Gifted Characteristics Teachers Need To know

› Gifted Characteristics

Gifted characteristics are often mistaken for poor behavior in the classroom.   The traits of gifted students actually creates unique differentiated instruction opportunities teachers can build and extend on.

These unique kids tend to drive many teachers and parents crazy. They can be highly emotional, have very strong feelings without the maturity to appropriately display them.

As well, they are also highly critical of themselves and others.

I'll be honest here: as a parent of a gifted child it can be very draining. The behaviors one of my children shows is enough to send me through the roof at the end of a long day in the classroom (although it was kind of funny the day he got in trouble for drawing a butt for the sound of /b/ so he erased it and drew a "bucktooth loser" in kindergarten - sigh).

infographic of gifted characteristics and high achievers
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But he is not unusual in the realm of certain behaviors and gifted characteristics. Indeed, I see in him the same issues my students who are highly gifted experience:

  • early progression through certain milestones
  • is often considered immature
  • a visual/spatial learner (relies on patterns and feelings)
  • psychomotor overexcitability (often misdiagnosed as ADHD)
  • intense fear of failure when trying something new, but at the same time...
  • refusal to work for the sake of good grades - there must be more attached to it to be worth the effort

These are just a few of the complexities that make these children both a joy and a challenge to raise and teach.

There are also a variety of levels of intellectual giftedness that must be considered.

List of Differences: Gifted Characteristics and High Achievers

Characteristics of Gifted and High Acieving StudentsGifted or High Achieving?

One of my other sons is actually a high achiever. Like a truly gifted student, he needs differentiated instruction to ensure he continues to grow.

However, children who are high achievers are often the ones who are mistakenly thought of as being gifted when they really aren't.

Here's the same image as a table, which may be easier for some people to read.

Gifted Children High Achievers
Highly curious Knows the answers
Has wild, crazy ideas Has good ideas
Plays around, yet can test well Works hard to achieve high scores
Detail oriented Answers the questions
1-2 repetitions for mastery 6-8 repetitions for mastery
Prefers older children or adults Enjoys peers
Makes inferences Grasps the meaning
Extremely intense Receptive and willing
Creates new designs Copies information accurately
Manipulates information Absorbs information
Excellent guesser Excellent memorizing skills
Likes complexity Enjoys sequential information
Is keenly observant Alert and on-task
Highly self-critical Pleased with own efforts
Asks the hard questions Knows all the answers
Works beyond the group Works in the top group
Enjoys learning new things Enjoys school
Rebels against routine Enjoys routine
Becomes the class clown Conforms to accepted behavior

Just as no two kids are the same, not all gifted children or high achievers will show all of these traits. But when you do see characteristics of gifted students, you must differentiate their learning.

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