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GT-Nurturing Young Gifted Children (updated April 2001)

How can the talents of young gifted children be assessed?

There are many reasons for seeking intellectual and academic assessment, including educational planning, understanding a child's pattern of abilities, or checking for disabilities in a child who is known to be gifted. Sometimes young children lose interest in school and both parents and professionals want to find out if the child is receiving sufficient intellectual challenge or if social and emotional issues are involved.

A variety of instruments and procedures are used to assess the abilities of gifted students. Often the choice of instruments will depend upon the reasons for testing or the goal. For example, achievement tests are used to assess a child's accumulated knowledge relative to others and may be given to a group of children. These include the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), Terra Nova, and California Achievement Test (CAT). Achievement tests are often used to determine a child's grade placement in a given subject when acceleration is considered. Intelligence tests, on the other hand, are used to assess a child's intellectual abilities and are typically administered to individual children by a professional psychologist. These include the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) or the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence (WPPSI) and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale.

Schools tend to shy away from testing and labeling young children, grades K through 3, primarily because children's rate of development and performance on tests are somewhat unstable before age 7 or 8. Also, some children from some minority groups or low income families have not been exposed to the types of experiences that go into acquired knowledge and are known to test lower than their abilities might predict. When schools do identify young children for a gifted program, they generally use alternative assessments. Informal or formal identification may involve procedures such as teacher assessment of a child's problem solving ability, parental assessment of a child's abilities and interests, or the assessment of student products (portfolio assessment). Information on alternative assessment is available on this web site.

One way that parents can tell if their children might be gifted is to focus on a range of behaviors that occur in the daily conversations, activities, and responses to learning opportunities. Here is a list of characteristics common in gifted four-, five-, and six-year olds (Smutny, 2000):

  • express curiosity about many things
  • ask thoughtful questions
  • have extensive vocabularies and use complex sentence structure
  • are able to express themselves well
  • solve problems in unique ways
  • have good memories
  • exhibit unusual talent in art, music, or creative dramatics
  • exhibit especially original imaginations
  • use previously learned things in new contexts
  • are unusually able to order things in logical sequence
  • discuss and elaborate on ideas
  • are fast learners
  • desire to work independently and take initiative
  • exhibit wit and humor
  • have sustained attention spans and are willing to persist on challenging tasks
  • are very observant
  • show talent in making up stories and telling them
  • are interested in reading.

A gifted child might not show all of the above characteristics all the time, but parents and professionals will generally see a pattern when observing over an extended period of time.

Following are links to related Internet resources and Internet discussion groups, as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.

You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of citations beginning with an ED number (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used



primary education


ability identification OR early identification

ED445422 EC308026
Teaching Young Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom. ERIC Digest E595.
Smutny, Joan Franklin
Publication Date: 2000
Publication Type: 071; 073
Availability: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Dr., Reston, VA 20191-1589; http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e595.htm
EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Sponsoring Agency: EDD00036 Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Report No: EDO-EC-00-4
This ERIC digest discusses strategies for recognizing and nurturing giftedness in young children in the regular classroom. It describes giftedness and provides a list of characteristics common in gifted four-, five-, and six-year-olds. The use of portfolios for identifying giftedness is discussed, along with the benefits of consulting with parents. General principles of teaching young gifted children are then presented and include: (1) create a learning environment the invites inquiry, uses thematic instruction to connect content areas, makes a wide range of materials available, provides activity centers for self-initiated projects, has flexible seating arrangements, offers active, lesson-related activity options for students who finish work early, and provides opportunities for creative movement, mime, dance, and singing; (2) allow for flexible grouping; (3) provide variety; (4) offer choices to allow children to chose group mates and topics and assist in designing projects and their formats; (5) create ground rules; (6) evaluate students individually; (7) compact the curriculum; and (8) incorporate creative thinking. Teachers are urged to use tests, class assignments, observations, informal interviews, consultations with parents, and portfolios for ongoing assessment on how children are performing.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; *Academically Gifted; Classroom Design; Curriculum Design; Educational Environment; *Inclusive Schools; Parent Teacher Cooperation; Portfolio Assessment; Preschool Education; Primary Education; *Talent Development; Young Children
Identifiers: ERIC Digests

