Questions about Child Prodigies

How Can You Tell If Your Child Is a Prodigy? features then 8-year-old Autumn de Forest, who developed into an early artist. Her 4-foot-by-5-foot canvases sell for as much as $25,000. Her talents were discovered quite by accident when she asked her father if she could use some leftover stain and wood from a home project on which he was working. You can see a video clip of and about Autumn.

If child prodigies were never given the opportunity to discover their talents, would we know that they had the potential to excel? By exposing a young person to as many physical activities, intellectual undertakings, and art forms as possible, you may find an area or areas where that child will excel. The youngster probably won’t be a prodigy, but he still will have the opportunity to find a strength that would otherwise be undiscovered.

When we think of prodigies, men’s names often come to mind. One doesn’t hear the names of women as often. Lynn T. Goldsmith explores this and other issues in her paper titled Girl Prodigies, Some Evidence and Some Speculations. Goldsmith cautions us when she states that prodigies are notable for their rapid mastery, but not necessarily for their lifelong contributions to the field. Many prodigies burn out and do not produce as we may expect. Conversely, most original adult contributors were not necessarily prodigies themselves.

  • Will a child naturally excel in an area or is it necessary to first expose him to that particular area of study?
  • What are our obligations as adults to expose children to a wide variety of interests?
  • Why are we far more aware of male prodigies than female prodigies?
  • Since child prodigies don’t necessarily go on to produce as adults, does that make them just curiosities or something more important?

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