents of gifted kids need this sort of outlet or they really don't have gifted kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 10:42 AM

I, too, was a gifted only, identified as such by my parents at age 3 or so. They firmly believed in public schools, but realized it wouldn't work out when my first grade class spent most of the day learning to read, and I'd been reading fluently for quite some time. Most private schools do require placement testing. I think you will find that private schools are an excellent option for your daughter. She will get more personal attention and still have all the same social opportunities. Further, not all kids at private schools are "gifted," so she will also learn to accept being extremely smart.

Posted by: To 10:19 | June 25, 2007 10:44 AM

Intelligence has little to do with success sometimes. My husband's oldest brother is brilliant but doesn't have a bit of common sense. He made poor choices throughout his life, got his GED, went into the Marine Corp, went AWOL and has been on a downward spiral since. It is very sad to see such brilliance go to waste.

My husband and his siblings (2 more boys - 1 girl, my husband is 3rd) are all successful in their chosen fields. Actually the youngest is the most competitive and monetarily successful.

I am the 3rd of 3. I probably have the most common sense but my 2 older brothers are probably equally "smart."

There are just too many variables to make sweeping assumptions and the 2-3 points cited in this study is negligible. How competitive or driven you are is 50% personality - 50% environment. I see so many kids with Type A personality parents that are being driven and pushed "to do it all perfectly" and some kids will flourish and some will rebel.

Posted by: CMAC | June 25, 2007 10:46 AM

I'm troubled by the impression that only one kind of giftedness is under discussion. On a traditional IQ test a highly verbal child might perform better than one who's perhaps more introverted, yet has other talents not being measured. What about, e.g., the child who's gifted at art or music, or athletically, or at designing and building stuff on his/her own? These fields all require a lot of "smarts" in order to succeed in them, too -- yet those aspects aren't directly assessed on traditional IQ tests. I'd be interested in hearing from families with such children discuss how they recognize and foster such gifts in their children, while dealing with traditional schooling, testing, etc. (especially in the over-testing era of NCLB).

Posted by: catlady | June 25, 2007 10:48 AM

Laura is definitely not up on IQ--the average is 100, but genius comes at about 180. Also, notice the study only included men.

Then there's the different tests. For example, to qualify for membership in Intertel, you must score 136 or above on the CTMM (California Test of Mental Maturity), 156 on the Cattell supervised test, 135 on the WAIS & WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale), 145 on the AGCT (Army General Classification Test), 1375 on the SAT, and 1300 on the GRE. ALL these scores are supposed to be equivalent to an intelligence as high or higher than 99% of the population. Percentage is the only valid way to measure IQ (for those of you who have taken first year college chemistry, it is an INTENSIVE variable, like density).

Top 1% is NOT genius level, anyway. It is only one in 100, or 65 million out of the approximately 6.5 billion world population.

I agree with other commenters that social conditioning is far more important than IQ-- unless you ARE in the genius category. Mario Savio, the head of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, had an IQ of 180 (I don't know what scale). Did he consider himself successful?

Posted by: NMAIF | June 25, 2007 10:50 AM

Experienced Mom (explicitly) and CMAC (implicitly) raise another important issue: social IQ, which is as important in its own way as intellectual IQ in attaining success in childhood and adult life. Are some children innately more talented in that area? How do parents and schools go about teaching those skills? Some political conservatives believe it's not the public schools' place to teach social skills at all, only course subjects.

Posted by: catlady | June 25, 2007 10:53 AM

Foamgnome, in Howard County the tests for GT classes are given in Elementary School (usually 5th grade) for middle school GT programs. Acceptance into the GT program is based on a combination of the test scores, teacher recommendations and what the parents want.

The "dirty little secret" is that regardless of test scores or teacher recommendations, a parent who really wants his or her child in GT classes can get that accomplished - the school system almost always backs down. Of course, such a parent may soon find his or her child having lower grades, but again, if the parent wants it, the parent can have it.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 25, 2007 10:55 AM

IMO schools don't label a child as "gifted." The parents do and then push their children into gifted programs. I find it hard to believe that any pre-school would label a child as young as 3-1/2 as "gifted." Sounds to me like a determination by the parents that their child is smarter than their peers.

Posted by: londonmom | June 25, 2007 10:56 AM

seeford: "they only used data from a military database. Not knocking the military, but you'll not see a very balanced picture across society from a military database!"

Umm - the study was done in Norway, where military service is compulsory. So that "military database" represented a very good cross-section of Norwegian males.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 25, 2007 10:58 AM

I agree with some of the posters who question the value in knowing your own IQ. I was the youngest of five kids and was definitely the most academically successful, though I would not equate that with being the smartest. I have no idea if my parents ever knew our IQ scores. I don't know the IQ scores of my siblings. I never knew my own IQ until I got curious and took an IQ test in my late twenties. And I never told anyone else about my score. As for kids, I think it places an undue pressure on them to know their IQ and/or how it compares to that of their siblings or other children.

Also, for those who have just decided they know which of their child has the higher IQ without testing, I would caution you that you may be totally off in your estimation. We are raising twin boys, and in the school application process (insane, but that's an entirely different subject for another day), part of their required testing included an IQ test. We worried that one of the boys (the firstborn by a minute) would have a significantly higher IQ than the other because he was more verbal and articulate. As it turned out, the other boy had a higher IQ, but only by one point, and their more detailed, subject-area results were astonishingly similar. That said, we NEVER plan to tell them, at least while they are still children, what their results were. We just see no value in doing so.

Posted by: Lori | June 25, 2007 10:59 AM

What about, e.g., the child who's gifted at art or music, or athletically, or at designing and building stuff on his/her own? These fields all require a lot of "smarts" in order to succeed in them, too -- yet those aspects aren't directly assessed on traditional IQ tests. I'd be interested in hearing from families with such children discuss how they recognize and foster such gifts in their children, while dealing with traditional schooling, testing, etc. (especially in the over-testing era of NCLB).

Posted by: catlady | June 25, 2007 10:48 AM

Other than athleticism, which I think is pushing it on the gifted issue:
One can be talented, like in a good singing voice, but it doesn't make one intelligent.

Most artistically and musically inclined students will also test well on traditional IQ tests, as it takes a lot of the same skills.
I was in the gifted program throughout school and all of the musically and artistically gifted students were in the gifted program as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 10:59 AM

I figured that was the case. I mean how can there be so many GT kids statistically speaking. When I was a kid they had honors programs. In general, the better academic students were slated there. But it had nothing to do with innate ability as they were not given an IQ test. By 12 th grade, you could see that the majority of honors students were headed to good or excellent four year colleges. But there was an awfully lot of non honors (regular college bound course)kids going to the same schools. So not a huge deterimining factor. A very small percentage of honors kids did not go to college at all. But that was a very small group. Probably had more to do with teenage rebellion then ability. But parents did not seem to be so interested in pushing their kids into honors programs for the sake of it. They seemed more interested in finding the right placement for their child.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 10:59 AM

Glad I don't work with Grammar Goddess.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:03 AM

To 10:59 AM: Brute-strength athleticism might not necessarily correlated with other forms of intelligence, but all other things being equal an intelligent athlete will be more successful at sports than a stupid one, whether it be simply a matter of learning the rules or seeing (literally or figuratively) the best strategies for success in one's sport(s).

Latin saying for the day: Mens sana in corpore sano.

Posted by: catlady | June 25, 2007 11:04 AM

"Fascinating tangent: does your birth order affect who you choose as a spouse?

I've dated (and married) almost exclusively first borns and only children. They are such a pain! But so am I so I guess it equals out.

Anyone else care to weigh in here?"

I'll weigh in: you've finally gone off the deep end.

Posted by: joey joe joe junior | June 25, 2007 11:08 AM

From what I read, there are no gender diffs in IQ so the researchers felt that using only males was fine (ie there aren't differences inIQ scores for males and females-of course there could still be biases in this study).

And, do you know if in norway it is a volunteer army? I doubt it- so it is probably a good crossection of people.

I had always been thought of as the smart one-and I'm the youngest of 3 girls. I went to a better college than my sisters and roamed further from home (they each live within 20 miles of home-same geographic area). I have traveled more and done different things-whereas my sisters followed my parent's path and were more traditional. I think all of us were pegged as gifted but it meant more when I was in school as there were programs I attended that they did not since they did not exist.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 11:10 AM

IMO schools don't label a child as "gifted." The parents do and then push their children into gifted programs. I find it hard to believe that any pre-school would label a child as young as 3-1/2 as "gifted." Sounds to me like a determination by the parents that their child is smarter than their peers.

Posted by: londonmom | June 25, 2007 10:56 AM

Actually, my daughter's preschool did label her as "gifted"- not in front of her or the other children and she is certainly not singled out, but they did label her in our parent-teacher conference. There are challenges associated in raising a gifted child and keeping them occupied. We were also talking elementary education - and her giftedness is an issue there as well.

I'm not sure why your response is so snippy, londonmom. Some kids are gifted- it's pretty obvious in a lot of situations. I'm not trying to compare anything- it is the way it is.

I don't walk around telling people my daughter is gifted (I didn't even use my "screen name" today) but it becomes pretty apparent. I always find myself making excuses for it, or saying "All kids are great at different things," just so other moms don't think I'm bragging or something...

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 11:10 AM

catlady: good questions on child being "gifted."

My daughter got flagged on an abilities test from the end of second grade - she was is the 99th percentile in congnitive ability. I wasn't surprised because she is very smart, but not a traditional learner. She is not the best student and all of her teachers have told me "she marches to the beat of a different drummer." Loudoun County VA's gifted program for elementary school is geared towards findings kids that "think outside the box" (can't stand that term), so just because your kid was reading at a 6th grade level in Kindergarten means very little. My daughter didn't even read till the end of 1st grade. Also, she and one of her friends that got flagged are creative and imaginitive kids, very much the opposite of the book-worm, straight A students - but both are witty, smart and different.

