How do I know if my child has gifts or talents?

Children with hidden or demonstrated gifts or talents come from varying social and cultural backgrounds, have their own characteristics, and cannot be distinguished from other children by their appearance.

Educators have described children's behaviour which can indicate outstanding ability, perseverance and creativity. Behaviour indicating giftedness in your child can include the following:

  • learning quickly and easily
  • thinking of several solutions to a given problem
  • pursuing an interest or hobby intensively for a time; for example, your child might "live", "eat" and "think" dinosaurs for six months
  • absorbing large amounts of information quickly and having the ability to recall this information
  • asking a great number of relevant questions and expecting answers
  • showing a fertile imagination
  • working out complicated mathematics in her head
  • showing outstanding curiosity, initiative or insight
  • having a large vocabulary and using words effectively
  • reading from an early age
  • showing a keen sense of humour through the use of language, in art work or in everyday activities.

Behaviour which is less socially acceptable but can also indicate giftedness includes the following:

  • getting bored easily both at home and at school
  • being naughty or irrepressible in class
  • being the "class clown"
  • being inattentive and absorbed in a private world
  • being unwilling to undertake tasks seen as irrelevant; for example, your child might not see any reason to keep her bedroom clean and tidy
  • having "smart" answers to questions
  • showing unconventional behaviour.

However, we would like to stress that the above descriptions are indicators only and no one behaviour or characteristic can be used to detect giftedness. For example, not all children who are "naughty" are displaying gifted behaviour, and in fact, many of the examples above can be common to many children.

From: Children with Gifts and Talents: Questions and Answers. Education Department of South Australia. Available from QAGTC Inc.

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