Who are your gifted and talented children in the classroom?

It is sometimes difficult to detect whether you have a gifted or talented child in the classroom, particularly if they are underachieving in reading, spelling, writing, Maths or behaving badly or are demotivated.

Being gifted usually refers to being gifted in academic ability and being talented generally refers to an exceptional performance in a non-academic subject.

Teachers really need to be on the look out for pupils’ gifts and talents, taking into consideration pupils’ verbal and non-verbal reasoning standardised scores together with other abilities, so that they do not underachieve and can perform to their maximum potential.

Gifted or talented children often have high expectations of themselves. Those who underachieve in the classroom will become demotivated and disengaged. If children are not stretched, they may become angry and depressed and may not complete school assignments and sometimes not even attempt them because they are too easy or, conversely, for fear of failure. They may begin to misbehave and may develop social or emotional problems. They may even refuse to attend school and drop out of school at the earliest possibility.

Gifted or talented children absolutely need to be stretched or they will suffer from low self-esteem and other characteristics listed in the table of ‘Characteristics of Gifted Children Who are Bored’.


 Characteristics of Gifted Students Who are Bored [i]  

  • Begin many projects, but see few to completion
  • Can be bossy or too authoritative
  • Development of judgment lags behind intellectual growth
  • Difficulty restraining desire to talk; may be disruptive
  • Dislike routine or repetitive assignments
  • Do not exhibit problem behaviours in all situations
  • High activity level; may need less sleep
  • Highly sensitive to criticism
  • Intensity may lead to power struggles with authorities
  • Lose work, forget homework, are disorganised
  • Low self-esteem because school does not recognise their ability
  • Low tolerance for persistence on tasks that seem irrelevant
  • May appear careless
  • May challenge the teacher or notice inconsistencies
  • May seem lazy or lethargic
  • More consistent levels of performance at a fairly consistent pace
  • Poor attention and daydreaming when bored
  • Question rules, customs and traditions

There are further checklists of the characteristics of gifted and talented children in the parents’ pages.

[i] Cline and Schwartz (1999); Webb and Latimer (1993), cited in Council of Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (2006)

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