Gifted Education » Characteristics of Gifted

Characteristics of Gifted

Characteristics of Gifted and Talented Students

In preschool years giftedness can be demonstrated by early physical development, early language development, and/or exceptional powers of observation and curiosity.  While it is rare for a gifted child to exhibit all of the following characteristics, it is common for a gifted child to manifest many of them.

  • learns rapidly
  • extensive vocabulary
  • longer attention span
  • high degree of energy
  • interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • unusual sense of humor
  • problem solving ability 
  • insatiable curiosity and persistence
  • intense concentration and perseverance in areas of interest
  • may question authority
  • advanced sense of conscience and compassion for others
  • perceives abstract ideas, understands complex concepts
  • sees relationships
  • may demonstrate intense emotional and/or physical sensitivity
  • exhibits creativity

Bright or Gifted?

Bright Child      Gifted Learner
Knows the answers   Asks the questions
Is interested  Is highly curious
Is attentive  Is mentally and physically involved
Has good ideas Has wild, silly ideas
Works hard Plays around, yet tests well
Answers the questions Discusses in detail, elaborates
Top group Beyond the group
Listens with interest  Shows strong feeling and opinions
Learns with ease Already knows
6-8 repetitions for mastery 1-2 repetitions for mastery
Understands ideas     Constructs abstractions
Enjoys peers      Prefers adults
Grasps the meaning Draws inferences
Completes assignments Initiates projects
Is receptive  Is intense
Copies accurately Creates a new design
Enjoys school Enjoys learning
Absorbs information  Manipulates information
Technician Inventor
Good memorizer  Good guesser
Enjoys straightforward, sequential presentation Thrives on complexity
Is alert  Is keenly observant
Is pleased with own learning Is highly self-critical


Gifted Students from Diverse Populations

SJ BOCES continues to work toward ensuring that gifted and talented programming serves the needs of all gifted and talented students, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or socio-economic status. 

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

Children of color, representing different ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds, have been under-represented in gifted and talented programs for a variety of reasons.  In addition to the use of culturally biased identification tools and practices, cultural factors such as degree of risk-taking or questioning, the established practice of working to address the needs of the group and not the individual may stand as a barrier to student nomination.  Students may be required to spend time in the home, assuming roles of responsibility or may mask their intellectual abilities at school to not be noticed.  Interests of these students may include culturally related, not school-based activities.

Students Economically Under-Resourced

Mobility rates may make it difficult to sustain identification procedures and services.  Parents and students may not trust “special labels” of being identified with special services at school.  Behavior may be inconsistent with school perceptions of gifted characteristics.

Twice-Exceptional Students

 Student behavior or performance may suggest gifted traits, yet the focus remains on remediation of deficits without a referral for programming for gifted and talented education.  Often gifted students with disabilities do not appear either gifted or challenged as they are using a great deal of energy compensating.  “Street-wise” behavior may be misinterpreted as problematic behavior instead of a characteristic of leadership.

 Underachieving Gifted Students

 Students who demonstrate through standardized measures a discrepancy between intellectual and/or creative ability or potential and academic achievement and/or creative productivity are considered to be underachievers.  If giftedness is not nurtured, students may become bored, frustrated, and depressed with school activities.  Often focus is on what students cannot do, instead of what a child can do, serves as a deterrent to engagement.