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Gifted 101



Characteristics of Giftedness

Giftedness is … a greater awareness, a greater sensitivity, and a greater ability to understand and transform perceptions into intellectual and emotional experiences. – Anne Marie Roeper (2000)

The term “gifted” refers to learners who have advanced intelligence and whose thoughts and feelings are more complex and of greater depth than typical learners. Gifted children are highly curious and will ask endless questions as they pursue knowledge. They are always seeking to understand themselves and make sense of their world. They have an extensive knowledge base. As analytical problem solvers, they are highly creative thinkers who take apart things in their minds and find ways that they could be improved. Gifted children will often find unusual solutions to problems by using their exceptional reasoning ability, perceptiveness and insightfulness. Because of their rapid learning rate, unusual memory ability and high levels of energy, gifted children need constant challenge and interesting work to prevent boredom. Gifted children trust themselves. They are intrinsically motivated, relying on an inner source for inspiration and motivation rather than outer sources.

Giftedness has an emotional as well as an intellectual aspect. Gifted children not only think differently, they feel differently from their peers. They often have a well-developed sense of humor. Because of heightened intensity, they have high expectations of themselves and others often resulting in perfectionism. Research consistently shows that it is important for gifted learners to find gifted peers who learn and work on similar levels and interests. Because the development of gifted learners is atypical (asynchronous) throughout a lifespan in terms of awareness, perceptions and emotional responses, their social and emotional growth is of utmost importance in their potential development.

There are certain characteristics that distinguish gifted learners from typical learners. One way to recognize gifted learners is to look at the characteristics of giftedness. Gifted children will show some but not all of these characteristics.
  • Learns rapidly
  • High intensity and sensitivity
  • Creative
  • Very imaginative
  • Extensive vocabulary
  • Early or avid reader
  • High curiosity, asks many questions
  • Sense of humor
  • Wide range of interests
  • Perfectionism
  • Prefers older companions
  • Good memory
  • Long attention span
  • Good problem-solver
  • Shows compassion for others
  • Ability with puzzles, mazes, numbers
  • Often questions authority
  • Intrinsic motivation


MYTH: Gifted students don’t need help; they’ll do fine on their own.

REALITY: Gifted students need guidance from well-trained teachers who challenge and support them in order to fully develop their abilities. Many gifted students may be so far ahead of their same-age peers that they know more than half of the grade-level curriculum before the school year begins. Their resulting boredom and frustration can lead to low achievement, despondency, or unhealthy work habits. The role of the teacher is crucial for spotting and nurturing talents in school. Source: National Association for Gifted Children