Teach Gifted Children

How to create a personalised learning curriculum for gifted children and ensure a smooth transition to  primary school.

Personalised learning

You should respond to each individual child’s learning profile. For young gifted children, this often requires modifying the curriculum.

The curriculum for a gifted child should be designed with opportunities to move with the child’s thinking from the concrete to the complex more quickly than with other children of a similar age.

Responding to the individual learning abilities of a gifted child is important, as this impacts on their overall development.

It is important that the curriculum for young gifted learners is flexible enough to:

  • be open to moving from the concrete to the abstract
  • offer materials and learning opportunities at a faster pace, that match the learner’s abilities
  • move with the learner from the simple (if the topic is new to the child) to a more complex understanding of the subject or concepts.

Acceleration usually helps gifted children adjust socially and emotionally because a curriculum that matches a child’s abilities also promotes a sense of wellbeing.

Planning a personalised learning curriculum

To ensure you create a stimulating curriculum for a young gifted child, you need to know and understand the level of learning and skills (in all learning and development outcome areas) already achieved by the gifted child and plan accordingly.

When planning involves a young gifted child, the following are essential:

Awareness of highly developed learning

To determine if a child has a highly developed learning and competencies higher that expected you will need to gather information from:

  • the family to understand what learning approaches work for the child through their observations and anecdotes
  • other professionals (e.g. Maternal and Child Health nurses, paediatricians etc.) in the child's life who may have documented or observed advanced ability.
Integrated teaching and learning approaches

Some experimentation might be required to find what works for the child. The child's responses will indicate when a successful approach has been found.

The following guidelines require educators to plan outcomes appropriate for that individual child. Plan to:

  • provide learning opportunities that are more complex than usual. This may involve adding more resources; toys/equipment/learning aids usually offered to older children; use intentional questioning or scaffolding:
    • how many different ways could we …? or
    • find how many different sets of numbers add up to 100? or
    • draw a house for a giraffe? or
    • have you thought of trying it this way?
  • make learning opportunities and questions open ended. For instance, instead of asking children to name objects or outcomes, ask questions that require some imagination or creativity. Questions that start with:
    • what if … or
    • how would you? …or
    • what might happen next?
  • Introduce abstract concepts. As children reach the level of kindergarten and early years of school even though learning experiences may start with concrete materials, or familiar ideas and activities, learning goals should also include the introduction of abstract concepts and ideas.  For example:
    • we can add 5 + 7 but what if we had 5 – 7? or
    • we wake up when it is morning and go to sleep when it is dark – what would it be like if we woke up when it was dark and went to sleep in the morning? or
    • we need to breathe air, what other uses do we have for air? or
    • how is the soil in our vegetable garden created?
  • involve children in shared and sustained conversation or teaching instruction that is fast paced with few if any repetition of ideas, learning steps, concepts - this is especially applicable at early years primary school level.

This process in known as differentiation. Read more about differentiation below.

Assessing and planning for learning outcomes

Assessment

Assessment should focus on the upper levels of the child's knowledge and skills. This should be based on what they can make, wirte, draw, say and do. From this you can extend the learning.

Government schools can access off-level assessments in English and Maths through VCAA website with links to on-demand testing, English-online or Maths-online assessments.

Outcomes

The outcomes of learning should reflect the level the child is currently learning at. A gifted child is more likely to be interested in the outcome of their learning experience than other children of their age.

The product or end result of a learning activity can be represented in a variety of forms, a:

  • child's contribution to a discussion
  • 3D construction
  • drawing
  • story
  • song or dance
  • project
  • video
  • photographic journal

You can use the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VELYDF) to plan a personalised learning experience and create more complex learning goals.

Providing experiences and interactions

Play

Play is important for all children. You may find that gifted children emjoy more structured play opportunities than is usual for their age group.

Gifted children often:

  • have passionate or specialist interests
  • look for and respond well to adult interaction to support their play
  • enjoy sustained, shared conversations.

Observing the play of young gifted children is likely to illustrate:

  • an earlier interest in complex play
  • an earlier interest in rule governed games including formal games like Snakes and Ladders or card games
  • more complex ideas and structures in play with age-peers
  • for some gifted children solitary play will be intellectually satisfying and they may appear to be less engaged with age-peers
  • inclusion of literacy, science and/or maths skills with early mastery of these academic skills.

Motivation

Research has shown that young gifted children engage enthusiastically in learning when they are motivated. They need:

  • high expectations of their learning
  • and an integrated teaching and learning approach

Motivation is observable when children show energy, effort and persistence in tackling a new task.

Differentiation

Planning the curriculum to make it stimulating for a young gifted child is called differentiation.

Differentiation for young children includes offering content that is  more complex or advanced than is usually offered in the curriculum.

Another way to differentiate is to base the presentation of learning experiences or content on Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, educators can present and organise the learning content from the simple through to the complex level.

Example

A child is learning about the characteristics of water:

  • the starting level is to aim for children to learn in a concrete way ‘what water can and cannot do’
  • for those children who may well already know this, they can investigate at a more complex level - such as ‘how to use or apply knowledge about the properties of water’
  • if a child’s knowledge is extensive you can make the learning more complex by setting a goal for the child of ‘creating new ideas about how to use or save water’.

Read more about Bloom's Taxonomy

Extend learning with the early years framework

You can us the Practice Principles outlined in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF)  to work with young gifted and talented children and their families.

Moving to primary school

It is important for gifted children that their new school knows what and how they have learnt in their previous settings.

You play a vital role in ensuring that children in your care experience a smooth transition and continuity of learning when they move to primary school.