The Grim World of Gifted Children

This article provides an overview of some of the issues relating to talented and gifted children.
We should know how to identify gifted and talented children.  Third world and South Asian countries have a long way to go. Here’s an in-depth report by Sarika.

“We are all gifted, but we have to discover the gift, uncover the gift nurture and develop the gift and use it for the glory of God and for the liberation struggle of our people” ~ Louis Farrakhan

It is important to know how to identify gifted child. Following are the signs that indicate a child may be talented and gifted:

  • (S)he shows a passion for, and actively pursue, particular subjects;
  • (S)he works at a level significantly beyond that expected for their age;
  • (S)he is very articulate;
  • (S)he is very read well for her/his age;
  • (S)he communicates splendidly with adults;
  • (S)he rapidly and quickly acquire knowledge, skills and understanding;
  • (S)he is able to transfer knowledge, skills and understanding to new problems easily;
  • (S)he make connections between various areas of learning;
  • (S)he analyses her/his achievements and difficulties in a particular area with ease;
  • (S)he is self taught in her/his interest areas, and
  • A talented and gifted child achieves higher than her/his peer group in one or more areas.

Role of Schools

Schools have the responsibility of identifying and keeping a register of talented and gifted children. Schools must develop their own policy for such children. This involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative data.

  • Quantitative data is derived from tests and assessments.
  • Qualitative data might include:
    Teacher, peer, parental nomination
    Examples of child’s work
    Checklists to informally assess achievement
    Actively engage in a debate
    Prefer verbal to written activities
    Produce original and creative responses to common problems
    Such children become bored with routines tasks

Supporting Talented and Gifted Children

Around five per cent of children are talented and gifted that is around three million children in the UK. It is very important to recognise that talented and gifted children with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Talented and gifted children have the right to an education suited to their needs and abilities. An incredibly able child often goes to the other extreme and constantly pushes oneself to achieve these goals. We should provide pupils with challenging and stretching activities in an environment that encourages and values excellence.

To promote the development of talented and gifted children we might include the following:

  • Effective assessment so that planning is made according to the necessity
  • Setting challenging targets
  • Provide differentiated learning activities
  • Use a range of teaching and learning styles
  • Use higher order thinking skills
  • Provide opportunities for independent learning
  • Encourage children to set their own targets
  • Create an environment that encourages and values
  • Encourage investigation, exploration, and problem solving
  • Provide opportunities to learn outside the classroom
  • Questions (closed and open) also are a useful way to challenge talented and gifted children.

Acceleration, Enrichment, Extension

Acceleration involves a people being given the opportunity to move ahead of their peers in the curriculum to achieve higher level in different sectors.

Extension involves a pupil being given the opportunity to gain more knowledge or develop more skills.

Enrichment involves a pupil being given the scope to experience additional materials in a wider context, to make connections between different areas of learning.

Enrichment activities outside of the classroom: Most schools offer regular and varied enrichment activities outside the classroom that focus on developing talent and skills.
Examples of enrichment activities are:

  • Lunchtime and after school clubs
  • Sports training and competitions
  • Visits and field trips
  • Drama and dance productions
  • Workshops
  • Community activities

Extension activities outside the school: There are different stages of provision for talented and gifted children. Few examples of enrichment activities outside the school are:

  • School projects                                                            
  • Sporting events
  • Summer schools and sports camps
  • Master classes
  • Children’s university projects
  • Talent activities
  • Children’s parliament

Case Study:

Here’s an interesting case study. Mark is a year 8-year old pupil, who is a very gifted in science and mathematics. Talented and gifted children, like Mark, are always bit different. They achieve significantly higher than their peer group in one or more areas. Gifted children have the ability to excel in one or more academic subject areas such as English, maths or science. They have ability to excel (read talent) in one or more subject areas that require skills or practical abilities such as PE, music or art.

Students who are talented in mathematics and science often demonstrate an uneven pattern of mathematical understanding. Gifted mathematics and science students often want to know more about the how’s and why’s of mathematical and scientific ideas.

Different ways that Mark might be supported is given below:

  1. Equip him to succeed: Ensure that Mark should get everything which he needs to develop his skill, eg. Internet access, extra maths sheet and science projects etc.
  2. Emotional support: Love without conditions, praise for effort and a family structure. Gifted Mark tends to be very hard on himself, so we should provide him extra moral boost.
  3. Help him to be understood: “They (gifted children) often learn differently and don’t quite conform to normal behavior,” says Julie Taplin, deputy Chief Executive of the National Association for gifted children. This is true for Mark too.
  4. Daydream time: Allow Mark to have some unstructured time, each day just to think, play and daydream. It is important for creativity and having some down time and also could prevent Mark from stress.
  5. Allow him to fail: Mark should be allowed to fail at times. If he succeeds all the time it can tied too much pressure on him.
  6. Get help: Giving extra worksheet and help him to go different science museum and also help him to involve different science and maths club. Extra tuition also helps.
  7. Have a range of friends: Sometimes gifted Mark struggles to identify with children of his own age who don’t have their abilities. Allow him to play with all sorts of children, and give him the opportunity to meet like-minded peers.


Lower Income Gifted Students at Risk

There are far fewer lower income students achieving at the highest levels than there should be. They disproportionately fall out of the high achieving group during elementary and high school. They rarely rise into the ranks of high achievers during those periods. This is most disturbing. It is not that high achieving students from lower income backgrounds are suffering more than other lower -income students, but that their talents are similarly under nurtured.

Bright kids are not better, yet they are different and because they are. They face different issues.
Kelly opines that gifted kids often feel alone and gifted GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning teens) kids may feel even lonelier. A survey reveals 20 per cent of high school dropouts are gifted.

This issue raises the awareness level and knowledge base of all educators, particularly teachers of gifted with focus on topics such as gifted education in rural environments, highly gifted learners, twice exceptional children, gifted females, gifted and talented students on the autism spectrum.

Though the western countries have made some progress in identifying and nurturing the gifted and talented children, third world and South Asian countries, particularly India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, are far behind. Our talent banks are being wasted. The school education system, governments, parents, thinkers and planners must put their minds together and work out an action plan that is free from partisanship, bickering and petty politics. If our children grow, the region and the nations would bloom too.


Allow me to close with a quote from Pearl Buck that describes a gifted child aptly: “The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him: a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.

“Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”

Pix from Net

Sarika Sarkar Das

A teacher, day dreamer, random experimental cook and some hit and miss photography, and at last love to call myself a full time mother.