Indicators of Giftedness
Gifted and talented youth are a unique population, differing markedly from their age peers in abilities, interests, and psychological maturity. They differ in many areas of function including cognitive, affective, physical, and intuitive. Gifted learners may be two or more years ahead of their peers in regular classroom instructional areas. They have a need to move rapidly through curriculum. They often need variety and choice. Most gifted learners require instructional programs that focus on advanced comprehension, faster learning pace, depth, complexity and intensity, and novelty through varied input and processes.
Usually the gifted mind is well advanced and moves faster than the physical processes needed to record ideas. Gifted learners may find attention to detail dull and editing written material boring for this reason. Students are taught to value the process and product with pride. There can also be a marked lag in physical development or the avoidance of physical activity.
Although gifted learners can perform two or more grade levels above their peers in some academic areas, they are still young and often act socially and emotionally like children their own age. This disparity is often unexpected and disconcerting to adults. Gifted learners benefit greatly from opportunities to work and socialize with their intellectual peers as well as social peers. Students must learn and develop affective skills in both settings.
Several lists of characteristics of gifted individuals are available. Regardless of the list selected, it should be remembered that the behaviors cited merely give tentative general characteristics, and students may act in such a way as to conceal these traits, especially as they progress through school. If the school allows and encourages individuals to exhibit their natural traits, however, certain characteristics will become more evident:
- They typically learn to read earlier with better comprehension of the nuances of the language. As many as half of the gifted and talented population have learned to read before entering school. They often read widely, quickly, and intensely, and have large vocabularies.
- They commonly learn basic skills better, more quickly, and with less practice.
- The are better able to construct and handle abstractions than their age peers.
- They are frequently able to pick up and interpret nonverbal cues and can draw inferences that other children have to have spelled out for them.
- They take less for granted, seeking the 'hows" and "whys."
- They may display a better ability to work independently at an earlier age and for longer periods of time than other children do.
- They can sustain longer periods of concentration and attention.
- Their interests are often both wildly eclectic and intensely focused.
- They are usually able to respond and relate well to parents, teachers, and other adults.
- They may prefer the company of older children or adults to that of their peers.
- They are looked to by others for leadership and they generally direct others in activities.
Some of our most highly gifted students may be missed by failing to recognize that not all behaviors are exhibited positively. The following will be most helpful as we look to improve our skills as educators in the identification of the gifted. Check each child with this list of characteristics and associated problems. Students can be identified with opposite indicators.