One of my posts, Why Gifted Children Aren’t Their Teacher’s Favorite Students…. gets a lot of interest. Parents are surprised that having a gifted child doesn’t reap enthusiasm from the average educator. The general characteristics of a gifted person (intensity, drive, and complexity) can be downright disruptive in a general classroom.
It often isn’t any easier at home.
So if you are wondering if your child is gifted, and you haven’t started searching for a psychologist to perform the WISC-R yet….here are a few differences between the bright kids and the gifted kids:
- Bright kids learn quickly. Gifted kids can learn lightening fast. Show a bright kid something new and after 5-8 repetitions, they have it down. A gifted kid can have it down in 1-2 demonstrations. They learn new words after hearing you use it once. They make connections without being shown, because they can process information so well, rather than just remember it. Think Shirley Temple. They could teach her a dance routine by simply showing her the steps once. That is a gifted dancer.
- Bright kids are great listeners. They sit and wait for you to finish. Then they answer you. Gifted kids will interrupt with questions, argue points you never saw coming, and have a strong need to examine the materials that you are holding. They almost want to inhale your props to learn more about them. They are good guessers, because they make inferences without you having to spell things out.
- Bright kids make friends easily. Gifted kids can struggle to find true peers, and often prefer to be alone so that they can pursue their interests and control the outcome of their play. A gifted athlete may be competing with children much older, leading to difficulties knowing how to behave with them, and a child that is able to expertly play an instrument or read at an advanced level has to find common ground with peers while having uncommon skills. The developmental asynchrony of gifted kids often means that they struggle more with social interaction even though their sensitivity and sense of justice makes them very connected to how others are feeling.
- Bright kids really ARE a joy to teach. They have great memories, know how to fill in the blanks, and follow your instructions. Gifted kids have their own strong passions, and rarely have enough space on a worksheet to fill in their complex answer to a simple question. They want to express their unique viewpoints, and they see many sides to a situation, so “yes/no” responses don’t really work for them. Take a gifted kid on vacation, and you could have someone who has no interest at all in going to the beach, or someone who won’t leave the beach because there is still so much more to see.
- Bright kids win awards, get elected for school offices, and are often group leaders. Gifted kids may or may not accomplish these things. Their performance may be driven by their desire to explore rather than excel, so they may be accused of not living up to their potential. Gifted kids will not always be found in the top reading group or in the honor classes. They aren’t driven by other’s agendas. Their own internal sense of drive and mastery will prevail. The perpetually daydreaming or laser-focused gifted child may have an agenda that hides their gifts. Gifted children can be interested in and talented in many things, and have difficulty staying with one passion long enough for mastery, and they may not care about mastery anyway. Their passion is the journey.