The term giftedness implies that someone has traits, properties, or characteristics of being gifted. In using this term, we can say a child has artistic giftedness or academic giftedness, rather than attaching the concrete label of gifted. It really doesn’t matter which term you use since it’s more of a philosophical concept or understanding that children can possess traits of giftedness in some areas, but may not in other areas. This is called asynchronous development which is uneven development of skills.
Students with gifts and talents perform or have the capability to perform at higher levels compared to others of the same age, experience, and environment in one or more domains (math, reading, art, music, science). They require modification(s) to their educational experience(s) to learn and realize their potential.
Students with gifts and talents:
- come from all racial, ethnic, and cultural populations, as well as all economic strata.
- require sufficient access to appropriate learning opportunities to realize their potential.
- can have learning and processing disorders that require specialized intervention and accommodation.
- need support and guidance to develop socially and emotionally as well as in their areas of talent.
- require varied services based on their changing needs.
Children may be gifted in one or more of the following areas:
- Intellect (as determined by an intelligence test)
- Academic (as determined by achievement tests)
- Creative (as determined by tests of creativity)
- Artistically (as determined by performance based assessments & portfolios)
- Leadership ( as determined by experiences in leadership roles)
Twice-Exceptional Students (NAGC.org), Twice Exceptional means children may also have a learning disability, ADHD, autism, or an emotional disorder.
Motivation problem or hidden disability, by Merideth Warshaw (2002). http://uniquelygifted.org/motivation.htm
It is also important to understand that there are levels of giftedness in all areas such as moderately creative to extremely creative; moderately high intellect (i.e. IQ 135+) to extremely high intellect (i.e. IQ 165+). These different levels of intensity will produce different characteristics, and thus require varying types of instruction.
Each State has a different identification process that may include characteristics checklists, performance-based assessments, and standardized tests of achievement and intellect; see Evaluation and Testing and Misconceptions About IQ Tests . This link provides information about the process for the state in which you live. Gifted By State.
TIP: Many Misdiagnoses
Intellectually gifted people, whose needs are often neglected or misunderstood, may exhibit traits and behaviors that resemble conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or emotional disorders. Misdiagnosis can result in unnecessary medication and unintended harm. Make sure your child receives an accurate diagnosis, before medicating.
Social Emotional Needs of Gifted (SENG), https://www.sengifted.org/.
Does your child exhibit some of these characteristics? Being gifted does not mean possessing all of these traits, but enough of them to warrant instructional and emotional support.
• Is unusually active (busy, talkative, energetic)
• Learns quickly, needing less repetition than peers (usually 1-2 repetitions)
• Shows an excellent memory (especially long term)
• Uses advanced vocabulary unexpected for his age
• Engages in word play, mimicry, and storytelling
• Enjoys solving puzzles with numbers, words, and images
• Excels at improvising ways to solve problems
• Thinks in abstract, complex, insightful, and creative ways
• Responds to and demonstrates strengths in the arts
• Focuses intensely on single or varied interests at the same time
• Is highly inquisitive & asks probing questions, that are often difficult to answer
• Insists on doing things his or her way, yet can be loyal and modest
• Manifests deep, intense feelings and emotional reactions (often dramatic)
• Is concerned with truth, equity, and justice (world issues)
• Displays a keen sense of humor, at times better understood by adults
• Daydreams—lives in his or her own world
A gifted child may not exhibit all of these characteristics simultaneously, due to uneven development. For example, Jo may possess a large vocabulary, read prolifically, engage in creative storytelling, but struggle with puzzles, numbers and math. Likewise, he may make As in language arts courses, but Cs or Ds in math courses.
“We knew that children with traits of giftedness think and experience life differently than many other children and therefore need an education carefully tailored to their unique learning styles and interests… taking into account their ability to question and think in abstract patterns as well as their complex personalities. We therefore spent a great deal of time getting to know our son better and paying attention to how he learns best.”
Quote from Rivero, Lisa (2002). Creative Home Schooling for Gifted Children. Great Potential Press.
- Be attentive to your child’s comments and observations.
- Create an environment that promotes self-expression.
- Help her to develop skills and interests, for example, in plant science, animal care, electronics, carpentry, mechanics, law, design, and crafts.
- Encourage him to explore the beauty of diverse cultures through language, poetry, story, song, dance, puppetry, cooking, and crafts.
- Promote exploration and discovery through hands-on learning.
- Emphasize effort and progress rather than perfection (perfectionism can be paralyzing, so help them to avoid this trap).
- Model positive ways to address setbacks and solve problems.
- Ensure that your child’s aptitudes and creativity are being challenged.
- Accommodate for your child’s co-occurring disability, if one is present.
Within the Community
- Universities and community organizations offer after school, weekend, summer, and online enrichment programs.
- Mentors and talent experts can be guides and sources of knowledge and inspiration.
- Activities and outside courses can nurture talent and help establish friendships with those who share the same interests.
- Group and individual projects or competitions can help to build lifelong skills.
TIP: Acceleration vs Enrichment
Both acceleration and enrichment are useful methods when teaching gifted children. Acceleration, moving at a faster pace in a subject area may be necessary if your child is working 2 or more years beyond her grade level peers. Other forms of acceleration are early entrance to school or college, grade skipping and dual enrollment. If you choose to accelerate, be sure to continue it each year to prevent content repetition and thus boredom. Enrichment is going deeper and broader in an area of interest. Teaching with unit studies is a fantastic way to facilitate research, exploration, and depth of knowledge as well as inspire a lifelong love for learning.
- NAGC National Association for Gifted Children, https://www.nagc.org/
- Hoagies’ Gifted Education, https://www.hoagiesgifted.org/
- Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children, http://hollingworth.org/
- Gifted specialist/homeschool mom, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Gifted Children
- TAGFAM is an internet-based support community, http://www.tagfam.org/
- Films about people who are gifted
- Creative Homeschooling for Gifted Children: A Resource Guide, Lisa Rivero (2002). Although this book is dated, it is still filled with current resources, curriculum ideas and teaching tips.
- Project-based Homeschooling, by Lori Pickert
Project-based homeschooling is a method where meaningful projects are chosen and carried out in a self-directed way. Students take an active role in focusing their own learning by choosing projects they are passionate about. This is also a way to integrate multiple subjects, as topics (or questions) can range across all disciplines. Child and parent work together to create a structure that suits the child (what resources to use, how long the project will take, and whether there will be a presentation). The role of the parent/teacher is that of a facilitator which works well for most gifted students that are intrinsically motivated.
- Homeschooling Gifted Kids: A Practical Guide to Education and Motivate Advanced Learners, by Cindy West, M.A. Ed.
This book, written by a veteran homeschooler, gives parents a great deal of practical support and confidence to meet the academic needs of their bright and twice-exceptional learners. It focuses on special considerations that often go along with gifted children such as providing a challenging curriculum, offering outlets for artistic and creative talents, accelerating students into college courses early, and finding them true intellectual peers. This book is loaded with resources on curriculum choices, learning styles, integrating technology and online courses.
- Gifted Education Strategies for Every Child: Homeschooling Secrets, by Lee Binz, The Homescholar.
In this book you’ll find teaching strategies of acceleration, compacting, enriching, and specialization. It addresses concerns about when to graduate them, whether to utilize community college, and what type of colleges are be appropriate.