Is My Child Gifted?

Generally speaking, giftedness is defined by having a highly exceptional intellectual ability. Parents are often the first to recognize this ability in their children as well as teachers. However, parental aspirations for a child's success often lead parents to overestimate the actual potential of their children. While a child may be smarter than most kids, that alone does not indicate giftedness.

Dr. Linda Silverman developed the Characteristics of Giftedness Scale, which contains a widely accepted list of traits and/or skills that are common among highly intellectual children:

  • 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
  • Perseverant 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

While every gifted child will not possess all of these traits, if your child does manifest several of these characteristics it is possible that he/she is gifted. For more information on Dr. Silverman's Characteristics of Giftedness Scale, click here.

The only true way measure intellectual ability is through a professional IQ test (see the section What is IQ? for more information). Some parents are against IQ testing for fear that their children will either think too highly or lowly of themselves. However, the IQ score is a number. How that number is interpreted and its personal significance will determine each individual’s reaction.

68% of the population will score between 85 and 115, which is one standard deviation above or below the mean score. However, scoring higher or lower from the mean increases to rarity of the individual’s IQ. Generally speaking, a genius level IQ score would be two standard deviations above the mean score (or most average score), which is typically 100 for most IQ tests.

However, it is widely known today that intelligence isn't so easily categorized in real life as it is on paper. There are theories of multiple intelligences, such as EQ (emotional intelligence) or even an artistic or creative intelligence. Researchers are beginning to learn more about higher intelligence by developing IQ assessments that can adequately measure the ability of the highly intelligent. Dr. Deborah L. Ruf references 5 levels of giftedness in her article, "How Smart is my Child?"

Level I117 - 129
Level II125 - 135
Level III130 - 140
Level IV135 – 141+
Level V141+

In addition, Dr. Ruf provides an overall description of the skills and/or abilities of children at each level. Common characteristics among children at all five levels include speaking and reading at early ages, keen interest in certain topics, dissatisfaction with school, performing at a higher mental level than most children their age.

As mentioned before, the only sure way to know if your child's true intellectual capability is through a professional IQ assessment. However, there are other legitimate options available in the Parenting Resources section of this site in the subcategory, Resources for Home.