In a lot of ways, gifted children are just like their peers. However, they often demonstrate learning characteristics that make parents and educators wonder if they are more than smart and curious, and instead in possession of special gifts. Here are some learning characteristics that make gifted children stand out among their peers:
- Gifted children often demonstrate a strong curiosity. They want to know everything there is to know about everything—right now. Often, they latch on to a particular subject or area of interest and decide that they want to read, study, and see everything about that subject (and sometimes, only that subject). They don’t want to move onto something new until they have a thorough understanding of the topic with which they are engrossed.
- Often gifted children become bored with learning. This may come as a shock since it’s the exact opposite of the point above, but sometimes learning just doesn’t move quickly enough for the gifted learner, especially if someone is telling them what and how they need to learn. They often want to know more (and then even more), exhibiting a growing hunger for ever more challenging topics. If they are stuck with keeping a slow learning pace that doesn’t suit them (perhaps to accommodate a classroom of students), this may manifest itself in excessive behavior, a seeming lack of interest in learning, and sometimes, acting out. If they’ve already mastered a topic, these children often have difficulty understanding why they need to review it (or practice it). Studies have shown that excessive review can even be detrimental to their learning of a subject!
- Gifted Children often have asynchronous learning. A gifted child is often very advanced in one area while demonstrating a low level of learning for another area. A gifted child might be able to read and understand material at a college level while still struggling with basic math skills. This goes along with their passion for learning what they are curious about. They have little time and become very frustrated to be required to learn a subject with which they have little interest.
- Gifted children often demonstrate advanced language skills. This can manifest itself as a vocabulary that seems significantly above average for a child’s age group or as an interest in (or even preference for) carrying on conversations with older children and adults who are more likely to have a similar understanding of the child’s intellectual interests.
- Gifted children often strive for perfection in their studies and other tasks. A gifted child’s love of learning can often go hand-in-hand with envisioning perfection and a strong desire to achieve it. While this can lead to high learning achievement, it can also lead to frustration when a gifted child feels that he has underperformed (regardless of whether or not that is true).
- Gifted children are often good problem solvers. These children are often able to see beyond what is right in front of them to connections, options, alternatives, and possibilities for solving problems and creating. They frequently demonstrate a skill for recognizing patterns and abstract thought processes that seem far beyond their years.
Though each gifted child is unique, the above learning characteristics are among those most commonly found in gifted children.