There are eight practice principles for learning and development, which are summarised below with their application to gifted children.
Early childhood professionals listen to families and draw on their understandings and knowledge of their gifted children. They work with families in collaborative partnerships to support gifted children’s learning and development. Families’ aspirations for their gifted and talented children are respected.
Partnerships with professionals
Early Childhood professionals collaborate with other professionals to support young gifted children and their families. Other professionals can include early years educators, maternal and child health nurses, psychologists, therapists, advisers and managers. They make appropriate referrals and respond to referrals from others. Early childhood professionals seek out information and understanding of other professionals’ expertise and skills in working with young gifted children. They actively work with schools in supporting gifted children’s transition to school and into out of school hours experiences when appropriate.
High expectations for every child
To effectively support gifted children, early childhood professionals have high expectations for each child based on the child’s individual learning and development, not in relation to age-typical expectations. All children should to be challenged and extended in their learning, including those who are advanced. Educators ensure that they also provide sufficient support for young gifted children in extending their learning, including through interactions such as scaffolding and sustained shared thinking.
Equity and diversity
Early childhood professionals ensure that they understand, value and respect the individual interests, abilities and culture of young gifted children and their families. They recognise that like all children, gifted and talented young children also require understanding and support to reach their potential and experience wellbeing.
Respectful relationships and responsive engagement
Early childhood professionals establish warm and respectful relationships with young gifted children. They provide safe and stimulating environments for these children, based on responsiveness to their individual culture, strengths, interests, knowledge and abilities. They reject negative stereotypes and uninformed opinions about gifted children and their families, and demonstrate respect and understanding for each child.
Integrated teaching and learning approaches
Educators identify the learning abilities of gifted and talented children, and show understanding of how they can move along the continuum from play to structured learning. Educators provide support for gifted children’s play-based learning, while recognising young gifted children can also benefit from adults extending their learning. Educators engage in frequent shared sustained conversations with young gifted children, to stimulate and extend the child as they move from concrete to more abstract and sophisticated thinking.
Assessment for learning and development
Early childhood professionals use effective assessment strategies to discover what young gifted and talented children know, understand and can do. Assessment strategies reflect a whole-child approach and are based on a range of tools and approaches. Assessment draws on families’ perspectives, actively involves children, and forms the basis for planning to support gifted children’s learning and development. Early childhood professionals actively seek to increase their understanding of giftedness in early childhood and, where appropriate, draw on the expertise of other professionals and parents, to inform their assessment practice.
Early childhood professionals continually develop their professional knowledge and skills to provide the best learning and development opportunities for young gifted and talented children. This includes specialist professional development on giftedness and talent. They continually engage in critical reflection on their own practice with young gifted children, acknowledging where they require more knowledge and understanding, and are prepared to challenge and change some practices.
For an example of reflective practice, see: Case Study 7: Identifying Gifted Children 7: Reflective Practice (Mandy)