Each state defines giftedness in a different way. Most definitions have to do with advanced academic achievement or potential.
The enotes reference page defines giftedness as “above-average intellectual or creative ability, or talent in a particular area, such as music, art, or athletics” (see first link).
A gifted child (or person) looks at the world differently. Giftedness is most easily defined as a series of traits. One trait is divergent thinking, or the ability to see something in a new way.
Gifted kids do not always achieve higher academically than other kids. They usually have the potential to do some. Some kids are gifted in only one area, such as math or literature. There is also duel exceptionality, which means that a child is gifted in one area but has a learning disability or mental illness as well.
One of the problems with meeting the needs of gifted kids is that every state defines giftedness differently, and there is usually an identification process which varies from state to state and sometimes school district to school district.
In my state, California, school districts get to basically define giftedness as they’d like, but this is the state’s definition of giftedness.
A pupil demonstrates extraordinary or potential for extraordinary intellectual development. (see second link)
You can read about each state’s definition of giftedness at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development’s web site here: http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/state_policy_california_10005.aspx
How do you know if a child is gifted? Some traits of giftedness already mentioned are divergent thinking, and advanced academic achievement. However, children can also be gifted in terms of creativity, artistic or musical ability, athletic ability, or leadership.