Kids are assessed in 4 areas (besides the 2nd grade testing) to be included in the program, teacher input, counselor input, parental input and additional testing in 3rd grade. We won't know whether she made it or not until the first week of July, but if she doesn't it is no big deal. The guidance counselor says it is not the end all to be accepted to this program - it is great for the kids but if she's not included in the elementary program she may well be picked up in Middle or High School.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I think Loudoun's program allows kids from all levels of intelligence to participate in Gifted and Talented. When I was a kid it was just the kids that tested and performed well in class that went onto G&T programs, there was no consideration for the creative, imaginative kid. Things have changed!

Posted by: cmac | June 25, 2007 11:10 AM

Fascinating tangent: does your birth order affect who you choose as a spouse?

What if it's a boy between two girls?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:11 AM

"Experienced Mom (explicitly) and CMAC (implicitly) raise another important issue: social IQ, which is as important in its own way as intellectual IQ in attaining success in childhood and adult life. Are some children innately more talented in that area? How do parents and schools go about teaching those skills?"

Catlady -- good question! I was a good case in point: intellectually smart, socially clueless (my mom always called me her "brilliant flake"). I was just never good at picking up at what other people were thinking or feeling, or playing games. Which is part of the reason I like watching my daughter -- she has this natural ability that I never did. I suspect a lot of it is extrovert/introvert -- figuring out other people just floats her boat.

I firmly believe there are many different types of talent, and that the IQ test alone gives a lot of people short shrift. Just one very prosaic example: my hairstylist. He was never much interested in school, but you give him a head of hair, and he "sees" what it can be, the way a sculptor "sees" the statue inside the block of marble. After the first time I visited him, I realized that I could take every lesson in haircutting known to man, and I still wouldn't be able to do what he does. My mom's the same way with organization -- she could run a three-ring circus with one hand tied behind her back. And just think of all of the inventors out there who think up stuff, and then you look at it and go "d'oh! Why didn't I think of that??"

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 11:11 AM

GiftedMom: This is not a criticism but a question. How did you the preschool assess that your daughter is gifted? In the preschool years, there is a wide range of ability. Kids learn at vastly different rates. I see some kids as early as under two, saying and knowing all their colors while kids as old as 4 don't get the concept yet. But both groups of kids would be considered normal intelligence. I am just curious. I am sure there are truly gifted kids in the world. But statistically speaking, there are more kids in these GT programs than statistically possible.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 11:15 AM

"gifted" is such a funny term. i can't imagine how bratty it would be if a kid walked around all the time thinking "i'm gifted".

jjjj -- you must be new. i have gone off the deep end so many times, this is nothing! but appreciate your observation.

Posted by: Leslie | June 25, 2007 11:16 AM

Gifted Mom - you don't think there is anything inherently wrong with a school system labeling 3 year olds as "gifted"????

How would a pre-school make this determination? Is it just that your daughter has a better vocabulary? Quite frankly, I am really skeptical of such classifications at such a early age and I DO think it has more to do with parents than students.

Let's remember that Einsten didn't even speak until he was 3!!! Doubt he was labeled as "gifted".

I think there is a serious harm with labeling children gifted (and thus by implication - not gifted) at such an early age. And if as you say, Gifted Mom, that you don't brag about your child being labeled as "gifted" then why is it that you need to go around making excuses for it to the other parents. How would they know??? Unless you are telling me that the teachers announced it?

Either way, when we are talking about THREE YEAR OLDS, I think this is pretty sick.

Posted by: londonmom | June 25, 2007 11:21 AM

At my kid's old school in NOrthern Virginia, the GT teacher had a sign on her door that said, "Mrs. Rigby's Gifted and Talented Class" with a list underneath of all the children. She couldn't figure out why anyone would be offended by this. The GT kids also didn't like to play with the regular kids. Wonder why . .

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:21 AM

To gifted mom: kids develop so differently that I think many people agree that it is very difficult to know if your child is gifted until they are older. For example learning to read is absolutely no indicator to intelligence.

I'm the youngest married an oldest. I've heard that's the most common.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 11:21 AM

Hi, atlmom. How's your au pair doing adapting to the US and to your family? Did you take her to Orlando with you, and if so, what were her reactions?

Posted by: catlady | June 25, 2007 11:24 AM

I am one of seven children (5th born). This seventh kid in our family is the smartest. Guess I better not tell those scientists...

Posted by: Me | June 25, 2007 11:26 AM

OT to dotted: coronado spring was okay, but I was disappointed we couldn't walk to animal kingdom (and you can't from the animal lodge either!). I liked the baordwalk inn better.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 11:29 AM

In my relatively short career as a parent (10 years), I have seen a lot of very young children, usually the firstborns, labelled by their parents (and sometimes by teachers) as "gifted." You know, the kids who can read by age 3 or do complex math before they can ride a bike. Their parents are understandably delighted by how smart their children are.

I think every kid wants and deserves to feel special. But 10 years later, a lot of these kids have become A) normal in terms of academic achievement or B) very weird in terms of social interactions.

It seems much more important to respond to the things a child truly loves doing, whether this places him/her in a "gifted" category or not. Inner drive and motivation has got to take over for the kid at some point in order for them to make the most of their "gifts."

Kind of on this topic, there was a hilarious line from Tony Soprano's peyote trip where he realizes his mother was just a bus dropping him off in life, and that there was no sense in him chasing her bus --he had to find his own bus to ride in life. Same for parents -- we drop our kids off but we have to continue on our own "bus" and let them go find theirs.

Posted by: Leslie | June 25, 2007 11:30 AM

I keep waiting for a discussion to come out of this of only children....If older children appear to benefit from more attention what about onlies? Wouldn't that follow? I believe there *have* been some studies showing that onlies tend to have higher IQs, more confidence, etc.

Posted by: MB | June 25, 2007 11:31 AM

Catlady - you are full of excellent thoughful questions today that are really hitting home with me! I was just discussing social skills with my dad this weekend - we were talking to both my kids about manners and how to be "cordial" in social situations. Some teachers teach these skills, some could care less. I teach them at home but know plenty of kids that won't even look an adult in the eye - some are really smart but have zero social skills.

My parents forced me to greet adults, introduce people, hold a conversation politely and say goodbye when we were leaving. My kids are very social and they learned mostly through good role models (my parents and I and my FIL) but also I prodded them into carrying out social tasks too. It has been easy with them but if your child is a shy or introverted child like I was it is uncomfortable, but I thank my parents now.

Social IQ is a good term: I think the perception is that kids that are polite and social are more savy (intelligent??), but hasn't it always been that way? The kid hiding in the corner with the book or lurking with the video game may be bright but gives a somewhat negative impression. That is just my opinion.

One last thought, a kid with a good sense of humor always makes an impression. Not the arm-pit farter (although I laugh at all antics) but the kid that has a good, broad sense of humor.

Posted by: cmac | June 25, 2007 11:32 AM

I keep waiting for a discussion to come out of this of only children....If older children appear to benefit from more attention what about onlies? Wouldn't that follow? I believe there *have* been some studies showing that onlies tend to have higher IQs, more confidence, etc.

Posted by: MB | June 25, 2007 11:31 A
I posted this earlier but again, studies show that only children fare as well as first born in terms of academic, professional and social success. Again the added attention that onlies have gives them small edge in those areas.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 11:34 AM

Being the youngest, I definitely was helped by my older sisters. They just thought it was cool that I could do stuff they taught me.

And, I'd be wary of labels. I clearly remember in middle school where they were doing placements for the math track for 8th grade (where you'd be a year ahead so it made a huge difference, where if you didn't start you wouldn't take calculus in 12th grade). Well, I was *not* in the first batch of kids (your kid will do great in the program) but the second (we're not sure but if you want we can put your kid in the program). Well, I guess my parents made the right decision since I have a BS in math and an MS in applied math.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 11:35 AM

My child goes to a very high end daycare, and when the parents get together we often laugh at how we each get told our child is gifted at the parent-teacher conference. I'm told it's the same in private schools. How do you make the parents happy that they are spending their money at your school? Tell them how much their child is thriving in the environment! It's not rocket science.

For what it's worth, I have a collegue who has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology (well known, which is why I'm anon for the day) and she does not think you can label the vast majority of children as gifted at an early age (I just asked her). She said she's only seen one or two in her years, and one was an autistic boy who at 3 could write computer programs and went to college in his early teens.

Posted by: Anon for today | June 25, 2007 11:36 AM

OK crazy possible balance topic for the future: Polygomous marriages and work/life balance? A new family structure for the future or an outdated sick practice.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:36 AM

"But statistically speaking, there are more kids in these GT programs than statistically possible."

Again for Fairfax - they take approximately the top 10% which means that they also include the very smart, not just the gifted.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 25, 2007 11:41 AM

To catlady: au pair is doing well thanks for asking. She will hopefully start an english class soon and that will be helpful.

I went alone to orlando on business. So it was suppposed to be a little relaxing away from the kids, but we were running around like crazy. We will be bringing her to the beach (SC) in a few wks when we go, though.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 11:41 AM

I am the firstborn daughter of 3. We were all tested back in the seventies and placed in a GT program. Supposedly, I have the highest IQ of the 3. But I have had the least success professionally. I would gladly give up IQ points to be more comfortable socially. Look around, the smart ones aren't in charge, it's the ones who know how to play the game.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:42 AM

OK crazy possible balance topic for the future: Polygomous marriages and work/life balance? A new family structure for the future or an outdated sick practice.

You have been watching to much big love. when was the last time you met a Polygomous?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:42 AM

Polygamist

oops!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:44 AM

But statistically speaking, there are more kids in these GT programs than statistically possible."

Again for Fairfax - they take approximately the top 10% which means that they also include the very smart, not just the gifted.

Is it top 10% in all academic subjects or just some? My niece scores in the top 5% in language but is just below the middle for math. I would not classify her as gifted in anyway. Eventhough she is very linguistically advanced, she doesn't appear to be gifted.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 25, 2007 11:41 AM

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 11:45 AM

I think we are in the wrong part of the country to meet a polygamist. I hear they are in Arizona and Colorado. BTW, I think Big Love is a great show.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 11:47 AM

Single Mom, if you are so smart, then why are you single?

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 09:04 AM

Perhaps she is single because she is smart!

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | June 25, 2007 11:52 AM

I see someone asking about birth order and mating...I once read years ago that some studies have shown that youngest do best when they marry Oldest...don't remember where middles figure in all this.

