with a sophisticated vocabulary (The sand in the sandbox is really arid today). The
exceptionally bright child might also be the one who bites or hits for what
seems like no reason, the one who uses classroom materials inappropriately
(I wanted to see what would happen if I glued the blocks together), or the one who
seems to live in his own dream world, never making a friend or even having a
conversation with other children. The exceptionally bright child might also be
the child who meticulously follows every school rule and carefully watches her
teachers’ faces for nonverbal clues about how to best please the adults in her life.
While the characteristics and behaviors of exceptionally bright children
can vary widely, at the core these are the children with an unusual ability
to focus on the tasks and topics that
capture their interests. They are chil-
dren with an advanced ability to use
language, solve math problems, or
understand science concepts, or chil-
dren who are especially creative and
seem to be able to make connections
between ideas that are not obviously
related. The term “exceptionally
bright” also applies to children who
have already mastered all or most of
the learning outcomes of your stan-
dard curriculum or who have passed
most of the developmental bench-
marks well in advance of the target
This illustration demonstrates the level of detail and complexity in the work of
time line for their age. An exception-
exceptionally bright young children.
ally bright child might seem smart in
a traditional academic sense, like the five-year-old who enjoys reading the
dictionary. Teachers must also be open to the possibility that an exceptionally
bright child might reveal his talents in surprising and unconventional ways.
The child who is able to mimic his teachers with startling and unnerving
accuracy or the one who spends an hour stacking buttons into careful piles,
using a sorting system that only he seems to understand—these are also chil-
dren with exceptional talents and abilities.
Meeting Their Full Potential
The purpose of this book is to guide teachers and caregivers in their efforts to
challenge exceptionally bright children to help them reach their full potential.
2 | Introduction