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Signs of a gifted child

Signs of a gifted child

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - April 20th, 2014

There are so many signs of a gifted child and this article will shed light on many of those signs and what it actually means for a boy or girl to be gifted. The traditional way to measure whether a child is gifted or not is from an IQ test. Here’s the breakdown on where the child needs to be on the IQ scale to be determined gifted.

Traditional IQ test scoring that puts children in the gifted range:

  • 131 – 145 – Moderately Gifted
  • 146 – 159 – Highly Gifted
  • 160 – 179 – Exceptionally Gifted
  • 180+ – Profoundly Gifted




For an accurate assessment of a child’s IQ it’s best to have it administered by a trained psychologist who has a specialty in evaluating children. Of course, the IQ score is a good indication of how a child will perform in school although success in later life isn’t necessarily dependent on the IQ of the individual. There have been many studies over the years from experts that have shown the following:

  • Louis Terman Study – “Intellect and achievement are far from correlated.”
  • Reba Subotnik Study – “Non-intellectual factors” probably matter more.
  • Liam Hudson – “You are as likely to win a Nobel Prize with a 120 IQ as a 200 IQ.”


gifted girl glasses


There are many signs of a gifted child and here’s a list of the most common signs:

  • Reasons well (good thinker)
  • Learns rapidly
  • Has extensive vocabulary
  • Has an excellent memory
  • Has a long attention span (if interested)
  • Sensitive (feelings hurt easily)
  • Shows compassion
  • Perfectionistic
  • Intense
  • Morally sensitive
  • Has strong curiosity
  • Perseverance in their interests
  • Has high degree of energy
  • Prefers older companions or adults
  • Has a wide range of interests
  • Has a great sense of humor
  • Early or avid reader (if too young to read, loves being read to)
  • Concerned with justice, fairness
  • Judgment mature for age at times
  • Is a keen observer
  • Has a vivid imagination
  • Is highly creative
  • Tends to question authority
  • Has facility with numbers
  • Good at jigsaw puzzles
  • Source:  Gifted Development Center, Dr. Linda Silverman (site: Gifted Development)



Another question parents have is do IQ or intelligence tests measure all the different types of giftedness a child might have? The short answer is: no. The traditional IQ test measures gifts a child needs to do well in school – math, visual-spatial reasoning, verbal abilities, thinking skills, memory. These tests do not measure not measure gifts in music, athletics, acting, arts.

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19 Responses


I am not sure if mine is gifted, but she has crazy problem solving abilities. I told her she could not be 5 and big until she knew how to write one. She traced her hand and counted the fingers on the paper. She looked and me and said “I drew five.” I showed her how to write a number 5 and she has remembered since and loves to show it to me.

Carrol Claessen

I believe both my children are gifted in the arts areas (art and music)which unfortunately is not measured in a traditional IQ test. I believe they would score well on an IQ test because they are quite smart, have a great memory, and do well in school. But I’d like to nurture their artistic side which is where their strong natural abilities lie. It’s sad how nowadays the school’s curriculum doesn’t include significant focus on the arts especially considering that the arts (art, music,etc) is a huge factor in healthy brain development- way more so than the computer work and technology that are highly valued in many schools now. As a parent, this is frustrating because programs/classes specializing in the arts are very expensive. I’m doing the best I can as a creative parent to nurture some of their skills at home with various activities but is that enough? Thank you for listening to my I just don’t want my children’s gifts to fall through the cracks.


When my daughter was almost 5 she was getting excited about her up-coming birthday. She asked me how many more days it was until her birthday and I told her it was in two weeks. A few minutes later she says, “That’s 14 days, right?” When I asked her how she figured it out, she said that she knew that their was 7 days in a week, so two weeks must be 7 and 7. She’s still a bright kid. At 14 she is taking H Chem, Alg II, H Eng. H. World Geo, Spanish III, as well as ceramics, drama, and choir. The choir teacher told her she has perfect pitch. She has also played violin for 10 years.