Posted by: MB | June 25, 2007 11:54 AM

To follow up on foamgnome's comment: But statistically speaking, there are more kids in these GT programs than statistically possible.

For Howard County, MD: "Forty-four (44) percent of high school students participate in at least one Gifted and Talented course." (from http://www.hcpss.org/aboutus/chapter1.pdf)

and

"Gifted and Talented Program
Percentage of students who have
participated in a variety of Gifted and
Talented Education Program offerings:
K to Grade 5 43%
Grades 6 to 8 43%
Grades 9 to 12 39%"

(from http://www.hcpss.org/files/profile_hcpss.pdf)

What a county - half the kids are "gifted". Figure the odds on that one.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 25, 2007 11:54 AM

Then there are those really intelligent people who do some really stupid things. Bill Clinton comes to mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:56 AM

What a county - half the kids are "gifted". Figure the odds on that one.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 25, 2007 11:54 AM

What is it Garrison Keller says about Lake Wobegon- "the town where all the kids are above average"

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:56 AM

To follow up on foamgnome's comment: But statistically speaking, there are more kids in these GT programs than statistically possible.

For Howard County, MD: "Forty-four (44) percent of high school students participate in at least one Gifted and Talented course." (from http://www.hcpss.org/aboutus/chapter1.pdf)

and

"Gifted and Talented Program
Percentage of students who have
participated in a variety of Gifted and
Talented Education Program offerings:
K to Grade 5 43%
Grades 6 to 8 43%
Grades 9 to 12 39%"

(from http://www.hcpss.org/files/profile_hcpss.pdf)

What a county - half the kids are "gifted". Figure the odds on that one.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 25, 2007 11:54 AM

That is what I was talking about. 40% of the kids are gifted. Get real. At least Fairfax is trying to claim 10%. My guess is the number is actually larger. But 40% is really unreal.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 11:57 AM

"Either way, when we are talking about THREE YEAR OLDS, I think this is pretty sick."

When my son was 3, we applied to a pre-school, and the process involved some IQ testing (I think the particular test was called Weschler), so we got a package on the results. There was a verbal portion and a problem solving (puzzles and that sort of thing) portion. My son scored 140 on the problem solving portion and 120 on the verbal portion. In the end, we decided against the preschool, but apparently, there are ways to test even 3 year olds.

Posted by: No name also to protect the innocent | June 25, 2007 11:58 AM

Then there are those really intelligent people who do some really stupid things. Bill Clinton comes to mind.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 11:56 AM

Then there are those really stupid people who do some really stupid things. George W. Bush comes to mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 11:59 AM

Then there are those really intelligent people who do some really stupid things. Dick Cheney comes to mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 12:01 PM

I have a freakishly high IQ and that fact surprises me and most of people who know. Most people don't know; it's certainly something you don't go around telling everyone. The only reason I did an IQ test was due a health problem in high school that required me to be designated as special ed. To get the IEP started, I had to do many different tests. I remember being in a meeting with my parents, my special ed teacher and some of my other teachers to review the test results and when they got to the IQ part they just gasped. They had no idea. Why weren't my grades higher? They knew I was smart but I wasn't the type of kid that fit into high school very well so my grades in now way reflected my IQ and my later high SAT scores. I went onto college and did very well and now have a successful scientific career and I fit into the IQ better now.

I don't think my IQ makes me all that smart. Yes there are a lot of equations and historical facts and such that I have crammed in my head but I think it's more about the way my brain works. The older I get, the stranger I realize I am. I realize I see things differently from people. Not better or worse, just different. I'm constantly thinking and analyzing. Sometimes my head is just flying and I want to just turn it down a notch. My husband says my brain is on hyper Hammy speed. Most of the people in my life have no idea what my IQ is. I am quiet and I don't speak up to much so I think people don't look to me when they think of the smart one. That's the way I like it. Every once in a while I'll throw a profound thought out there to someone and it'll really shock em. And I'm a second born.

Posted by: dogma | June 25, 2007 12:02 PM

foamgnome:

If it helps your understanding, there is no agreed upon measure in the education community for "gifted-ness". In my experience, there are a variety of tests used (including IQ tests, but also SAT/ACT/PSAT scores, Interviews, teacher recommendations, and profiles by psychologists or consultants) to determine if a child is gifted.

As far as definitions are concerned, I have seen everything from emotional maturity (acting more like an adult), to non-standard problem solving techniques, to speed of learning new material considered. It is very subjective.

On the subject of your daughter with autism, I should note that there is a very high occurance (I think the number is somewhere around a quarter) of so called "doubly gifted" children who are both classified as gifted but also posses a learning or behavioral disability. Autism spectrum disorders, most notably Ausburger's Syndrome are common in that sample.

Posted by: David S | June 25, 2007 12:09 PM

Although I've got a high IQ (it was tested back in junior high and in college), math was always my worst subject, especially theoretical math (derive this equation from the following information). I just couldn't make the connection. Now, applied math/science, as in "this is what you need to do in order to get this result", I excelled at. I guess that's why I became an engineer instead of a scientist.

But, had it not been for a perceptive teacher noticing I was bored in the standard math/science classes, and convincing my mother to put me in the advanced classes, I may have never fully developed those aptitudes I was strongest in.

Posted by: John L | June 25, 2007 12:10 PM

"Single Mom, if you are so smart, then why are you single?"

I have to admit, that when it came to going out on dates, I was always reluctant to ask the "gifted" ones because they were intimidating. (if that's the word for it)

Smart girls always made great friends though.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 25, 2007 12:11 PM

Londonmom:

You think it is weird that people know their own and their sibling's IQs. It is not necessarily that their parents made a special effort to have them tested. When I was in elementary school (in the 50s) and when my children were in elementary school (mid-70s-mid80s), IQ tests were given in the public schools as a matter of course. In my era, children and parents were not told the scores. However, my Mother was a teacher in the system, so she knew the scores of her children. She only shared them with us when we were adults. When my children were given IQ tests, the scores were a part of their file and parernts had a right to know the results. I'm not sure all parents asked, but I did. A caveat about IQ scores - my siblings and I all scored in the gifted range, as did my daughter. Although my son taught himself to read well before the age of four by watching Sesame Street, his IQ scores were considerably below 100 and indicated significant learning problems. That was not an accurate assessment. He wasn't good at taking tests. He is very bright, but that didn't correlate with his scores on IQ tests. And the reverse may be also true - perhaps my siblings and my daughter and I were simply skilled at taking the test. I agree with other posters that many factors determine success (however that is measured), although basic intelligence does contribute.

Posted by: carrot | June 25, 2007 12:14 PM

I find it unreasonable to draw conclusions from such a study. I'm in the art world and three of the most influential artists of the 20th C. were not first born unicorns: Picasso, Duchamp and Pollock. (I will check on Warhol, but I don't think he was the oldest.) In my situation, I was the third of three, educated K-12 in Catholic schools the same as my two older brothers, yet I consistently and cumatively received higher grades than my brothers, sometimes reading their textbooks, sometimes being tutored by them. Placing the bulk of determination on the parents is faulty science.

I find the lack of gender distinction or its dismissal to be further evidence of the flawed nature of this study. These researchers must be gender biased to think that the first born female in a traditional conservative Republican family isn't steered to issues like mate selection, household cleaning and personal aesthetic presentation, all of which play down intelligence as threatening to a male. Moreover, to think a study involving less than 300K people from an industrialized nation stands as definitive of the billions on this earth speaks for itself. Finally, I'm amazed that no one in education raised the red flag regarding the use of IQ, that old fashioned measurement standard long abandonned for its lack of sensitivity to cultural biases and teaching inequalities. Are you serious?

Posted by: Tim Nowakowski | June 25, 2007 12:14 PM

"I would gladly give up IQ points to be more comfortable socially. Look around, the smart ones aren't in charge, it's the ones who know how to play the game."

LOL. I agree. I wish I could be more comfortable socially. I didn't talk until 2, and I've always had a little social phobia. I hate talking to strangers on the phone. But I excel in school. I think, in the long run, I'd get farther professionally if I could "play the game," even if I graduated at the top of my class!

Posted by: Meesh | June 25, 2007 12:15 PM


Interesting topic. DH and I are both eldest, and are both the most academic siblings in our families (both PhDs). He has one close-in-age younger brother who's a gifted artist; I have a close-in-age younger brother who's a low achiever, and a much younger brother who's very bright.

With my 2 daughters, (10 and 7), I've been grateful that the eldest hasn't eclipsed the youngest and made her retreat from niches of accomplishment. My youngest seems strongwilled enough to follow her own muse and pursue whatever she's inclined to, even if her big sister already excels at it. Both girls are very strong academically, and both love art/drawing. The youngest has sometimes been discouraged that her drawings aren't as 'good', or refined in technique, as her older sister's. But we reassure her that it's only because her sister has been working on drawing for years; we show her drawings that her sister did at the same age; we reassure her that she's doing great and that if she chooses to, she too can learn to draw well like her sister. We're lucky that her sister encourages and reassures her, instead of lording the advantages and accomplishments of age over her. She even teaches her --- my youngest is so proud of how she can draw eyes with highlights, which her big sister taught her. The oldest had to learn by herself, checking out drawing book after drawing book and refining her technique, while the youngest instead had a dedicated teacher at hand in her big sister, one who lavished attention on her and knew just how a beginning artist experiences learning the technique.

Both my girls are very comparable academically (both test 99th percentile in COGATs). I see the youngest hit some milestones earlier --- in particular reading comprehension. I remember a big 'click' for my eldest. It was spring of 1st grade, after reading our evening chapters of _Prisoner of Azkaban_ to her, when I asked the usual questions of her about what had happened, why, and what she thought might happen next. Instead of just echoing recent facts, as usual, she coalesced earlier plot elements and anticipated what would happen next --- Hermione's got a time turner! That's how she's been getting to all those classes! My youngest was at that higher level, of understanding, coalescing, and anticipating, really 'getting' a story rather than having it passively wash over her, much earlier. By midway through 1st grade, she'd heard and discussed all 6 Harry Potter books with very high attention/comprehension. She was really into the Accelerated Reader tests --- as a 1st grader she accumulated more points than most 4th graders, and was just shy of her sister, who had the most in 4th grade. But her sister didn't really get involved with those tests til 3rd grade. . . . It's one example of many where my youngest is more keen to be considered a peer of her sister and her sister's age-mates, than of other 1st graders.

