Gifted Definition, Characteristics, and Resources
Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press wrote an article five years back titled FROM GIFTED TO AT RISK: Money for Michigan’s Brightest Students Dwindles: Parents Choose Homeschooling, Private Schools. In it, she talks about how funding for gifted education has been severely cut and many parents are choosing to switch to private schools or homeschooling to meet the needs of their gifted children. Since then we have seen even more cuts in gifted education as budgets get even tighter and many parents of gifted students often don’t advocate for gifted education as loudly as parents of children in other programs being cut.
This, of course, has had detrimental effects on gifted students. From the article, “Left unchallenged, though, gifted children can falter, advocates say. They become bored in school. They become at risk of dropping out. A widely cited study from 1991 found 1 in 5 dropouts was considered gifted. ” We are also made to feel that our children are a tiny portion of school population and overlooked for the greater good. But experts say generally 5% to 7% of the school population is gifted and about 2% of children are profoundly gifted. I would guess that given the district demographics of Rochester Community Schools, we are looking at 10-15% of the school population being gifted. Unfortunately, our district does not test for giftedness.
Lori has some statistics worth quoting and also provides definitions of a gifted child, characteristics to help recognize giftedness, and resources for gifted students.
States have their definitions of gifted, and the federal government has its definition. Here’s what they look for:
Elementary and secondary school students who may be considered outstanding in school achievement or those who have remarkable abilities in particular areas of human endeavor, including the arts and the humanities.
Children or youth who demonstrate high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the schools to fully develop those capabilities.
Source: Michigan Compiled Laws, National Association for Gifted Children
General traits of gifted children
Characteristics of gifted children vary, often depending on just how accelerated a child is. But here are some things to look for:
* Reasons well.
* Learns rapidly.
* Has extensive vocabulary.
* Has an excellent memory.
* Has a long attention span if interested.
* Is sensitive, has easily hurt feelings.
* Shows compassion.
* Is a perfectionist.
* Is intense.
* Is morally sensitive.
* Has strong curiosity.
* Perseveres in interests.
* Has high degree of energy.
* Prefers older companions or adults.
* Has a wide range of interests.
* Has a great sense of humor.
* Is an early or avid reader or, if very young, loves being read to.
* Concerned with justice and fairness.
* Shows mature judgment for age at times.
* Is a keen observer.
* Has a vivid imagination.
* Is highly creative.
* Tends to question authority.
* Is good with numbers.
* Good at jigsaw puzzles.
Source: Gifted Development Center, Institute for the Study of Advanced Development
Where to get help
Parents with concerns about their gifted child, or who are looking for information about gifted programs can check out these resources:
- Michigan Alliance for Gifted Education, www.migiftedchild.org. Click on Chapters to see if your community has an organization for parents of gifted children. The group also has an e-mail list for parents, educators, or anyone interested in gifted education. Call 616-365-8230. Rochester SAGE is not currently an affiliate of the Michigan Alliance for Gifted Education, but may become one in the future.
- National Association for Gifted Children, a national advocacy group for gifted education, www.nagc.org.
- Hoagies Gifted Education Page, a resource on gifted education, www.hoagiesgifted.org.
- Davidson Institute for Talent Development, an organization dedicated to recognizing, nurturing and supporting profoundly gifted children, www.davidsongifted.org.
- Genius Denied, a Web site with information about the book by the same name and also other resources, www.geniusdenied.com.