Understanding a Child Prodigy

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Very few people ever learn to play their way flawlessly through something like a Beethoven symphony. But only a handful of people achieve that level of skill at the age of 4, 5 or 6.

They are the proverbial child prodigies and they fascinate us with their blinding talent and their memory and skills. They are completing calculus problems before most of us learn to tie our shoes. Some youngsters, athletic prodigies, can hit a golf ball farther than most adults.

But what happens to these children when they grow up? We don’t often talk of prodigies when they are no longer children. In fact there are serious problems that often have to be addressed when the people who are accustomed to being marked by the success of their childhood have to measure up as just another adult.


Ellen Winner, professor of Psychology at Boston College and author of “Gifted Children: Myths and Realities”

Jeanne Bamberger

developmental psychologist and author of “Growing Prodigies: The Midlife Crisis,”

Robert Kapilow, composer/conductor who was labeled a “prodigy” at an early age.