So having an older sister has largely pulled my youngest ahead, making her aspire to activities and accomplishments of the older set. This is common --- she's going to sleep-away camp years earlier than her sister, and when I sought out tentmates among her friends, none of the firstborn kids had mothers considering sleepaway camp yet, only moms of younger sibs were, and when I told them she was going to camp because she had little-sister-itis, they all understood perfectly.

However, there is a confidence/self-esteem gap. In overall personalities, I would say my oldest is shy, unassuming, perfectionist, retreats from conflict with adults but is very sure in her inner compass. My youngest on the surface is much more strongwilled, gregarious, and undeterrable. Yet her inner confidence seems much less. She spent much of first grade really bowled over by two obvious achievers in her class, and she would say things like "I don't think I'm as smart as (big sister). I'm not smart, X and Y are the smart ones in my class. They already know how to Z! I might not be in Discovery (our gifted program), I might just be regular." Whenever Discovery was mentioned (her sister's in it, and it determines placement in classes with gifted-certified teachers), she seemed nervous and skittish, despite reassurance that she's a very bright girl and can do anything. Her low confidence was enough that, when her COGAT scores came in, I actually sat down and explained to her what her percentile scores meant, that she was a extremely bright girl, she did better than 99 out of 100 first graders who took the test, and that she shouldn't let anyone make her feel dumb. For my oldest, I would never have done that, she just never would have doubted that she was perfectly capable. She may be too shy to challenge adults/others, but those others have little impact on her opinions/self-worth, either. But my youngest, who's much more socially assertive, really needs that external, objective validation that she's good enough to belong in the brightest group, too. It's very aggravating to me to see her secondguessing and diminishing herself. I, of course, think they're both amazing. But when I do science demos/lessons for elementary kids, I always find most of them amazing --- sharp, engaged, willing and able to think, especially at the K/1 level. I remember thinking they were all much like my oldest, and having no idea what her COGATs would be like . . .

It seems to me nurturing the talents and self-esteem of younger sibs is a trickier art than encouraging the eldest, and success would vary greatly with family dynamics . . . whether siblings are encouraged to be rivals or team-mates, to feel each other as threats or as loving and enriching companions . . . . I have mine convinced, about 90% of the time, that they're lucky to have their sister.

I just want both girls to be unimpeded by false obstacles, comparisons, or discouragements, to achieve to the best of their own potential and desire.

Posted by: KB | June 25, 2007 12:16 PM

If you had a higher Social IQ, you'd know to edit yourself to a more reasonable length posting. Sheesh, you run on forever.

Posted by: To KB | June 25, 2007 12:19 PM

GiftedMom: This is not a criticism but a question. How did you the preschool assess that your daughter is gifted? In the preschool years, there is a wide range of ability. Kids learn at vastly different rates. I see some kids as early as under two, saying and knowing all their colors while kids as old as 4 don't get the concept yet. But both groups of kids would be considered normal intelligence. I am just curious. I am sure there are truly gifted kids in the world. But statistically speaking, there are more kids in these GT programs than statistically possible.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 11:15 AM

I am not quite sure why people are jumping on me about this. I said a few times that my daughter has no clue she has been labeled as "gifted", nor do other children, or their parents. I wrote:

"not in front of her or the other children and she is certainly not singled out, but they did label her in our parent-teacher conference. There are challenges associated in raising a gifted child and keeping them occupied. We were also talking elementary education - and her giftedness is an issue there as well."

It was brought up because she is advanced for her age and sometimes this creates problems- she gets bored if she is not challenged and the head of the school, along with her teachers, and my husband and I were brainstorming on ways to keep her engaged.

She is not labeled in some kind of file that will go with her for the rest of her life, for gosh sakes! And she certainly doesn't walk around saying she's gifted- because no one tells her that she is!

Of course I tell her she's smart- just like every other parent on the planet!

I'm very suprised that I'm being bashed for sharing about my daughter.
I am gifted, my husband is gifted, and I, particularly, am very attuned into how difficult school was for me and would like that to NOT happen to my daughter.

foamgnome- question for you.Why are you asking me about placing a "label" on my daughter when you have done the same thing- yet on the opposite side of the issue? Why is it ok for you to label your child as slow, but not ok for me to label as advanced?

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 12:21 PM

KB, some of us just skip long posts like yours. So if what you say doesn't get read, it's as though you never wrote it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 12:21 PM

Nice essay, KB!

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 25, 2007 12:25 PM

Have new baby, says force inside me. Make DD more smart, it will. Hmmm?

Posted by: Yoda to Foamgnome | June 25, 2007 12:35 PM


Foamgnome -

In my county (Dekalb, GA) the cutoff for gifted/talented programs is done by Achievement tests and COGAT scores. The cutoff is 75th percentile verbal, 75th percentile math, 85th percentile combined. So up to 15% of the kids could be eligible.

But, you have to realize that parents who read the Washington Post and contribute to one of its parenting blogs come disproportionately from that 15% of highly accomplished parents with similarly advantaged kids. At our public school, in a very educated district, it seems like maybe a third (?) of the kids are in the gifted and talented program.

Side note --- I was in a crazy and tiny gifted and talented program in (public) high school. When we studied statistics for a semester, we did as our class project a statistical study of aptitute scores and class performance in gifted classes (we had access to the county's blinded data). We found the only statistically significant percentile cutoff we could assign (where being above the cutoff would predict statistically significant higher performance) was at the 98th percentile level. But politically, that was too high, if you set it so high, your gifted program doesn't have a large enough constituency to actually be supported . . Interestingly, in this population the step from 98th percentile to 97th percentile hugely increased the number of students qualifying . . . so that percentiles are not uniform on even a county to county basis . . . .

Posted by: KB | June 25, 2007 12:38 PM

KB, I like your posts. Sure they're longer than the others, but some of us like to read! Both of my parents are PhDs, and they made sure to tell my brother and me that we were both very smart. There was no competition.

There is, however, a lot of pressure to got to grad school. I guess that's to be expected from two PhD parents. Would you be disappointed if your kids decided to forgo an advanced degree?

Posted by: Meesh | June 25, 2007 12:41 PM

My son (second born child) read when he was two. He could read anything. At 3 I had him tested. The Dr. who did the test said that he will never test as high as his IQ really is because he thinks outside of the box. He answered several questions "wrong". She followed up by asking him "Why didn't you tell me that a nickle and a penny are both money...money is the correct answer." (He told her what was printed on each side of the coins and the metal make ups of the coins)...he told her the reason he did not answer "money" is because she is a grown up and he figured that she knew that...

I think pronouncing children "gifted" at 3 1/2 is not always a true "label" By third grade, many "gifted" pre-schoolers are just bright kids who received attention and stimulation early on.

Both of my children were labeled "gifted"...I think that they are bright intelligent curious and creative. They did test high all the time. They rarely had to bring home books or study much. Sometimes I think that the schools teach to the lowest common denominator and the number of kids identified by one test or another as "gifted" is inflated.

Posted by: Amy in Minneapolis | June 25, 2007 12:48 PM

Really - you want many kids in the GT track. not just the geniuses. Makes sense - no one is saying that they are the geniuses - they are the students who need a little extra or they will be bored in school. Especially in public school where they are clearly teaching to the bottom - for those students who need some more stimulation, you want to give them more - even if it's 40% of the kids. That's not so many, considering what they are *not* teaching in the class.

My son appears not to pay attention when the class is having circle time (PreK) the teacher was telling us how they were getting frustrated that he was not participating - he didn't seem like he was listening, he was playing by himself or with the blocks or whatever and they didn't know what to do. Well, he was BORED. They told me that after a circle time they wanted to see if he was listening (and they were sure he wasn't) so they started asking him questions about what they had discussed and the stories they read, etc. He could answer all the questions perfectly.
So maybe he's not 'gifted' but he certainly needs more stimulation than the other kids in the class he was in - so they let him do his own thing knowing that he needed something they weren't giving him, but also knowing that he was definitely learning what they were teaching. So you better be sure I will be fighting for every extra program,etc for him no matter what - even if he isn't labeled a genius (and the teachers at the younger one's preschool recently told DH that our eldest is smart, but the younger is much smarter - and he's two - who knows if it's true, but I do know that we are already scared of what the two of them will accomplish together...).

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 12:51 PM

Jeez, KB, have some time on your hands today?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 12:54 PM

It was brought up because she is advanced for her age and sometimes this creates problems- she gets bored if she is not challenged and the head of the school, along with her teachers, and my husband and I were brainstorming on ways to keep her engaged

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 12:21 PM

While I am quoting Gifted Mom, this is not intended to be a slam on her or her child, because I hear the same thing come out of many parents mouths.

Don't you think in some cases it would be better to teach the child how to not be a pain in the a$$ when they are bored?

I mean, I was bored most of my academic life, yet I didn't cause problems and force all the adults around me to entertain me. Why is this different now?

Posted by: devils advocate | June 25, 2007 12:56 PM

to meesh: both dh and I have master's degrees. we've both discussed this many times tho:
we're saving for college for the kids and hope they go, but if they don't want to, we won't force them. my PhD friend thought this was horrible! she said she and her dh value education (they're both phDs) and it would be appalling to her if her kids didn't get an education.

My theory is that it's expensive and if they don't want to be there, that's fine. There are plenty of ways to get educated. DH and I had parents who thought there was one way of doing things and that has hamstrung us in our lives. If the kids don't want an education, fine - but they can't sit around doing nothing. And if they're living in my house, they have to pay rent - and if I'm unhappy, maybe I'd raise the rent. They'll see how much life sucks without an education and hopefully get one (an education in itself). There isn't one path to everything, though, and if the kids want to pursue something, then I would be supportive. There's no shame in a job well done - no matter what that job is (okay, maybe not drug dealer or robber, but you get what I mean).

