Traits Common to Gifted Children

The following represents a number of traits which are commonly found amongst those children who come within generally accepted definitions of giftedness. When deciding the applicability of these traits to a particular student, teachers must be conscious of the fact that the comparison is being made with the age peers of the student under consideration. It is unlikely that a gifted child will exhibit all the traits listed, but it is likely that a gifted child will exhibit many of these traits.

A gifted child, when compared with chronological peers:

  • Finds pleasure in intellectual activities.
  • Likes to create, invent investigate, and conceptualise.
  • Learns easily and readily.
  • Displays great intellectual curiosity and inquisitiveness.
  • Explores wide-ranging and special interests often at great depth.
  • Uses vocabulary which is superior in both quantity and quality.
  • Demonstrates a richness of imagery in informal language and brainstorming.
  • Learns to read early (often well before school-age).
  • Displays intellectual and physical restlessness. Once encouraged is seldom a passive learner.
  • Memorises easily and retrieves from memory easily and quickly.
  • Learns basic skills better, more quickly and with less practice.
  • Functions at higher cognitive levels (as described by Piaget) earlier.
  • Sees relationships more readily and earlier.
  • Constructs and handles higher levels of abstractions.
  • Evidences an ability to cope with more than one idea at a time.
  • Follows complex directions easily.
  • Seeks out challenge.
  • Shows alertness and quick response to new ideas.
  • Becomes excited by new ideas, but often without carrying them through.
  • Generates many ideas and multi-solutions to problems.
  • Possesses unusual imagination.
  • Shows initiative and originality, versatility and virtuosity.
  • Creates and invents beyond the parameters of knowledge in the field.
  • Copes with problems and situations in resourceful and creative ways.
  • Questions arbitrary decisions.
  • Shows a preference for individual work.
  • Demonstrates an ability to do effective work, given minimum direction and guidance, independently at an earlier and for a longer time.
  • Evidences a longer attention span that enables concentration on and perseverance in solving problems and/or pushing interests.
  • Persists single-mindedly in pursuit of that which captures interest and sometimes difficult to redirect into other activities.
  • Has expectations of self and others, which often leads to high levels of frustration with self, others, and situations.
  • Demonstrates a keen sense of humour.
  • Matures earlier, but there is less difference here when compared with the average.
  • Responds and relates to older children and adults and often prefers them to chronological peers.
  • Evidences friendliness and outgoingness in desire for social acceptance.
  • Displays leadership qualities because knows own mind and abilities; has keener insight into thinking, abilities, and motivations of others; has greater intellectual capacity; and has a highly developed sense of social and moral responsibility.


From: Gifted and Talented Children - a Teachers' Guide. Ministry of Education and Training, Victoria 1983.

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