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Take Aways

  • About 3 million U.S. kids in grades K-12 are considered gifted.
  • Advocacy organizations for gifted children have checklists that describe the common traits of gifted kids.
  • Signs of early giftedness include intellectual curiosity, unusual memories, and early speaking and reading development.
  • Gifted kids sometimes feel disconnected to other children; social and emotional growth is just as important to a child’s development.

Did your daughter skip her ABCs and go straight to reading full sentences? Does your son play Chopin on the piano instead of “chopsticks?” Must be time to call Mensa.

According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), about 6 percent of the student population in the United States is academically gifted. That’s approximately 3 million US kids in grades K-12.

How can you tell if your child is really ahead of the curve? Organizations like NAGC and the American Association of Gifted Children at Duke University say there are common traits to look for in areas like language, emotional/social skills, and intelligence. Here are some signs of early giftedness:

  1. Your child speaks at a very early age and has a large vocabulary. Speaking not only in advanced phrases but also in complete sentences early on is typical.
  2. Your child is an early reader with a preference for advanced topics. Forget Harold and the Purple Crayon. Your child is reading at several levels above the typical age group and would prefer a book on art history.
  3. Unique hobbies and interests fascinate very bright children. Gifted kids usually have a very detailed knowledge of certain subjects. They’d rather discuss bird watching than Big Bird. And they’d rather discuss it with adults, not kids.
  4. A quick capacity for learning and retention combined with an intellectual curiosity make your baby Einstein an original thinker with strong reasoning skills.
  5. Extremely bright children have long attention spans with a high energy level. They have unusual memories and enjoy numbers, puzzles, and mazes. They also tend to be perfectionists.

If you notice more than one or two of these characteristics in your child, consider having an assessment performed by an educational psychologist or child development expert. The testing can assess problem-solving skills, language, math, and non-verbal and spatial capabilities.

Remember that being labeled as “gifted,” which is typically determined by IQ scores and the label may change from state to state, can sometimes make a child feel different and uncomfortable interacting with kid peers. Social and emotional growth is just as important as a child’s intellectual development. By introducing them to other interests like sports, art, or music, you help to balance their overall well-being.

Got something to say? Join the discussion on gifted children in the Bundoo Community.


  1. National Association for Gifted Children.
  2. American Association for Gifted Children at Duke University.
  3. Mensa. Characteristics of giftedness.
  4. National Society for the Gifted and Talented.

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  1. Sounds like my daughter’s a genius! (Wait, I bet every parent who reads this says the same thing!)

  2. So at what age would it make the most sense to test your child?

    1. Hi Jen,
      That is a great question! If you see some traits, think it may benefit them to have a gifted placement, and your school offers an appropriate program then you may want to consider having your child evaluated prior to the start of school. There is some controversy of testing children at too young of an age but many school districts have gifted programs starting in Kindergarten. You want the evaluation to be done as close to the start of Kindergarten as possible. Around here “Kindergarten Round Up” is typically in April. That is when you can register your child for the upcoming school year. In this case the evaluation should be done in late February or March to have everything ready to take to the school when you register your child. If you are not sure and do not have an evaluation done do not worry, it is not too late. If your child’s teacher recognizes these traits they will likely let you know and it is possible to have your child tested through the school system (your tax dollars pay for it). In this case you can still go for a private evaluation or go with the school psychologist. Many gifted children are not identified until after the start of their academic career.

  3. My daughter strongly matches all five of these. In kinder she passed the test leading to and including entering the 4th grade. She is tall, beautiful inside and out, and our biggest fear for her is becoming bored and losing interest at school. She has always had a natural ability for language and loves science and math.

    1. The fear of boredom is a valid one. Keep in mind that the classroom has to meet the needs of many children and it is not feasible to completely tailor lesson plans to fully meet the needs of each individual student. Parents can help enrich their child’s education by helping them engage and integrate what they are learning in the classroom with personal interests. This could take some creative thought based on your child’s interests, but it can certainly help foster and develop her interests in the classroom and out.

  4. My son is turning 3 in Jan and his vocabulary is like an adult. He has never been “taught” anything such as walking, going potty, reading, ect…. He simply asks my why once- I have learned from a psychologist to explain an answer to him logically and not simple. If I do not know the answer we will google it. My fear is there is a very fine line between genius and Very High functioning Autism. Noah (my son) has the traits of genius but also when he is in his own world he will do non typical things like line up dixie cups through out the house and fill them up with water or stack the toilet paper as high as he can for an hour. He is VERY social when it comes to adults or older kids but not to kids his own age. Also, if he approaches someone he is fine but if some one approaches him then he turned very mean and yells and cries and tells them to get away. But if you put him in a room full of ladies – he is a social butterfly. -confused *oh, watch out for your phone- he will hack into! lol

  5. This was very interesting to read! My daughter is not Mensa-smart but she is already in the Talented and Gifted program and she is a kindergartner.

  6. My son is not even 3 and can count to 15 in English and Spanish can name almost any animal he sees and has to do 3 shape puzzles next to each other not 1 has to be 3 otherwise he will get the other ones to make it 3. I’ve never thought about him being a genius until reading this he is extremely hyper and for some reason every time my husband is doing repairs on things he has to do it to and help should I get him tested?

  7. We all think our kids are geniuses at some point.