Tessellations – The Beneventi School

Defining Giftedness


Cognitive complexity, emotional sensitivity, heightened imagination, and magnified sensations combine to create a different quality of experiencing.

– Michael Piechowski

How We Define Giftedness at Tessellations

Giftedness has often been confused with high achievement, with success being the primary identifier of a gifted child.

At Tessellations, we define giftedness as an innate intellectual capacity characterized by emotional sensitivity and intensity that affects every aspect of a student’s life. It is a unique inner experience, a different way of engaging with the world. We embrace the term “gifted” and align with the Columbus Group Definition (1991):

Giftedness is ‘asynchronous development’ in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.

Tessellations was founded on the belief that children of high intellectual and creative potential are well served in a program that is challenging, engaging, and responsive to their innate love of learning.


Gifted children are inquisitive and seek to understand the world around them at greater depths than the typical child their age. They are drawn to activities that require abstract and complex thought. They tend to retain information in richer detail and use that information to make meaningful connections between topics. They can be both highly focused and easily distracted.

Gifted children are not intrinsically motivated by good grades; they are more passionate about the acquisition of knowledge than performing rote tasks. The gifted child is wonderfully complex—and we understand and celebrate that complexity at Tessellations.

Asynchronous Development

Gifted children don’t develop in a linear, synchronous way. They often develop asynchronously or “out of sync,” both internally and in relation to their peers. Their rate of cognitive development can be more accelerated than their physical, social, and emotional development. For instance, a child may be able intellectually to understand abstract concepts but unable to deal with those concepts emotionally. Parents often speak of their gifted child embodying many ages at once, going from an “old soul” to an emotional 3-year-old in a matter of minutes.