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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 when 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.


  • 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.


  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. my son is 2 and is reading. who do i contact about this?

    1. That’s amazing! Take note of this and mention to the pediatrician. Continue to provide him with a stimulating environment that includes learning to read, identifying colors, shapes, and words. Also, continue to provide him with ample amount of social interactions with kids his age so he can play and develop pretend play, taking perspective of others, etc. As he nears the age of 5, as Dr. Anderson stated and if your school district has a gifted Kindergarten class, you can have him tested for giftedness.

  2. Only about 5 percent of kids can be considered gifted, according to educators. Even fewer rate as actual geniuses.

  3. Can you please explain to me why I had an extreme amount of difficulty in school, yet I have an IQ of 158?

  4. Interesting….I wonder how my youngest will turn out. He’s very smart for his age I think.

  5. My son exhibits some of these traits but I guess we’ll wait to see if he really is gifted. 🙂

  6. Due to the fact my son just turned 2 i can not say he is doing all that. But he does know his entire ABCs , can count to 13, has been speaking since less than a year and even at 18 mo was knocking on doors saying open the doof, or naming our whole household. He even knew how to get to everyones room when he was crawling. Now i know everyone thinks their child is a genius but is he? I wonder. Oh yeah and he knows most of his shapes including the star heart and diamond. We are working on colors now, and he knows all of his body parts, difference between hot and cold, what hurts and he remembers these 2 girls he hasnt seen in almost 3 months . Can sing the whole mickey mouse song and name all the characters and know what he wants in the refrigerator (he calls it that too)

  7. My eldest who is now 7 started speaking at the age of 2 months old(2 syllables) which I know is so early for her age. She started walking at the age of 10 months without assistance. Back then I was still monetarily capable she started schooling in an international school at the age of 6 months here in the Philippines. But then tragedy came and I lost my husband, I then transferred her to a normal private school which is a Montessori, but as I can see with our educational system here in the Philippines, they don’t really have a good supportive system for the psychological tests and intellectual development for genius children, though we only have one place here in University of the Philippines but it is so far from where we live. What can I do as a Parent and as a Health Practitioner to continuously hone and avoid boredom for my kid? She performs well in school by always being on the Top students though she doesn’t really study and always play, doesn’t have notes on her notebook but yet manages to get high grades or even perfect the exam. I told the school if she could jump a level because she’s starting to get bored, but then they answered me that it’s very difficult to process and there are a lot of papers needed to be submitted to the department of education regulated by the government and it’s a very long process, might take years. I’m planning to migrate in the USA in two years time to further evaluate my child and get proper education for her future, I know it wouldn’t be hard for her since she can speak english fluently though that is just our second language, oh! by the way, she can also speak spanish. Can you help me out on what can I further do?

  8. Is this kid a genius? I’ve seen a lot of videos but this one stands out to me. I’m wondering if a 2 year old spelling “gorilla, monkey, chameleon, hippopotamus, crocodile, elephant, polar bear, bear, lion, whale” in less than 1 minute, would indicate a genius-level IQ: or just use /watch?v=qmO0Zp8ax68 on youtube.

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

  10. 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?

    1. Your description of your son reminds me a lot of my daughter. She will be three in October. She recognized all letters by 18 months. Can count to 30, can name animals, talks very well, etc. People say she’s so smart but I still wasn’t sure if she were average because I have no other three year olds to compare her too. It’ll be interesting to find out where our kids are when they are five!

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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