Ruf Estimates of Levels of Giftedness: Part I

Deborah Ruf, PhD
12 min readNov 14, 2023

An Introduction to the Concept of Levels of Giftedness

I originally published a version of this paper in 2004 before my first book was released. That book was called 5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options and formerly titled Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind). Through my own experiences reading Substack posts, and whatever I read before that, I’ve learned I don’t really want to read each one every day and I really don’t want it to be too long. So, I’ve divided this piece into Parts I and II (November 2023). This Introduction pertains to the whole paper. Part II will focus on the actual milestones and early behaviors and interests of the gifted children at each level. Keep in mind, just like standardized testing, there are no real cut-offs or absolutes. Also, schools and their approaches to meeting the needs of their students have not appreciatively changed since I wrote my first book.

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Introduction

Any parent who has more than one child knows that regardless of the way they parent or what they provide for their children, the children are different from one another in many, many ways. Although certain characteristics certainly run in families, the looks, temperaments, abilities, talents and interests of each child are usually at least somewhat dissimilar between them. Even our school systems acknowledge that children vary in their learning abilities; but at the same time that we recognize that children are different from one another, we set up school instructional and social situations that treat them as though any differences are either small or nonexistent. The problem may be that there is little or no understanding in schools of how vast the learning differences are.

The customary method of grouping children for instruction in schools is heterogeneous (mixed ability) grouping and “whole class” instruction. Despite considerable evidence that the achievement span among children of the same age can be — and usually is — quite significant[1], children are almost always strictly grouped with others who are the same age as they. The intellectual differences between children of the same age…

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Deborah Ruf, PhD

High Intelligence Specialist & Writer, Dr. Ruf writes about highly intelligent people from birth to very old age. www.fivelevelsofgifted.com