Giftedness in Children: Definition, Characteristics & Conceptions

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  • 0:00 Definitions of Giftedness
  • 1:21 Characteristics of Giftedness
  • 3:12 Conceptions of Giftedness
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Peggy Olsen
Schools generally define giftedness as high ability, but there are other ways to define giftedness. Learn more about the definitions, characteristics and conceptions of giftedness in children and test your knowledge with quiz questions.

Definitions of Giftedness

What does it mean to be a gifted child? There is no broadly accepted definition. It is based on the situation. Schools generally look at ability and intelligence tests, but do not all use the same standard. For example, one school might consider students at the top 10% gifted and another school might only consider the top 2.5%. Other professionals define giftedness as intelligence test scores above 130. For children that move, that might mean they are gifted according to one school and not in another, which can be confusing for students and parents.

No Child Left Behind legislation defines giftedness as achievement-based. A group of professionals in the field of giftedness, known as the Columbus Group, came up with the following definition in 1991, taken from the Identification of Gifted Children, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page:

'Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.'

Characteristics of Giftedness

Although a precise definition cannot be agreed upon, there are characteristics that indicate testing be considered. Gifted children come from all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses and exhibit different behavior than that of their peers. There are many characteristics and not all children will have all the characteristics. In addition, a child may have some of the characteristics and not be gifted.

Some of the behavior characteristics include having boundless energy, being an early and avid reader with advanced comprehension of language, talking early and exhibiting large vocabulary and being a problem solver who is not always satisfied with an answer. Additionally, gifted children might question everything, become easily bored with repetitive tasks and learn things quickly and at an advanced level, as well as exhibit perfectionist standards and become critical of themselves. They might also be more comfortable around adults than same age peers and be interested in adult problems, such as social issues at a young age, as well as work independently. Additionally, gifted children might have advanced humor, be persistent and have internal motivation and intense focus. They might also be bullied by other children.

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