After reading to my 18 month old daughter for only 6 months, she began reading to me. She was not memorizing the material, because they were new books that had just been delivered. She was also ambidextrous, writing and drawing little pictures, simultaneously, with both hands. (The word Mom and a smilie face, Gram and a triangle, etc.) For a 20 month well-child assessment, they asked if she could stack several wooden blocks on top of each other….we had no blocks, but she built high towers of my canned vegetables.

By 4, she had learned to add, subtract and was starting multiplication. She had started reading my Bible, correctly pronouncing words and names that had given me trouble as a young adult. It took her only two weeks to learn to play chess. In kindergarten, she was a “teaching assistant” helping to teach the other kids who didn’t know their colors or counting, and some didn’t even know their names. The school libraries never restricted her to a book limit, or a particular library day. Whenever she finished her stack of books, she was allowed to go get more. She began basic computer lessons at age 5. She was monitored by school psychologists for 6 yrs, to make sure that I wasn’t pushing her to learn. They were stunned.

By the start of 3rd grade, her IQ was 139, and she was reading on an 8th grade level. She was the only girl of 7 students in the 3rd grade advanced placement course in her school. She was reading constantly. (According to Psychology Today, the average person reads 2000 books in a lifetime, but she had surpassed that by 4th grade.)

I bought her a see-through electric clock, and a matching radio. She took them apart to see how they worked. She got her own older model computer and taught herself the DOS operating system. In 7th grade, her needs weren’t being met (in part, because we did not have finances to keep her “up to the social level” of the other kids,) so she asked to be taken out of the AP courses. This did not disrupt her learning. In 9th grade, she needed to prompt her science teacher about properly measuring liquids in a beaker. In 10th, she was asked to refresh her math teacher on a particular formula he had to teach the math class. She was chosen from a thousand students to attend the Hugh O’brian Youth Leadership seminary as her school’s representative. She opted out of trying for college, because she didn’t want to “go to college on charity.”

In her senior year, she was building and programing computers. Her high school got a number of new computers, and she formatted them, and then helped to teach some of the teachers how to use them. She began working for 3 of her teachers after school, for pay, grading papers and creating lesson plans. At that point, she really thought she wanted to be a high school teacher. (After her favorite teacher was murdered, she changed her mind. I admit, I was a bit relieved by that.)

At 18, she went through a series of 3 intense interviews, and became the youngest, self-taught computer tech to work for a local subsidiary of Microsoft. But not being able to drive, and no transportation to get her to the location about 25 miles away, she reluctantly left that job. She continued to work, steadily, ever since then. She is now 35, has been married for 6 yrs, to another computer geek – artist. She is working in retail, and is very happy. I couldn’t be happier for her, except……. well, she doesn’t have great medical coverage that she really needs.

My advice, don’t worry about your child being gifted or not. Just work with them, and “listen” to them. They will tell you and show you what they need, what they are capable of doing. For me, the tip off was reading. Her first AP teacher warned me, “Most gifted kids are great in all areas, except Math. Those who are great in Math, are usually not as good in anything else.” He then retracted his statement, because she was gifted and passed the boys in all areas…….. and she was well known by the teachers in all of her schools. Most students knew her as “the girl who always had her face in a book”…. but they couldn’t describe what she looked like. Seriously. As your child develops in any area, do whatever you can to provide them with the materials they are interested in learning. Don’t ever force them. Let them be who and what they are meant to be, and nature will lead them to many great discoveries. Being the parent of a gifted child has it’s rewards…….. but it also comes with a lot of headaches and worry that you’re doing enough, or too much. Just go with the flow, and let them be who their inner being tells them to be. You’ll love them, regardless, right!! 😀


I was a substitute teacher for a few years. Many parents especially professional parents and parents that live in a high income school district believe that their kids are gifted. The school district that my kids came from had a VERY large gifted program as parents would push to get their children into it. Don’t worry if your children are actually gifted, there aren’t actually as many as parents think that there are. According to this list, both of my children were gifted. I didn’t treat them differently.


