FAQ: What is Giftedness and Learning Differences?

What is Giftedness?


“Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains, include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g. mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g. painting, dance, sports).”

National Association for Gifted Children, US

Common intelligence modalities include:

  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: Strong in athletics, dancing, acting, crafting, mechanical work, etc.
  • Interpersonal: Good at sensing people’s feelings and wants, organizing, communicating, resolving conflicts
  • Intrapersonal: Well understanding self, recognizing strengths and weaknesses, setting goals and obtain them
  • Logical-Mathematical: Strong in mathematics, reasoning, problem solving
  • Musical: Strong in discerning sounds, pitch, tone, rhythm, and timbre
  • Naturalistic: Good at understanding living things and reading nature
  • Verbal-Linguistic: Strong in reading, writing, story-telling, thinking in words
  • Visual-Spatial: Strong in imagination, visualizing the world in 3-dimension

Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner 

What is Learning Differences (LD)?


Students with Learning Differences (a.k.a. Special Educational Needs) learn differently when compare with their typical developing peers. They may express learning difficulty while adopting the normative teaching-and-learning style, such as lecturing.

“A child has Special Educational Needs if he has a learning difficulty and has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of his age, that prevents or hinders him from making use of educational facilities.”

Common presenting symptoms include:

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Specific Language Impairments (SLI)
  • Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), including Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia

Department of Education, UK

What do they need?


  • Coaches/ adult role models who are aware of their asynchronous psychosocial development
  • Close supervision and guidance
  • Caring school environment and adequate peer support
  • Comprehensive and specialized career development plans


What do overseas institutions offer?


Specialized teaching and guidance given by qualified and experienced teachers 

As Gifted/SEN students possess different learning mechanisms, overseas institutions offer various teaching methods to accommodate the students’ needs, such as Curriculum Compacting and Inquiry-based Learning for Gifted students, and Multi-Sensory Learning, Experiential Learning, Orton-Gillingham Approach in Language Learning for SEN students. By strengthening the association between knowledge and experience, they enable students to learn rigorously and efficiently.

Small class size

With only a class size of 6-12, teachers are able to cater students in a more comprehensive manner, which contributes towards a close teacher-student bonding. As teachers are more aware of students’ learning style and their line of reasoning, they can therefore adjust the teaching progress and education plan spontaneously. The unique learning environment also enables students to ask questions confidently and internalize their motivation to learn new knowledge.

Caring and Supportive School Environment

The extensive academic support (such as 1-on-1 tutoring during study hall) improves students’ learning efficiency and self confidence, and they are empowered to exceed themselves to find the exceeding self. Moreover, the caring and supportive school environment enables students to practice social skills and build up lifelong friendships. Moreover, personal growth is also promoted by enhancing students’ survival skills for living independently in adulthood.

Comprehensive and specialized career development plan

Overseas institutions offer tailor-made education plans in different learning stages. In addition, the inter- connection between schools enable students to find their best fit in the later stage of learning.