The Gifted Puzzle
In 2004 AAEGT undertook to produce support materials about giftedness for parents and teachers. A camp for gifted children and their families was held in New South Wales, which provided the venue for filming gifted children and talking with their families and teachers as well as AAEGT directors. Participants travelled from interstate to contribute to the DVD/Video whose contents are described below.
Copies of the DVD or video are obtainable from your State Association.
You can download the materials and links to support the DVD/Video.
Myths arise because, although accurate information on giftedness is available, it is not widely accessed. Other areas demand more attention because of the misconception that there are very few gifted children among us. As a result of inaccurate perceptions, giftedness is susceptible to stereotypes and myths are spread throughout the community. Parents cannot make a child gifted. Gifted children are not usually physically and emotionally undeveloped. Only in situations where they have no mental-age peers to relate to do they appear socially ill-adjusted. Their asynchrony (mental age well in advance of chronological age) means they are out-of-step and have special needs, particularly in education. Myths such as ‘gifted children should be compliant high achievers’ and ‘gifted children need no special educational provisions’ leave these children educationally disadvantaged. Gifted children should not be expected to complete regular class work before extension work is made available.
They remain the least understood and lowest funded special needs group in all educational settings. Absence of effective identification strategies in schools across the nation obscures the extent of giftedness among our population.
Parents play an important role in the identification of a gifted child, often being the first to realise their child is gifted. The identification process continues when the child begins school. In order to aid this process parents need to document their child’s achievements to date. This can be achieved by preparing a portfolio of the child’s drawings, titles of books they have read, stories they have written and any other relevant information including examples of any other activities the child participates in.
Parents can also support the identification process by keeping a record of the age at which their child reached the various developmental milestones. Once your child is at school a variety of identification tools ranging from Individual intelligence tests (IQ) such as a WISC IV to checklists, nomination forms and portfolios should be used. A team of professionals that may include people such as the school principal, classroom teacher and/or school counsellor and gifted and talented coordinator will consider this information. Communication between parents and the school community plays a vital role in the identification process.
In gifted education, acceleration means moving faster if you are a fast learner. Gifted children do not need extensive repetition for mastery of basics. For their well being, they need to proceed through their learning experiences at an individual pace. Acceleration includes strategies such as:
- curriculum acceleration within a year level
- curriculum compression or compaction
- subject acceleration
- grade or year skipping.
All of these may be needed for gifted children. Grade skipping alone can only serve as a temporary solution for a highly gifted child, and should be accompanied by extension in a differentiated curriculum. Successful acceleration depends on effective identification and ongoing support. The receiving teacher must have positive attitudes towards giftedness be willing to help the child adjust to the new situation.
Networks in gifted education reach across the globe and extend a helping hand to parents, teachers and community members interested in supporting the educational needs of the gifted. All states and territories in Australia have voluntary associations which are easily located, and information and support is readily and freely available. Activities for gifted children take place frequently and conferences and seminars regularly inform adults about giftedness. Search the web and choose from sites dedicated to gifted education to help find fulfilling pathways for gifted children.
Gifted children need networks that include friendships with like minds. Finding mental-age peers brings relief in knowing that it is all right to be interested in advanced learning. Self esteem and self efficacy are enhanced in gifted classes.
Informed educators have an important role to play and adult advocacy and lobbying ensures a future for gifted children through awareness raising and information dissemination.
A successful partnership between school and home is fundamental to a satisfactory educational experience. Parents and teachers need to collaborate to ensure gifted children are understood and appreciated. Parents will be able to contribute their knowledge of the child to regular exchanges with teachers. Formal meetings with relevant school staff need careful planning and a regular agenda so that progress is made towards a negotiated, differentiated curriculum that includes extension, ability grouping and acceleration as necessary. Parents can put their issues in writing as advance notice so that the school is prepared to address their concerns appropriately. Gifted children can contribute to the partnership by compiling information about their strengths and weaknesses to present to new teachers.
Professional and Parent Support:
Northern Territory Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented Inc
PO Box 41852
Casuarina, NT, 0811
Gifted and Talented Children’s Association of South Australia Inc.
PO Box 1
Telephone: (08) 8373 0500
Queensland Association for Gifted and Talented Children Inc.
282 Stafford Rd
Stafford, Qld 4053
Telephone: (07) 3352 4288
Fax: (07) 3352 4388
Victorian Association for Gifted and Talented Children Inc.
P.O. Box 132
Caulfield South Vic 3162
Telephone: 0402 056 140
Gifted Education Policies – State by State
Queensland – Education Queensland Framework for Gifted Education
Western Australia – Western Australian Department of Education Gifted and Talented Policy and Guidelines
Other Links :State by State