ED418525 EC306334
The Young Gifted Child: Potential and Promise: An Anthology.
Smutny, Joan Franklin (Ed.)
582p.; 1998
Availability: Hampton Press Inc., 23 Broadway, Suite 208, Cresskill, NJ 07626.
Document Type: BOOKS (010); COLLECTED WORKS GENERAL (020)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New Jersey
Forty-one papers on young gifted children are grouped in sections on identification, special populations, parenting, social/emotional needs, and education.
Descriptors: *Child Rearing; *Gifted; Early Childhood Education; Infants; Young Children; Ability Identification; Special Needs Students; Minority Groups; Social Development; Emotional Development; Educational Needs; Program Development

ED445428 EC308032
Nurturing the Gifts and Talents of Primary Grade Students.
Baum, Susan M., Ed.; Reis, Sally M., Ed.; Maxfield, Lori R., Ed.
Publication Type: 010; 020; 055
351 pp.
Availability: Creative Learning Press, Inc., P.O. Box 320, Mansfield Center, CT 06250; Tel: 860-429-8118; Fax: 860-429-7783; Web site: http://www.neca.com/~clp.
Document Not Available from EDRS.
Audience: Parents; Practitioners
Geographic Source: U.S.; Connecticut
This book is designed to furnish relevant and practical information based on theory and to address the needs of youngsters with advanced abilities, unique talents, and in-depth interests. It is organized into four parts: identifying gifts, interests, and learning styles; program and curricular models for talent development; curricular ideas and strategies; and classroom management. Specific chapters include: (1) "The Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness" (Joseph S. Renzulli); (2) "The Role of Teachers in Identifying Gifts in Young Children" (Susan Baum); (3) "Assessing Interests in Young Children" (Ann McGreevy); (4) "Celebrating Differences" (Martha Cray-Andrews); (5) "Elementary School Gifted Programs" (Marcia A. B. Delcourt); (6) "The Schoolwide Enrichment Model: Techniques for Increasing Academic Achievement and Addressing Talent Development with Primary Grade Students" (Deborah E. Burns and Sally M. Reis); (7) "The Enabling Curriculum: Enhancing Learning in Young Gifted Students" (Susan Baum); (8) "Talents Unlimited: Developing Gifts for Thinking in Young Children" (Carol L. Schlichter); (9) "Using Picture Books To Create an Enabling Curriculum" (Susan Baum); (10) "Language Arts and Gifted Primary Students" (Marian Matthews); (11) "Research Skills" (F. Richard Olenchak); (12) "Using How-To Books with Primary Grade Students" (Gina D. Schack); (13) "A Kinesthetic Curriculum" (Gail Neary Herman); (14) "Fostering Emotional Growth in Young Gifted Children through Bibliotherapy" (Thomas P. Hebert); and (15) "Gifted Primary Students in Heterogeneous Classes: Where Do I Start? How Do I Manage?" (Alane J. Starko).
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Bibliotherapy; Cognitive Style; Curriculum; *Curriculum Design; Educational Environment; *Educational Strategies; Emotional Development; *Gifted; Heterogeneous Grouping; Inclusive Schools; Kinesthetic Methods; *Language Arts; Picture Books; Primary Education; *Research Skills; Special Programs; Student Evaluation; Talent Development; Teacher Role; Theory Practice Relationship; Young Children

EJ589518 EC622686
Exploring Your Child's Intellectual Giftedness.
Haensly, Patricia
Gifted Child Today Magazine; v22 n3 p44-45,51-52 May-Jun 1999
Publication Date: 1999
Publication Type: 070; 080
Discusses gifted identification and the potentially harmful effects of labeling a child "gifted" and making premature assumptions. Parents are urged to allow children to develop their gifts unencumbered by expectations and observe, watch, listen, prompt, affirm, and enjoy as the child engages with the world.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; *Child Rearing; *Gifted; *Labeling (of Persons); Parent Child Relationship; *Parent Role; *Talent Development; Young Children

