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Curriculum & Instruction        < Previous        Next >


Traits of Gifted and Talented Kids


Q. How do you tell when a child is creatively gifted or talented?


         Gifted students learn more quickly, deeply, and broadly than their peers.


         They usually have learned to read early and thus have larger vocabularies than their age-peers.


         They tend to have outstanding memories with a larger knowledge base than most students.


         They are very curious and ask a lot of questions.


         They tend to have many interests, hobbies and collections.


         Fluent idea generation and much better elaboration skills vs. peers.


         May be noncomformist in clothing, hairdo, thoughts, practices.


         Standardized test scores may be off the charts but classroom grades not that hot.


         They are often called "intense" with strong concentration powers, and either can't stand the slightest noise or distraction, or could read a book in the midst of a hurricane without blinking an eye.


         They tend to operate at the same level as normal children who are significantly older, oftentimes many grade levels older, thinking in the abstract many years before their age-mates.


         They demonstrate high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity and excellent memories.


         They can get cranky about not wanting to do things that "bore" them.


         Some tend to be sloppy, careless and lazy.


         Tend to prefer to work alone than to work in a cooperative learning group.


         Tend to be bossy in group situations.


         May "blurt out" without worrying about inappropriateness of timing.


         Tend to be "the class clown."


         Know things about current events and global issues that most kids the same age have never even heard of.


         The things they do at school or home produce a "wow!" from parents and teachers.


         They don't need much practice, but can master new concepts or skills almost immediately.


         On the down side, they tend to be physically behind their peers, emotionally oversensitive, perfectionist, and challenging or rebellious of authority, including the teacher's authority.


         They tend to be loners or to hang out with older children or adults.


         The culture is tough on gifted kids, and many of them self-isolate to avoid stigma. Many more try to avoid being stigmatized as gifted by hiding their abilities and underachieving to win social approval.


         They have a higher degree of depression and anxiety.


         While there are many gifted individuals who seem to excel at everything, it is common to see a seventh-grader who can solve logic problems on the college level but spells at an early grade-school level, or a math whiz who is in the lowest reading group. This can cause real learning disabilities to be passed over in a gifted child, since he or she does so well in most subjects and can usually compensate for certain weaknesses by being so outstanding in other areas.


  • A famous expert on giftedness, Polish psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski, developed one more theory on the traits of gifted children which is popular right now: "positive disintegration" and the theory of "overexcitabilities." In a nutshell, Dabrowski said that gifted kids tend to have high energy levels; were passionate about things instead of just liking them; had noticeably more curiosity; asked a lot of questions; had a rich fantasy life, and were strongly connected with people to the point of being more altruistic than other people.



Homework: See the website,


By Susan Darst Williams Curriculum 14 2008


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