“One of our society’s greatest deficits is in failing to honor the gifts in ourselves and each other.”
- Anonymous

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What is “Bright?”

Asian girl painting flower vase on canvas painting.

When the word “gifted” is mentioned, for most people, it summons images of intellectual geniuses who enter college at the age of 14. This scenario actually represents only a small percentage of the gifted population. There are many children who never meet the educational definition of “giftedness” for a variety of reasons, but demonstrate an exceptional ability in one or more areas. We have chosen to use the word “bright” in order to encompass all areas of giftedness.

Bright children can be found across genders and in all cultures and socioeconomic groups.  In his book, Frames of Mind. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983)Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Howard Gardner, identified the following 9 areas of intelligence, most of which are not measured on IQ tests.

  1. Nature
  2. Music
  3. Numbers/reasoning
  4. Existential/spiritual
  5. People
  6. Body/athletics
  7. Language
  8. Personal Insight
  9. Picture/visual art

Being bright is more about how one experiences the world than about his/her IQ. To use author Judy Galbraith’s words, “Giftedness is a set of inborn traits that allow you to experience the world with greater depth and increased awareness and sensitivity… it is not linked directly to academic achievement or life success, but to the inner workings of your mind.”


Passion for learning Intense Perfectionistic Compassionate
Questions authority Heightened sensitivity to taste, sound, sight, smell & touch Difficulty managing emotions Concerned with justice and fairness
Keen sense of humor Exceptional reasoning ability Highly developed curiosity Creative
Asynchronous development (uneven development) of different domains i.e. intellectual vs. emotional Insightful Complex thought processes Early moral concern
Fear of failure Need for mental stimulation Asks probing questions Preoccupation with inner thoughts and experiences
Heightened sensitivity to the energy of others Wide range of interests Innovative problem solving Vivid imagination
Values authenticity Idealistic Heightened awareness Searches for meaning

These characteristics are gifts, but at times they can be very painful. It is important for bright children to learn tools to manage their perfectionism, frustration, emotions and fear of failure so that they are able to reach their full potential, whatever that may be.

Many bright children also meet the criteria for twice-exceptional. They have the above identified characteristics, but also have co-occurring differences in learning, attention, order, mood, sensitivity or emotion that pose additional challenges. 
To go to Challenges, click here

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