My daughter is 4 years old. Last year my wife and I were concerned with her speech (she has an older sister 6 who usually spoke for her) so we had her evaluated that way when she started preschool her speech wouldn’t become an issue. At any rate, she didn’t qualify for speech intervention. They said she was on par with her speech and that it would come along. But what they were most impressed with was that they had never tested a child who was so far advanced. Everything that they threw at her she pretty much new for the most part. THe woman giving her her I.Q. test said that shed never had a child go as far as my daughter had. She ended up scoring a 150 on her I.Q. test.

Okay, that’s all relative right. So among other three year olds she advanced. I get that. Fast forward a year. She is at the top of her pre-school class. She is now 4 and know quite a few site words multiple shapes, can work on a computer, can do math at a kindergarten and perhaps a first grade level. She can write fairly well for a 4 year old, and when the school gave her her aptitude tests she scored in the 99th percentile. she couldn’t.

So, what am I dealing with??


My son is now 21 years old and was identified at gifted at 6 years old. I had no idea what “gifted” meant. I guess I thought it was extra smart and it would make school a breeze.

I was very, very wrong.

We all had to grow through the process.

My son had every key marker: IQ; a profound sense of justice, cultural awareness; an avid reader (to the exclusion of schoolwork); preferred adults to peers (boundaries were an ongoing theme as he had opinions, but an 8 year old should not always express them to an adult 🙂 ) ; and his need to create (he is a gifted writer but cannot paint) would frustrate him at times.

We exposed him as much as we were able to the larger world, to great literature and art, we encouraged him to build his own computer, he attended classes at John Hopkins CTY.

It was/continues to be wonderful watching his body and social appititude reach his giftedness, but it was a process. He was attention deficit, but not hyperactive. He could spend ten hours learning Japanese, but five minutes on math was too long. It took me two decades to realizes that allowing him to just be himself (head in book 24/7) would have cut down the strife immeasurably. I’m not convinced, however, it would have given him the tools to push through when the school in college offered more of a challenge.

Bottom line, giftedness is both a blessing and a challenge. Read about the topic, be ready for a challenge and most of all, remember they are still kids (even if they sound like 40 year olds). Enjoy the ride! Today my son speaks, reads and writes three languages, is at a top university and is heading to law school. He has a social conscious, he is respectful and the arrogance of thinking he knows everything has been replaced by a humbling acknowledgement of the vast amount of untapped information that abounds. Trust me–they get there 🙂


The whole gifted thing is nonsense, and I wish the word had never been invented.

I have two children who are not gifted, by my definition of the term. Nonetheless, both entered college at age 11, and both graduated cum laude and with honors at ages 18 and 19. One entered law school and is almost done, and the other will be entering law school this fall. What is the secret ingredient of this success?


Kids are naturally intellectually curious, and both public and private schools are generally anti-intellectual. We briefly tried both public and private schools, and the result was that our kids were unstimulated and bored. Homeschooling and skipping grammar, middle and high school were the best things we ever did. My kids worked hard, and they did well. They were encouraged intellectually, and were challenged to prove that they could succeed from an early age. Proving you can meet a challenge, in my opinion, is far more valuable than having some educrat label you as “gifted.”

I am a former member of Mensa, which I joined when I was too young to know better. It is a club for people who want to brag about the score they got on a test, which defines how well they did on one day of their lives. Most of them were pathetically unaccomplished, which I consider an extremely serious defect.

So don’t get hung up on the the fact that you think your kid is “gifted.” It’s just a word. Rather than worry about how bright the school system thinks your kid is, worry about what they accomplish. Be daring. Put them in situations where they can prove themselves against all comers. Challenge them to succeed where few others have succeeded.

Go for it.


