About gifted children

Gifted children have advanced natural abilities that are well above the average, compared with children the same age. These natural abilities can be intellectual, creative, social or physical. If your child is gifted, you might notice her natural abilities in how she learns and how she’s developing, compared with other children her age.

Children can be gifted in one or more natural abilities – for example, they might be gifted creatively and intellectually.

Children can be gifted at different levels too. Highly gifted children might want to learn more than moderately gifted children.

And although all children are special, some are born gifted.

It’s also worth knowing that being gifted often runs in families. And gifted children come from different cultures and all types of families.

Finally, if your gifted child has advanced intellectual ability, it’ll probably affect his behaviour and social and emotional development. Your child is likely to be more intense and have strong feelings compared with other children his age. For example, a young gifted child might be very upset when an insect dies. An older child might feel worried that if he shows his advanced natural abilities, he won’t fit in with his friends.

‘Gifted’ is the term you’ll hear most often. Another term is ‘children of high intellectual potential (CHIP)’. Some parents of gifted children are OK with one or both labels, and others choose not to use labels at all.

Talented: what does it mean?

If your child is talented, she achieves at a very high level in one or more of the following areas – academic learning, leadership, technology, arts, games, sport and athletics. Your child achieves at this level because she uses her natural gifts to learn, train and practise.

You’ll usually notice talents from about six years. Sometimes talents show up in older children and teenagers too.

Gifts can become talents when they’re developed and nurtured. For example, if your child is gifted musically and you give him opportunities to learn a musical instrument, he might develop a talent for playing.

It’s not just about lessons and practice though. Lots of other things play a part in whether your child’s gifted natural ability becomes a talent – these things include your family, your child’s child care centre, preschool or school, her personality and motivation, her health and even chance.

Signs that your child might be gifted and talented

Advanced development is one of the signs that your child might be gifted. You’ll generally know if your child is more advanced in development than other children the same age. For example, some gifted children teach themselves to read from a young age, like three years old.

Another sign is that your child might prefer to talk with older children or adults. For example, a four-year-old might prefer to talk with six-year-olds than with children his own age.

Gifted and talented children learn differently from other children. For example, gifted children often:

  • can concentrate and focus well on tasks
  • are intensely curious and ask sharp questions
  • learn very quickly
  • have extremely good memories
  • are very imaginative and creative.

Family, friends, teachers and others in the community might comment on your child’s abilities.

Gifted older children and teenagers might show their natural abilities or talents when they start a new subject – for example, your child might start chemistry at secondary school and learn new ideas much faster than other students. Or you might notice talent when your child wins an award – for example, she might get selected to swim at the national championships or get a prize in a national maths competition.

You know your child best. If you think your child might be gifted or talented or your child has been identified as gifted and talented, you could the association for gifted and talented children in your state or territory. These associations are listed in our article on support and programs for gifted and talented children.

Jack’s teacher started commenting on his ability to ask really deep questions and then ask more deep questions that arose from the answers he’d been given. We just thought this was a quirk of Jack’s – to ask these really difficult questions.
– Fay, mother of Jack (seven years)

Challenges of being gifted and talented

Being gifted and talented can have challenges. These depend on your child’s particular natural abilities, his personality and the people he has to support him.

For example, a gifted and talented child with wide-ranging or unusual interests might not have much in common with children of the same age. She might get bored at school. A child who thinks quickly might get frustrated with other children, or stop trying at school.

A child with high verbal ability might take over discussions with other people, especially at school. Or he might use this skill to avoid doing tasks he doesn’t like. A child with original ideas and creative solutions might find it tough to follow strict rules.

You can help your child overcome these challenges and make the most of her potential by supporting her learning.

Families of gifted children help them to understand others, manage challenges and learn life skills. Your family is a safe and secure place where your child is accepted and loved for who he is.

Parenting a gifted and talented child: joys and challenges

Your gifted and talented child might amaze you with deep questions about life and death or creative drawings that show the thinking and skills of an older child.

Sometimes you might enjoy answering your child’s questions. Some days it might feel like one more thing you have to do.

Parents of gifted children say that keeping up with their child’s need for learning can be a challenge. It can also take time to find resources to support your child’s learning.

At times, parents of gifted children can feel lonely. Parents of typically developing children might not understand how you’re raising your child, and some might even criticise you.

You might find that parents of other gifted children are a great source of information and ideas. You can meet other parents of gifted children through your child’s gifted programs or through an association for gifted and talented children in your state or territory.

It lifts me every day to see him so happy and joyous about learning. I’m learning Vietnamese from him because he’s learning Vietnamese at school.
– Parent of a gifted child (five years)


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