Could your child be gifted?

Boy looking through a magnifying glass
You might suspect that your child is particularly talented if they are very good at academic subjects or if they excel at sports or show musical skill. So how do you know if your child is actually gifted – or just bright?

Every child is special and each has their own set of strengths – but some children stand out from the crowd and show exceptional skills, reaching developmental milestones way before other children their age.

“A bright but normal child will probably be above average in the classroom in all or a few of their subjects,” says psychologist Professor Joan Freeman, who specialises in gifted children. “A gifted child has a certain quality – perhaps curiosity, a keen desire in creative work, a dedication to a subject of their choice, or maybe a powerful laser-like intelligence – which is obvious.”

There isn’t a set of government standards that your child has to meet to be considered gifted. “Over recent years the Government has asked English schools to look at the top 5–10 per cent of the class or year group and add these students onto a gifted and talented register,” says Julie Taplin, of Potential Plus UK, the operating name of the National Association for Gifted Children.

The Department for Education (DfE) has produced the following list to help teachers, parents and carers. A gifted and talented child may:

  • Be a good reader
  • Be very articulate or verbally fluent for their age
  • Give quick verbal responses (which can appear cheeky)
  • Have a wide general knowledge
  • Learn quickly
  • Be interested in topics which one might associate with an older child
  • Communicate well with adults – often better than with their peer group
  • Have a range of interests, some of which are almost obsessions
  • Show unusual and original responses to problem-solving activities
  • Prefer verbal to written activities
  • Be logical
  • Be self-taught in their own interest areas
  • Have an ability to work things out in their head very quickly
  • Have a good memory that they can access easily
  • Be artistic
  • Be musical
  • Excel at sport
  • Have strong views and opinions
  • Have a lively and original imagination/sense of humour
  • Be very sensitive and aware
  • Focus on their own interests rather than on what is being taught
  • Be socially adept
  • Appear arrogant or socially inept
  • Be easily bored by what they perceive as routine tasks
  • Show a strong sense of leadership
  • Not necessarily be well-behaved or well-liked by others