The most important feature of a curriculum for a young gifted child is that they are supported to continue to be engaged and involved in deep level learning.
To make sure a young gifted child develops as a confident and involved learner, new knowledge and skills are necessary as part of their daily experience.
When they are very young, gifted children are most likely to show behaviours that appear as advanced learning or skills in one or several developmental domains, rather than well-developed talents.
Early childhood and school settings should respond to each individual child’s learning profile. For young gifted children, this often requires modifying the curriculum. Planning the curriculum to make it stimulating for a young gifted child is called differentiation.
Differentiation for young children can involve educators offering content that is likely to be more complex or advanced than they would usually expect to offer in the curriculum. Another way to differentiate is to base the presentation of learning experiences or content on Bloom’s Taxonomy. For more information, see:
Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, educators can present and organise the learning content from the simple through to the complex level. For instance, in 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’. Further complexity is appropriate if a child’s knowledge is extensive. For instance, set a goal for the child of ‘creating new ideas about how to use or save water’.
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 chronological age.
For more information about Bloom’s Taxonomy, see:
Responding to the individual learning abilities of a gifted child is important, as this impacts holistically on their development. To ensure a stimulating curriculum for a young gifted child, an educator needs 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.
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.
Special educational provision, curriculum and acceleration are not needed for young gifted children as they are already ahead of their age-typical peers.
Young gifted children often do know much more than other children of a similar age, but they are also dependant on the adults in their lives to help them learn. Early childhood and school educators should respond to what children know, do and understand and help young gifted children orientate from learning at home to learning in an early childhood or school setting. Acceleration usually helps gifted children adjust socially and emotionally because a curriculum that matches a child’s abilities also promotes a sense of wellbeing.