Introduction to Mensa Gifted Youth

In the context of Mensa, both children and adults are referred to as “gifted” if they have scored within the top 2% of the population on a recognised intelligence test. 

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How is giftedness in children and young people defined?

There are many definitions but here is one that is often quoted:

How is giftedness in children and young people defined?

There are many definitions, but here is one that is often quoted:

“Students, children or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not normally provided by the school in order to develop those capabilities.”

Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act

U.S. Congress, 1988

Why do really smart kids need support?

In Mensa, we believe that whether children and students have learning difficulties, average intelligence or an IQ in the top 2% of the population, they will all benefit from the appropriate kind of help along the way in order for them to reach their full potential.

While some children find certain academic subjects to be rather challenging, not feeling challenged enough is the problem that gifted children often have to cope with.

It is often the case that school personnel do not have the training or resources to provide additional teaching support for students at either end of the academic ability scale. For gifted students, lack of academic

challenge can lead to long periods of boredom, which in turn can lead to indifference, disillusionment and disengagement – to the extent that gifted students skip classes and, in some cases, quit school altogether.

They also benefit from intellectual and social connection with like-minded peers. Finding others who share their interests, level of understanding and sense of humour can be essential for gifted students to feel understood and accepted. Peer relationships help nurture vital social skills and allow gifted children to express themselves fully without fear of judgement. Without these connections, gifted children may feel isolated and out of sync, potentially leading to social difficulties and hindering their overall development.

“Twice-exceptional” children and young people face additional challenges.

When an individual not only demonstrates giftedness but also possesses one or more learning differences, physical disabilities, or disturbances (neurodevelopmental or other), they are referred to as “twice-exceptional” or “2E”. These individuals exhibit cognitive abilities well above average, alongside challenges in learning, behaviour or emotions that necessitate additional support.

Mensa Gifted Youth programs provide children and young people with the extra support they often need to develop their individual capabilities – additional assistance that we believe all students worldwide should receive.

Mensa Gifted Youth

Mensa International has a Gifted Youth Committee, which is an appointed team of people from across the world who support the needs of gifted youth in the areas of education, policy and advocacy. In general, they work to support gifted youth initiatives and to provide a centralised body that facilitates the exchange of practices, ideas and information about gifted youth programs in national Mensas. In addition, they assist the Mensa International Executive Committee on matters relating to gifted youth globally.

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