How Can I Tell If My Child is Gifted?

Dr. Susan Karpicke
Parents are among the best identifiers of gifted children.  You clearly know your child better than anyone, and your input should be welcomed and valued by any school you are considering for your child.
Typically, parents of gifted kids will notice characteristics of giftedness in their child at an early age.  At Sycamore, we call these the “Twelve Signs” of a gifted child.  They include:
  • Early language development:  Most gifted children learn language and use it appropriately at an earlier age than is typical.  This is often the first sign of giftedness noticed by parents.
  • Excellent memory: Gifted kids have great memories.  Don’t promise them something that you don’t intend to deliver.
  • Curiosity:  These children are thirsty for information.  They want to know the “why” and the “how.”  Parents often refer to them as “little sponges.”
  • Rapid learning:  Gifted kids learn quickly, often without repetition.
  • Sense of humor:  They often understand humor at a very young age.
  • Intensity:  Gifted kids can be very serious and passionate about what they are interested in.
  • Long attention span:  Gifted kids frequently have a longer attention span than their age peers.  On the other hand, they might have issues with attention and focus.  Those children are called twice-exceptional or 2e kids.
  • Sensitivity:  Both emotional and tactile sensitivity are common among gifted children.
  • Observational skills:  These kids are observers.  They like to get the “lay of the land” before joining in.
  • Preference for older playmates:  Gifted kids often prefer to be with older kids or adults instead of their age peers.
  • Perfectionism:  This can be a very strong characteristic among gifted children.  They expect to know how to do things the right way the first time and can be very hard on themselves when that doesn’t happen.
  • Strong sense of morality and justice:  Gifted kids like things to be fair and just for themselves and others.
If you have noticed some of these characteristics in your child, you might want to seek out a more formal evaluation.  Evaluating gifted children at Sycamore includes the consideration of:
  • Feedback from parents about the characteristics of giftedness
  • Feedback from the child’s most recent teacher about classroom performance
  • Measures of school performance such as a recent report card and recent achievement test scores
  • Formal assessment results from intelligence testing, which measures a child’s intellectual potential
At Sycamore, when school is in session, we also include a shadow visit in the child’s current grade level so that our teachers, who are trained and experienced in working with gifted children, can give us feedback about the probable fit of the school for each child.
Numerous factors may influence the identification process.  Testing might be influenced by age, mood, health, or readiness.  Very bright only children are sometimes overlooked because parents have no basis for comparison with other children.   A highly gifted first child may make parents doubt that their other children are gifted.  Some gifted kids aren’t great test takers or their test scores might be affected by perfectionism or low tolerance for risk taking.  If you want to know if your child is gifted, it is wise to seek out professionals who are experienced at testing and identifying gifted children.
Remember-parents are among the best identifiers of gifted kids.  If you think you have a gifted child, you probably do.
Susan Karpicke, EdD
Director of Admissions
Indiana’s Only Accredited, Private, Independent Preschool - 8th Grade School for Gifted Students