Do You Have A Gifted Child?

A Gifted ChildA Gifted Child

Yes, I know everyone thinks that their child is a genius, but how do you know if they really are? There are several methods to assist you in evaluating your child’s abilities; below you will find the definition of giftedness, how to identify a gifted child and finally how to test for giftedness.

To begin, we must define what it means to be gifted. “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports),” according to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). This loose definition of what it means to be a gifted child covers academic and non-academic subject areas illustrates that a gifted child can present talent itself in a variety of ways.

So we know what gifted means, but how and when do you identify a gifted child? The child who constantly raises their hand, gets straight A’s and always reminds the teacher when they forget to assign homework might be the hallmarks of a good student, but these traits might not describe a gifted child. Gifted students can get bad grades (and oftentimes do because of boredom). Gifted students might “differ in terms of their emotional and moral intensity, sensitivity to expectations and feelings, perfectionism and deep concerns about societal problems,” according to the NAGC. While experts have differing opinions on what age to test young children to determine giftedness, researchers generally agree that it is difficult to make accurate IQ determinations earlier than age 6 because of unreliable test results. Children typically enter kindergarten around the age of 6, thus testing is done at this age to ensure proper placement in school.

Unfortunately, there is not one specific trait that defines the way a gifted student looks, acts or sounds like there are no concrete ways to define giftedness. There is not one test, credential or process that will correctly identify a gifted student. It is recommended that since being gifted is so difficult to define that the decision be based on multiple sources of information about the student. Data about the gifted student can be obtained from teacher and parent observation, gifted characteristics checklists and both achievement and ability testing. Below are some common characteristics of gifted students, as defined by the NAGC:

    • Keen power of abstraction
    • Interest in problem-solving and applying concepts
    • Voracious and early reader
    • Large vocabulary
    • Intellectual curiosity
    • Power of critical thinking, skepticism, and self-criticism
    • Persistent, goal-directed behavior
    • Independence in work and study
    • Diversity of interests and abilities
    • Creativeness and inventiveness
    • Keen sense of humor
    • Ability to fantasy
    • Openness to stimuli with wide interests
    • Intuitiveness
    • Independence in attitude and social behavior
    • Self-acceptance and unconcern for social norms
    • Radicalism
    • Esthetic and moral commitment to self-selected work
    • Unusual emotional depth and intensity
    • Sensitivity or empathy to the feelings of others
    • High expectations of self and others, often leading to feelings of frustration
    • Heightened self-awareness, accompanied by feelings of being different
    • Easily wounded with a need for emotional support
    • Need for consistency between abstract values and personal actions
    • Advanced levels of moral judgment
    • Idealism and sense of justice
    • Spontaneity
    • Intensely focused on passions and resists changing activities when engrossed in own interests
    • Highly energetic and needs little sleep or down time
    • Constantly questions
    • Insatiable curiosity
    • Impulsive, eager and spirited
    • Perseverant with a strong determination in areas of importance
    • High levels of frustration, particularly when having difficulty meeting standards of performance (either imposed by self or others)
    • Volatile temper, especially related to perceptions of failure
    • Non-stop talking/chattering

If you are questioning whether your child is gifted, testing may give you further insight into your child’s abilities. There are two types of tests that are given to measure giftedness: achievement tests and ability tests. Achievement tests are standardized tests or academic subject-specific tests. Typical standardized achievement tests that may provide insight into a child’s innate ability include the SATs, ITBS, SRA, and MATs while subject-specific tests usually focus on math, science and language arts. There is also the Test of Mathematical Abilities for Gifted Students or Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary Students (SAGES), which is designed specifically to test for giftedness by measuring intelligence and achievement in an unbiased way. The SAGES test was developed with gifted elementary schools for the purpose of early gifted identification. Tests that measure IQ or cognitive abilities include:

    • CogAT
    • Hammon-Nelson
    • Matrix Analogies Test
    • Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test or the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence
    • Otis-Lennon
    • Ravens Progressive Matrices
    • Stanford-Binet (L-M)
    • Wescher Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th Edition
    • Woodcock Johnson

Students enrolled in public schools have loads of resources at their disposal. Most schools offer gifted programs that will place children in classes with their intellectual peers. Schools will also accommodate social and emotional development issues that are seen with gifted children. Accommodations can be made in the form of differentiated learning; gifted pull-out programs and specific training for teachers that educated gifted students. Many parents of truly gifted children end up being their child’s advocate at school by making sure that work is both challenging and stimulating for their child. The NAGC advises that parents of gifted children familiarize themselves with the resources that are required for their local school, form parent groups and use local media to draw attention to the needs of gifted children. For more information or assistance, visit

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