My daughter was teaching and supervising class of 7 years old in her school when she was only 5 years old when her educator was busy with other tasks and needed assistance. When she was 7 she figured out in scientific term why snow appears a different color when she takes her ski goggles off. When she turned 9 she figured out on her own (in group setting) why one of the moons of Mars wobbles and the other doesn’t. The rest of our family is quite normal. She isn’t. Go figure.


I tested as gifted in school. It did nothing for me. These people were not gifted people themselves and have no idea how to handle these kids. We meet each other as outcasts in life and learn how to deal from each other. Kids raising kids.


Eh. By these markers, my child is not gifted. But she’s smart. She’s quick. And I really don’t care about some rest that will tell me if she’s special or not. Because she is special.


I was classified gifted in first grade. I know I’m smart, but that does not make school or life a breeze. I also have ADHD, diagnosed in second grade and never properly handled. I have an IQ of 170, but I work as a CNA. I love my job, but I do not feel fulfilled, knowing I can do better. My advice is look at your whole child. I was pushed in school because I was “smart enough to do it all”. It didn’t do me. a darn bit of good.


I have a son whom by most standards is “gifted”. Like others have said that term is a mixed bag. He said his first word at 5 months old. Spoke full sentences at 9 months old. On the flip side did not walk till he was a week away from his 2 birthday. His father and I both knew he was not like his siblings. When he entered school they had him tested and found him to be gifted and told us we would be doing him harm by not putting him the gifted class. We said no. Oh the horror we decided to let him lead the way in regards to his level of learning. We found other places for him to reach his level. Outside of the school. He is a well rounded high school senior who plays sports and loves to study to see if he can out perform himself.
Only you know your kids best and a test can never predict the ability of any given person’s chance to learn and succeed.


my child 2,10month he start read at 2 years and do math he can read number until big number he sing and know the colours ,shapes we speak Arabic and English

WOW! That’s wonderful and he’s doing so well and can do so much at such an early age. Make sure you utilize our practice materials for continued growth.


I have a daughter who never scored well on the State Testing so therefore school did not classify her as gifted. When she entered Middle School I had her tested and she was classified as gifted. She had a problem writing sentences. In high school I had her tested and she was Dyslexic across the spectrum. The school never identified her issue. She has graduated from college (first in my family) and achieved her Masters in Education. She is a Math Teacher for 7th and 8th graders. Believe in your child and stand behind them no matter what testing shows. She was very gifted in music, acting and singing.
Her daughter is two and has known how to count from 1 to 10 and has identified the numbers since 19 months. She knows her alphabet, sings it and identifies the letters. She loves to be read to and will pick out letters on shirts, tv, etc. She knows all of her colors. We give her the resources and let her guide us. She has taken two directions at a time since she was 18 months old. The doctor said she is on a three year level. She was an early walker and talker. We know she is gifted and don’t necessarily need a test to tell us. Encourage them everyday in what they like to do. Don’t push them. I learned from my daughter being gifted doesn’t necessarily mean you will be the over achiever in Academics. Children can be gifted in many different areas.


As a child I had most of the traits shown above. By no means am I gifted – my IQ is slightly above average, but only just. My brother was the same. Our grades were only average in school. My kids all tested as somewhat gifted – doing well in grade school but then slowing down in middle and high school – in fact my son did so poorly in high school that he just barely passed in order to graduate.
They are now in their upper twenties to early thirties. My eldest daughter worked hard at several jobs, supporting herself through university, to eventually earn a degree in physics, while my youngest became a music major, graduating with a BA. My son is currently studying engineering. I went to school late in life, graduating Magna Cum Laude in Nursing in my late 40s. My brother, after many years, became an Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant.
I guess what I am trying to say is that children who are given the opportunity to explore and “be themselves” will eventually find their way into carving their own niches in life. Success, I believe, is not necessarily measured by how “gifted” one is, but mainly through perseverance and knowing your own capabilities and gifts you have to offer in order to reach your full potential. Many “gifted” children struggle to find their way through life as adults, and many “average” kids become highly successful and well-rounded adults.

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