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Gifted and talented kids

It is worth remembering that all children are individuals and we should beware trying to “pigeon-hole” them.  Each child will demonstrate aspects of their abilities and personalities in slightly different ways – so the following should be treated as no more than a “rule of thumb” guide.


The following definitions are generally accepted.


“Gifted” children are those exceptional children (estimated at 2%) who show marked ability in a range of areas – and to whom many of the characteristics on the list (right) will apply.


“More able” children are those children (estimated variously between 5% and  20%) who show above average ability in one or more areas – and to whom some of the characteristics on the list (right) will apply.


“Talented” children are those children whose abilities lie in areas perceived as less academic – such as art, music, drama, sport, etc.


There is, nevertheless, some confusion about how to define children with advanced ability.


The list on the right shows characteristics that have been attributed to "gifted" (or "more able") children.  It is worth noting that many (if not most) of the items on the list refer to those children who demonstrate enhanced linguistic and / or mathematical skills (the traditionally recognised academic areas).


Whereas the list may go some way towards helping us identify the academically "gifted", it is less likely to assist with identification of "talented" children.


It is obvious that not all of the characteristics on the list will apply to all "gifted" children - especially as some of the characteristics are apparently contradictory.  The reason for this is that "gifted" children are not all gifted in the same way.  Certain of the characteristics will apply to those children with enhanced linguistic skills, others are more likely to apply to those with enhanced logical-mathematical skills, whilst still others are much more likely to be demonstrated by children with artistic and creative skills.


One of the reasons why there has been some past confusion in defining and identifying "gifted" children is that we have tended to employ a flawed definition of intelligence - which has failed to recognise the varying characteristics of different kinds of intelligence.  By adopting a more holistic view of intelligence, not only are we more likely to recognise (and value) a wider range of skills and talents - we are also more likely to contribute to the development of confidence and self-esteem in a broader cross-section of our children.  This will enable us as a society to benefit from a greater pool of skills and abilities.


You may find it useful to refer to "Discover your child's potential" which adopts a more holistic view based on Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences.



Extensive general knowledge

Versatile with many interests

Extremely knowledgeable in certain areas

Shows intense concentration

Asks searching questions

Responds to questions in diverse ways

Wide vocabulary

Verbally fluent

Sophisticated sense of humour

Outstanding memory



Leaps from the concrete to the abstract

Recognises connections – forms hypotheses

Quickly makes generalisations

Keen and alert observer

Original – imaginative – creative

Works quickly and accurately (though maybe untidily)

Learns easily

Devises own methods and strategies

May not conform to accepted standards of behaviour

Collects things

Daydreams – lives in a world of their own

Behaves extrovertly

Behaves introvert-ly


See also the section: "How to release your child's potential" on the "Aspects of Learning" page of this website.


Primary school teachers may wish to investigate an exemplar "Gifted and Talented Policy"

that adopts Gardner's Multiple Intelligences as a starting point.


Click here for a selection of Maths resources suitable for KS2 (&3)


Click here for list of useful books, contact addresses, websites, etc.