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We all take pride in the achievements of our grandchildren and well we should. However some children are truly exceptional in their accomplishments and we may begin to wonder if they are “gifted.” What are the differences between bright or high achieving students and truly gifted learners? Even classroom teachers may not recognize the differences immediately and that is the reason that various checklists have been developed by learning specialists. ( Once it is determined that a child is a gifted learner in all or even just one area, it is important to support him or her with extended lessons and also be aware that a gifted child is often different from his or her peers in significant ways.

In pre-school years you can watch for one or more of the following early signs of exceptional ability. Gifted babies and toddlers are very alert and notice what is going on around them to a higher degree than normal learners. They show an early interest in books and develop early language skills. They have a longer attention span than others and may develop a keen interest in certain subjects or topics. A gifted child may be exceptionally good at doing puzzles or using computers and often show musical or dramatic ability. They have vivid imaginations and often develop a sense of humor beyond their years.  (

Once gifted children enter the school system there are further evidences that they have special ability. While high achievers learn and remember, gifted children need far less instruction and less practice to master skills and remember information. In fact, gifted children don’t just remember information; they organize and analyze it making connections beyond their peers. They often ask difficult questions which can pose a challenge to the regular classroom teacher. They often require additional or extended projects to satisfy their innate curiosity. Gifted learners are not necessarily interested in learning only to receive high marks. They may not care about grades at all, and they can be intense and opinionated. They may prefer the company of older children or even adults. They are several steps ahead of the rest of the group and can easily become bored by or distracted during routine tasks. They may appear to daydream as they pursue their own thoughts.

In short, gifted children have unique abilities and also unique needs. Many times they thrive on self-directed learning programs or with mentors who understand them well. If you suspect that your grandchild is a gifted learner, be sure to help provide a rich learning environment in the home with lots of books and educational toys. Make it a point to take them to museums, libraries and live performances to enrich their experiences. Do all you can to support their learning and also their social and emotional development. Your local school system will have testing programs in place on the referral of the classroom teachers. For articles on the parenting and teaching of gifted children see