In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gifted and Talented Children

  • Introduction
  • Definitions and Conceptions of Giftedness
  • Myths and Misconceptions
  • Characteristics of Gifted Children
  • Identification
  • Creativity
  • Curriculum Development and Curriculum Models
  • Instructional Strategies and Differentiated Instruction
  • Program Models and Service Delivery
  • Social and Emotional Needs
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
  • Twice-Exceptional Learners

Childhood Studies Gifted and Talented Children
Karen L. Westberg
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 November 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0242


Scholarship about gifted children is relatively recent when compared to other topics in education, but the existence of gifted children is not new. Curiosity about children with unique gifts and talents goes back thousands of years to early Chinese dynasties. It should be noted that the word gifted is often fraught with confusion and concern about what exactly is a gifted child and what terminology should be used. Whether we use the terms highly capable, high ability, gifted and talented, children of promise, high potential, or talented children, we have an intrinsic understanding of who we mean by “gifted children.” Nomenclature aside, when we speak about gifted children, most often we are referring to children who demonstrate advanced abilities or development and learn more quickly than their age-related peers. As indicated in the Definitions and Conceptions of Giftedness section of this chapter, there is no agreed-upon definition of giftedness. The study of gifted children and how to accommodate their cognitive and affective needs has increased in the past century, beginning when Lewis Terman began his study of children who scored in the top ranges of his test, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, a translation of Frenchman Albert Binet’s test. In the decades since, people have continued to debate what terminology should be used when referring to children who score well on cognitive measures, to determine the most salient characteristics and traits of these children, and to discuss the schooling most appropriate for them. The majority of the scholarship about gifted children and their education has occurred in the past forty-plus years. This is evidenced by the fact that the first issues of three major journals in the field were printed in 1978. Although not everyone would agree, it appears a paradigm shift in the field of gifted education is occurring, because we see more articles and research focused on a broadened conception of giftedness and discussions about intelligence not being a fixed trait. We see more discussions about using local norms rather than national norms on assessments used for identification. And we see more attention being devoted to recognizing and addressing the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse, gifted learners. The field of gifted education is evolving and readers should “stay tuned.”

General Overview

Scholarship in the field of gifted education has increased our understanding of the unique needs of gifted children and how to address their academic and affective needs. Brief introductions precede descriptions of the major Textbooks and Journals in the field. This is followed by brief overviews and annotations of publications in the following eleven categories: Definitions and Conceptions of Giftedness, Myths and Misconceptions, Characteristics of Gifted Children, Identification, Creativity, Curriculum Development and Curriculum Models, Instructional Strategies and Differentiated Instruction, Program Models and Service Delivery, Social and Emotional Needs, Cultural and Linguistic Diverse, and Twice-Exceptional Learners. The categories are not listed in alphabetical order, but in a recommended reading order to obtain a systematic and wide-ranging understanding about gifted children. With a few exceptions, the publications listed were published in the past twenty years; hence, the information and research is generally up-to-date and applicable for gaining a good understanding of the lives of gifted children today.

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