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Gifted and Talented Children

Identification Of Gifted Children, Family Relationships, How Families Foster Talent Development, Educational Responses

Gifted children comprise a minority of the population, although not such a small minority as is sometimes thought. Internationally, the most widely used definition of giftedness and talent is that of Françoys Gagné of Quebec. Gagné (1985, 2000) defines gifted children as those who have high levels of innate ability, in any domain of human ability, that places them within the top 10 percent of their age-peers—even if their high potential is not yet being demonstrated as high performance. Talented children, by contrast, are those whose abilities have already been translated into achievements, and who are currently performing at a level that places them within the top 10 percent of their age-peers. Gifts are natural abilities whereas talents are systematically developed skills.

Giftedness is not an automatic guarantee of success. A range of environmental variables affect talent development, such as parental encouragement, family relationships, the provisions the child's school makes, or fails to make, to develop his or her gifts into talents, and even the social ethos of the community that can dictate that talents are valued and, therefore, which programs of talent development will be established or funded.

Encouragement and assistance from home and school are essential if gifted children are to develop as talented, but the children themselves must maintain their motivation to succeed. Children, no matter how gifted, will not achieve high levels of talent unless they are prepared to work and study to develop their abilities. A child may be gifted in any domain of ability, intellectual, creative, physical, or social. However, although talent in music, sports, or athletics is valued and actively sought and fostered in many cultures, high intellectual ability is often undervalued (Gross 1999). This can affect how gifted children come to view, or value, their gifts.

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