National Society for the Gifted and Talented
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Giftedness Defined - NSGT

Connecting gifted & talented children and youth to opportunities, resources, and recognition

“Children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.”
– US Department of Education, 1993

This definition of giftedness is the broadest and most comprehensive and is used by many school districts. It speaks of talent, which includes all areas of a child’s life: academic, artistic, athletic, and social. Most schools limit their definition and their programs to academics, but it is important to focus on performance and accomplishment. It is not enough to just have the talent; you must be using that talent to achieve at remarkably high levels. However, this definition does also recognize that while all very talented students have the potential to achieve at high levels, some may not have yet realized or demonstrated that potential. Such students may be underachievers, twice exceptional, or represent underserved groups who have not had a nurturing environment to bring out those talents. Finally, this definition is a comparative one; these students achieve or have the potential to achieve at levels way above their peers.

How to Identify a Gifted Child
Behavioral Checklists
Characteristics/Signs of Gifted Children

How to Identify a Gifted Child
Most identification happens in schools and is for the purpose of selecting students to participate in the school’s gifted program. There are no nation-wide or even state-wide standards for identification.  Each school district makes a determination about which and how many students it is able to service within its programs based on its definitions, philosophy and resources.

Here are some general issues in identification that parents should use when they work with their child’s school:

  • Ability vs. Achievement
  • Tests vs. Grades
  • Standardized Testing
  • Ability
    Creative and Critical Thinking
  • Achievement
  • Recommendations

  • Teacher
  • Parents
  • Self
  • Peers

  • Behavioral Checklists

    Parents need to be aware of the criteria that their school is using and ask how their child was evaluated for selection in the gifted program. Some schools first select a group of students who will be evaluated to see if they will qualify. That first round of selection is critical and often is quite subjective. Parents can learn after the fact that their child was not even selected for the first group, when the parents know that their child has unusual abilities.

    Characteristics/Signs of Gifted Children
    Here are some characteristics of gifted students that parents should use to see if they think their child is gifted:

    1. Gifted students are often perfectionist and idealistic.
    2. Gifted students may experience heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and those of others.
    3. Gifted students are asynchronous.
    4. Some gifted students are “mappers” (sequential learners), while others are “leapers” (spatial learners).
    5. Gifted students may be so far ahead of their chronological age mates that they know half the curriculum before the school year begins!
    6. Gifted children are problem solvers.
    7. Gifted students often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with concrete study and test-taking skills.
    8. Gifted students who do well in school may define success as getting an “A” and failure as any grade less than an “A”.

    Gifted students generally have unusual talent in one or occasionally two areas. Below are six areas where we will find giftedness. No child will be gifted in all six, but some may be in more than one area. Within specific academic ability, students again usually have one or two subjects that they are best in and passionate about.

    Creative Thinking Leadership
    General Intellectual Ability Psychomotor
    Specific Academic Ability Visual/ Peforming Arts

    Creative Thinking

  • Independent thinker
  • Exhibits original thinking in oral and written expression
  • Comes up with several solutions to a given problem
  • Possesses a sense of humor
  • Creates and invents
  • Challenged by creative tasks
  • Improvises often
  • Does not mind being different from the crowd
  • General Intellectual Ability

  • Formulates abstractions
  • Processes information in complex ways
  • Observant
  • Excited about new ideas
  • Enjoys hypothesizing
  • Learns rapidly
  • Uses a large vocabulary
  • Inquisitive
  • Self-starter
  • Specific Academic Ability

  • Good memorization ability
  • Advanced comprehension
  • Acquires basic skill knowledge quickly
  • Widely read in special interest area
  • High academic success in special interest area
  • Pursues special interest with enthusiasm and vigor
  • Leadership

  • Assumes responsibility
  • High expectations for self and others
  • Fluent, concise self expression
  • Foresees consequences and implications of decisions
  • Good judgment in decision making
  • Likes structure
  • Well-liked by peers
  • Self-confident
  • Organized
  • Psychomotor

  • Challenged by difficult athletic activities
  • Exhibits precision in movement
  • Enjoys participation in various athletic opportunities
  • Excels in motor skills
  • Well coordinated
  • Good manipulative skills
  • High energy level
  • Visual/ Performing Arts

  • Outstanding in sense of spatial relationships
  • Unusual ability in expressing self, feeling, moods, etc., through dance, drama, music, etc.
  • Good motor coordination
  • Exhibits creative expression
  • Desire for producing “own product” (not content with mere copying)
  • Observant