People who are gifted are usually defined as having an unusually advanced level of intellectual, artistic, or academic ability. Most people who are gifted are socially, emotionally, physically, and creatively successful. The most common diagnostic criterion is an IQ score of at least 130, accounting for two to four percent of the population. Someone with an IQ score between 130 and 145 is usually labeled as moderately gifted; 145-160, highly gifted; 160-180, exceptionally gifted; and over 180 profoundly gifted. However, people can be gifted in certain areas while not others, or have a learning disability. This makes it more difficult to identify certain people as being gifted.
Although people who are gifted vary in talents and abilities, most show several of these characteristics:
- Learn to read at an early age
- Have a large vocabulary
- Learn basic skills more thoroughly, more quickly, and with less practice
- Understand abstract concepts at a younger age
- Start interpreting clues, drawing inferences, and critically analyzing things at an early age
- Thrive on learning, problem-solving and/or creativity
- Are persistent
- Have long attention spans
- Have broad interests
- Ask many questions; are inquisitive
- Pay attention to detail
- Easily memorize and can quickly recall facts
- Are fluent yet flexible thinkers
Gifted individuals are usually fortunate in that they can readily adapt to any situation they are presented with. Their interests, ability, and motivation usually mean that they are self-starters and require little assistance, academically or otherwise.
Even without special programs, many gifted students will excel academically while developing their own interests and abilities. However, academic enrichment within a regular or segregated classroom can help develop gifted students' abilities. One form of this enrichment is subject-acceleration, where students progress at their own pace without regard to grade levels. Total academic acceleration allows students to advance through the grade levels at their own pace, matching students to the classrooms that are most appropriate in terms of their abilities. Project-based learning allows students to work on meaningful projects that enhance their learning while developing non-academic skills. Guided independent study allows students to explore their own academic interests independent of normal classroom constraints. Special classes and programs of study are often established, allowing schools to maintain a set curriculum while allowing students to pursue higher-level study in the subjects they excel in.
Although there are many alternatives available to gifted students, the main goal is to foster and encourage the students' emotional and cognitive development. Many gifted students are not challenged in a normal classroom environment, and enrichment is required to allow these students to reach their potential.
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