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How to Spot a Child Prodigy

By Nannette Richford ; Updated April 18, 2017
Child prodigies develop advanced skills at an early age.

As a parent, you already know how wonderful your child is and might even be a little biased when it comes to assessing his talent. Sometimes, however, children are advanced in one area -- such as playing a musical instrument or the way they love to crunch numbers. These children exhibit exceptional skill at an early age that they pursue for a lifetime. The Davidison Institute defines a child prodigy as one who exhibits the skill of a trained adult before he reaches the age of 10, but there is no universally agreed upon age that defines a child prodigy.

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Compare you child's ability to those of other children of the same age group. Although there will be variations in skill development, child prodigies typically excel far above children of their same age. For example, while being at the top of the class for a musical instrument may show talent and commitment, if your child is more advanced than older children and approaches the level of an adult in either understanding or execution of skills, she may be making her debut as a child prodigy.

Observe your child's interests. Child prodigies typically develop a driving passion for their areas of interest. Musical prodigies typically spend long hours honing their craft. While little Johnny may have a talent for playing the tuba, if it doesn't excite him and hold his interest, he's not likely to be a child prodigy. Likewise, the mathematical prodigy may appear obsessed with mastering mathematical skills and exhibit advanced ability to grasp mathematical concepts. He thoroughly enjoys the pursuit of complex mathematical reasoning.

Talk to an expert in the area of talent, such as the music or math teacher. Express your concerns clearly and ask for an assessment of your child's talent compared to what is typically expected of children his age. A trained professional can provide valuable insight into how your child's ability or interest compares to others. Remember, being the best tuba player in the band or the highest scorer on the math team doesn't always indicate your child is a prodigy.

Monitor your child's interests to determine how long he remains interested in a specific topic. While gifted children show interest in a wide range of intellectual pursuits, the gifted child's interest may be fleeting and change as he is exposed to new ideas and activities. The child prodigy's interest does not typically wane according to circumstances and becomes a lifelong pursuit.

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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

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