Thinking Ahead

Do you recognise some of these traits in your child?

Very curious

Highly sensitive

Walked and/or talked early

Have an unusual sense of humour

An early and/or extensive interest in books

Do they make unusual connections between topics

Very self motivated, perfectionistic or persistent

If your child exhibits a number of these characteristics, they are likely to be functioning at a level above their age peers.

If you recognise some of these in your child, you may want to look at the following characteristics of learning and behaviour.

Please remember that children will not show ALL of these characteristics.

Learning and behavioural characteristics common to gifted and talented students


learns rapidly, understands advanced topics easily
persists in completing tasks
sees the problem quickly and takes the initiative, shows insight and fantasises about cause-effect relationships;
learns basic skills quickly and with little practice;
is reluctant to practise skills already mastered, finding such practice futile; follows complex directions easily;
constructs and handles high levels of abstraction;
can cope with more than one idea at a time.;
has strong critical thinking skills and is self-critical;
has surprising perception and deep insight;
is a keen and alert observer, notes detail and is quick to see similarities and differences
displays intellectual and physical restlessness; once encouraged, is seldom a passive learner
has a remarkable range of general (or specialised) knowledge in one or more areas
possesses extensive general knowledge (often knows more than the teacher) and finds classroom books superficial
explores wide-ranging and special interests, frequently at great depth
learns to read early and retains what is read; can recall in detail
has advanced understanding and use of language, but sometimes hesitates as the correct word is searched for and then used
asks many provocative, searching questions which tend to be unlike those asked by other students of the same age
can ask unusual (even awkward) questions or make unusual contributions to class discussions
demonstrates a richness of imagery in informal language and brainstorming
has exceptional curiosity and constantly wants to know the reasons why
displays intellectual playfulness; fantasises and imagines; is quick to see connections and manipulate ideas
often sees unusual, rather than conventional, relationships
can produce original and imaginative work, even if defective in technical accuracy (e.g. poor spelling and/or handwriting)
wants to debate topics at greater depth
mental speed is faster than writing ability, so is often reluctant to write at length


sets very high personal standards, is a perfectionist
is success-oriented and hesitates to try something where failure is a possibility
demonstrates a sense of humour and loves incongruities, puns and pranks
may be behind peers in manual dexterity, which can be a source of frustration
can have a negative self-concept and suffer from poor social acceptance by age peers
daydreams and seems lost in another world
often prefers company of older students and adults
listens to only part of the explanation and sometimes appears to lack concentration, but always knows what is going on – when questioned usually knows the answer when interested, becomes absorbed for long periods and may be impatient with interference or abrupt change;
can be stubborn in own beliefs
hows sensitivity and reacts strongly to things causing distress or injustice;
empathises with others and often takes a leadership role; very understanding and sympathetic.
shows unusual interest in adult problems such as important issues in current affairs (local and world), evolution, justice, the universe, etc.

 adapted from Exceptionally Able Children, 1997, rev. ed., Education Dept. of W.A., East Perth (p. 12)

Thinking Ahead Extension Workshops  Mail address:  3/37 Preston St Como WA 6152