Gifted Kids – Six Types

When someone says “gifted child”, a picture springs to most people’s minds of a child who always does well in school, who finds all topics easy to understand – a dream student. It did for me. I attended a talk a while back that shattered this misconception.

Giftedness is about potential, not results. Everyone has some potential, and a person who doesn’t achieve their potential is a picture of tragedy – the more so if they are gifted. As Terry Pratchett put it in “Moving Pictures

You know what the greatest tragedy is in the whole world?… It’s all the people who never find out what it is they really want to do or what it is they’re really good at. It’s all the sons who become blacksmiths because their fathers were blacksmiths. It’s all the people who could be really fantastic flute players who grow old and die without ever seeing a musical instrument, so they become bad plowmen instead. It’s all the people with talents who never even find out

A gifted child is a child with talent. It is no more guaranteed that they will find out what those talents are than it is for anyone else.

In the talk, the speaker described six types of gifted child.

The “Successful”

The “successful” is the child we usually think of when we think of giftedness. They aim to please the teacher, they do well. Unfortunately, they are also perfectionist, self-critical, and tend not to want to take risks.

The “Creative”

The “creative” gifted child is a creative individual. Full of new ideas. They tend to question everything – including the teacher’s authority! This means they can sometimes be disruptive. They’ll work hard and succeed well – if they are interested.

The “Underground”

This gifted child has learned at some point that to fit in, they need to hide their talents. They work very hard to make sure nobody knows they are good at things. This means, of course, they can be very hard to spot!

The “At-Risk”

The gifted child in this category tends to be very self-critical. They may lose interest in school work, and begin to underachieve. It may be a big surprise to everyone when a standardized test points to this child and says “gifted”. However, giftedness is about potential, and potential does not automatically produce results.

The “Autonomous Learner”

This child does well, enjoys challenges, and takes risks – but only if they want to. They are an autonomous learner, which means they like to decide for themselves what, how and when to learn. It also means they are good at it.

The “Twice Exceptional”

It is quite possible for a gifted child to have a learning disability. There’s nothing in the laws of human nature, for example, that says a high IQ child can’t also suffer from, say, dyslexia or ADHD. For the “twice-exceptional” child, the challenge of bringing out the best in them also means managing their other condition.

At the talk, they also described how they identify gifted students – essentially, they use two quite different types of IQ test, and anyone scoring in the top 2% of either is deemed ‘gifted’. These kids are given the opportunity to do various extra courses on interesting topics, run by teachers who know that their job is to make the course challenging and fun for really bright kids.

It was also mentioned that gifted kids tend to have a strong sense of justice, can be sensitive and emotional, and prefer the company of their intellectual peers, and that the key to gaining the respect of a gifted child is to treat them with respect.