About a week ago, I was talking to some teachers here at school, and the topic of gifted children came up. Some of the conversation centered around how to identify gifted children. So, I thought that I would write a short series about the things teachers or parents should know about gifted children. My next nine posts after this one will all focus on things that I feel teachers and parents should know about gifted children.
There’s a difference between being smart (bright) and 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).
The development of ability or talent is a lifelong process. It can be evident in young children as exceptional performance on tests and/or other measures of ability or as a rapid rate of learning, compared to other students of the same age, or in actual achievement in a domain. As individuals mature through childhood to adolescence, however, achievement and high levels of motivation in the domain become the primary characteristics of their giftedness. Various factors can either enhance or inhibit the development and expression of abilities.
That quote came from the National Association for Gifted Children website. You can read the rest of the position paper here, and read other position papers here. The NAGC is a great resource for teachers, parents, and administrators. In Ohio, where I teach, the Ohio Association for Gifted Children, is also a great place to get resources. Check to see if your state has a Gifted Association, and see what resources you can get from there to help you with your gifted student or child.
It seems that I get asked by teachers often is how do I know I have a gifted child in my classroom. I tell them there are some things to look for. I show them a chart something like this. I got this from chart from education.com. This chart I feel really shows the difference between being smart and gifted.
|A Bright Child:||A Gifted Child:|
|Knows the answers||Asks the questions|
|Is interested||Is very curious|
|Pays attention||Gets involved mentally and physically|
|Works hard||Can be inattentive and still get good grades and test scores|
|Answers the questions||Questions the answers|
|Enjoys same-age peers||Prefers adults or older children|
|Learns easily||Often already knows the answers|
|Is self-satisfied (when gets right answer)||Is highly self-critical (perfectionists)|
|Is good at memorizing||Is good at guessing|
What I tell teachers is to “observe the student in question with this chart in mind. Put a check mark in the box where you think the child in question has that particular characteristic. If more check marks are on the left, then the child is smart, but if you have more check marks on the right the child is gifted.” Usually after a week or so I will get an email or have a conversation about either testing the child or not.
One big difference between gifted and smart children I saw in my classroom when I was a Regular Education teacher was how much more gifted children would ask more questions. They had to know more and more of a particular topic. The kinds of questions that these students would ask me were not your yes or no type. They were questions that needed a more in-depth answer. Sometimes, I would have to do some research of my own to give an answer that would suffice.
I also noticed that the gifted children I had I noticed felt more comfortable talking with older people. The vocabulary of a gifted student is much more advanced than the average child. Gifted children need to have conversations that are stimulating. I believe they can relate to older people because of their vocabulary and knowledge of several topics.
In my District, we have a pull-out program to service gifted children. I tell teachers who have my students that they need to be challenged. One resource, which I will be referencing through this series is the book Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner. I use this in my gifted class, as we as giving it to other teachers to use. It has so many resources in it that I have to recommend it.
Remember, there is a difference between being smart and gifted. The bottom line in all of this is that if you suspect you may have a gifted child in your classroom or home that isn’t receiving services, then you need to be an advocate for that child to make sure they get the best appropriate education they need. Get those students to the right people, and have them tested. I know they will thank you for it.