Every parent has a desire to see their child be celebrated as a prodigy or child genius. But the fact is that only one in five million children might be a prodigy, says Dr Joanne Ruthsatz of Ohio State University. According Dr Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, a child prodigy is usually a young person who is on the extreme end of giftedness. They are advanced and years ahead of their peers in one area – but usually not in all areas. She says that the signs of a child prodigy can be picked up as young as two or three years of age. You can immediately pick up if your child is a musical prodigy if he or she is a master of a skill or musical instrument by the age of ten.
How to determine if your child is a musical prodigy
Dr Ruthsatz explains that most child prodigies are usually dedicated to only one field of expertise. If your child is a music phenomenon it is likely that he or she will be devoted to his craft, since most protégé’s are especially caught up in their area of expertise. Ruthsatz suggests that it is this, along with talent, which is critical to identifying whether your child is a wunderkind.
Musically gifted children usually have a deep sense of interest and know-how about music, musical instruments or composing music. They are uniquely perceptive and able to pick out melody, rhythm and harmony while listening to a piece of music. Born with the natural gift of music, your child who excels in musical composition will even be able to pick up melody and rhythm while sitting in complete silence! Musical prodigies usually have excellent memory and will display unusual focus when it comes to all things musical.
Children, who are high achieving but not necessarily prodigies, are focused in a whole range of things and they are usually good at most of it. They are far less obsessive and pay less attention to detail, according to Dr Ruthsatz.
What to do if your child shows signs of being a musical prodigy
Dr Ruthsatz suggests that child prodigies require more socialization, than others, because they tend to be so consumed with their gifting that they may appear to be more adult than child at times. She recommends that you allow your genius to spend time with other exceptionally gifted children, as a way for your child to find common understanding.
Tell-tale signs of genius in a particular field could spur parents on to push their child into activity and lessons. While being proactive is a good thing, encouraging obsessive behaviour or allowing your child to feel as if their talent is the most important thing about them, should be avoided. Instead, gently nudge your child to grow and develop by setting healthy boundaries and using words of affirmation to drive them. Provide your child with tools that they would need to stimulate their gifting. Second hand musical instruments will do well for this. Encourage them to create and to learn through play and fun activities.
Enroling your child for special classes may be a good idea. Music classes or a music school can help to introduce your child to various instruments and a variety of musical styles and careers, which may help them to decide in which area they’d like to focus on eventually. Finding the right teacher and mentor is a great way to get your child the support they need.
How to bridge the gap between teacher and parent
Working together as a team, teachers and parents should have the common goal of keeping the child’s best interest at heart. Parents and mentors are encouraged to spend time together, to discuss the needs and progress of the child. Often the child forms a bond with the mentor, which excludes the parent from the process. Having regular recitals or performance showcases is a great way for the parent to keep track of the child’s growth and will also create a platform for the parent and teacher to interact.
In a survey, Parenting magazine reported that 68% of teachers reported to having difficulty dealing with parents, but it was most peculiar that 63% of parents reported to never having difficulties with teachers. The survey went on to show that most teachers felt that having two parent conferences per year was enough, whereas parents would prefer more interaction. Teachers also felt that their concerns about the child were not taken seriously enough by the child’s parents and as if the parent was not “partnering” with them to achieve success in school. Parents, on the other hand, felt that they were not included or invited to collaborate with teachers.
Pro Student Teacher writer, Sandra Countley, has suggested that teachers create a resource book of facts, contact information, key terminology, with a tear-out page that the parent can use to send in if they have questions. This resource booklet will not only serve as an excellent way to introduce parents to the class and subject at hand but it also shows that they are involved and considered. Parents are encouraged to read up and learn as much about their protégé’s area of interest. Grasping a firm understanding about the subject, its history, the level of commitment needed and possible sacrifices that must be made along the way, will help to bridge the gap between parent, teacher and child.
Teachers and mentors often feel that parents are not encouraging the creative and developmental process at home. The Parenting survey showed that about 54% of teachers feel that parents are not creating a safe space for children to make the most out of their classroom learning. When dealing with a child prodigy, parents and teachers should be setting yearly and quarterly goals together. Melting Activities writer, Carissa Peck, explains that one positive email per week is a great way to link classroom activity to overall goals set by both parties and can help to maintain a mutual understanding between all parties.
At the end of the day parents should consider what works best for their child and family. Unconditional love, support, encouraging a balanced lifestyle and maintaining a supportive home structure, are key ingredients to helping you draw the best out of your child, whether they are gifted or not.