But really, there's more than one path in life, and if they don't go to college at 18, it doesn't mean they'll never go, either...

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 12:57 PM

I worked with a woman who's son-in-law did not even finish high school and got his GED at nite and went on to graduate as a nurse anesthetist. He makes far more than the guy I dated years ago that graduated from an ivy league school.

I was close friends with a guy that did not finish college and went on to sell used cars to people with compromised credit. In 1993 at 22 years of age he made almost six figures. He made six figures a year during the rest of the 1990's.

I cant speak for the co-workers son-in-law but I am here to tell you that my old friend was hardly "brilliant" or gifted. He was good at selling, he knew cars and he was okay with working in a shady, morally ambiguous business. That is why he made more in 1997 than most people (including me) make today. Oh-and I have a degree.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 1:01 PM

I've had the same issues my whole life. I know how you feel. Doesn't mean I'm a genius, just that I think differently...

Posted by: toDogma | June 25, 2007 1:01 PM

Does anyone else remember those SRAs? They were color coded reading assignments. I LOVED those things! I attended public school and the class sizes were huge, so when I finished my work, my teachers would just let me go to the back of the class and pull out an SRA and start reading and answering the multiple choice questions. do schools still use these?

Posted by: Jen S. | June 25, 2007 1:03 PM

I remember the SRA's but since I am color blind, I had a hard time doing them! I could never advance!

Posted by: Mako | June 25, 2007 1:12 PM

"But, you have to realize that parents who read the Washington Post and contribute to one of its parenting blogs come disproportionately from that 15% of
highly accomplished parents..."

So, what you are saying, is that gifted people are consistently snarky, nasty, and petty to one another?

or just the gifted parents that read the Washington post?

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 25, 2007 1:15 PM

I often follow this blog but have never posted. I'm finishing my PhD in Clinical Psychology and have administered IQ tests during my training hundreds of times. A difference of 2-3 IQ points between two people is not significant or meaningful. It could just be measurement error or other factors affecting an individual's performance (fatigue, anxiety) when the test was administered. I'd suppose, on the other hand, that if you have enough subjects in a study, this small difference between two groups could be statistically significant but probably not meaningful in real life. In general, psychology is primarily interested in people who fall at either end of the normal curve, since most people fall in the middle.

Posted by: ARA | June 25, 2007 1:17 PM

Giftedmom: YOu seemed to have misinterpreted my post. I was curious how they assessed your daughter as being gifted? Meaning what type of tests did she take to get that label. You did not, or I don't remember you saying in your first post, that this was not a formal assessment. Meaning that this is one teachers opinion and there was no official evaluation. I wasn't saying anything about your daughter being labeled in front of other children. My daughter did go through a series of formal tests to asses her label as special education. Again, it was pretty clear because my daughter was not talking at 2 1/2. She has speech delay and a social interaction delay. As far as mild autism, she has seen both a neurologist and a developmental pediatrician. My point was, I am curious what kind of formal tests of giftness that can be preformed on children so young because of the vast difference of learning that goes on in the early years. But you clarified it by saying she was not formal labeled as gifted. It is simply an opinion that one educator or group of educators have given your daughter with out a quanitative measure. Again, I said it was not a criticism but a question. I think you are getting offended and I did not mean to be offensive.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 1:18 PM

Sorry to go off topic there with the SRAs (maybe stands of self-regulated assignments?) I was somehow inspired by what devil's advocate wrote.

Anyway, regarding the issue of "the importance of spacing out children's births in order to balance out the adult attention each child receives?" I would say that if anything, the results of this study make it more likely for me to have more children and have them close together because, again, it isn't so much about the PARENT's giving attention to the chilren. the attention a parent gives to children may not actually be as important as the attention the older siblings give to the younger ones. If the elders are actively teaching the younger ones, this not only benefits the younger kids, but the act of teaching also improves the intellect and confidence, etc. of the elder child.

So I see this study as encouraging parents to nuture excellent relationships between the siblings-- but it does not convince me that I should have fewer children and spaced out at wider intervals. And if I'm wrong and my kids would have been smarter if only I have spent more time with them, well, what do I want with smart-arsed kid anyway? :}

Posted by: Jen S. | June 25, 2007 1:19 PM

How I despise that term 'gifted parent' -- as though the parent of the gifted child is somehow better than the parent of the regular child . .

Foamgnome, in answer to your question about how so many kids could possibly be gifted, a friend of mine recently told me that in her daughter's FCPS school, the gifted class has 21 children with no ESL and special needs, while the regular class has 32 kids including multiple special needs and ESL kids. With such a huge disparity of resources being given to the gifted kids, it's easy to see how everyone would feel compelled to get their child into the smaller classroom and therefore would lobby for their child to also have the gifted label. Sad, but true.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | June 25, 2007 1:23 PM

It was brought up because she is advanced for her age and sometimes this creates problems- she gets bored if she is not challenged and the head of the school, along with her teachers, and my husband and I were brainstorming on ways to keep her engaged

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 12:21 PM

OK, so it seems as if your kid is not really gifted by any real assessment tool. Just a pain in the neck who can't seem to figure out how to occupy one's time.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 1:25 PM

Giftedmom: Even the formal tests that my daughter took for the label of developmentally delayed are not really accurate. The psychologists and educators told me that it is hard to assess any child before the age of 5. Some of them were pretty clear, like delays in speech. But some of them were dead wrong. She came out delayed in gross motor skills on the test, even though she is very advanced in that area. She just did not perform for them that day. Little kids are very difficult to test. Again, I wasn't placing a value judgement on the label itself. I was just trying to learn how they tested her. I think you are taking london mom's comments and confusing them with mine.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 1:28 PM

My sister was very torn as to what to do when her son entered elementary school. He was clearly very bright, but she didn't want to be one of those moms who just stormed into the classroom and told the teacher how to teach (and, this is very much her personality, as the eldest of three, mind you). but she was aware that all the parents would be saying the same thing to the teacher.

She didn't do much since the GT program didn't start til third grade, I believe, but the teacher did try to get her son into the GT program in second grade, I believe, but her hanging back and allowing the teacher to do the evaluating (without having a parent standing over her, so to speak) worked to the kid's advantage (and isn't that what we need?).

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 1:31 PM

KB --

One thought that I hope might help you understand your daughter better. I did the same thing as a kid, and it drove my mother nuts -- she KNEW I was smart, because she saw all the stuff I had done, and the school had tested my IQ in kindergarten (although she never told me). So how could I beat myself up for being dumb? How come I always thought other kids were smarter than me?

The deal is, when you're really smart, sometimes you don't recognize it. You see that A + B = C, and it's so freaking obvious to you that you just presume that everyone else knows it. But, now, that other kid who can draw a perfect whatever, now THAT's smart. So in other words, what you can do seems completely simple, while what other people can do seems really impressive and intimidating. It took me a long, long time, and lots of positive reinforcement, to realize that maybe the rest of the world didn't see that A + B = C, and that maybe my mom was onto something.

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 1:35 PM

Giftedmom: I was also told that the label of developmentally delayed only lasts for the preschool years. If your child is to be labeled as special education, tests had to be preformed in kindergarten. Again, the reasoning is that children at that age develop at very different rates. A child who may be delayed at three may be a head or on grade level by age 5. I don't think my daughter will have a developmentally delayed label by then. She seems to be approaching the norm. Again, I was more curious about the assessment of a child so young. Not the concept of how a label affects a child.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 1:37 PM

I just picked "gifted mom" as a name for today- I already stated that I was not using my regular name for today.

Again, I really don't like formalized tests. She will have to take the Wechsler to get into private school, though.

And, no, she is not a pain who doesn't know how to keep herself occupied. It was just a suggestion from the head of the school during a conversation that included future schooling plans. Because we'll have to start applying this fall! SO, she'll need to test this summer for the application.

I do, however, think she is advanced and would possibly benefit from a school environment outside of the traditional.

I didn't imply that I'm a better parent, or that my child is better. Because I don't feel that way at all. Raising a spirited and advanced child for her age has come with a few challenges. Just making a remark on that. If she is anything like me (which she is now) then we may have to go for an alternative route. What I don't want is for her to be segregated into a "gifted" class. i want her to be able to play with all kids, which is why i'm looking into Waldorf and Montessori, so that she may flourish no matter her abilities in the future.

foamgnome- I wasn't offended, I just wanted clarification.

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 1:39 PM

Giftedmom: I am glad you were not offended as that is never my intention. I was just curious if they could do an accurate quantitative measure of intelligence at that age. Seems like your daughter did not really go through any formal test at age 3. Again, even the tests my daughter took were not actually accurate and none of them may be accurate for the long haul. My daughter had measures of delays in the five major areas: speech delay, fine and gross motor skills, social interaction, and cognitive. After spending two weeks in preschool, they came back with she is just speech delayed and socially delayed. I believe by the time she is done with preschool, she won't have any measurable delays to qualify for special education. If any, it might be speech but I doubt it. She has had a language explosion this last few months. But she will probably always have mild symptoms of autism (diminished eye contact, some weird quirky habits, introverted) but not enough to qualify as a special education label. I know you were not asking this, but I do think special education labels are extremely hard for parents to take. The children that are in my daughter's class are too young to know they have a label. And most of them won't by the time they could understand it. But believe me, the parents will never forget hearing that their child had problems. I don't know what it would be like in the reverse.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 1:45 PM


Thanks, Meesh! I figure anyone omnnivorous enough to be reading a blog can take or leave what comes. . . you can't expect idle blog-passersby to edit and polish postings to your satisfaction, look to professional writings for that . . .

No, I wouldn't be disappointed if my kids didn't attend grad school. I probably *would* feel a great opportunity cost if they didn't attend college, as I see college as a great time of intellectual exposure, enrichment, and maturing, a broadening foundation-setting time rather than a narrow specializing time like grad school . . . but then DH and I are both first generation PhD's (I was shocked in grad school what a huge proportion of American grad students had academic parents)

Posted by: KB | June 25, 2007 1:45 PM

Jen S. -- Frightening, not only did we share the same high school boyfriend but I also LOVED those SRA things. I raced through them in elementary school. Are they still around? I think having extra work like that is a much better solution than separating kids and labelling them "Gifted and Talented."