EJ581789 EC621121
Gifted Preschoolers: Parent and Teacher Views on Identification, Early Admission and Programming.
Sankar-DeLeeuw, Naomi
Roeper Review; v21 n3 p174-79 Feb-Mar 1999
Publication Date: 1999
Publication Type: 080; 143
A survey explored issues and concerns of 46 parents of gifted preschoolers and 23 preschool/kindergarten teachers surrounding early identification and programming for giftedness. The majority of participants reported that early identification can and should be done, and supported the practice of differentiated curriculum. Early admission was not supported.
Descriptors: Ability Identification; *Curriculum Design; *Early Admission; *Early Identification; *Gifted; *Parent Attitudes; Preschool Children; Preschool Education; Surveys; *Teacher Attitudes
Identifiers: *Differentiated Curriculum (Gifted)

EJ414915 EC231479
One Family's Decision: When Should Our Child Start School?
Cramond, Bonnie
Gifted Child Today (GCT), v13 n3 p54-56 May-Jun 1990
Report No: ISSN-0892-9580
Document Type: Journal Article (080); Project Description (141); Non-Classroom Material (055)
Target Audience: Parents
This article describes one set of parents' decision to enroll their child in school early. Problems finding someone to test their child and other institutional and social obstacles are described. Tips to guide the decision-making process are offered and the parents' attitudes a year after their daughter's enrollment are presented.
Descriptors: Acceleration (Education); *Decision Making; *Early Admission; Elementary Education; *Gifted; *Parent Aspiration; Parent Attitudes; Parent School Relationship; *School Entrance Age; School Readiness

ED398665 EC304957
Nurturing Giftedness in Young Children: Videotape and Book .
Maker, C. June; King, Margaret A.
64p.; A product of the National Training Program for Gifted Education. Based on a Council for Exceptional Children Symposium on Nurturing Giftedness in Young Children (Reston, VA, August 11-13, 1995).
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC., Contract No: R206A20102
ISBN: 0-86586-282-6
Available From: Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091-1589 (Book Stock No. P5156; Set: Stock No. M5156).
EDRS Price - MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Non-Classroom Material (055); Audiovisual Material (100); Conference Proceedings (021)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIEJAN97
This book and video are based on a symposium on ways to foster giftedness in children in kindergarten through third grade. Emphasized throughout are DISCOVER projects, federally funded research and development projects to assist educators in identifying and planning programs for gifted children from diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Chapter 1 profiles model DISCOVER classrooms, young gifted learners, and their teachers. A list of materials for a multiple intelligences learning center is provided. Chapter 2 explains the multiple intelligences model of giftedness and the DISCOVER program. Chapter 3 explains 20 developmentally appropriate practices. The S. W. Schiever and C. J. Maker Continuum of Problem Types is presented and applied to the study of cycles in seasons and weather. The video shows symposium participants addressing issues of talent identification, teacher preparation, and curriculum. Ways that young children who are gifted or talented can be nurtured at school and at home are demonstrated.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Classroom Techniques; Cultural Awareness; Curriculum Design; *Curriculum Development; Educational Environment; *Educational Practices; Educational Strategies; Elementary Education; *Gifted; Minority Groups; Parent Participation; Program Development; *Student Development; Talent; Talent Identification; *Teaching Models
Identifiers: Developmentally Appropriate Programs; Multiple Intelligences

