Observation Guidelines: Seeing Intelligence in Children's Daily Behavior (page 2)
Problem-solving, cognitive skills, and curiosity are just a few of the many signs of intelligence that your child exhibits everyday. Observe intelligence in your child by looking for these characteristics and more.
Oral Language Skills
- Sophisticated vocabulary
- Colorful speech
- Creative storytelling
- Clever jokes and puns
LaMarr entertains his friends with clever “Your momma’s so fat . . . ” jokes.
Look for unusual creativity or advanced language development in children’s everyday speech.
- Ability to learn new information quickly
- Exceptional knowledge about a variety of topics
- Ability to find relationships among diverse ideas
- Excellent memory
Four-year-old Gina teaches herself to read using several reading primers she finds at home. Initially, her mother identifies a few words for her. From these words she deduces many letter-sound correspondences that enable her to decipher additional words.
Make note of situations in which children learn and comprehend new material more quickly than their peers. Look for creative analogies and interconnections.
- Ability to solve challenging problems
- Flexibility in applying previously learned strategies to new kinds of problems
- Ability to improvise with commonplace objects and materials
A fourth-grade class plans to perform a skit during an upcoming open house. When the children puzzle about how to hang a sheet from the ceiling (to serve as a stage curtain), Jeff suggests that they turn their desks to face the side of the classroom rather than the front. This way, the sheet can be hung from a light fixture that runs the length of the room.
Present unusual tasks and problems for which children have no ready-made strategies.
Cognitive and Metacognitive Strategies
- Use of sophisticated learning strategies
- Desire to understand rather than memorize
- Effective comprehension monitoring
Shannon, a sixth grader, explains that she learned the countries on South America’s west coast (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile) by creating the sentence, “Colin eats peas and chocolate.”
Ask children to describe how they think about the things they are trying to learn and remember.
Curiosity and Inquisitiveness
- Voracious appetite for knowledge
- Tendency to ask a lot of questions
- Intrinsic motivation to master challenging subject matter
Alfredo reads every book and article he can find about outer space. He has a particular interest in black holes.
Find out what children like to do in their free time.
Leadership and Social Skills
- Ability to persuade and motivate others
- Exceptional sensitivity to other people’s feelings and body language
- Ability to mediate disagreements and help others reach reasonable compromises
As a high school student, Gina organizes and directs a schoolwide peer tutoring program.
Observe how children interact with their peers at play, in cooperative group work, and in extracurricular activities.
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