Thoughts on Why Knowing [about giftedness] Matters

Deborah Ruf, PhD
5 min readFeb 8

What’s most important? Is It the social, emotional, or cognitive needs of the gifted?

When my own children started school, I was primarily concerned about their cognitive needs related to academics. I wanted them to be challenged in school and to learn to their capacity, not limited by grade-level expectations.

I realize now that these three attributes are equally important. In most ways, you can’t have one without the others!

Social and emotional needs cannot be met if we ignore academic and cognitive needs.

When we support the gifted child with appropriate intellectual stimulation and academic pacing, the child often finds him- or herself among true peers and their social and emotional needs are more likely to be met. It is when we do not fit in with the group with whom we spend the majority of our time that we can feel awkward, lonely, and generally out of sorts.

What are true peers?

True peers are people with whom you share common interests and ways of being. Someone who gets your jokes even when no one else does. You don’t need to know everyone’s IQ score to find out and know when others have a lot in common with you. When the difference in yours or your child’s intellectual capacities are too different from others within in the places where you spend most of your time, you often won’t find yourselves on the same ‘‘wave-length.’’

We can’t develop good social skills when we’re surrounded by people who don’t “get us” or think we’re weird. It often leads to feeling lonely and misunderstood.

In the typical classroom that is based on age rather than readiness to learn, there is usually an ability and achievement range that stretches as much as two to five grade levels lower or higher than the average student in that classroom. The students in the average range outnumber those in the lowest and highest ranges because, well, more people are average! It’s the same for height, strength, weight, eye color, etc. Some qualities are less common and some are more common.

Deborah Ruf, PhD

High Intelligence Specialist & Writer, Dr. Ruf writes about highly intelligent people from birth to very old age.

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