Middle Childhood Intervention: Module Two – Special Needs & Conditions

Category — 2.7 Children who are Gifted

Children who are Gifted

Children who are gifted often have needs that are not met. For some reason, people assume that if a child is gifted, he or she may not need specialized and individual education. But children who are gifted have needs that are real and must be addressed.

The definition of what it means to be gifted has changed a lot in the last few decades. The education and psychology communities have moved away from defining giftedness as just performing really well on an IQ test. We  now see giftedness as a wide range of skills and talents. To learn more about these relatively new theories and types of intelligence, please visit the zero to six part of this course. Please make sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, where talent is defined.

Children who are gifted usually display signs of giftedness very early in life. There are many signs of giftedness, and some of them are listed below (adapted from the BC Ministry of Education):

  • Learning many skills early, fast and on their own;
  • Being highly curious;
  • Constantly wanting to know how things work;
  • Having an unusually large vocabulary and using a lot of abstract terms;
  • Speaking in very complex sentences;
  • Having a great sense of humor;
  • Having a wide range of interests;
  • Being highly motivated and enthusiastic;
  • Being unusually sensitive to the needs of others;
  • May have explosive emotions;
  • Solving all types of problems;
  • Being highly creative;
  • Being able to see the same situation from a variety of angles;
  • Engaging in both inductive and deductive reasoning (that is, going from the specific to the general and also from the general to the specific, when solving problems);
  • Persevering (that is, not giving up until they finish what they are working on);
  • Having a good memory.

For more information about early signs of giftedness, please visit the following websites and listen to this audio clip from CBC news on early signs of giftedness.

Being gifted could have significant effects on all areas of development:

  • Cognitive skills: as listed above, children who are gifted often have highly advanced cognitive skills. They learn quickly and easily. They easily link newly learned information and concepts to information they already know, making it easier for them to remember everything that they learn. They are also great at generalizing what they learn from one situation or setting to another;
  • Academic skills: many parents of children who are gifted state that their children taught themselves how to read and write (Fig. 1). This could be because of highly sophisticated cognitive skills, or because of very advanced language skills (one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences). In school, children who are gifted perform really well and finish assignments early. Others may underperform, because they are bored;

Reading and writing

Figure 1. Reading and writing
  • Language and communication: some children who are gifted are great at making jokes. They learn new words every day and have extremely sophisticated expressive language skills. They sometimes struggle with the pragmatics of language (such as waiting for their turn before they speak), because they have so much to say and not enough time to say it;
  • Social/emotional: children who are gifted may struggle with social skills because of their advanced development. However, this is the exception rather the norm. Many children who are gifted are quite popular and have a lot of friends. Many of them are great at identifying emotions in themselves as well as in others. Many also have a very high sense of empathy towards others.

Children who are gifted need help in order to reach their full potential. There is a wide variety of educational options for children who are gifted. Some of these options are listed below (adapted from the BC Ministry of Education):

  • Acceleration: putting a child in a grade that is higher than his or her chronological age, or giving the child a curriculum that is more advanced
  • Telescoping: allowing the student to spend less time to cover the curriculum, than his or her peers, because he or she is able to finish the curriculum much faster than everyone else. When the child is done with the curriculum for a grade level, he or she moves on to the curriculum of the next grade level: for example, a child who is very good at math can cover the grades 9 and 10 curricula in one year;
  • Engaging in independent study: the child chooses a topic that is of great interest to him or her and pursues it in his or her free time. The child researches the topic and could end up presenting what he or she has learned to the entire classroom.

It is crucial that the needs of children who are gifted be addressed, be it in the regular classroom or in a special classroom for the gifted. People often cite individuals who are highly gifted and their contribution to humanity, but often forget that these gifted individuals had teachers. So, in the regular classroom, the regular education teacher and the special educator will work together to make sure that the needs of the child who is gifted are addressed and take care of.

Giftedness does not occur in a vacuum. Some children who are gifted are advanced in many developmental areas. But others are only advanced in some areas (for example: math). Still others can be advanced in one area but really struggling in another. For instance, some children who are gifted also have ADHD or a learning disability.  And let us not forget those who have great talents. Not all talents can be measured with an IQ test. Some children may have great singing voices, some are really good dancers (Fig. 2), while others may be great with words, may paint really well or be good at sports. They are just as gifted as those who are good with math!


Figure 2. Dancers
see References

August 18, 2012   No Comments