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Identifying Gifted Children

GIFTED CHILDREN can be identified by recognising that they are more advanced intellectually than their age.

Gifted children

When we use the label "gifted" we mean people of well above average intelligence. Just as there are people of well below average intelligence whose thinking and feeling are very different from that of the general population, so too there are people of well above average intelligence whose thinking and feeling are also very different - more complex and of greater depth.

Advanced mental reasoning ability results in asynchrony where the gifted child's mental, physical and emotional development are "out of step". So we get a child who sits cuddling their teddy bear and asking what happens when people die or where do stars come from or why is the earth round? This asynchrony and developmental difference between mental and chronological age peers increases with higher intellectual capacity.

These characteristics are some of the indicators of giftedness in early childhood. However, it is important to remember that how these characteristics combine and are expressed is different in each gifted child.

Giftedness is a different way of being and this difference affects a gifted person throughout their whole life. Children who are different from the norm and who therefore experience many things in life differently, need help in understanding why. Therefore, it is important to discuss intellectual and emotional difference wth the gifted child.

Helping a gifted child to understand their giftedness focuses less on the label and more on the accompanying behaviours eg quick learning ability; sensitivity to others' problems. This will not make the child "big headed". On the contrary, it will prevent the child from equating better learner with better person.


  • is a fast learner
  • learns with little or no instruction or help
  • understands the meaning of adult conversation
  • began talking earlier than usual
  • knows a lot of words and uses them correctly in sentences
  • is interested in reading
  • can sit through hearing a long book and likes to hear it again
  • has a good memory
  • picks up songs quickly and repeats them accurately after a few hearings
  • will attempt tasks which it knows in its mind how to do but which it cannot yet do physically
  • puts puzzles together easily
  • shows a long attention span for stories or conversation
  • discusses ideas in detail
  • has a sense of humour
  • has a vivid imagination
  • shows interest in complex issues
  • is interested in problems beyond age or experience level
  • is very observant
  • is impatient or easily bored with routine tasks
  • prefers older playmates
  • enjoys speaking with adults
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