Wednesday, March 10, 2010
What makes a gifted child?
The battle between nature and nurture – at least in terms of how they affect intelligence – is far from over.
An Australian study, which was published in the journal PLoS Medicine earlier this month, found that children born to older men did worse on intelligence and cognitive tests from infancy to seven years of age when compared to children of younger fathers.
Whether the legacy of nature outweighs the latter-day efforts of nurture or the other way round, Dr Joanne Staunton, a cognitive psychologist from the Thomson Paediatric Clinic, identified five things parents can do to help develop their child's intelligence.
Teach your child to approach things in a systematic, or step by step, manner.
Encourage your child to group similar items together so he can learn to discuss and explain their similarities and differences.
Teach your child to follow instructions.
Show your child how to complete patterns.
Develop your child's language skills by reading to him and asking him questions.
A person's intelligence is most commonly measured by an IQ, or intelligence quotient, test.
Average scores for children range between 80 and 119.
Those scoring between 90 and 109 form roughly 50 per cent of the population while children who obtain a test score of more than 130 are described as "of very superior intelligence" and make up the top 2 per cent of the population.
The concept of a gifted child was mooted by Stanford University's Lewis Terman, who developed one of the first tests to measure intelligence, in the early part of the 20th century.
However, paediatricians Mind Your Body spoke to do not advocate putting children through IQ tests unless required.
Dr Chong Shang Chee, an associate consultant in the division of paediatric neurology, developmental and behavioural paediatrics at the University Children's Medical Institute in National University Hospital, said: "IQ is not the best measure or predictor for everyone or for success."
IQ tests measure a child's verbal comprehension, reasoning, working memory and information processing speed.
Dr Staunton said that parents should take their child for an IQ test only if they suspect he or she has learning difficulties, high intelligence or low intelligence.
She said: "At the moment, the IQ test is viewed as the best measure of intelligence although there are many who say that intelligence tests do not fully measure intelligence.
"All IQ test results need to be viewed with caution as they do have a margin error in the score and need to be interpreted in relation to your child and not as an isolated score."
This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times