All information for this article is sourced from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).  There are many types of alternative education, including gifted education. While many parents want their child to be gifted, a gifted child often has unique struggles and challenges. So what exactly does it mean to be gifted? Read on to learn key traits of gifted children, as well as to learn exactly what being gifted means.

The Definition of Gifted

The current definition for giftedness varies from state to state, and even by county. However, the federal government has an established definition of giftedness that is the basis of many states’ definitions. The current definition of the word gifted, from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.”

Traits Of Giftedness

Generally, students have to take some sort of assessment to determine whether or not they are gifted. However, schools do not administer the tests to a broad student population. There are a few key traits that teachers and parents look for that, in conjunction with one another, indicate giftedness.


Gifted students oftentimes have a very strong moral compass, and a well-defined sense of justice and morals at a young age. Their ability to apply critical thinking, skepticism, and self-criticism is often well beyond their years. Additionally, they place high expectations on themselves and others.

This process often goes hand in hand with an independent spirit when it comes to both working and studying. Oftentimes, this maturity and independence leads to issues working with other people. Gifted children face a two-pronged issue in this situation. First, those students and people their own age oftentimes do not communicate well, which leads to frustration on both ends. On the other hand, advanced students who feels that other students aren’t living up to expectations will monopolize a project.

Ability To Think Outside Of the Box

Gifted students are often highly energetic and curious. An advanced child’s temper seems short towards themselves and others. However, in his or her area of passion, the student will excel and maintain bubbly excitement. They combine their critical-thinking skills and creativity to result in inventiveness and imagination. Parents generally view imagination as a good thing in a child. However, teachers often punish overly imaginative students.

Oftentimes, as a result of this imagination, many gifted children have imaginary companions. Additionally, they are also typically daydreamers who disappear into a vivid inner world. Unfortunately, many educators or parents perceive this trait as the child not paying attention due to willful ignorance. Their drive to do things differently also usually means that gifted children are excellent at creative games.


Many advanced students struggle with social and emotional issues beyond their years. Strict self-imposed guidelines and definitions of success leaf to a variety of issues. Conditions such as anxiety, perfectionism, stress, depression, and difficulty connecting socially are fairly common. While each child is different, the NAGC suggests that parents emphasize to students that mistakes and failures are acceptable.