Gifted or Bright? How does a parent know? by: Brandy Metzger

parents and child

All children have gifts, but are all children gifted? According to the No Child Left Behind Act, “The term ‘gifted and talented’, when used with respect to students, children, or youth, means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities” (Title IX, Part A, Section 9101(22)) (Page 544).

So, how are parents to know whether or not their child is gifted or merely bright? Here are some characteristics, according to the Tennessee Association for the Gifted, that differentiate a bright child from a gifted child:

A bright child knows the answers, while a gifted child asks the questions.

A bright child has good ideas, while a gifted child has wild and silly ideas.

A bright child is interested, while a gifted child is highly curious.

A bright child answers the questions, while a gifted child discusses in detail and elaborates.

A bright child is in the top group, while a gifted child is beyond the group.

A bright child learns with ease, while a gifted child already knows.

A bright child completes assignments, while a gifted child initiates projects.

A bright child enjoys school, while a gifted child enjoys learning.

A bright child is pleased with his own learning, while a gifted child is highly self-critical. (Tennessee Association for the Gifted)

These characteristics are some indication of the differences between bright and gifted children. Many children are scholarly students who score in the top percentile on standardized tests, but this does not mean they need to be placed in special programs, skip grades or be given harder coursework. Students who consistently work above grade level, score well on aptitude tests, are interested in learning and are self-motivated may qualify as gifted. These are the students who would benefit from additional support services.

Brandy Metzger is a licensed teacher; she has an Elementary certification with add on licensure in K-6 gifted education.


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