Recognizing and Nurturing Gifted Potential
Some people like to say that
all children are gifted. Actually, all children are a gift
but only some children exhibit gifted potential when
learning. Gifted potential means a child learns at a faster
pace (with minimum repetition) and a higher level (with more
complex and in-depth ideas). Children with gifted potential
are not more valued; they just learn differently and need
nurturing to experience continuous learning.
Gifted Potential Looks and Sounds
Your observations regarding
students' learning responses in your classroom provide a
long-term view of each child's potential. Young children
with gifted-potential intensely and frequently demonstrate
behaviors that are beyond age-expectation in three or four
of the following categories.
- Advanced language.
Children with gifted potential unassumingly use verbal
comparisons and words with multiple syllables, such as
the four-year old who explained: I know that seems
- Analytical thinking.
They surprise us with the complex, in-depth insights and
relationships they express: If we just took it apart, I
bet we would find...
- Meaning motivation.
They are little experts who know more than many adults
about one or more topics.
They interpret what influences or motivates others: What
he meant was... They often draw from an unusual angle,
such as a bird's-eye view or the view from behind a
- Sense of humor.
They laugh at humorous incidents that peers do not
understand, such as the young child who winked at his
teacher when the other children did not understand the
They verbally or nonverbally exhibit intense concern for
human and animal issues and want action taken to correct
the problem. A young gifted child's face may reveal
empathy for a character in a read-aloud story or for a
peer in the classroom.
They often master a new skill with unusual speed.
Particularly watch for unexpected math applications since
math talent is less influenced by cultural or language
differences. A bilingual kindergartner asked his teacher:
Tell me about the numbers that come before zero. I know
they call them 'negative.'
- Do not fear that some
children are just environmentally enriched. Something
within the child enabled the environmental nurturing to
work. Keep extending that learning.
- Children of poverty and
diverse cultures are successful learners whose
environments provided different experiences than the
opportunities for literacy development we seek in school.
Offer a wide-range of rich learning opportunities and
watch which children bubble up over time.
--Read aloud well-crafted stories and discuss characters,
their motivations, and inferences such a: What might
--Talk up to children. Use interesting words in a
meaningful context and encourage children to use those
- Over time, collect
products to document the high-level behaviors you observe
and to substantiate that advanced children continue to
progress rather than remain at one level waiting for
others to catch up.
- Listen to parents.
Children may demonstrate at home some skills that are not
prompted at school.
- Call on advanced
children proportionately to other students. They should
not dominate class discussions nor should they be
ignored. All children need our acceptance and
- Provide fast-paced
instruction. Children with advanced potential learn well
and stay more mentally engaged with minimum repetition of
skills and concepts.
- As children work, talk
with them about what they are doing to provide a window
to their high-level thinking.
--How did you figure that out?
--What is another way to do that?
- Young gifted children
often want to talk with adults not because they can't
socially fit in with their age-mates but because they
seek idea-mates who understand what they are interested
in discussing. They enjoy someone who gets their
- Advanced children's
heads are often ahead of their hands. They experience
frustration when their writing or drawing cannot express
what they want to say.
--Listen to their ideas as often as you can.
--Scribe for them sometimes.
--Let them use a tape recorder to orally record their
--Arrange for them to work with an aide or older student
for brief times.
- Acquire a range of
materials for every segment of learning you plan. When
students demonstrate understanding at one level, enable
them to continue learning rather than repeatedly practice
what they already know. Ask a librarian or media
specialist to help.
- Provide non-fiction
materials. Advanced readers have a voracious appetite for
reading about their interests.
- Use different peer
learning groups. Gifted students need to work with other
advanced students some times, with a mixed-range of
learners some times, and by themselves some
- Encourage and honor
diverse ideas rather than expect only simple,
--Tell me what you mean?
--Why do you think that?
Kingore, B. (2005).
Time-saving procedures for busy
3rd ed. Austin: Professional Associates
Kingore, B., Ed. (2002).
Reading strategies for advanced primary readers.
Austin: Texas Education Agency.