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Bright vs Gifted Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Hi, I hope this is a type of question you don't mind answering. Many people tell me that my daughter is gifted. I know that my daughter is advanced and anyone can see how intelligent she is. But is she gifted? What would make her gifted instead of just smart?

Here's a little about her: as a baby she always had to be doing something, I found she was bored easily. She crawled and walked at a normal age. Crawling at about 8 months and waking at 11. She has just seemed to grasp everything for as long as I can remember. She knew colors, shapes, body parts, common animals and other things by 18 months. Now at 2 1/2 her encyclopedic knowledge is massive. She knows all letters (lower and upper case) and their sounds.

She is starting to read whole words and using some phonics too. She knows a lot of signs. She would know more but I have been trying to teach myself as well. It's hard to teach something you don't know. Lol.

She understands the concept of math very well. We were in Iowes the other day adding and subtracting caution cones. Up to 6. She can speak very well. Most people have no problem understanding her. She has a massive vocabulary and she can hold a conversation with any adult. She has a wonderful imagination. And was ready for imaginary play toys way sooner than the other kids her age I know of. She has a wonderful memory and even talks about when I was pregnant, my baby is now 6 months. So there is a brief description.

I am just wondering what you think. Hope I wasn't out of line by contacting you just to see what you think.

A: As parents, you are in the best position to determine if your child is gifted. I am sure you have seen the various checklists available and are aware of what makes giftedness. From your brief description and her age, I believe that your girl may be gifted. You are already doing the right thing by being aware of her gifts and hopefully giving her what she needs to cater for her needs.

Briefly, some of the characteristics of a gifted 2-5 year old are (from the U.S. Office of Gifted and Talented)

Uses advanced vocabulary for age.
Uses spontaneous verbal elaboration with new experiences.
Has the ability to make interesting or unusual shapes or patterns through various media: blocks, play dough, crayons.
Ability to assemble puzzles designed for older children.
Sense of humor used in general conversation.
Understanding of abstract concepts such as death and time.
Mastery of new skills with little repetition.
Demonstration of advanced physical skills.
Demonstration of advanced reasoning skills through explanation of occurrences.

Keep monitoring her advances in the above to give her the proper stimulation based on her developmental milestone.
As for being bright vs gifted, it is a little hard to determine at this stage, but the fine differences can be seen more clearly when they are older. See the table below:

Comparison of Bright Vs Gifted:

Bright Child Gifted Child
Knows the answers Asks the questions
Answers questions Questions the answers
Interested Extremely curious
Pay attention Gets involved physically and mentally
Works hard Plays around, still gets good scores
Enjoys same-age children Prefers adults or older peers
Good at memorization Good at guessing
Learns easily Bored. Already knew the answers
Listens well Shows strong feelings and opinions
Self-satisfied Highly critical of self (perfectionist)

Source: Janice Szabos as quoted in "The Gifted and Talented Child," Maryland Council for Gifted & Talented Children, Inc. P.O. Box 12221, Silver Spring, MD 20908

Please read the previous posts for more on how to nurture your little girl. She needs good guidance to expose her to learning materials that can help her develop further and stimulate her. However, make sure you are not pushing her. Let her develop her gifts with some help from you as naturally as possible. Expose her to a variety of activities to challenge her and find her passion area.

Keep monitoring her progress and allow lots of free play activities since she appears to have a great imagination which helps in creativity. At the same time, help her develop her social skills as well. Whatever you do, regardless of whether she is gifted or bright, all she needs is a lot of love and some help to develop her potential. The internet is a great source of information so keep reading to build awareness and understanding to help your child. Good luck!


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