Thursday, May 7, 2009

What is Gifted, Part 5: Characteristics of Gifted

I was just talking to a mom of a student today and we were talking about how to know gifted kids. If I spend any amount of time with a kiddo, I can tell with fair accuracy whether or not they are gifted.

I'm not a savant and I don't have a radar; I've just been in this field for awhile. There are certain characteristics that start to stand out. . . I'm going to share them with you, althought this isn't really a party trick that will earn you favors at parties. It's just fun to look at which characteristics which gifted children have. They won't have them all, but you may start to recognize your child here somewhere. Feel free to post a comment sharing what you see!

  • Unusual alertness in early infancy
  • Unusually large vocabulary at a young age
  • Advanced comprehension of abstract ideas
  • Largely self taught reading and writing skills, quick adeptness
  • Unusual emotional depth and high sensitivity
  • Idealism and sense of justice develop at an early age
  • Preoccupied with thoughts, daydreams
  • Impatient with other people
  • Wide range of interests (often with extreme interest in some areas)
  • Tendency to put ideas together in ways that are not obvious
  • Desire to organize
  • Limitless questions stemming from curiosity

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Many parents of preschoolers could probably look at this list and see their child, whether they are gifted or not. What we look at in terms of giftedness is the degree and the age. Gifted kids demonstrate these characteristics to a high degree and at an earlier age than their peers. . . Their parents are not showing off on the playground talking about their kids; their kids really are demonstrating these characteristics at significantly earlier ages. A girlfriend of mine has a three-year-old teaching herself to read. Another had a four-year-old do a comprehensive report on elephants- and memorize it. My younger brother could give directions to our house from ten miles away at four.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at these characteristics. I think for now we will draw this series to a close, although I may post more on what it is to be gifted in the future. I have some other areas I will be hitting on in coming days. Gotta keep it interesting for those varied interests!

**These characteristics came from Dr. James Webb's book, A Parent's Guide to Gifted Kids. Keep an eye out- I will be hosting a book study on this in the fall. **


  1. Very interesting blog! I just happened upon it through Kelly's Korner.

    What a fantastic job you have--I loved reading your posts too.

    I believe our kids our gifted (but doesn't every parent? :) ) How would we test for it? I'm in Canada and I've never heard of testing being offered. Our kids attend a small private school with no gifted programming at all.

  2. I think this is true for normal gifted kids. My son has dyslexia, mild CP and is gifted. The giftedness was masked by his learning issues. It wasn't until last summer, when he was 10 that I realized that you could be both. Figuring out he was gifted has helped me understand him and his needs SO much more. Sadly in todays schools they focus on the weaknesses instead of seeing their strengths.

  3. Sheridan,
    I saw your comment on my website. It is too true that gifted kids are often twice-exceptional. It is a side effect of the way their brains develop. Thankfully- there are some excellent professionals out there who do see the potential in kids.

    I am so glad your son was finally identified as gifted! It can make all the difference.

    Please come by again- I may post on twice exceptional children in the future.

    Sonja- I will definitely respond to your thoughts in its own post. Please email me for a more comprehensive response, as well.


I love to hear your feedback! This website is intended to be a welcoming and safe space for parents and advocates of the gifted. All wholesome and encouraging questions are invited, as well as questions or concerns relating to gifted topics.