Posted by: Leslie | June 25, 2007 1:52 PM

But believe me, the parents will never forget hearing that their child had problems. I don't know what it would be like in the reverse.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 01:45 PM

I can't imagine, foamgnome. We all want the best for our kids.

Life can be tough for gifted kids (though I don't think i could even compare that with a special education label).
Both have challenges.

I wish I didn't share this today! I suppose I let the flood gates open because I don't ge to talk about it with other parents in such an honest open way, without fear of offending (as I apparently have on this board)
I meant no offense or anything...Truly.

Posted by: the poster formerly known as Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 1:56 PM

Giftedmom: Unfortunately there is probably no great arena to talk about your daughter's issues. A lot of parents will take offense. You could try a parenting group for parents of gifted children. I am sure there are some out there. My friend's daughter, who has just been labeled as gifted (age 9), has expressed some similar problems for years. For years, we have heard about how N is hard to manage or keep occupied. Around her good friends, it is easy for her to discuss her kid. But we have long known that N was a "different" sort of kid.

On a funny note, when my mother and father were adopting, they told the adoption agency that they would like a tall not so bright child. They felt it would be harder to parent a gifted child. Well they got normal intelligent kids who are both short! Now, my mother thinks it is funny that she had any preference but she does recognize that it would be hard to raise a gifted child. Again, I don't think my daughter and most of the kids in her special education preschool, will have a life long label. Most of them will catch up with this early intervention. And no one will know if they would have caught up even with out the intervention.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 2:01 PM

Devil's Advocate: as the mom of one of those smart, energetic, bored kids, let me explain a bit. First, the "I was bored and didn't burn down the school" theory doesn't work for everyone. My husband and I also spent a good chunk of our school lives bored, but we were the type to drift off to planet Zuton (well, me -- he'd be planning world domination. But quietly.). Our teachers always thought we were excellent students, because we paid enough attention to answer the questions, and never disrupted class.

It came as a real shock to me to discover that all kids aren't like that (karma being a beeyatch and all). When my daughter gets bored, she turns out, not in -- talks to a friend, gets up and moves, etc. She is ALWAYS paying attention -- like an earlier poster, her teachers have tried to "catch" her with surprise questions, but she's always able to tell them everything about what they've just said. But to put it bluntly, if what they're doing only takes half her mind, the other half is going to be doing what any extrovert does best: interacting with everyone else around her.

In terms of parenting, we are not of the "now, you need to let Suzy be a royal pain in the a--, because she's just too smart for the likes of you" school. We have worked with our daughter practically since she was born on self-control, patience, appropriate behaviors, etc., and there are consequences when she doesn't. She's come a tremendously long ways, but she just has a LOT further to go than most other kids (my stepmother tells me she was the same way as a girl). And an entire school day, with only two 15-minute recess periods, is still too much for her at 6.

But let me play devil's advocate myself minute: to flip your question, just because I survived being bored with school, why should I want to force my child to go through the same thing? Yeah, a little boredom is a good thing (our current phrase is "it's my job to keep you safe; it's your job to keep you entertained"). But all day, every day? Do I really want to train her that the best and highest skill she can learn in life is sucking it up and getting through the day?

The way I see it, whenever something is wrong with my daughter, I want to know why so I can figure out how to fix it. If my kid's having a fit because she's exhausted, I'm not going to lecture her on self-control, I'm going to send her upstairs for a nap. Similarly, if's she's acting up in school, I want to know why, and if there's something that we can do to address that, within REASONABLE boundaries, then I will do it. And I do mean "we," in that it's my job as much as or more than the teacher's. If she's tired or stir-crazy, I want to know that, so I can make sure she gets more sleep or exercise at home. But if she's bored because (as in this case) they're still doing the same addition and subtraction that she learned to do over a year ago, then I'm going to talk to the teacher and ask if there is another step that she can take, something that she can work on independently. Like, can we at least start carrying the tens??

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 2:12 PM

Foamgnome, funny- I tried the gifted kids message boards and I find those parents insufferable! I found it amusing that on this board I seemed to be bragging, but I feel very down-to-Earth and non -chalant about the whole thing when I go to the gifted kids boards. You should see them- a whole message board of "my kid can do this" and the like. It's awful.
I try my hardest not to do that and to not compare. I would never sit here and list all of the things she can do- that's rude.

I can talk to my mom, thankfully, as I was the same as a young child.

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 2:17 PM


Leslie and Giftedmom ---

I don't know how the gifted programs work where you are, but in our public school the priority - if teachers are available, which they usually are in our school --- is to place gifted kids in a classroom with a gifted-certified teacher. It's not a gifted-only classroom; there are both Discovery and regular students in the class. However, the gifted-certified teachers are trained to teach to a range of student abilities, to keep students engaged and challenged at their own level, and to craft projects and assignments with enough choices to challenge all kids. (Often Discovery students have to include more choices from the starred, more challenging list.) The Discovery curriculum and students thus enrich the experience of their classmates - many parents like the option to challenge their non-Discovery kids by putting them in the gifted-certified class. Also, gifted-certified teachers are more likely to be sympathetic to gifted kids, and not threatened by them, or rigidly attached to a one-size-fits-all curriculum that doesn't meet their needs.

In our county students are tested only by teacher recommendation in K, but universally in 1st grade (and almost every other year thereafter). Identification is automatic.

Enrichment seems to now be the officially preferred approach for gifted kids - same curriculum, enhanced by extra side issues and challenges, like the SRA boxes you all remember fondly. Acceleration - going through the same curriculum but at a faster, more challenging pace - was more common when I was a kid. Acceleration does rely on grouping bright kids together to all enjoy the faster pace -- and it takes a teacher who's not afraid they will run out of material further on.

Posted by: KB | June 25, 2007 2:27 PM

Laura-

You hit the nail on the head perfectly. Did you read Raising Your Spirited Child?

My daughter is also an extrovert and will start to jabber away (she thinks out loud, so she'll walk around the house talking to herself and she'll act out little stories and such out loud) She gets that energy from the outside and that can be an "issue" in traditional settings.

I, myself, used to skip school due to boredom. I just couldn't handle it.
People always thought I was up to no good (as I was rebellious in other ways as well), but I honestly was sitting in Friendly's with a cup of coffee reading.
My husband was the sitting quietly type as well.

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 2:28 PM

Gifted mom: I think people are put off when others say: my 3 YO is gifted. She may at this age be. A little ahead of the curve but many children are then the other kids catch up as it were. I think you maybe weren't clear originally - and then you said she hasn't really been tested (but indicated she needs to be for private schools). It's just that most parents think *they're* kid is gifted and are all excited to believe it when the teacher tells them that.

It sounds like your kid is bright but you aren't sure she is actually gifted (which apparently means upper 40 percent, in any event).

And I wouldn't worry so much about her being separated in a public school. It's really not much of a big deal. I missed 3 hrs a day twice a week in elem school due to the gifted program and it was good. But anyway by the time kids are in 4th or so grade, they are pulled out for all sorts of stuff (reading help, band/orchestra, play rehearsal, etc).

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 2:38 PM

Just a preview of what is on the Gifted message boards:

"When did your dc understand the differences between boys and girls? Isabel was quite young. She understood by appearances as well as names(all though some names are the same for boys and girls). She has the "Berdie" bus from Thomas. I associate Berdie as a girls name, so does she. She calls him a girl since the name seems like a girls. However, we were at the mall and this girl, who had to be about 6 didn't seem to know the difference between the two. She came up to play with Gabby and asked if she was a boy or girl. I told her a girl, besides the fact she had a bow in her hair and a skirt on. She kept referring to her as a boy the rest of the time she played with her. I don't think she was developmentally delayed as her speech, motor, etc seemed fine. I thought it was a little odd."

How ridiculous is that question??
And another:


"Lucia has never been a great counter or for that matter very interested in counting. She can count orally up to fifteen and count concrete objects up to fifteen(certainly no great feat).

Now, the problem comes when she plays her computer game she has to count a picture. She can identify quantities 0-4, but past that she has to count the objects. The problem on her game is she isn't really sure how to count a picture and keep track of which ones she has already counted. I'm not concerned, but she gets frustrated on her computer game where she is supposed to count these very little balloons a clown is holding and I would like to help her if possible.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to teach her to do this and keep track of which ones she has already counted? the balloons aren't in rows. Did any other dcs have trouble with this versus counting concrete objects. Does something just click with this at a certain age.

Thanks"


Another woman posted a VIDEO of her son putting a puzzle together!!!

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 2:41 PM

to gifted mom:

That's funny - actually, in high school, i'd 'skip' school and go to the cafeteria to catch up on reading and some homework.

I found out years later that my mom always got a phone call and always said I was home.

I would go in late typically, and never miss math class.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 2:42 PM

giftedmom:

Stay away!

I would advise the parents: well, in a few years, the kid will be able to do it.

LET THEM LEARN ON THEIR OWN.

Maybe that's why supposed 'gifted' kids sometimes don't have any social skills. And if mom and dad are helping all the time, how would they ever learn to figure anything out on their own?

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 2:46 PM

GM: yeah those parents of gifted kids seem like a riot. I don't know but most kids seem to distinguish girl from boy by around kindergarten. Even before learning the word, they seem to do some gender association. I guess it depends how much you try to teach them the difference. I don't think my daughter knows the difference. We don't talk about it a lot. When the doctor asked her if she was a boy or a girl, she told them she was "a people." But she certainly gravitates to girl type stuff-like dolls or tea parties. My friends two year old son answers I am a boy but I doubt he knows the real difference between girl or boy. But those parents seem to be crazy. If their kid is gifted, why do they need to worry so much how much they can count. But then my kid says, "H K L X spells happy house."

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 2:47 PM

sounds more like those are the kids with helicopter parents. Ack.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 2:47 PM

Howard County gifted percentages reflect students taking a gifted/talented class. This would include a child taking GT English and on-grade everything else. It probably also includes the children who start in a GT class (parental pressure and request) but later move to a lower level because it is too advanced.

