• What are gifted and talented students?
  • How can you realize that your child is of a gifted and talented material?
  • What are schools doing to harness their potential?
  • What can you do as a parent to help your gifted and talented child?

Life can be difficult for a child with high learning potential. School work may not stretch them and yet other aspects of life may appear quite daunting. This can set them apart from their classmates and make it difficult for them to feel one of the crowd.

What Is The Difference Between ‘Gifted’ And ‘Talented’?

Internationally, there is a growing focus on the education of gifted and talented pupils.

‘Gifted and talented’ is a term used in schools to describe children who have the potential to develop significantly beyond what is expected for their age.

  • Gifted‘ is defined as being exceptionally able in academic subjects, such as English, Maths, Science, History or Geography.
  • Talented‘ is defined as being exceptionally skilled in practical subjects such as Music, PE and Drama.

Thus, a “gifted and talented” student means a child or youth who performs at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment and who exhibits high performance capability; possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or excels in a specific academic field.

Bright vs. Gifted and Talented

Does the grid below bear any semblance to you or your child?

Bright Child

Gifted and Talented Learner

Knows the answer Asks the questions
Is interested Is highly curious
Is attentive Is mentally and physically involved
Has good ideas Has wild, silly ideas
Works hard Plays around, yet tests well
Answers the questions Discusses in detail, elaborates
Top group Beyond the group
Listens with interest Shows strong feelings and opinions
Learns with ease Already know
6-8 repetitions for mastery 1-2 repetitions for mastery
Understands ideas Constructs abstractions
Enjoys peers Prefers adults
Grasps meaning Draws inferences
Completes assignments Initiates projects
Is receptive Is intense
Copies accurately Creates a new designs
Enjoys school Enjoys learning
Absorbs information Manipulates information
Technician Inventor
Good at memorizing Good guesser
Enjoys straightforward, sequential presentation Thrives on complexity
Is alert Is keenly observant
Is pleased with own learning Is highly self-critical

How Do I Know If My Child Is Gifted And Talented?

According to the BBC a gifted child will tend to:

  • develop speech and vocabulary early
  • ask lots of questions and be very curious
  • read early
  • learn quickly
  • have a good memory
  • be good at puzzles
  • enjoy problem-solving and reasoning

If you think your child is gifted or talented, talk to their teacher. Explain why you think so and have some examples to illustrate your points.

Giftedness Defined

“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

This definition of giftedness is the broadest and most comprehensive and is used by many school districts in the US. 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.

Traits Of Giftedness

Most identification happens in schools and is for the purpose of selecting students to participate in the school’s gifted programme. Many countries have no strait down criteria on standards for identification. This, maybe because of each school makes a determination about which and how many students it is able to service within its programmes based on its definitions, philosophy and resources.

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
  • IQ Test
  • Creative and Critical Thinking
  • Achievement

Recommendations are normally done through teachers but parents can recommend their child or peers can vouch for someone to be included.

There are FIVE traits commonly associated with giftedness:

Intellectual Ability:

  • Comprehends abstract ideas and concepts
  • Demonstrates skills in reasoning and evaluating situations
  • Chooses and enjoys challenging tasks or problems
  • Generates sophisticated and creative ideas and solutions

Academic Skills: Verbal/Linguistic:

  • Uses an extensive vocabulary
  • Is an avid reader of books beyond grade level
  • Enjoys the process of research and investigating for its own sake
  • Is skilled in analyzing topics and finding the underlying problem
  • Spells words accurately that are advanced for age


  • Self-motivated
  • Responsible and dependable
  • Task committed and enjoys learning
  • Open to new experiences/risk taker
  • Is intense and thrives on complexity

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


  • 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

A Final Thought . . .

 Now that you have a general idea of what I was talking about, I have a few questions for you. If you are a . . .

  • Teacher             – Do you see the gifted and talented group of students during your lessons?
  • Administrator – What is your stance on the G&T cohort in your school?
  • Parent                – Do you see the tell-tale signs in your child? What is your next step?

The gifted and talented students should sit within the inclusion agenda in every school. This means all children have the right to access an appropriate education that affords them the opportunity to achieve their personal potential.

It is a blatant myth that children identified as gifted and talented can ‘get there by themselves’; they need the right opportunities to flourish and schools must take leading roles in doing so

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL        


  1. andrew mutyavaviri says:

    Is this idea of gifted nd talented students e same as labling them geniuses???. How does one classify this gvt initiative of S.T.E.M?? Cud w possibly say those students who do sciences nd mathematics as opposed to arts subjects are talented/ gifted? Coz everything being equal sciences nd maths are not every dick harry nd toms cup of tea unlike commercial subjects nd arts.yo article is so refreshing.didnt.knw e difference btwn a talented nd gifted student

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