How can I tell if my child is talented and gifted ?

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Answered by: Amanda, An Expert in the Gifted Children - General Category
Typically, talented and gifted students are identified by the school district in which they are enrolled. Schools use a variety of methods to identify students who need extra attention or enrichment above and beyond the normal syllabus.

The most common tool is state testing. Students are not identified until third grade because that is the first year of state testing. Students scoring at or above the 99th percentile on these tests are recognized as standing apart from other students. Rarely will a school base attaching the label of TAG (talented and gifted) or GT (gifted and talented) solely on test results. The tests are more of a starting point. In addition, teachers will provide input about the students’ capabilities. Parents are also asked to fill out questionnaires about their children’s interests and behaviors outside of school.

There is a distinction between identification as talented versus gifted. A talented student shows extraordinary aptitude in a given content area. For example, a child could be academically talented in math or academically talented in language arts. These students understand the lessons presented to them easily with little explanation. They remember the concepts with little or no studying. Gifted students, on the other hand, exhibit a different way of conceptualizing thoughts altogether. These students see patterns and connections across various content areas and can apply the connections to new ideas. They have higher intelligence across the board.

Often high-achieving students are confused for talented or gifted students. High-achieving students know how to “play the game” of school. They are ambitious and goal-oriented. They understand what is expected of them and they live up to those expectations. They differ from talented and gifted students in that they must work and focus and learn new material just like the other students in class. Their apparent intelligence comes from hard work and intrinsic drive, not necessarily from a different ability. Typically they become successful in life beyond school.

Gifted and talented students may struggle with grades, which may seem counterintuitive. If they feel they have a solid understanding of material being presented in an academic setting, they are likely to tune out. They will focus on things that interest them and may appear almost obsessive about a given subject whether it is expected of them or not. They are not driven to please adults and don’t see the reason in learning information they already understand. When bored, these students often act out or refuse to participate in lessons. If they have not been identified as needing enrichment they are likely to be seen as underachievers and will slip through the cracks.

This is the reason for the need to have the TAG or GT identification. School districts are required to provide students with the educational experience that is right for the individual. Most districts struggle to provide the best services they can for all students, including those who are differently abled, with the ever-decreasing funding they receive whether public or private. Many schools now rely on volunteer help for providing these students with enrichment opportunities.

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