Is My Child Bright or Gifted?
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My son is 5.6 yrs old. He is a very active child. I wish to know if he a
bright child or gifted one. Here are his progress details so far.
He started walking just before his first birthday and
started speaking complete words or 2 -3 word sentences when he was 13 –
14 months old .
When he was 14 to 16 months old, he could do 15 – 20
pieces wooden puzzles (shapes, animals and alphabets).
By age of 1.8 yrs, he could recognize more than 150
brand logos from newspaper and could read sign boards. He could
recognize almost all the cars on the road. He could solve 27 pieces
By the age of 2.5 years, he could point out countries on
the world map.
He started reading at the age of 3.5 yrs and now read
anything from early reader series( Enid Blyton) to newspaper.
He is very good with spellings. He can write sentences
and can do simple addition and subtraction.
His teachers say that has very good memory.
His school does not have program for gifted children but they encourage
him to read books (when he was in the play group, his class teacher use
to send him to Jr Kg or senior K.G for reading).
I would like to know if these are signs of a gifted child or a bright
child. Hope you can advise us on what can be done to encourage him. We
don't want to formally assess him. Thank you.
Based on the developmental milestones, it does indicate advanced
ability. However, there are many more factors involved. There is just so
much one can conclude based on the basis of developmental milestones
alone. Of course a formal assessment would tell you objectively where he
stands but perhaps you are not ready to formally assess him. Try filling
in a checklist for giftedness, which may give you a better idea.
As a matter of fact, bright children are able to learn quickly and it
may be a little easier to teach them. On the other hand, one may find
that they do not usually exhibit the kind of curiosity and intense rage
in learning in comparison to gifted children. What I would advise is
that whether or not your son is considered “gifted” or “bright”, go
ahead and nurture him as if he's gifted. Spend time with him, guide him
with learning that interests him, expose and explore new areas of
learning try to make his educational experience as fulfilling as
possible. Do view past newsletters on activities to nurture his
For nurturing his learning in school, help the teachers understand his
needs. If he is getting bored or appears to be disrupting others while
learning, he may need a lot more stimulation and challenging work. Help
his teacher to provide more meaningful work (e.g., worksheets from home
that you had printed out). Acceleration (subject or grade) may help as
well is he is emotionally and socially ready especially for grade
More importantly, regardless of whether a child is gifted, bright, or
even average, you would want to provide the best environment possible to
nurture him abilities as best as you can. Just follow his lead and do
not force him to produce results that you expect. Allow him to explore
on his own. Gifted children are self-learners, intrinsically motivated
and often need some guidance but prefer to explore independently.
Below is an interesting comparison table by Szabos:
Gifted vs. Bright: A Detailed Comparison
|Knows the answers
||Asks the questions
|Answers the questions
||Discusses in detail, elaborates
||Is highly curious
||Is physically and mentally involved
||Plays around, yet tests well
|Has good ideas
||Has wild, silly ideas
||Beyond the group
||Prefers adults or older peers
|Learns with ease
|Listens with interest
||Shows strong feelings and opinions
||Highly critical of self (perfectionist)
|Six to eight repetitions for mastery
||One to two repetitions for mastery
|Grasps the meaning
||Creates a new design
|Enjoys straightforward sequential presentation
||Thrives on complexity
||Is keenly observant
|Is pleased with own learning
||Is highly self-critical
Source: Janice Szabos, Challenge Magazine 1989 Issue 34