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Thinking Levels for Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: What are the levels of thinking for the gifted children?

A: Just as for everyone else, gifted children go through the same thinking stages. The difference here is that they are able to reach higher levels of thinking at a younger age due to the ability to absorb knowledge at a much faster pace than the average. Therefore, not surprisingly, gifted children use higher levels of thinking skills in any form of their learning. If taught these skills, they are able to think creatively, to analyze, synthesize, apply and evaluate information. The teaching of thinking skills provides children with a means of associating different areas of knowledge and developing skills that can be applied across the curriculum. This may differ from an average child who may perhaps apply thinking at the lower levels on a taxonomy (e.g., Bloom's Taxonomy which is a model for conceptualizing higher level thinking skills). The main difference is that the ability to jump to higher levels of thinking is faster for gifted children.

To determine their thinking levels would depend on the subject being taught. The teacher needs to decide the level of thinking for her/his students. This can be done using, say, the Bloom's Taxonomy. Bloom's Taxonomy is a classification of thinking skills with six different levels, with each successive level increasing in complexity. The first three levels: Knowledge, Comprehension and Application are often referred to as lower level thinking (which are more concrete thinking skills), while the second three levels: Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation are referred to as higher level thinking (also known as critical thinking skills as more abstraction is required). Gifted children are more likely to use the higher levels of thinking.

The teaching of thinking skills should be enhanced when the child is very young to form habits of the mind. This is particular significant when looking at the needs of preschool and children in their first years of school. The older one grows, the harder it is to change the way a person is thinking; however not impossible. There is no limitation in terms of thinking for gifted children. In fact, there are activities to develop thinking skills such as simple strategies of open-ended questions to brain-storming sessions, further advancing to specific skills such as comparisons, classification. concept mapping, cause and effect, to structures such as Six Thinking Hats, Creative Problem Solving, Future Problem Solving, Bloom's Taxonomy and CoRT.

One of the most valuable skills to enhance thinking levels for anyone for that matter is the use of critical thinking. It is observed that gifted children, especially, tend to take mental leaps are able to use synthesis and evaluation without being taught. Therefore it is crucial to support and nurture these skills to develop strong academic and lifelong problem-solving skills.


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