Understand gift and talent in young children

Understand what being gifted or talented means and why you play a critical role in the development of a gifted child's performance.

Definition

In Victoria, the widely accepted definition of giftedness and talented is adopted from Françoys Gagné’s model (2004), where ‘giftedness’ is understood as outstanding potential and ‘talent’ as outstanding performance.

It is important that the term 'gifted and talented' is not used as a label. As with all children, every gifted and/or talented child is an individual, with a unique developmental and learning profile. To identify a child as gifted and/or talented is to recognise this individuality and respond appropriately.

Giftedness

In early childhood, giftedness involves:

  • advanced development beyond age-typical expectations
  • a potential for advanced learning and achievement in one or more areas.

Talent

Talents are linked to specific domains or areas of expression, such as:

  • music
  • art
  • athletics
  • academic learning

In the early childhood period, however, development is very holistic and fluid, and rarely specialised in a particular domain.

What we know about gift and talent

  • Giftedness is identifiable in very young children.
  • Early identification is essential for the long-term wellbeing of the gifted child.
  • Giftedness is present equally in boys and girls and children from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Giftedness is not rare – it is estimated 10–15 per cent of the population is gifted.
  • Gifted children can also have learning difficulties and disabilities.

Your role in a gifted child's life

While families are the most important influence in children's lives, professionals working with children in early childhood and the first years of school also play a significant role.

The services you provide, and the learning environments and curriculum you create will be important catalysts in the development of gifted children's potential.

According to Gagné's model:

  • Young gifted children have the potential to develop capacities for high-level performance (competencies or talents) in one or more areas.
  • The extent to which young gifted children are able to develop their potential depends on a number of factors, including the support and teaching they receive from early childhood professionals.
  • Most young gifted children will be at the beginning of the process of developing their gifted potential into what will become talent in a specific area or areas. This means that in most cases, gifted young children can be regarded as having a generalised advanced potential that will start to show as advanced competency or talent in one or more specialised areas from the early years of school.
  • The particular areas or domains in which young gifted children will begin to develop talent will depend on both their natural abilities and environmental influences such as experiences they have, and support and encouragement they receive. It is not always possible to predict in which area or areas young gifted children may develop their potential into talent.