Hope Fetty

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Gifted and Talented is a term used to describe children with outstanding abilities that surpass those of their normal peers.

They are capable of high performance and outstanding achievement in many areas (academic, intellectual, cognitive, leadership, visual/ performing arts, & psychomotor abilities).


In the United States:

  • ~3.2 million students currently identified as Gifted or Talented in American Elementary and Secondary schools
National Average: 6.7%

In the State of Maryland:

  • 16.1% of students are categorized as Gifted and Talented

Major Characteristics

Gifted and Talented students can be characterized very broadly through intellectual/ academic characteristics as well as social/ emotional characteristics.

Common intellectual/ academic characteristics found are:

  • abstract reasoning

  • ability to solve difficult problems

  • learn quickly*

  • show intellectual curiosity

  • generalize learning material

  • having an exceptional memory

  • having strong verbal skills

  • motivated by academic tasks

  • can focus/ concentrate on a topic for extended periods of time

Common social/ emotional characteristics found are:

  • criticizing self

  • empathizing often

  • exhibiting individualism

  • demonstrating leadership abilities

  • being highly sensitive to others and self*

  • nonconforming*

  • experiencing stress from failure

  • having strength of character

  • take risks

  • having different modes of expression*

*indicates characteristics which can interfere with learning

(Smith & Tyler , pp.403, 2014)

Characteristics of Gifted Students

Major Interfering Characteristic: Underachievement

It is estimated that up to half of all Gifted and Talented Students do not perform to their fullest potential and are "more likely to be bored and under-stimulated in regular classes". So it is up to the teachers to provide an appropriately challenging curriculum for students.

(Manno, 2012).

Accommodations/ Strategies in the Classroom

  • Assign independent projects for students: these allow capitalization of their abilities to understand “cause and effect relationships” and give students increased independence and the ability to study at their own pace and be interested in material.

  • Provide differentiated instruction for certain students: When presented with different versions of class projects and assignments, gifted students are encouraged to study content more deeply and at an acceptable pace.

  • Distance/ Online Learning: The Internet provides students opportunities to take classes in subjects that are not offered at their schools and allows secondary students to take college-level coursework, expanding these students' knowledge base.

(Manno, 2012).

Resources for Children and Parents

Accommodations/ Strategies at Home

  • Value play and invention: Sometimes gifted & talented children do not fully realize their skills and potential until they're challenged. Encourage them to think critically about the world around them and be inventive with available resources.

  • Use imagery when playing or working with your child: Try to make connections between real-world events and what is going on in your class.

  • Listen to and talk about unusual ideas: Each and every one child is unique and sometimes we do not fully recognize all their talents. Have open debates that cover both contemporary and content area topics and do not shoot down any idea they may have.

(Work, 2014).

For more information on At-Home Strategies/ Accommodations listed above, click here!

More Resources for Gifted & Talented Children

Provides a nonverbal measure of a student’s general cognitive ability and is administered for placement into Gifted and Talented programs throughout the country. Students do not use their reading, writing, or speaking skills but instead, they must rely on visual reasoning and logic to solve the problems presented to them.
This resource lists organizations/ resources to help gifted students and parents get the education, emotional support, and guidance they need to grow up happy and well-adjusted to obstacles that may be faced.
This resource provides information on Gifted and Talented students and their progress as they age. This source is useful for Gifted Children as well as parents to provide insight and gratification with circumstances.


Smith, D. & Tyler, N. (2015). Introduction to contemporary special education: new horizons. Retrieved from

Manno, M. (2012). Engaging gifted and talented students. Retrieved from

When the gifted grow up. Duke TIP. (2010). Retrieved from

Scholastic Inc (2015). Retrieved from

Standford University (2014). Retrieved from

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (2015). Retrieved from

Work, J. (2014). Edutopia. Uppervention: meeting the needs of gifted and talented students.

Retrieved from