6 Signs your child might be gifted

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PHOENIX – Most parents believe their kids are gifted – the smartest kids on the block. While every child is special, that does not necessarily mean that he or she is gifted – at least not in the way schools use the term.

Just like kids who are falling behind in the curriculum, gifted students need more at school than they might be getting.

There is a specific definition of "gifted" the Arizona Department of Education, and thus Arizona schools, must use.

According to the state (Arizona Rev. Stat. §15-779(2)):

"'Gifted pupil' means a child who is of lawful school age, who due to superior intellect or advanced learning ability, or both, is not afforded an opportunity for otherwise attainable progress and development in regular classroom instruction and who needs appropriate gifted education services, to achieve at levels commensurate with the child's intellect and ability."

Kimberly Elms from the Arizona Association of the Gifted and Talented sat down with Kaley O’Kelley to discuss the often-complicated issue.

“One of the misconceptions about having a gifted child is that they’ll automatically be easy, especially in school because they learn a lot faster, and that’s not always the case,” Elms explained.

In fact, many gifted kids are seen as having problems. It’s not that they don’t understand the material being presented to them. They do understand it and need more of a challenge. Basically, they’re bored.

Because teachers have so many kids in their classes and because they have to take care of the majority of the kids, the students at either end of the spectrum – those who might be have a learning disability and those who are gifted – often are left to fend for themselves. Many of those students are misdiagnosed as having ADHD.

While an IQ test or a cognitive-abilities test is the only way to know for sure, there are several signs that a child might be academically gifted.

  • Retains information easily
  • Varied interests
  • Deep concentration
  • Advanced vocabulary, read sooner
  • Sophisticated sense of humor
  • Attention to detail

“Enrichment will help any child,” Elms said, “but gifted children tend to respond to information and enrichment in much more intrinsic way. They love to learn something new and they just seem to be like a little sponge. … While you can’t coach a child into higher intelligence, you can enhance that intelligence by providing enrichment.”

Children can be tested as early as 3, but in general, that doesn’t happen until a child starts school.

Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented is the state's leading advocate for gifted children. AAGT is an affiliate of the National Association for Gifted Children.