Do you ever wonder if your child is different than other children when they develop a passion for dinosaurs, or electricity, or rocks, or…and they just won’t let go of the passion? They need to know everything there is to know about the topic and even then, continue the quest for more information! Does your child continuously ask questions or correct you if they think you are incorrect about a fact? Do they enjoy being around you and your friends and almost seem to understand adult humor?
Characteristics of Gifted Learners
These are just a few of the many characteristics of gifted children. It’s difficult for parents to pursue the possibility that their offspring could be gifted and talented. We are conditioned to feel that gifted identification is for “someone else’s child” and certainly not our own. After all, where could all that talent possibly come from? Guaranteed, after you read about gifted characteristics, you will find a connection to yourself or your spouse.
As you read over these characteristics, try to label them in one of three categories: SELDOM, OFTEN, and ALL THE TIME. Gifted children don’t always have strong connections to every characteristic, yet you will notice that gifted children often exhibit many of the following.
- Become absorbed and truly involved in certain topics or problems
- Are easily bored at routine tasks or repeated tasks
- Strive for perfection; are self-critical; are not easily satisfied with his/her own speed of products
- Prefers to work independently; requires little direction
- Likes to organize and bring structure to things, people and situations
- Has an unusually advanced vocabulary for age or grade level
- Has a good memory and performs difficult mental tasks
- Is curious, investigative and observant
- Possesses a storehouse of information on a wide variety of topics
- Is an avid reader and reads above grade level
- Has a sophisticated sense of humor that can be a bit “off”
- Can struggle with certain social situations
- Is often respected by classmates
- Is interested in the process of learning and not the final product
- Struggles to remain organized and complete projects
- Is intense
- Is an innovator
- Shows strong feelings, opinions, perspectives
- Creates new and original products
- Has original ideas
A High Achiever vs. A Gifted Learner
Another support tool for you to use is the following chart that compares high achieving students to gifted learning students. Highlight what describes your child.
From “The Gifted and Talented Child” by Janice Szabos, Maryland Council for Gifted & Talented, Inc.
|A HIGH ACHIEVER||A GIFTED LEARNER|
|Knows the answers||Asks the questions|
|Is interested||Is highly curious|
|Is attentive||Is intellectually engaged|
|Has good ideas||Has original ideas|
|Works hard||Performs with ease|
|Commits time and effort ot learning||May need less time to excel|
|Answers questions||Responds with detail and unique perspectives|
|Absorbs information||Manipulates information|
|Copies and responds accurately||Creates new and original products|
|Is a top student||Is beyond his or her age peers|
|Needs 6 to 8 repetitions for mastery||Needs 1 to 2 repetitions for mastery|
|Understands ideas||Constructs abstractions|
|Grasps meaning||Draws inferences|
|Completes assignments||Initiates projects|
|Is a technician||Is an innovator|
|Is a good memorizer||Is insightful; makes connections with ease|
|Is receptive||Is intense|
|Listens with interest||Shows strong feelings, opinions, perspectives|
|Prefers sequential presentation of information||Thrives on complexity|
|Is pleased with his or her own learning||Is highly self-critical|
If you found yourself selecting many ALL THE TIME gifted characteristics and highlighting several characteristics of A GIFTED LEARNER on the High Achiever vs Gifted Learner chart, then take time to follow though on your findings with people that work directly with your child. Share your findings with his/her teacher, co-parent, babysitter, and other family members. Explore what type of plan is in place at your child’s school, if they attend school, for students that need deeper and different curriculum extensions.
There are several outstanding parent support websites that will offer detailed and evidence based research regarding giftedness. Here are a few that you can explore!
Read and learn about your child and their gifts. Accepting that they are different and have special learning and social needs is the first step to helping them find success!
As we continue to talk about gifted children, we will discuss some of the difficulties they face in school and how parents can appropriately advocate for their gifted child.
Susan Sivertson is retired and now lives and works on a CSA farm supporting local farmers to provide clean produce for the surrounding community. Her professional educational career was spent supporting gifted and talented children, as they worked their way though the maze of personal learning and successful social skills. Susan has an educational degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Gifted and Talented degree from the University of South Florida. She spent most of her teaching career at Pine View School for the Gifted, in Sarasota, Florida. Susan remains devoted to the education of parents and teachers regarding our special gifted children.