Giftedness Knows No Boundaries: Practical Solutions to Identify all Gifted and Talented Students

Children who are gifted are known as children who have an “ability significantly above the norm for their age”. And children with different abilities as their peer groups will require a different type of education, but in order to provide this education, these students need to be identified properly. The effort of both the educators and parents/guardians is important in taking note of possible signs that a child may be gifted.

At home, children may exhibit signs of giftedness such as learning tasks and skills quickly (such as reading). Parents/guardians can share this information with the child’s educators, where the schools can implement tests to identify whether or not a child can be considered gifted compared to their peers. These tests can be divided into three categories that help identify a child’s giftedness: talent, performance, and comparative. Each of these categories have emphasized where a child’s giftedness may be manifesting itself and can be used as a practical tool to help identify gifted and talented children.

In addition to identifying these students, gifted educators should also familiarize themselves with specific terms and vocabulary that would help in tapping into students’ academic potential.

We have devised a practical way to identify gifted and talented students. There are six categories to identifying anywhere from the at-risk student to the gifted student, and these strategies can be used to help educators differentiate their classroom material to accommodate all ranges of students. This can, of course, be further modified for your classroom or educational needs, but it provides, at the very least, a good basis for beginning to identify gifted and talented students. Below is our checklist to identify gifted and talented students:

  1. The Successful Student
  • She doesn’t take risks and often sacrifices creativity to get a good grade.
  • He has perfectionist tendencies and fears failure.
  • She is an academic achiever who scores well on tests.
  • He is self-critical, but has a positive self-concept. In other words, he is hard on himself, but develops his identity around the positive feedback he receives.
  • She needs extrinsic motivation in order to challenge herself to accomplish something that might result in failure.
  1. The Challenging Student
  • She experiences boredom and frustration when work is not challenging or related to her interests.
  • He is usually the student who questions an assignment or asks, “Why?”
  • She is creative and able to identify and solve problems in multiple unique ways.
  • He is usually impatient and unwilling to wait for results.
  • She often has low self-esteem because she isn’t viewed as successful and therefore gets negative feedback from peers and adults.
  • He lacks self-control, often makes poor decisions, and doesn’t understand delayed gratification.
  1. The Underground Student
  • She is often (but not always) a female.
  • He is insecure and concerned about how others perceive him.
  • She wants to belong socially more than she wants to be seen as smart, and she will sacrifice her needs and desires to fit into a group, even if it means sabotaging her work in order to remain unnoticed.
  • Due to his desire to belong, he feels guilty when his gifts and strengths set him apart from his friends.
  1. The Angry/At-Risk Student
  • She performs below her ability level and is rarely recognized as gifted.
  • He gets feedback from adults and peers that he isn’t a good student.
  • She is often seen as a rebellious loner.
  • He is easily discouraged, struggles to complete tasks, and is regularly disruptive in class.
  1. The Twice-Exceptional Student
  • In addition to being gifted, she also has a learning disability (e.g., dyslexia, ADD, or speaks English as a second language).
  • He is often supported in terms of his disability—not because of his giftedness—and therefore demonstrates inconsistent work.
  • She feels powerless and angry because her abilities often far exceed her performance.
  • He appears average or below average academically because his strengths are masked by his disabilities.
  • She often has to work at a slower pace than her peers because of her disability, and she develops low self-esteem.
  1. The Autonomous Student
  • She is not afraid of taking risks and continues to work hard despite obstacles.
  • He is confident, secure, and has a positive self-concept.
  • She is intrinsically motivated and enthusiastic to learn without needing approval.
  • He is confident enough to work independently without teacher guidance.

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