EJ549137 EC617003
Young Gifted Children in Research and Practice: The Need for Early Childhood Programs.
Damiani, Victoria B.
Gifted Child Today Magazine, v20 n3 p18-23 May-Jun 1997
ISSN: 1076-2175
Language: English
Document Type: Journal Article (080); Research Report (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJJAN98
Discusses the outcomes of the Fullerton Study, a continuing longitudinal research project that is investigating the differences between 107 gifted (n=20) and typical preschool children. Results of the study highlight the importance of early identification and programming for gifted children. Characteristics of the gifted children and parental concerns are discussed.
Descriptors: *Early Identification; Educational Strategies; *Gifted; Longitudinal Studies; *Parent Attitudes; Preschool Children; Preschool Education; *Student Characteristics; *Talent Development; *Talent Identification

EJ547433 EC616881
Metacognitive Knowledge of Gifted Children and Nonidentified Children in Early Elementary School.
Schwanenflugel, Paula J.; And Others
Gifted Child Quarterly, v41 n2 p25-35 Spr 1997
ISSN: 0016-9862
Language: English
Document Type: Journal Article (080); Research Report (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJDEC97
A study compared the declarative metacognitive knowledge of 22 gifted and 20 general cohort kindergarten and first-grade children. Results found the gifted children showed superior metacognitive knowledge over the nonidentified children even at an early age and that their abilities were in both memory and attention domains.
Descriptors: *Attention; *Cognitive Ability; Early Identification; *Gifted; *Memory; *Metacognition; Primary Education

ED334796 EC300542
Testing for Giftedness: The Pros, Cons and Concerns.
Shaughnessy, Michael F.; Fickling, Kris L.
1991; 13p.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Position Paper (120)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New Mexico
Journal Announcement: RIEDEC91
Target Audience: Parents; Practitioners
A school psychologist and parent look at issues related to testing for "giftedness," including labeling and placement (or non-placement) in special programs. Factors to consider in deciding whether to have a child tested are considered, with examples given of students whose individual situations and personalities either do not qualify them for the "gifted" label but who go on to high achievement or who do not achieve in the gifted program despite the "gifted" label. Important points about interpreting intelligence quotient scores are noted, as are considerations in telling the child the results of the testing.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Decision Making; Elementary Secondary Education; *Eligibility; *Gifted; Intelligence Tests; *Labeling (of Persons); Parent Attitudes; Parent Student Relationship; Student Placement; *Talent Identification; Test Interpretation

EJ496251 EC610126
Identifying Young, Potentially Gifted, Economically Disadvantaged Students.
Borland, James H.; Wright, Lisa
Gifted Child Quarterly, v38 n4 p164-71 Fall 1994
ISSN: 0016-9862
Language: English
Document Type: Journal Article (080); Project Description (141)
Journal Announcement: CIJMAY95
This paper describes procedures developed by Project Synergy, a federally funded project at Columbia University (New York) to identify economically disadvantaged, potentially gifted kindergarten students in urban schools. The procedures emphasize site-appropriate methods, observation, dynamic assessment, and the concept of best performance. It deemphasizes use of standardized tests.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; *Economically Disadvantaged; *Evaluation Methods; *Gifted; Kindergarten; Kindergarten Children; Primary Education; Student Evaluation; Urban Education
Identifiers: Columbia University NY; Project SYNERGY

EJ486474 EC609070
Portfolio Assessment: A Key to Identifying Hidden Talents and Empowering Teachers of Young Children.
Coleman, Laurence J.
Gifted Child Quarterly, v38 n2 p65-69 1994
Special Issue: Javits Grant Projects
ISSN: 0016-9862
Language: English
Document Type: Journal Article (080); Project Description (141)
Journal Announcement: CIJNOV94
Early Assessment for Exceptional Potential of Young Minority and/or Economically Disadvantaged Students is a project which used portfolio assessment to identify exceptional potential in primary-level children and develop instructional plans. The project determined universal identifiers of exceptional potential and taught teachers to recognize them by providing authentic examples of such behavior.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Demonstration Programs; Economically Disadvantaged; *Gifted; *Intervention; Minority Group Children; Models; *Portfolios (Background Materials); Primary Education; *Student Evaluation
Identifiers: *Early Identification; *Portfolio Performance Appraisal Systems

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