Primary Students’ Behaviors Worthy of Additional Consideration

Primary Students’ Behaviors to Overlook

Family-related Circumstances

  • Poor physical appearance (e.g., lacking personal hygiene skills)
  • Free/reduced lunch status
  • Parents with low expectations, negative school behaviors, little to no involvement in the child’s education
  • Excessive tardies, absences, relocations
  • Sibling performance that may differ from the current student (birth order)
  • Lack of eye contact

School Readiness

  • Degree of school readiness (e.g., degree to which child understands procedures, follows directions)
  • Current levels of achievement in academic areas
  • Acquired math algorithms, extent of vocabulary, reading level, IQ score
  • Degree of proficiency with English language
  • Non-standard language, syntax, grammar
  • No known preschool experiences

Masking Behaviors

  • Avoids specific work tasks that may be repetitive or predictable
  • Non-conformity with expected routines, social conventions, or behavioral expectations
  • Behavior that seems like disinterest or boredom

Negative Behaviors

  • Behavior that seems like challenging authority
  • Defiance
  • Physical response to anger or frustration (e.g., tantrums)
  • Argumentative
  • Does not seek teacher affirmation (may seek negative teacher responses)

Primary Students’ Behaviors to Look for

Socially Adaptive Behaviors

  • Quickly navigates varying social situations and/or peer groups
  • Ability to negotiate verbally and/or socially to his/her own advantage
  • Demonstrates willingness to try new tasks
  • Seeks social contacts for support, is able to be comforted by adults and peers
  • Demonstrates low social inhibition
  • Demonstrates low negative emotionality (approaches tasks intellectually versus emotionally)

Creative Thinking

  • Asks unusual questions, makes unusual comments (sees the world in unique ways)
  • Uses metaphoric, analogic, symbolic thinking
  • Seeks alternative ways to accomplish tasks (e.g., "Could I do this instead?")
  • Wants to explore all options for a task before beginning work (e.g., "What if . . .")

Detail Orientation

  • Advanced fine motor skills
  • Demonstrates precision with details in academic or social contexts
  • Demonstrates heightened memory skills

Abstract/Global Thinking

  • Thoughtful responses beyond the literal, fact-level response to reveal a wider view of the scenario
  • Demonstrates ability to put events or emotions into larger context with a high degree of insight
  • Seems wise beyond the chronological years

Skills of Inquiry

  • Rapid skill acquisition
  • Rapidly English language acquisition
  • Demonstrated areas of interest (particularly in areas beyond the grade-level academic topics or in nonacademic areas)
  • Seems to thrive on challenges
  • Demonstrates high task commitment and persistence with tasks
  • Persistent questioning
  • Demonstrates active learning behaviors (rather than passive participation)

The work reported herein was supported under the Educational Research and Development Centers Program, PR/Award Number R206R000001- 05, as administered by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. The findings and opinions expressed in this report do not reflect the position or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences or the U.S. Department of Education. This document has been reproduced with the permission of The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.