I knew a mother with a child in 5th grade GT math (7th grade work) who got a tutor for the child rather than accept that he wasn't gifted and should be moved down a level.

My own children went from on-grade, honors, and GT in different years and in different directions, up and down.

Several years ago, as a senior, my son took AP English as well as Algebra II for the second time. I don't think that many of us really believe that if the children take gifted classes that they are truly gifted. Or then again, maybe many do believe it.

Posted by: Anon today | June 25, 2007 2:49 PM

"My daughter is also an extrovert and will start to jabber away (she thinks out loud, so she'll walk around the house talking to herself and she'll act out little stories and such out loud)."

Gifted Mom, I am cracking up. I call mine "Doppler Girl," because you can always tell where she is and the direction she's heading by following the doppler shift in the chatter/story/song.

And yeah, I did read that book -- it was the first "thank GOD, someone else has a child like mine!" moment. And turns out I ranked equally high in some of the sensitivities -- I just retreated inward to escape, while she extends outward to try to control. Here I thought we were complete opposites, when we were just two sides of the same coin! Really, REALLY a lifesaver in helping me understand her better.

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 2:50 PM

My 5 YO is for some reason very interested in the boy/girl question. He's always saying: I'm a boy, brother's a boy, dad's a boy, mom's a girl (dog) is a boy, (other dog, who passed last fall) is a girl.

I've never even looked at it as something he had to 'learn.'

I do remember being very young and asking mom how they knew when a baby was born whether they were a boy or a girl. I thought you needed to let them grow up a little and look at them to tell (couldn't have been very old, huh?). Or perhaps see how they're dressed (didn't really think that it was a chicken and egg thing, I guess). Mom was VERY embarrassed by the question (that I could tell!) and said they could just tell, and changed the subject VERY quickly.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 2:51 PM


So Laura, are you a firstborn, LOL? I wonder whether later-born kids are exposed and challenged earlier, but somehow measure themselves against an inappropriate yardstick . . . no matter how strong they are within their peer universe, it's the most accomplished peers or their older siblings they compare themselves to . . . whereas firstborns get to define their own terms and aren't looking several years ahead . . .

I too assumed schoolwork was easy for everyone . . . until I finally ran into a situation in junior high where I was deeply underprepared for a course (tranferred in in midstream). . . having that experience, of struggling to fill in real gaps, and feeling what it was like to struggle, was probably the best thing that ever happened to me!

Posted by: KB | June 25, 2007 2:55 PM

gifted mom - what age are these kids? When you said message boards for gifted kids I thought people were talking about school age children.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 25, 2007 2:57 PM

KB/Laura:

Yes, I too definitely thought school was easy. I could well more than get by with little work - so I never really tried hard. Even in college, 1 1/2 years of it was stuff I had seen in high school (about - definitely for the math stuff). That was the really scary part. I had always been told what a great high school I went to - and I thought: how great could it be, it's so easy! But then I realized that I was way ahead of my peers in college and it really did scare me for the education system in this country...

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 2:58 PM

KB, no, actually, I'm a first/only (my mom's only, but four younger steps and halfs). Sorry! I suspect that if you're determined to believe you're not smart, you'll look until you find someone to prove your point. :-)

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 3:07 PM

Laura - I had the same feeling the first time I read the book! I read it over from time to time to just feel as if I'm not alone...lol

I'm an extrovert, just as my daughter. Talk about an eye-opener! I'm sitting here struggling and then I realize it's because she's exactly like me!

I don't talk quite as much anymore, I've certainly calmed down quite a bit, but I see where she gets it!

Too funny.

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 3:11 PM

gifted mom - what age are these kids? When you said message boards for gifted kids I thought people were talking about school age children.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 25, 2007 02:57 PM


Oh, I know- I found this site for preschoolers (3/4 years old, so I thought) and realized that most parents posting had 2 yr olds or 1 1/2 year olds. I looked a little further and realized there was one for INFANTS. It's quite amusing.

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 3:14 PM

Leslie, we are such nerdy lascivious strumpets, aren't we?

Posted by: Jen S. | June 25, 2007 3:17 PM

Hmm, I'll have to ask my parents if they really noticed any difference between myself and my sibling, IQ-wise.

I doubt it. We both caused our share of worry & concern, in our own ways.

Ditto for whether or not 3 points in either direction is likely to make much difference. At some point, ambition and drive take over.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | June 25, 2007 3:25 PM

First time poster...

For folks who are interested in degrees of giftedness, I would highly recommend "Losing our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind" by Deborah L. Ruf.

As to whether children should be told they're gifted, I would say absolutely, esp. when having social difficulties with age peers. Not in a bratty, I'm-better-than-you-and-I'm-going-to-tell-everyone way. A label. But to better understand why they may be having difficulty connecting. These kids they often experience the world in a very different way, and their "true peers" may in fact be several years older.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 3:34 PM

"But to better understand why they may be having difficulty connecting. These kids they often experience the world in a very different way"


This is one of the advantages of having separate gifted classes - they all get to be nerdy together. It helps them socially as well as academically.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 3:39 PM

to 3:39

Clearly! I never felt that I connected with anyone but adults until I was well into my 20s. Then i came into my own.

Whether it was learning to deal with what I had growing up and/or because I was diff than others, or because I was the youngest so I was always dragged to stuff for the older kids - I always felt more adult like than kid like. So I definitely felt quite awkward til I was closer to being an adult! No joke! I can so relate.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 3:41 PM

"My child is gifted!"

This is what you tell the waiter when your 3 year old pipes up at a restaurant and tells him "You have a penis, don't you! I know because you're a boy"

Just can't take your gifted kid anywhere.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 25, 2007 3:44 PM

Are there any parents here whose kids are the popular ones, like cheerleaders, star athletes, student officers and the like?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 3:45 PM

I used to baby sit for a health teacher. She taught her three year old all the correct terms. One day their cat walked into the room and her three year old son said, "Bridget is a girl cat." I said, "yes, that is because Bridget is a girl's name." He looked me in the eye and said, "no, it is because she has a gina." Too funny.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 25, 2007 3:47 PM

But let me play devil's advocate myself minute: to flip your question, just because I survived being bored with school, why should I want to force my child to go through the same thing? Yeah, a little boredom is a good thing (our current phrase is "it's my job to keep you safe; it's your job to keep you entertained"). But all day, every day? Do I really want to train her that the best and highest skill she can learn in life is sucking it up and getting through the day?

-Laura

The answer to your first question is that you should never want your child to be bored, but you (royal you) also have to realize that the school does not exist for the sole benefit of your child, and if everyone requested the same minor accomodation, every kid would need their own teacher.

With regard to last statement I quoted, the smarter she is, the higher up on the ladder "sucking it up" has to go.

The thing is, I have the same problem with my daughter. She gets bored and does the same thing yours does, talks to her friends. I don't know the solution, just the desired outcome. ;)

Posted by: devils advocate | June 25, 2007 3:48 PM

I find the whole subject of IQ tests very confusing. Suppose someone has trouble decoding letters and words: if they take an IQ test they'll score low because they didn't understand the questions. But that doesn't necessarily mean they lack the ability to solve problems etc. It seems to me that IQ tests are limited by the intrinsic nature of testing.

I also wonder why we all care so much about IQ. What we all really want for our kids is that they be happy in the long term. In general, that means they need to find a decent job so they can put a roof over their head and food on the table, and perhaps support a family if that's what they desire. We therefore want them to be able to get a decent job, and we figure they'd be happiest if they like that job. We also generally want them to be able to maintain reasonably content relationships. I know many people who have accomplished these things who are of average or perhaps slightly above average intelligence. So why do we really care about 3 IQ points?

Posted by: m | June 25, 2007 3:49 PM

Are there any parents here whose kids are the popular ones, like cheerleaders, star athletes, student officers and the like?

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 03:45 PM

I was one of the popular ones...gosh, it sounds stupid to say that now! What does that matter? One can't be smart AND popular? I had the advantage of being pretty and a little rebellious (so I seemed "cool") , but inside, I'm really a big dork.

Posted by: Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 3:51 PM

And when your little protegy learns to dial your work number at age 3, this can get a little programatic too. They just don't take "bye bye" as a hint that the boss is in your office, they just keep calling back.

Posted by: Lil Husky | June 25, 2007 3:52 PM

So why do we really care about 3 IQ points?

Posted by: m | June 25, 2007 03:49 PM

From the posts above, we obviosly don't.

But some PhD somewhere had to publish and some journalist needed fodder for their byline and here we are.

Posted by: devils advocate | June 25, 2007 3:54 PM

It's just that so many parents here today are making out like they (and their kids) are all geeks or freaks with really poor social skills.

Posted by: To Gifted Mom | June 25, 2007 3:55 PM

HaHaHa. Foamgnome made a funny about a pussy.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 3:56 PM

This blog is sagging more quickly than my breasts!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 4:04 PM

I think that actually, most people don't 'fit in' especially when they are growing up. We all try to figure out where we fit in, in our family, our culture, our neighborhood, society, etc, and it's all a growing and learning experience. It's no wonder that in a group of people who are secure in themselves, that most of them will say they had a tough time fitting in.

Why? Because socialization is, for one thing, supposed to make everyone the same - and we're not (especially in the US). So most people feel awkward growing up.

Those that say they are always 100% secure all the time? Those are the ones who are typically the most *in*secure.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 4:05 PM

where is everyone today?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 4:06 PM

if it matters, I do not believe that the term "gifted" can apply to a child under the age of 7.

I met many average kids who were able to test for private school as "gifted" and other kids who were never tested. I know only one single 3 year old who could read Dr Seuss books and write rudimentary words- all the 3 yr olds my son's class could write their names and write the alphabet, but only one kid could create real words. Compare that to my kindergarten experience where we were first introduced to writing at age 5! Anyway, if only one kid I knew could read by 3, sure, yeah, he's gifted, but the other parents who claimed their kids were gifted because they knew all the names of the dinosaurs or all the names of the teenage mutant ninja turtles or the parts of the body or the names of the Backyardigans- don't live in-denial, all kids memorize that stuff.

