Understanding Gifted and Talented

A Resource Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Students

What is Gifted and Talented?

A Gifted and Talented student, also known as a GT student, is a child that has been identified as having greater abilities than a typical child of the same age. Despite popular belief, a GT student can be proficient in subjects other than academics. There are six areas where students can excel, including general intellectual ability, creative or productive thinking, specific academic aptitude, leadership ability, visual or performing arts, or psychomotor ability.


Intellectual / Academic

  • reasons abstractly
  • solves difficult problems
  • learns quickly
  • has wide interests
  • shows intellectual curiosity
  • generalizes learning
  • adapts to new learning strategies
  • highly motivated by academic tasks

Social / Emotional

  • criticizes self
  • empathizes
  • shows individualism
  • is intense
  • has a strong character
  • persists
  • plays with older friends
  • takes risks
  • is concerned with ethical issues
  • demonstrates leadership abilities
  • experiences stress from failure

(Smith & Tyler, 2014)


Depending on how a state may test for GT abilities, the prevalence rate may be higher or lower than the national average. In the United States, anywhere between 3% and 5% of the population are considered Gifted and Talented.
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The Bell Curve & Special Education

When you hear the term, "Special Education" most people associate it with the left side of the bell curve, or those who have difficulty with learning and need special accommodations to help them succeed. However, those on the right side of the bell curve, also known as our GT students need special accommodations too.

Multiple Intelligence Theory

Proposed by Howard Gardner, the Multiple Intelligence theory states that a student may excel in one or more of these eight intelligences. They include: linguistic, logical-mathematical, body-kinetics, spacial, musical, interpersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist.
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Below is a website where you can complete a quiz to see what intelligences you're strong in!
On Being Gifted.m4v

Classroom Struggles

The video above outlines some issues that GT students face is a regular education classroom. One of the most common ones is that they are bored when given regular assignments and often times finish them early.

Classroom Accomodations

Acceleration: This is an option for GT students who are not benefiting from classroom instruction. Acceleration can include being admitted to school early, skipping grade levels, or testing out of certain classes.

Enrichment: This is another strategy used with GT students. Enrichment is presenting more material for a specific subject, often going more in-depth than regular classroom instruction. This can be accomplished one-on-one, in a small group setting, or a whole classroom.

Other Accommodations Include:

  • incorporating child's interests in the classroom
  • teach self-learning strategies
  • use technology to further learning
  • compact the curriculum to cover more material in shorter time
  • allow GT students to "tutor" other peers in the classroom

Below are linked three websites to help teachers in accommodating GT students.

What can parents of GT students do?

Being a parent of a GT student comes with many challenges. Unlike students with disabilities, GT students already generalize learning between home and school. Parents should...

  • encourage independent learning
  • interact with other parents of GT students
  • enroll students in weekend or summer programs that interest their child
  • facilitate expansion of learning through educational day trips

Below is a website containing a large list of resources for parents of GT students.

Website Resources

This website is benifical to parents that are looking at enriching their child's summer by sending him/her to camp. It contains a list of questions to ask camp staff as well as your child when finding the right summer program.
This website, designed for students who are GT, contains many links to various website across different content areas, including art, music, science and math. It also contains links to games and contents for students who are GT.
Common Characteristics of Gifted Youth, by Dr. Dan Peters, Summit Center


Smith, D., & Tyler, N. (2014). Gifted and Talented. In Introduction to contemporary special education: New horizons. Boston: Pearson Education.

Gifted, Creative, and Talented. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/gifted-creative-talented-children/

Manno, M. (2012, December 6). Blog. Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://teach.com/education-technology/engaging-gifted-and-talented-students

Giftedness Defined. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://www.nsgt.org/giftedness-defined/