Asynchronous Development in Gifted Children

There’s a stereotype that exists about children identified as being gifted. Unless one specifically states the type of giftedness (e.g., artistically gifted), people assume that the child is highly intelligent, mature, and responsible beyond his years. This could not be further from the truth!

Gifted children (specifically those identified as such by IQ tests) are an incredibly diverse group that includes children from all races, cultures, and socio-economic statuses. But they all have one thing in common. They experience asynchrony.

Asynchronous development is the term used to describe the uneven development of social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and creative skills. An elementary-aged child may be able to carry a conversation with a scientist but have difficulty carrying on a conversation with a child their own age. Or their reading level may be high above their social and emotional ability to cope with higher level reading material. You may even have a child who can craft beautiful prose but is below level in math.

Just like kids experience growth spurts from time to time, their abilities in various developmental areas will also spurt on occasion. When this happens, a child who may not have experienced asynchrony may suddenly become frustrated by their apparent challenges.

Public schools tend to place gifted children in general education classes with the occasional gifted class available. This almost always fails the students. A child with an IQ of 150 is just as different from the average (IQ of 100) as a child with a significant intellectual disability (IQ of 50). The failure of public schools to recognize the unique needs of gifted students is appalling.

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is our ability to deal with asynchrony at an individual level. We can teach each subject when and how our children need us to. When they hit a cognitive growth spurt, we can run with them. And when they become frustrated, we can guide them through the challenges at their own asynchronous pace.


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