My son's four now and reading is a chore for him. He can't remember "when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking" so we end up with a lot of "lay-ugh" (laugh) or writing every hard-c word with a K like "Kat." I am not going to worry that he has writing difficulty at four and those of you that do can live your lives that way. He'll improve his writing and reading in Pre-K with everyone else.

Posted by: DCer | June 25, 2007 4:09 PM

"where is everyone today?"

I guess all the posters today are not anyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 4:09 PM

I am the youngest of three boys, all fairly close in age. I am the Mensan in the family. My oldest brother was always the black sheep, constantly getting into trouble, usually with trips to the emergency room as a result. Interestingly, of the three of us, he appears now to be the greatest professional success, at least as net wealth is concerned. I, on the other hand, am the family failure, having failed to make any headway at all in any number of activities in life that I have picked up and ultimately failed to complete.

So there's an anecdotal counterexample to the study, but also a reinforcement of the view that there is a lot more than intelligence to success in life.

Posted by: Flamingo | June 25, 2007 4:10 PM

What about studies showing that taller men are more successful in business than shorter ones?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 4:14 PM

What about studies showing that taller men are more successful in business than shorter ones?

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 04:14 PM

Survival of the fittest. Tall= strong and capable. Short= weak

Just as it goes with good looking people. Supposedly beautiful people are also more successful.

Biologically pleasing people are easier to deal with, I guess!

Good thing I'm a genius, gorgeous AND have a killer bod!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 4:20 PM

This blog is sagging more quickly than my breasts!

Elaine is that you?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 4:24 PM

that's one thing that's fascinating about all these parents who talk about how smart their kids are.

There is absolutely NO correlation between intelligence and success (depending on how you define it). Plenty of people without education are successful. Plenty of people who aren't so bright are successful. So the parents argue about how gifted little johnny is when he is 3. Who cares? Does that make him better? Or the parents better? Or mean that he won't be living in said parent's basement at 30 playing nintendo (or wii)?

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 4:26 PM

There is absolutely NO correlation between intelligence and success (depending on how you define it).

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 04:26 PM

I disagree, but not enough to argue the point.

But I am reasonably sure there is a correlation between stupidity and failure.

Posted by: devils advocate | June 25, 2007 4:30 PM

Devil's Advocate: your first statement is valid, in part. But it's also true that most kids do not need those kinds of accommodations (my son will likely do just fine with a regular curriculum). And my real frustration is that our schools ARE set up to make those kinds of individual accommodations, but only for the lower-performing kids. Our local elementary is very, very good at doing IEPs for the kids who need extra help catching up. But they had no plans for handling a child who was significantly ahead of the curve ("well, we can ask her some harder questions on the reading material").

The presumption is that a smart kid isn't being "hurt" by sitting around and so should just learn to deal with it. But they ARE hurt if they get turned off about school -- I've read about a few studies indicating that kids at both the high and low end of the scale tend to have the most behavioral trouble at school, and a fair number of dropouts are actually pretty smart, but just never clicked with school.

"With regard to last statement I quoted, the smarter she is, the higher up on the ladder "sucking it up" has to go."

Ahh, now see, this is our fundamental difference. If my goal were to teach her to "go along to get along," maybe get herself a nice job pushing paper in middle management, then yeah, I'd put sucking it up near the top of the list. But that's just not her. So I'd rather teach her to expect to use her whole brain, to expect to challenge herself and be engaged in her life, rather than just accepting boredom as her lot in life.

Of course I will teach her self-control, and that boredom is something you just have to learn to deal with (especially when you're smart). But I'm not going to teach her to just expect and accept that as a major part of life.

I know this about her, because that part of her is me. I have a very low boredom threshold, and took quite some time finding the intellectual stimulation that I need to keep myself sane. So no, I don't ever want to teach my daughter to accept less than what I have -- I want her to learn that you keep searching and striving until you find what you need.

But if you figure out some way to cut out the classroom chatterbox, please let me know. :-)

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 4:35 PM

Laura, good for you for working to make sure your daughter is challenged. I was bored by school until high school (I was able to switch to a very good high school) but as I got older it did teach me one important lesson, which is that education and school are two different things, and my education is always my responsibility. That lesson served me well.

DCer, I loved your post about not worrying about your child's reading and writing skills at this age. I didn't learn to read until second grade, just showed no interest whatsoever, and then when I was ready I picked it up quickly and have been an avid reader ever since. I wonder, if that were the case in today's climate, whether I would have been given the space to learn in my own good time as I was then.

Posted by: Megan | June 25, 2007 4:48 PM

Laura - bravo.

Also, in my school district growing up, they had MANY accomodations for those who couldn't deal with the major curriculum. It was a highly competitive school and not for all. But public. So there was the 'school within a school' where for certain subjects, kids would be able to help design a curriculum and the students involved in that were from several diff. grades so they would all be doing diff work, perhaps on the same subject.

Then there was the alternative high school - which was about 50 kids, and they were all thrown together and all designed individual curriculums. The reality was that they were the high *and* low kids - i.e., some of them ended up going to harvard. A friend of mine went there cause she couldn't deal with the stress and competition of the 'regular' school. She is a very bright person who just learned differently - had different needs.
I know that most school systems just can hardly deal with the 'regular' students they have, let alone adding special requirements for 'others.' But it *is* the parent's job to make sure *their* child has what they need. Really.

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 4:51 PM

Devil's advocate: I believe you probably know plenty of people and look at them and think: wow, they're not so bright-how did they get there?

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 4:53 PM

"With regard to last statement I quoted, the smarter she is, the higher up on the ladder "sucking it up" has to go."

Ahh, now see, this is our fundamental difference. If my goal were to teach her to "go along to get along," maybe get herself a nice job pushing paper in middle management, then yeah, I'd put sucking it up near the top of the list. But that's just not her. So I'd rather teach her to expect to use her whole brain, to expect to challenge herself and be engaged in her life, rather than just accepting boredom as her lot in life.

Posted by: Laura | June 25, 2007 04:35 PM

I didn't intend my statement to mean that you should settle for the boredom, but to point out the fact that the smarter you are, the more boredom you will see and as a result, the more important "sucking it up" (could use a better term) becomes.

But what if your kid wants a mid level managment job? A lot of people work to live rather than living to work.

At some point, "to expect to use her whole brain, to expect to challenge herself and be engaged in her life" and "But I'm not going to teach her to just expect and accept that (boredom) as a major part of life." becomes an unattainable set of expectations in the real world. It can get really tiring , too. Because, face it, most of life for most people is far from exciting.

I try to remember that while my child is very special to me, the reality is that she is one of many wonderful people in the world and they all won't go on to cure cancer. I need to prepare her for the life she will live, not the life I hope she will live.

Posted by: devils advocate | June 25, 2007 4:59 PM

Devil's advocate: I believe you probably know plenty of people and look at them and think: wow, they're not so bright-how did they get there?

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 04:53 PM

Absolutely, but just because some of the not so bright succeed, doesn't mean there is no correlation. It may actually imply that there is. Would the stupid ones stick out so much if they were equally distributed among the successful?

Gotta go, have a nice day y'all.

Posted by: devils advocate | June 25, 2007 5:03 PM

Devil's advocate:
you hit it right on for one thing: we are never taught how boring life can be. It just is. You get up, you go to work, you get home see your family, do it again.

We are not taught that the world isn't here to entertain us. That most of everything is pretty much boring. Most of us won't be jetting off to europe every summer.

I think that that's one reason my sister married the (abusive) husband. Looking for excitement - she never knows what's going to set him off, their lives are 'exciting' because she never knows which one of him is going to show up - (we grew up that way with our darling dad). So it gives her (negative) excitement.

me, I'd rather my life be boring...

Posted by: atlmom | June 25, 2007 5:05 PM

"you hit it right on for one thing: we are never taught how boring life can be. It just is. You get up, you go to work, you get home see your family, do it again.

We are not taught that the world isn't here to entertain us. That most of everything is pretty much boring."

Sorry - this sounds like depression to me. It doesn't represent either my life or the lives of my friends and colleagues. When you begin to feel as though everything in life is "pretty much boring," you might benefit from some counseling. or you can hang out on that true mom's confession blog. ennui abounds there. you'd fit right in.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2007 8:25 PM

foamgnome: also have a mildly autistic child. When given a Wechsler (not only verbally administered, but verbally skewed) he scored a 70. Course, that including climbing under the table in the fetal position and humming for the second half of the test. ;) But when given the IQ test that is normed on deaf kids - I'm forgetting the name - he scored a 115. 3 months later. I am thinking that the test chosen gravely effects the score when a person's bundle of skills is not relatively even. What I mean is, with autistic kids, you will often find that some skills are dismally underdeveloped and some are accutely overdeveloped or poised to be, if they can be tapped. Different tests use different proxies for reasoning ability and learning potential, and weight recognized deficiencies differently.

I am sure that your child is of normal "intelligence," as we mean that term. I'm sure he/she is a wonderful child with great potential as a person! I am sorry that many people won't look at your child that way, because he/she will probably not fit into the profile of the outward manifestations of intelligence and belonging that our society likes to see. That's not the same as lacking a rich inner life! It is the gateway to a different expression of that life, and it is your challenge to find the gateway. Not easy, mostly because of the interference from outside, but always worth it.

Right now I'm working hard to get the right outlets for the strange little talents my autie has. He can hold 20 items (so long as they aren't words) in short term memory without fail - spit them back perfectly forwards or backwards, manipulate them in his head. His pattern recognition is almost off the chart. He can't use pronouns, but he can work a 500 piece jigsaw without looking at the box. I think I need to put him in music, get him working on the computer, provide as much constructive building material as I can muster. These days I use what is left of my once purportedly wonderful brain to translate and code break what he communicates into something that I can use.

And to respond to your comment on telling people their scores - nobody told me mine when I was first tested. It didn't take long in school to figure out that nobody else had memorized the encyclopedia or was working their way through Nathanial Hawthorn's work in my kindergarten class (for me, or the others). Later, when I was tested extensively as part of an experiment, I learned the scores. They don't mean much, and it didn't impact one way or the other how I felt about my abilities or weaknesses. Indeed, I felt no less an "imposter" knowing the scores.

Posted by: bad mommy | June 26, 2007 3:10 PM

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